Packing a picnic and picking up a pig


A wealthy senior citizen spent a good bit of time showing off some photographs of his collector cars one morning recently. I was impressed by the scope of his stellar collection, but a part of me was drifting off long before the photo parade came to an end.

Collecting perfect antique sports cars, only to lock them inside a garage, is about as foreign to me as caviar prepared by a servant.

On the farm, the pick-up truck was the workhorse, and I could easily name off, in order, each truck that my dad ever owned. He kept them forever, driving them until they deserved a decent burial.


I remember he kept a square wooden box, covered with padding and upholstery, in the middle of the bench seat so the littlest kid could sit up higher and see out. I felt important sitting on the “boch” as I called it, as Dad drove from one farm to another, often just to check the fields to be sure the crops were coming along just right.

The very first brand-new car I recall was a 1963 Ford Fairlane, bright red, with a cream white top and interior. Dad was mighty proud of that car, which replaced a big old Chevy that I only remember was so old that we girls would burst rusty paint bubbles on the aqua colored body of the thing just for something to do.

We would sit inside, pretending to drive, with that big old steering wheel the size of Texas.

I remember that enormously sturdy backseat, which was like riding a full-size sofa to town. If we bounced on it, dust would fly.

We could stand up, stretch out, dance to the radio. I remember lying up on the shelf in the back window, feeling the sun beat down on me. It was large enough, and I so small, that the back window felt like my own little bedroom.


One trip we took in the old car, just before trading up to the Ford, was to a farm in Pennsylvania to buy a boar hog. I feel like I am talking about ancient history as I describe this story, but I swear it is all true.

Dad wanted all of us to be able to go, so we couldn’t take the pick-up truck. With Dad in the driver’s seat and Mom as his co-pilot, four little girls lined up in the back seat for a long trip — our first time ever to cross a state line. I remember arguing who was to get the window seats and who was to be stuck with the “hump” in the middle of the floor in the back seat.

I was willing, as ever, to ride in the back window, but for some reason it was important that we all start out the trip on the seat. Mom served us peanut butter sandwiches and a half of a banana. We hadn’t yet passed out of our county, heck, maybe not even our township, when my sister got car sick all over me.

“I wanted to be up in the back window,” I remember groaning. It was going to be a long, long ride.

The only exciting part was watching for the state line signs, welcoming us to the “great state of Pennsylvania!” I felt all worldly and new — I was no longer an Ohio kid, but a big-time traveler with stories to tell.

Mom read the driving directions, and like some incredible magic trick played to perfection, we found our way to a hog farm in a foreign land.

We all stayed in the car except for Dad, which seemed like punishment to me. I wanted to explore Pennsylvania! The young boar piglet, from incredible blood lines, got to ride first class to Ohio.

By that I mean he was in a box at our feet in the back seat. It was a first, so it was therefore a thrill, to four little girls who talked to the pink pig and scratched his ears. About halfway home, though, we learned that it made no difference just how great his pedigree was — he still smelled like a pig when he dirtied up his box.

We cranked down the windows, nearly freezing, and we couldn’t get home fast enough.

Real story

Many years later, I brought up this story, wondering if I had merely dreamed it all up, because I would have only been about 4 years old. “No, no, you remember it all correctly,” Dad said. “The part of the story you never knew was this: I saved up and paid pretty big money for that boar, and he never bred a single sow for us. He was a lazy dud,” he said, shaking his head.

Maybe riding in the back seat of a car, four little girls cooing over him, made that boar a bit uppity. Or maybe it was the worldly travel, crossing state lines while still a piglet. Either way, that was the first and last time we ever packed a picnic and drove anywhere to pick up a pig.

And once, I can attest, was more than enough!

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