At the end of May I saw this Facebook conversation between my sister and an old family friend:
I wanted to get in on that conversation, but if I'd posted there, I'd have felt obligated to acknowledge forty-some-odd other posts by "liking" them, and I just didn't have the energy. I decided to put in my two cents here, where things are quieter.
I'm pretty sure the wild hog incident occurred in 1958, the second summer we lived in Texas and our second visit to Keith's parents' camp at Cow Creek. As former city girls, this was as close to roughing it as my sister and I had ever come, but nothing had prepared us for the wild hogs. I say "hogs," but they were pigs, really--big enough but not yet full-grown. And I say "wild" because they behaved wildly, even though it turned out they belonged to someone.
It was early summer, a month or two before my little brother was born. I was 15, my sister Judy was 11, and I believe Keith would have been about five. Here's a photo of Mother and me at the camp. Click on the picture and look how pretty she was, all happy and expectant. (She was 34. I was excited about the idea of a new baby in the family but embarrassed because people would know by Mother's obvious pregnancy that she'd been having sex at her advanced age.)
We didn't know that marauding pigs had invaded the camp while we swam and played all afternoon in cool, brown creek water. When we climbed up the bank at the campsite, they greeted us, oinking loudly, racing here and there, rooting around in our overturned ice chests in search of one more morsel of food. They had already eaten everything we'd brought. (I think Judy was right about the number of pigs, but the way they were running around, it's easy to see why a little kid like Keith might have thought there were more of them.)
With dusk approaching and nothing left to eat for supper, the men talked each other into catching one of the pigs to roast. They found some rope and, through trial and error, eventually set up a respectable snare. They had plenty of time to work on it; the pigs didn't seem to be as afraid of us as we were of them and continued running around, making serpentine paths through the camp area. It didn't take too long before one pig stepped into the noose, and Judy or Keith or somebody pulled the rope and caught it, by one hind leg if I recall correctly. One of the men struck the trapped pig with an axe, and the other pigs went nuts.
You never heard such squealing.
That's when the men shooed us women and children away from all the unpleasantness. We didn't want to be there anyway while they finished killing the injured pig, then butchered it. I don't remember seeing the sheriff Keith mentioned, but I do recall encountering the old farmer as we walked down the narrow dirt road away from camp. He wore overalls, a long-sleeved shirt in spite of he heat, and a dirty, floppy hat. He had a shotgun propped over his right shoulder. He looked at us suspiciously as he passed by, striding quickly toward the camp, but he didn't say a word. Neither did we.
We didn't walk much farther after that, just stood around and toed the loose dirt while we speculated about what was happening between the men and the farmer. By the time one of the dads walked close enough to see us and shout for us to come back, the farmer was gone and so were the pigs, except for the one that was just being hoisted over the fire. Later that night I heard some talk about money that had changed hands: the agreed-upon market price of one half-grown pig minus the estimated cost of the groceries they'd consumed.
It would be another 14 years before Deliverance would come out in movie theaters, but I've seen that film half a dozen times since then, and the old man in it has always made me think of the scary-looking old farmer we met the day of our wild pig adventure. I've never forgotten the chaos or the squealing or the creepy feeling of waiting on that dirt road while the sun sank lower and lower in the sky. I remember that captured pig, too. I didn't intend to eat a bite of it, considering its unfortunate demise and the fact that I'd never before eaten meat that I'd met personally in its live form. It took a while for the pig to cook, though, and hunger, along with a sensational aroma, overcame my convictions. Best pork I ever ate!
If you can't see the Deliverance video below, click on Watch on YouTube. (And don't worry, this is the Dueling Banjos scene where the old man dances, not the horrible "pig" scene.)
Thanks to Floris Verschuren for posting the video on YouTube.