Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Granddad blogging: Hog money

Last week my grandfather described how they did a little hunting to raise a little extra money. This weeks he describes how they made their main income.

The only crop that we really had when I was little growing up was corn. We raised the corn and we took the hogs and turned the hogs in the corn and let them knock it down and eat the corn off the ground and get fat. Those that got big enough we’d have a truck come, I don’t know, I guess when the corn and stuff ran out, put ‘em on this truck and take ‘em to Nashville. The ones that weren’t big enough we’d run them over til next year. There was a joke told about a man who had a bunch of hogs and he said he had enough hogs to sell that fall and to kill and have enough meat to last him a year and said he had enough shoats coming on to take care of next year and he had enough pigs coming on to take care of next year and said after that he didn’t know what he was gonna do.

We’d take this hog check that we’d get once a year. My daddy had recently bought a little 70 acre farm and finally got it paid for and daddy bought about 50 acres in another place and he paid everything that he made on that place every year. The Depression was coming on then, and all of his year’s work would go to pay on the farm and the farm was worth about what was owed on it. And another year the same deal, it was going down, down, down. The hog price was going down, down, down.

We owed one of daddy’s cousins, I forget whether his name was Sy Jenkins or Sy Young. We’d go pay him once a year, and we’d pay him $700 and that was all the money we could get together. We milked cows and raised chickens to make enough to buy the groceries that we had to have. And all this hog money went to him. He wouldn’t take anything but cash, he wouldn’t take a check, though he and daddy were kin people and my daddy had as good a reputation as anybody did. But he had to go to Lebanon and get those hog checks converted into cash and then had to drive or ride up to see the old man and pay him that $700.

He had a great big old house and he had a dog in the house, and great big old bull dogs, and the doors chained. He had money, but he was ornery. I never did know why he was ornery and so hard until many years later. I knew he didn’t have any children, but I found out later that they had four children and they all died before they were ten days old. I often wondered if that hadn’t contributed to him being so hard and mean. I don’t know whether it did or didn’t.

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