Guest Contributor – War Pig – Autumn Memories

My favorite time of the year is Autumn. The summer temperatures moderate, there are usually fewer storms and rains, the air gets crisp, apples are harvested and cider pressed. The light is flat and the colors of the trees are amazing. Falling leaves are a pain to rake but they are also fun to run through, making ‘whoosh’ noises as you run. They also show up little dust devils, tiny cyclones a few feet tall as they whirl and crackle in the miniature tornadoes. We’d see them and run through them to feel the whirl of wind and the leaves. The nights get longer. It’s harvest time on the farms and I helped my paternal grandparents on their farm. Corn and soybeans were picked and put in gravity bed wagons, then hauled off to the local grain mill. The proprietor was a large man, some six feet six and at least 400 pounds. Every trip we made to the mill, he gave me a candy bar and a cold soda. If we made six trips, I got six candy bars and six sodas. I was rail thin back then with growth and constant exercise so they never bothered me.

My favorite month of the year was October. Not just for Halloween, but in general it’s moderate in wind and rain. The almanac says October usually has 19 fine days and I believe it. Football season on Saturdays and Sundays. Some days you wake up to frost in October. One year there was snow in October. It melted off the next day but there was a skiff of snow on the ground.

Another thing that happened in the late summer and autumn was we would find radiosondes on the farm released by the National Weather Service. They were instrument kits sent aloft on balloons for atmospheric readings. They also had a parachute attached. When the balloon burst at altitude, they floated back down on the parachute. The instrument kit has a paper box you unfolded, put the instrument in it and sent it back, free to the Weather Service. You put on a note where it was found and when. We used to find three or four a month in autumn due to the wind patterns. We were allowed to keep the parachutes and us kids had a ball with them. We’d tie one around our waist and see how fast we could run with the chute dragging behind holding air. Or we’d tie various objects to them and go up in the hay loft of the barn and drop them to see how they floated to earth. On really blustery days we flew them like kites but you had to use strong cord as they really caught the wind.

Yes, Autumn is my favorite season, and October my favorite month. The scents of autumn. The smell of leaves, of fires in fireplaces, of smoking meats. It brings me back to my teen years. Hard work in the fields getting the harvest in then plowing and preparing for next year, or planting winter wheat.

A couple of other things happened in Autumn. Uncle Wink grew tobacco. It was harvested and put in special barns to dry. Sometimes in October or November, the weather was just perfect. The dried tobacco was too brittle to move as it would crumble. But in a certain weather, foggy, cool it was time to move the tobacco to the burly. The leaves regained their flexibility. The whole family descended on Wink’s farm and any boy strong enough was put to moving tobacco bundles (50 pounds or more apiece) from their drying poles. The smaller children and the women cooked for us all. I can still smell the tobacco from those days.

 

The other thing that happened was the hog slaughter and butchering. Again, at Uncle Wink’s farm. Every family in the larger family bought a hog or two as a feeder pig. Wink raised them and we all chipped in for feed and such. Wink and his sons, doing the labor raising the hogs, got their hog for free. On a Saturday when it was crisp and cool, we all arrived at Wink’s. The hogs were rounded up and they were slaughtered and butchered all in one weekend. They were killed, had their throats slit, bled, then were opened up and cleaned, washed then scalded and scraped. They were skinned and cut up and wrapped and put in Wink’s ice house or went into his large smokehouse. Each family’s packages marked with their symbol. In a monstrous copper pot, the cracklings were made over an open fire. Everyone got their share of cracklings. At first me and my brother could only skim the cracklings out of the pot or keep the fires in the smokehouse going with lots of smoke. Later we were set to grind sausage. Between two kegs of nails a board sat and on that board was a two-handed manual grinder. One of us would stuff fresh pork into the grinder along with the correct amount of sage for each family. Ours had a lot of sage in it as dad liked it that way. The other would grind using the handles. We converted a #5 tub of meat into sausage. When one of us had their arms give out, the other cranked and the first grinder stuffed and seasoned. We took turns grinding all day except for meals. I’d like to know how many tons of sausage we ground over the years. I can still taste those hickory smoked hams we got out of it. Can’t find anything like that now.

