I always enjoyed Sundays when we’d load up the family wagon and head off to visit my grandparents north of Stratford.
Most times, my aunt and uncle would be there, too, so there were eight kids running around – my cousin and his younger brother were just about the same age as my brother and I. We didn’t need a lot of toys, just being on the small farm provided lots of things to do.
Back in the mid-1950s, grandpa had a pair of pigs that pretty much ran free in the yard. He’d had ‘em since they were piglets and they had the run of the place as they grew. They were more like dogs than pigs. They’d follow us around the yard and run after us just like a couple of puppies. I think it was because we’d always have something to feed them.
I’m not sure who named them. I’d guess it was my dad – he had that kind of sense of humor. Anyway, we called them Pete and Re-Pete. The four of us boys would go out in the yard and call them. They’d come running to see what we had for a treat.
Then, one Sunday in 1957 – it was a week or two before Easter – we arrived a little later than usual. My aunt and uncle were already there and my cousin was unusually quiet.
He didn’t say much when I said we should go out and play. He said he’d rather be inside. Well, I didn’t argue much, but ran outside, figuring he’d join me in a minute or two.
I called for Pete and Re-Pete, but they didn’t come. I was confused and ran back inside to ask about the two pigs. My dad and my uncle, Bob, exchanged a look that left me puzzled. They took me back outside and pointed to the old garage.
There, hanging by their hind legs were Pete and Re-Pete.
I was devastated – probably even shed a few tears.
Those beloved hogs had been slaughtered and were hanging there to cure.
I demanded to know why my uncle Bob had done that.
“Well,” my dad said, “Easter Sunday is next weekend and we’re …”
I’d heard enough. I covered my ears. It was the most horrible news I’d ever heard.
Somehow, I survived that life-altering ordeal, but that particular Sunday wasn’t any fun at all.
When Easter Sunday rolled around, we headed back to my grandparents’ home. Mom had baked a couple of apple pies. The old wood cooking stove was hot as a huge feast was prepared.
Grandma’s cooking was always wonderful. Her fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and hot rolls were always the best.
But, my favorite had always been her ham and pork chops. They were the best I’d ever had, and the best I’ve had since.
That Easter Sunday, though, I didn’t have much of an appetite when Grandma carried in a big platter of ham and put it down in the middle of the table.
I didn’t really hear the table prayer that day. My mind was on something else. I couldn’t take my eyes off that big platter of ham in the center of the table.
And, I sure didn’t have much of an appetite that day.
I couldn’t bear to think it was Pete, or maybe Re-Pete, that was lying there. It’s silly, I know, but I think about Pete and Re-Pete every year during the Easter season.