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About the woman who stared at chickens

Source: Charleston Daily Mail
Date: November 9, 2009
Byline: Dave Peyton

Granny Reynolds had special powers that scared people

THE movie is called "The Men Who Stare at Goats," and it's about men who use psychokinetic powers — mind over matter — to do "tricks" and even kill goats.

Well, my dad's branch of the family has a story to tell.

It's called "The Woman Who Stared at Chickens." Not only did Spooky Old Granny stare at them, she killed one, according to my uncle.

Before he died, my late Uncle Delmont (yes, he was named for a can of peaches, but that's another story) told the story of how Spooky Old Granny simply pointed her finger at a chicken and it dropped dead.

Granny, whose name was Priscilla Reynolds, was my great-grandmother, and the mother of my Grandma Peyton. I vaguely remember Granny. She died at the age of 93 when I was about 5.

Delmont researched Granny and her "powers" and concluded that she was a Wiccan, a member of a pagan sect that pre-dates Christianity.

The reason? He had seen Granny in action and knew she had powers of mind over matter.

The story of the day Granny stared a chicken to death began on a pleasant Sunday morning when Granny lived with her daughter and son-in-law along Cyrus Creek in Cabell County.

Grandma and Grandpa had gone to church. Delmont was about 6 years old and he stayed behind with Granny, his grandma. Granny opted out of going to the Missionary Baptist Church down the road. She wasn't a believer in a Christian way, Delmont said.

Grandpa, a tough old bird, left orders for Delmont to catch and kill a hen so, when Grandma got back, she could fry it for Sunday dinner.

The yard was crawling with chickens, but they were spooked that day and Delmont said he couldn't catch one. Finally, he said, he sat down in the yard and started to cry.

Granny was sitting on the front porch. "What's wrong, child?" she asked.

"Dad told me to catch and kill a chicken and I can't catch one," Delmont said. "If I don't catch one before he gets back, he's going to whip me good."

Granny pondered things for a minute or so then asked her nephew "Which one do you want?"

"Doesn't matter," Delmont said between sobs.

Granny pointed at a hen across the yard. "How about that one?" she asked as she stared at a hen that simply fell over dead.

Delmont went on to tell me that once, during a storm, the wind blew the door of the old cabin on the hill open. Granny shut the door simply by staring at it.

She scared her husband so badly with her powers that he spent most of his life living in the camp cars on the C&O Railroad. They only had one child, my grandma.

As for Grandma's husband, he apparently feared her mightily and let her have her way around the house. When she came to live there and brought her cats, he didn't protest.

I hear that "The Men Who Stare at Goats" is a comedy.

Uncle Delmont said that Spooky Old Granny was not a comedian. She was a loving woman who did what she could to help her nephew that Sunday morning. On that particular day, she stared a chicken to death, for which Uncle Delmont said he was forever grateful.