We both had amazingly strong arms due to the sausage grinding and we won several arm-wrestling bouts at school. A few bullies got their comeuppance when they picked on the wrong, skinny kids with the stout arms.

Guest Contributor – War Pig – Comments on General George Patton the Elder

Question – Was the motion picture Patton, well done?

 

I only knew his son, personally. But from people who knew Patton Sr that I have known, it was pretty good but played too much on the prima donna aspects. Patton senior had a rather high-pitched voice and he cursed so much to make up for it. His son was just as liable to break out in profanity. Patton was anything but a prima donna. He wanted to hurl headlong into battle and wrest it from the enemy. It is true he had a distaste for Montgomery as he found Monty far too cautious and a man who took too much counsel of his fears. One of Patton’s mantras was from Julius Caesar (Gallic Wars I believe) who said to not take counsel of your fears. A lot of the dirty aspersions attributed to him were Hollywood gunk. Yes he did pray and did curse like a stable boy. But he was a tactical genius and had great concern for supply and logistics., Without his careful planning and logistical mastery, he never could have made that sharp turn and relieved Bastogne. Patton’s theory was to grab the enemy by the throat and kick him in the balls. Fix the enemy in place then maneuver against him and hit him where he was weakest, then fold him up like a geisha girl’s fan.

 

If he had gotten those 400,000 gallons of fuel he requested before the German counteroffensive he could have spoiled the Bulge attack and cut the war short by several months. But Patton had shown himself a logistical master as early as the Mexican Punitive Expedition in 1916. Without his logistical mastery the war in Europe may have been over after the war in the Pacific, and we may have seen a mushroom cloud over Berlin as a result.

 

Hollywood did as Hollywood does. As one director said in answer to fictional embellishments of a factual story; “We ain’t making a PBS documentary, here”. While they did show Patton’s tactical genius, they tried too hard to make him a frail man, which he definitely was not. You could say that Patton and his men saved the European war for the allies.

 

Our greatest generals in WWII, Patton and MacArthur were both masters of logistics. MacArthur was the better strategic general and Patton the tactical. If MacArthur had been in charge in Europe, he would have let Patton run wild through Germany and been in Berlin about the time that Hitler started the Bulge offensive. With Patton charging at Berlin Hitler would have been too busy to think about Antwerp and splitting the allies in two.

A Hot Dog Program – A Movie Review

This is not a typical movie review because this is not a typical movie.  And even more unusual, this is a PBS production, which normally would repel me as wolfsbane does Dracula.  But not this time.  This movie is a celebration of one of the great American institutions, the hot dog.

A guy named Rick Sebak from Pittsburgh makes documentaries about Americana and this particular one travels around the United States looking at the multitude of ways that people make and enjoy hot dogs.  Of course, he goes to Coney Island, in Brooklyn, New York to discuss the reputed birthplace of the hot dog and while there he highlights the Fourth of July hot dog eating contest at Nathan’s, a truly disgusting spectacle.  Then he visits several hot dog lovers in Manhattan who try to pick between their favorite hot dog and papaya juice restaurants.  From there he goes to Chicago and listens to the Windy City residents declare their variety of hot dog to be the adult version of this American food.  And afterwards he brings us to Georgia, the Carolinas, Ohio, New Jersey and even Alaska where reindeer hot dogs are the standard.

Along the way you’ll meet the mom and pop shops and the industrial scale restaurants and the owners, cooks, waiters and customers who swear by the goodness and special character of whichever local variant they enjoy.  They’ll be boiled, roasted, deep fried or encased in a corn dog.  They’ll be covered in relish, sauerkraut, onions, coleslaw, peppers or baked beans.  They’ll be slathered in yellow mustard, brown mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce or horse radish.  They can be with or without skin and in Las Vegas you can even get one that’s half a pound and sixteen inches long.

