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Christmas and 1948 hog-killing celebrationPosted Friday, December 9, 2011, at 8:36 PM
Christmas 1948...my "last" Christmas of "innocense."
As weather dictated those cold winter months, my family decided to kill hogs on Christmas Eve.
No problem, for a good hog killing day meant that farm families from miles around would pitch in, bring their hogs for slaughter and butchering. It was hard work, but enjoyable because it was a coming together of our Bootheel farming community.
That was the hog-killing day my Uncle R.T. Reed decided it was time to teach Little Danny Whittle how to "measure a pigs' tail."
He hailed me over behind that newly-killed hogs' behind, stretched out that dead hogs curly-cue pig tail, and not being a bright child, I let him stretch that old pigs tail out over my out-stretched hand and thumb...and wham!!...Uncle R.T. shoved my hand where the sun doesn't shine.
But that was not the moment I lost some major childhood innocense.
It happened late that day, after the hogs were butchered and quartered, that Momma and Daddy Whittle had us three youngens stay out in our old trusty, slightly rusty 1943 Ford farm truck, as they went into the house to see if Santa had arrived.
Daddy had instructed us to watch the chimney atop our house, to maybe catch a glimpse of Santa and maybe even his reindeer.
As our parents stepped into the house, it was older brother, Van, who popped out with: "There ain't no Santa Claus."
"Is too," I fired back.
"Ain't neither," he challenged. "Just babies believe in Santa!!...."
That "baby" reference was fighting words to little brother. So I immediately climbed over sister, insisting that there is indeed, a Santa.
When big brother shoved me back, I leaned forward and immediately blooded brother's fist with my nose and face.
Mercifully, the fight ended up with brother on top of me when parents came outside, verifying once and for all, that Santa had indeed been to our farm house.
"See there," I retorted to big brother. "There is too a Santa..."
And sure enough, Ol' St. Nick had got my letter I'd addressed to him at KSIM Radio in Sikeston, asking for a Roy Rogers gun and holster set.
Lo and behold, Santa had brought the holsters, made out of genuine cow hide, and two pistols, made out of genuine plastic.
Being that was the last Christmas I got to share with Daddy, who perished in a grinding car crash on Oct. 25, 1950, I held on to that gun and holster set, until passing it on to my newphew in Poplar Bluff.
Contrary to older brother's claim of there being no Santa, I still believe in the Big Guy!!
To "Bootheel Beat" readers, I wish you and yours a very merry and blessed Christmas 2011. And please don't forget the Christ Child, the real reason for the season.
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Retired recently as world-traveled newspaperman, career made possible by late Superintendent of Schools Robert L. Rasche, about to have Bootheel life book published by SEMO State University. Loved farm life, but knew at five years old, didn't want to be a "cotton picker" when I grew up.
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