Whittle: Hog killing time good for reflection
By DAN WHITTLE
New Year 2014 seems like a good time to reflect forward and backward.
Smyrna neighbor Danny Hargrove and I moseyed back in time to Gile's Hill, Danny's rural boyhood home near downtown Eagleville and to my own Missouri farm roots.
With it being below freezing 28-degrees outside, Danny revisited "hog killing day 1954 back on the farm."
"And I'd walk a mile today for some of Mary Alice Lamb's legendary fried chitlin's (chitterlings aka hog guts)," Danny added. "And I want my beloved grandchildren, Jason (age 5) and Chloe (4) to know this important family history they'll never experience."
For unlearned college-educated folks, a crackling is glob of pig fat, with a particle of meat attached, when rendered (cooked down), yielded hot grease, and when allowed to cool, it turns into lard for future vittles-cooking needs throughout the year.
"I remember how good those hot tasty those 'cracklings' were, but you best not eat too many, for they'd make a farm boy sick to his stomach," Danny gazed back through his window of memories at age 66.
"Cooking cracklings in our big black wash kettle, meant something else too," Danny added. "It meant you got to stand next to the big warm fire, which was good since it was freezing cold."
With this mile post memory, we talked about our loving, but tough "farm mothers."
"Momma (the late Annie Walker Hargrove) was a small-framed lady, but strong for her size," Danny shared. "She could handle a knife and axe well on hog-butchering days."
"My mother (the late Ruby Lee Whittle) was also small, but strong in her shoulders, arms and hands, which served her well as she 'blocked' the hams and shoulders on hog killing days back in Missouri," I shared with friend Danny Boy.
"And Mother Hargrove seasoned up some of the best-tasting sausage you ever put in your mouth," Danny added. "Daddy (Herbert 'Bubba' Hargrove) was a good, honest hard-working sharecropper in that era."
I asked friend Danny the requirements of a good old-fashioned hog killing day: "It had to be below 32 degrees, in
That brought a memory of my own farming father.
"Daddy Whittle was the one chosen to shoot the hogs. It was farm pride to only take one expensive bullet, and fire it between the pig's eyes, to kill it instantly and not make if suffer," I added.
We both recalled that if the cold weather hit on a holiday, it didn't stop farm families from killing hogs.
"And one year, when cold weather finally hit in late December, we killed hogs on a cold and blustery Christmas Day," I recalled.
"We prayed and gave thanks to have the meat to eat later in the year, after we'd seasoned the sausage and preserved it in fruit jars, and cured the bacon, hams and shoulders," Danny described.
"I remember Daddy Whittle taking an extra ham and shoulder to this needy and sickly sharecropper/part-time preacher man's family who lived near our farm," I shared back to another century.
"Neighbors would help neighbors. Ain't that way in our country no more," friend Danny assessed in the present.
Just how tasty was Uncle Joe Eady's barbecued baloney?