This movie was made in 1999 and what struck me was that the people were from all walks of life and all ethnicities but they all agreed that the hot dog was the American food.  Not German American because it was brought here from Frankfurt or even just white Americans.  Every place they went all kinds of people loved the hot dogs and shared space enjoying them.  I was struck that the scene where the hot dogs were being sold at the Cleveland Indians game probably couldn’t get on PBS anymore because they consider the team name racist.

So, this show is a bit of Americana from before the woke movement would declare hot dogs some form of exploitation of everyone involved.  The movie highlighted the manufacturing of hot dogs and almost glories in the mystery meat status of its ingredients and the unappetizing appearance of the meat paste that makes them up.  And the bizarre sight of hot dogs being shot at high speed out of a machine that strips the temporary skins that the dogs wear while being cooked adds to their allure as a product of industrial age melting pot America.

Of course, all those mom and pop shops and even the big restaurants have now been driven out of business by COVID and the rioters.  And the various ethnicities are at each other’s throats.  And the millennials are all vegan and wouldn’t touch a hot dog if they were starving.  But this movie hearkens back to a happier time in America and celebrates the real diversity, hot dog diversity.  It celebrates the local cultures that all can embrace and enhance something as simple and wonderful as the hot dog.  You can probably rent this from a local library that carries PBS videos.  I rented it from Netflix DVD.  I’ll probably buy a DVD just because I like watching it with my kids and grandkids who have enjoyed it over the years when I had an old VHS copy.

The Fourth of July Is All Ours

Independence Day is a movie that I have spent a goodly number of hours mocking.  And rightly so.  One of my favorite targets is that truly annoying paeon to globalism when President Whitmore declares that because all of humanity is under attack and the final battle will be fought on July 4th that from now on the Fourth of July will no longer be an American holiday but will be the Independence Day for the whole world.

I think it’s interesting that instead of that reality we live in a world where a large swath of Americans is now rejecting the Fourth of July as being racist and therefore un-American.  Just as the American flag is now racist and to be avoided so too is our Independence Day.  To the Left, the true Independence Day is Juneteenth.  This goes along with their idea that America wasn’t founded in 1776 but in 1619 when slaves reached the colonies.

I think that’s great.  It suits me to a tee.  I prefer not to have to share the Fourth of July with these losers anyway.  It goes along with all the other things which now are forbidden to them but we can celebrate exclusively and joyously.  Christopher Columbus, Magellan, Henry Hudson, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, Andrew Jackson, Lewis and Clark, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Jeb Stuart, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Alva Edison, The Wright Brothers, Theodore Roosevelt, John J. Pershing, George S. Patton, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Chuck Yeager, Neil Armstrong, Ronald Reagan and countless other great men who created a new world that inherited the Renaissance civilization from Europe and brought it to unparalleled heights in the formation of the United States of America.  These are the people we read about in our history classes before the revisionists vilified them and replaced them with nobodies that fit better into the race and gender categories that they hoped to fill in their false history of our founding.

And I look forward to passing along all the details of how our country was actually built.  And I won’t care about cataloging some of the darker incidents of our story.  The cruelty and the war; the greed and the foolishness of some of the pages in our story.  These things are human and looking at the whole course of human history I can say without fear of contradiction that the American chapter is the brightest and best part of the whole story.

So, rejoice my fellow Americans.  And be glad that only true Americans now celebrate the Fourth of July and honor the lives of all the great men who built this land and made possible this most remarkable nation in all the history of humanity and anywhere on God’s green Earth.  Gather together with your friends and family and grill some steaks or barbecue some burgers and dogs and eat your potato salad and watermelon and drink your beer and lemonade and have a baseball catch with the kids and jump in the pool and sit around and have some ice cream and watch the fireworks.  And remember the Fourth of July when you were ten and tell your kids or grandkids about it.

