Peace Corps Language & Chicken-Killing School, 1962
My oldest sister was in the first year-class of the Peace Corps, and ended up going to Guinea for a year. As part of her training she and others in her group spent a few weeks in Brattleboro, Vermont, in the fall of 1961, I believe it was, learning French and, apparently, a few survival skills. She described one of those lessons to me in a letter this morning:
We lived at the Experiment in International Living in Brattleboro because they have/had a really state-of-the-art language lab at the time. Four hours a day in French to get us to a Level 2 using State Department criteria. Then we also got to kill our very own chicken, after, of course, we had run the poor thing down. We were given three kill-options: 1-wring its neck; 2-use hatchet to separate head from body (being sure to get out of the way to avoid the circling chicken spurting blood everywhere) and my personal choice, 3-place chicken upside-down in a metal cone with head protruding. Then, oh so carefully open chicken’s mouth, insert knife and twist, purportedly to kill the brain (and, to assuage my conscience, any nerves transmitting pain). Note: In no case, at no time did I ever have to kill anything once I arrived in Guinea! [Of course, since we were the first group to go there, who knew??]
Oh yes, we then had to pluck the feathers off and cook & eat the chicken. I declined after the cooking part. I was not alone.
I had never heard of this particular technique.