Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Pig In The Doghouse

More than thirty-six years ago we moved to Bedford Virginia. We moved piecemeal, a load at a time. We built a 20x24 outbuilding to store furniture, stuff, and some old printing equipment. We dug a well and septic, moved into a trailer behind the job site until our new house was built.

The summer of 1977, my senior class at the Tech School where I was teaching, presented me with a twenty pound piglet to take to Virginia as a going-away present. The students brought it to the classroom and had a good laugh as they handed it to me. I was tickled to get the gift, and looked forward to providing a good home for it in Virginia.

Now, I knew about bringing an underage girl across state line was against the law. I also heard that transporting livestock across state line was not allowed.

Well, I had a dog once, who teamed up with a stray pack, got into a sheep pasture, and was shot by the farmer. His vacant doghouse made an excellent container, and decoy, to carry the pig across state line.

I drove a Datsun pickup truck at the time. I loaded the pickup with crates, tools, outdoor furniture, and the occupied doghouse. I was all packed, strapped, and raring to go. However, with the pig in the doghouse, I had to nail a board across its opening. The first challenge came just twenty miles down the road.

At Philipsburg, NJ, I had to cross the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. Slowly, I approached to the tollbooth to pay my dime to cross. I kept a lookout at the doghouse through my rearview mirror. The opening to the doghouse was clearly in view and faced the tollbooth. Just as I handed the guy on duty my 10 cents, the sow in the doghouse decided to stick its snout out the crack and let out an alleluia squeal. Like saying, "yippee, I'm in Pennsylvania!"

Oh my! Fear and trepidation struck this old boy. My German upbringing smacked me straight up-side-my-head. I pulled from that tollbooth with one eye glued to the rearview mirror. First thinking that the guard at the tollbooth will surely shoot my tires out. After a couple hundred yards, windows open, I strained for sirens to close in on me. After a mile or two, I looked for troopers to eyeball me from the other side of the highway. For a hundred miles or more, down route 22, then interstate 81, I craned my neck looking for flashing lights.

Maybe the law sent a message ahead to the Maryland boarder, I wondered? Or ahead to the West Virginia boarder? Surely, the state of Virginia will be waiting for me to confiscate my baby sow.

I was shocked at the laxness of law enforcement. Clearly I had been caught. The proof was in the squeal! So, I trucked on, staying in the right lane, making sure I not infringe on any other law.

Then I came to view a new road sign. One I had not anticipated. "Weigh Station - All Trucks Pull Over"

Well, my German regimentation gripped me again. I was not driving our station wagon, I was driving my truck. A truck! Period. Not wanting to antagonize the law any further, I dutifully pulled off, along with the eighteen wheelers, onto the weigh station.

I clearly remember, leaning way over to get a look at the fellow high up in the glass tower, to see if he will let me go on with the heavy load on my small pickup. All I saw was a guy, his head almost pressed against the glass, screaming and frantically waving his hands, motioning me on. - - I didn't know you supposed to hit the scales at forty miles per hour speed. There I sat, feeling like a roach that landed on the wrong pile.

We named the pig "Lisl." I built a shelter for her and a fenced-in lot. She wallowed and basked in the Virginia air for more than a year. At over two-hundred pounds she finally filled two shelves in the freezer.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


A shorter version of this story is in my book "A TIME AND PLACE The Making of an Immigrant." I have expanded the story and it will be published as part of an e-book in the near future.

None of us had ever heard of a school bus. My sister walked to the same school, but she joined her own friends on the way. The closer one got to school, the more kids were seen walking. My buddy and I mostly stayed a pair.
One girl in our class, named Monika, was a cute fifth grader. She flashed large eyes and slung her curly, dark hair with a come-hither motion. We both must have been struck on her. Moreover, we were quite interested in the showing of her early development to womanhood. Every day we hustled to draw close and walk near her. We knew even at eleven years old, that men who admire the opposite sex do not walk ahead of the girls, but follow so the eye can get its fill.
As we walked close behind we’d crack snide remarks to tease her. She’d turn around and give us a chance to better ogle her noticeably developed front side.
Two young snaps are always braver than one alone. We asked her one day if she stuffed socks in her bra just to show off. Well, that did not set well with her. She got so upset at the insinuation that she approached the teacher and told of the comment we made.
The teacher called us to his desk and asked if the story was true. We confessed, thinking for sure we’d receive the warranted punishment. Keeping a stern face, he simply admonished us not to let it happen again. Monika was not angry with us, she just wanted to set the record straight.
We also trailed Monika walking home. Maybe out of habit, but certainly chemistry may have had something to do with it. We knew we would not be able to keep up an intelligent conversation with a girl that was messing with our mind. So, we stayed about five paces behind. This made us think we were with our girl, and it kept us from making fools of ourselves.
When you are infatuated, you just can’t talk of sports and trucks. The conversations we had in our minds we dare not reveal to the one for whom we had this longing. She was aware of us as we followed and most likely felt very important to have two sprouts interested in her. After she entered her building, we stayed across the street staring at her fourth floor window until she waved at us. Then we went home.

Saturday, November 9, 2013



Do you ponder? Do you marvel? Do you ever realize no matter how much education and experiences you’re absorbing in life, it does not make an iota of a difference on you destiny. 

From dust you came, and to dust you will return. That is a fact. If you think that fact is the end of life’s struggle, you are most pitied. So, I challenge you to ponder . . . marvel.

In my previous blog post I shared with you a small wonder of nature, titled: IT NEVER CEASES . . .. I’d like to continue with that thought.

The starlings did partake of the trees. One group at a time. They also, in their frenzy, dropped seeds to the ground. Does our Creator think this was wasteful? Consider this question: Did you ever bent down, after the ice and snows are gone, after the leaves have succumbed and had been blown into corners to make mulch, and you picked up and looked at one of those tiny dogwood seeds?

You will find that its shell had been chewed to expose the kernel on the inside of the seed. These kernels contributed to sustain the mice that do not sleep away the cold, but depend on the Lord to feed them. Even every dogwood seed that was not found, and had fallen into cracks in the soil, is in position to become a new seedling trees.

Over the years I have planted maples, redbuds, hollies, dogwoods, and poplars. All had volunteered in our flower beds just begging to be transplanted and given a chance to start a new cycle of life.

Have you ever considered the picture our Creator is giving us when the leaves turn colors, the fierce winds blow, dead branches fall to the ground and are covered by leaves? . . . The Spirit of God is the wind. It removed the dead branches from the living tree, us; our sins removed, covered by the sacrifice of Christ, the leaves.

Although the leaves are dead, the branches are dead, life continues. Termites, grubs, and other bugs feast on the fallen matter. The result is new soil to sustain the undergrowth, new vines, new trees; to feed turkeys and deer.

Nature . . . Time moves on. There is no end. Neither is there an end to your soul. Consider, ponder, marvel, . . . Give thanks.

“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” Matthew 6:26, KJV