I find it liberating to no longer make believe we are one people with a changing understanding of “who we are.”  In reality we are one nation, the American people, that still believes all the things we always believed.  And alongside this nation there is a hodge-podge of outsiders who do not want to belong.  They have formed a coalition for the sake of trying to disinherit the Americans by convincing us that we are evil undeserving racists.  But they have shown their hand too soon and the mask is off.  They hate us and they are not part of us.  We owe them nothing and we no longer have to accommodate them.  They are a separate thing from us and deserve none of our sympathy or consideration.  The only thing they require is our caution to avoid being harmed by their malice.

So, enjoy the Fourth and flaunt your happiness about it with your fellow Americans, especially in front of those who despise this country and its true history.  It’s your holiday and your birthright.

Anonymous – Abdul A-Bul-Bul A-Mir

I love a good nonsense poem or song.  I believe that Sons of the Pioneers released a version of this in the 1930s.

 

 

The sons of the Prophet are brave men and bold

And quite unaccustomed to fear

But the bravest by far in the ranks of the Shah

Was Abdul Abulbul Amir

 

If you wanted a man to encourage the van

Or harass the foe from the rear

Storm fort or redoubt, you had only to shout

For Abdul Abulbul Amir

 

Now the heroes were plenty and well known to fame

In the troops that were led by the Czar

And the bravest of these was a man by the name

Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar

 

He could imitate Irving, play poker and pool,

And strum on the Spanish guitar.

In fact quite the cream of the Muscovite team

Was Ivan Skavisnsky Skavar.

 

One day this bold Russian, he shouldered his gun

And donned his most truculent sneer

Downtown he did go where he trod on the toe

Of Abdul Abulbul Amir

 

“Young man,” quoth Abdul, “Has life grown so dull

That you wish to end your career?

Vile infidel know, you have trod on the toe

Of Abdul Abulbul Amir”

 

“So take your last look at the sunshine and brook

And send your regrets to the Czar

For by this I imply, you are going to die

Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar”

 

Said Ivan, “My friend, your remarks in the end

Will avail you but little, I fear

For you ne’er will survive to repeat them alive

Mister Abdul Abulbul Amir”

 

Then this bold Mameluke drew his trusty skibouk

With a cry of “Allah Akbar,”

And with murderous intent he ferociously went

For Ivan Skavinsky Skavar

 

They parried and thrust, they side-stepped and cussed

Of blood they spilled a great part

The philologist blokes, who seldom crack jokes

Say that hash was first made on the spot

 

They fought all that night neath the pale yellow moon

The din, it was heard from afar

And huge multitudes came, so great was the fame

Of Abdul and Ivan Skavar

 

As Abdul’s long knife was extracting the life

In fact he was shouting, “Huzzah!”

He felt himself struck by that wily Calmuck

Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar

 

The Sultan drove by in his red-breasted fly

Expecting the victor to cheer

But he only drew nigh to hear the last sigh

Of Abdul Abulbul Amir

 

Czar Petrovich, too, in his spectacles blue

Sauntered up in his gold-plated car

And arrived just in time to exchange a last line

With Ivan Skavinsky Skavar

 

There’s a tomb rises up where the Blue Danube rolls

And engraved there in characters clear

Is, “Stranger, when passing, oh pray for the soul

Of Abdul Abulbul Amir”

 

A splash in the Black Sea one dark moonless night

Caused ripples to spread wide and far

It was made by a sack fitting close to the back

Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar

 

A Muscovite maiden her lone vigil keeps

Neath the light of the cold northern star

And the name that she murmurs in vain as she weeps

Is Ivan Skavinsky Skavar

Langdon Smith – Evolution

Can you find a more American poet than a man born in Kentucky and died in Flatbush, Brooklyn who fought in the Indian Wars of the West, served as newspaper reporter in New York City covering the Spanish American War and the James J. Corbett/Bob Fitzsimmons boxing match but still wrote a love poem to his wife about a tadpole and a fish.  If only Camera Girl were so lucky.

