A return from the land of pork

The title might suggest that I took a trip to Washington, D.C. However, I was actually a little closer to home. In fact, I didn’t even leave my state; I just traveled to one edge of it — the edge that happens to be right across the river from where I grew up. I packed the kids up and went back to my old stompin’ grounds in order to take the kids to a threshing bee. It’s usually something we go to every year, partially because the threshing bee is something the kids’ grandparents are sort of involved with (as helpers and supporters), and also because the town where the threshing bee is located is one where some of my relatives put down roots back in the day. The town is gone now — not a single building remains. That always intrigues me, because I don’t understand how every single building could just go *poof*! Didn’t any of them survive? Did anyone cart off the buildings to adorn a farm after the town closed up? Did they all burn down? Did a gigantic tornado come and carry everything off, hastening the town’s demise? I’m pretty sure the options don’t involve the latter, but it’s still curious that a town that once housed a stockyards, bank, depot, telephone office, and various other buildings has absolutely nothing left to show for itself.

I know, I know . . . now would be a pretty good spot to show some pictures of my adventures. I didn’t carry my camera around that weekend for a couple reasons: a) my camera is one of the digital SLRs, so it’s not something I can slip in my pocket. I wasn’t in the mood to lug it around the entire day, and b) the pictures would not be very exciting unless I zeroed in on some of the attendees.

I’m a big people-watcher. I could amuse myself for an entire day by just plopping down on a bench and watching The Public walk by and amuse me. However, it’s hard to take pictures of The Public without their noticing you. In a small-town situation like this threshing bee, the last thing I wanted was to be known as “that girl who’s takin’ pictures of people.” Sure, I could have used my telephoto zoom in order to take pics from far away, but not only would I have had to lug around that heavy lens around my neck all day, but it also would have made me feel vaguely like a stalker. So I sat and watched instead. Maybe I’ll be brave to take pictures next year.

The bee is truly a study in the modern mix of cultures — or rather a culture clash, if you will. The standard old-school farmers are there, of course, but it’s the sprinkling in of the rest of America that is intriguing — the teenagers (undoubtedly forced to go by their parents), modern hippies, gay couples, drunks, and other people who stick out like a sore thumb. There’s a couple who travels around to various things dressed in 50’s clothing. The guy has Elvis hair, skinny jeans, and looks like he could compete nicely in a 50’s costume party. The lady has a bouffant flip hairdo that reminds me more of an early sixties look, but she also looks like the real deal with her hair, cat eye glasses, and capris. They saunter around, ignoring the stares that they gather, but I’m sure they get plenty of comments wherever they go. (Incidentally, when I opened the paper the next morning, a picture of them was smack dab on page 2; they had also attended a jazzfest that weekend as well, and the picture was of them dancing the night away.) Obviously, this threshing bee has a mix of cultures that is hard to find anywhere else, except possibly a State Fair. It’s interesting how the tiny grounds of this vanished town can draw such a diverse crowd with the promise of a threshing bee and lots and lots of pork.

Pork. Gah! Is there an unwritten rule somewhere that every meal has to consist of PORK at a threshing bee? The noon meal was pork! The nightly meal was the product of a pork roast! The breakfast consisted of lots of pork sausage! I understand that consuming pork truly shows how supportive we all are of the farm families, but I also can’t help but think of all the other products a typical farm produces. Eggs, anyone? How ’bout some hamburger?

Incidentally, I think there was some secret ingredient in that pork that induced a sort of addiction. For this morning, when I pondered what to make for supper tonight, it wasn’t until AFTER I had plopped the pork roast into the crock pot and smothered in in BBQ sauce that I thought about what I was doing. I almost thought about looking in the mirror to see if I had those spiral zombie eyes that cartoon characters used to have. They’ve got me . . . I’m hooked.

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  1. NeeNee’s avatar

    Ah, sounds like you had the Ultimate Pork Experience!

    My dad’s steam show featured one of the neighbor couples who dressed up in 1880’s garb, and demonstrated a turn-of-the-century Maytag washer. Should add that it was powered by goats walking around & around! The goats were spelled by a team of dogs from time to time. (should add that these dogs were not to be trusted. Like as not, when you’d go see Erma & John the dogs were tied by the front gate, with one paw pulled through their collar. Evidently this was a technique to keep them in line. Very odd . . . )

    Another steam show display was a guy with a small gas-powered engine who cut cedar shingles. Everybody got a free shingle as a souvenir.

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    1. Jen’s avatar

      Hmmmmm . . . a goat-powered (and sometimes dog-powered) washer?! No thank you! I’m sure it was interesting to see, but it sounds just a tad bit twisted. I think if one needs to disable a dog in order to keep it in line, then someone didn’t do a good job of training in the first place. Wow!

      The cedar shingle guy sounds interesting, too; however, I’m not sure what I’d do with one cedar shingle. Would that hopefully inspire people to go drop a load of money on a thousand more cedar shingles in order to actually do something with them? Or perhaps that shingle was meant to rest up on a shelf someplace so that attendees of the steam show could reminisce upon the day that they say the Cedar Shingle Guy . . . in person! 😀

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