By Otis Griffin
It was always a big event to go to the Mid-South Fair every fall. You’d get to tour the midway, see all the livestock shows, get scared on the rides, and sample the highly seasoned food. Then try to win some prizes at the ‘rigged’ games, until you ran out of money, which didn’t take very long. The rules were strict though, no money, no rides. So, you had to carefully conserve and not to blow your two or three dollars.
The same kids I grew up with all managed the long trip back ’en way down in the heart of the big city. Paul, Lynn, Phil, Tommy, Emerson and Arvis stuck together like a Southern Baptist preacha’ hangs onto a fried chicken leg and a cathead biscuit.
George and his family were transferred by the military to the Millington Navy base, and rented a house in our small community. They preferred the country living compared to military base restraints. (Cheaper) We were in the same grade and became good friends. George was from way up North and talked funny. No one could understand anything he mumbled, but he tried real hard to fit in.
When a Yankee comes to the country, it is a whole new ball game. We helped him all we could. He didn’t know the diff’rence between a horse and a cow, or maybe a ’coon from a ’possum. One day, someone would tell him that a fox was a registered beaver, and the next day, maybe a red wolf. We had him going in circles. Finally, we just plain felt sorry for him and stopped short of contributing to a first-class nervous, howling breakdown. However, a couple of times I think he was pretty close to chasing rabbits and barking at the moon.
One fall his Momma took a car load of us to the fair. There were boys and little gals crammed in an old slope backed Nash Rambler as tight as a can of mustard sardines. It was fun and better than staying home.
We had a big day at the fair, and the entire group was told a designated time to meet back at the car. The girls and boys had gone their separate ways, so you can imagine the confused coordination.
We were shuffling along and a booming voice blared over the loudspeakers informing everyone of the greased pig contest in a few minutes. Well, we wanted to witness this event. George had never heard of this contest, so he questioned us, and tagged along with the crowd. He reminded us not to be late since military folks have very short fuses.
The rules of a ‘greased pig contest’ are simple, even for Yankees. The little pigs are rubbed down with axle-grease, and then soaked with burnt motor oil. These little pigs are so smeared you could stuff one in a R. C. bottle cap. Now friends, that is slickery. Then the little ‘oinks’ are turned loose in a small enclosed pen and all you have to do is catch and hold them ’til the judge approves. Sounds simple enough, so we talked George into participating.
Lynn and Emerson gave George a great amount of encouragement and support. George, “you’ll have fun and think of all the money.” “All of us have done it.” Paul couldn’t resist with, “you don’t want to be called a ‘sissy’ do you?” Finally George relented and we knew it wasn’t going to be long before the ship hit the sand. Just one of the games that smart redneck Southern kids play in the country… GLORY!