dink phillips and the dead birds

Last night I posted something about the possibility of covering Clementine in dead birds for Halloween as a way of spreading awareness about the Avian Flu… It occurred to me as I was posting it that I should have included a request for dead birds… You see, there’s a history of that in my family.

I never met my dad’s step-grandfather. His name was Dink Phillips and he lived in Liberty, Kentucky. I believe he owned a saddle store, practiced dentistry (most likely without a license), and drank heavily. Occasionally, when I’d wonder around town as a kid, people would talk to me about Dink and his infamous practical jokes. It was Dink’s job, I got the sense, to entertain the community until television came around.

I’ll save the really good story for a later date, but I wanted to share one with you now. It has to do with dead birds… It seems that, for whatever reason, Dink had a problem with a faculty member at the University of Kentucky, and decided that he needed to be taught a lesson. I’m not sure how the idea came to old Dink, but he decided to travel though the mountains of Kentucky telling the poor people there that this doctor at the University would pay them some large amount of money for every dead bird that they sent his way. I don’t know that I ever heard an amount, but as this was probably during the Depression, I think anything would have seemed like a lot… Anyway, according to the story, hundreds of rotting birds began pouring into this man’s office from all over, along with demands for payment. I don’t know how I’d go about verifying it, but I suspect it’s true.

So, as I was sitting here, getting ready to post my story last night it occurred to me that old Dink, had he been a ghost standing behind me here, might have urged me to request dead birds, and then give the address of one of my many foes.

As for Dink, I think it was a pretty cruel thing for him to have done to the people who lived in the country, who were probably barely staying alive, but the idea, I think, was brilliant. I didn’t think that people thought that way in the 1920’s. (No doubt if he were alive today, he’d be producing a reality television series… or working for the administration.)

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  1. Posted October 19, 2005 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    It’s likely an offshoot of having been named “Dink”.

  2. chris
    Posted October 19, 2005 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Wasn’t there a maynard lao contest for the second baby’s name? Well, I think Mark won.

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