Evolution

When you were a tadpole and I was a fish
In the Paleozoic time,
And side by side on the ebbing tide
We sprawled through the ooze and slime,
Or skittered with many a caudal flip
Through the depths of the Cambrian fen,
My heart was rife with the joy of life,
For I loved you even then.

Mindless we lived and mindless we loved
And mindless at last we died;
And deep in the rift of the Caradoc drift
We slumbered side by side.
The world turned on in the lathe of time,
The hot lands heaved amain,
Till we caught our breath from the womb of death
And crept into life again.

We were amphibians, scaled and tailed,
And drab as a dead man’s hand;
We coiled at ease ‘neath the dripping trees
Or trailed through the mud and sand.
Croaking and blind, with our three-clawed feet
Writing a language dumb,
With never a spark in the empty dark
To hint at a life to come.

Yet happy we lived and happy we loved,
And happy we died once more;
Our forms were rolled in the clinging mold
Of a Neocomian shore.
The eons came and the eons fled
And the sleep that wrapped us fast
Was riven away in a newer day
And the night of death was passed.

Then light and swift through the jungle trees
We swung in our airy flights,
Or breathed in the balms of the fronded palms
In the hush of the moonless nights;
And oh! what beautiful years were there
When our hearts clung each to each;
When life was filled and our senses thrilled
In the first faint dawn of speech.

Thus life by life and love by love
We passed through the cycles strange,
And breath by breath and death by death
We followed the chain of change.
Till there came a time in the law of life
When over the nursing sod
The shadows broke and the soul awoke
In a strange, dim dream of God.

I was thewed like an Auroch bull
And tusked like the great cave bear;
And you, my sweet, from head to feet
Were gowned in your glorious hair.
Deep in the gloom of a fireless cave,
When the night fell o’er the plain
And the moon hung red o’er the river bed
We mumbled the bones of the slain.

I flaked a flint to a cutting edge
And shaped it with brutish craft;
I broke a shank from the woodland lank
And fitted it, head and haft;
Than I hid me close to the reedy tarn,
Where the mammoth came to drink;
Through the brawn and bone I drove the stone
And slew him upon the brink.

Loud I howled through the moonlit wastes,
Loud answered our kith and kin;
From west to east to the crimson feast
The clan came tramping in.
O’er joint and gristle and padded hoof
We fought and clawed and tore,
And cheek by jowl with many a growl
We talked the marvel o’er.

I carved that fight on a reindeer bone
With rude and hairy hand;
I pictured his fall on the cavern wall
That men might understand.
For we lived by blood and the right of might
Ere human laws were drawn,
And the age of sin did not begin
Til our brutal tusks were gone.

And that was a million years ago
In a time that no man knows;
Yet here tonight in the mellow light
We sit at Delmonico’s.
Your eyes are deep as the Devon springs,
Your hair is dark as jet,
Your years are few, your life is new,
Your soul untried, and yet —

Our trail is on the Kimmeridge clay
And the scarp of the Purbeck flags;
We have left our bones in the Bagshot stones
And deep in the Coralline crags;
Our love is old, our lives are old,
And death shall come amain;
Should it come today, what man may say
We shall not live again?

God wrought our souls from the Tremadoc beds
And furnish’d them wings to fly;
He sowed our spawn in the world’s dim dawn,
And I know that it shall not die,
Though cities have sprung above the graves
Where the crook-bone men made war
And the ox-wain creaks o’er the buried caves
Where the mummied mammoths are.

Then as we linger at luncheon here
O’er many a dainty dish,
Let us drink anew to the time when you
Were a tadpole and I was a fish.

 

By Langdon Smith (1858-1908)