I must have been around five years old when I first heard of him. He was the scariest thing I’d ever known, but part of me still loved him. He was after all, still just a pig!
When I was little, I loved pigs. I think it was a healthy obsession? I had a whole menagerie of stuffed little porkers to keep me company. Buford and Erman were the leaders of the pack, but Rosie and Buford jr. were highly regarded as well. I had children’s books about pigs, I dressed like pigs for Halloween, part of the reason I gave up meat was because I couldn’t stand the thought of eating Erman’s friends. I even had a sticker that said, “Pigs are friends, not food.” Pigs are so cute! When I first read Charlotte’s Web, I felt as though E.B. White wrote Wilber’s tale personally for me. Fern Arable was such a relatable character!
My grandpa was one of the most well-respected and well-liked people throughout the entire history of our town. In addition to his time working at Electromaster and his short stint as a lumberjack (climbing wasn’t his thing), he was a WWII navy vet, a retired police lieutenant, and a retired courtroom bailiff. I don’t believe I’ve ever met a person who didn’t have a heartwarming story about how much they loved him. He was a truly gifted storyteller with an ear for humor, and a taste for
good cold beer. He had such a compassionate heart fostered by service to others. He was unbelievably fun to be around and would always find a way to make people feel good about their lot in life. He was also a crafty woodworker who kept his woodshop P-R-I-S-T-I-N-E.
I’m a five-year-old kid just hanging around with my grandpa, he knows how much I live for pigs. He breaks into this story that I can still remember today.
Papa: You know Ol’ Blue Boar is coming through town dontcha?
Me: No…Who’s Ol’ Blue Boar?
Papa: Ol’ Blue Boar is the meanest pig in the world, he’s only got one eye because he lost the other eye in a pig fight. He’s 500 pounds and has razor sharp teeth.
Me: Does he have a curly tail?
Me: Can we see him?
Papa: They have to keep him in a cage at all times, because if he gets out, he’ll attack anyone around him.
Me: Where are they taking him?
Papa: They’re dropping him off in in my wood shop and I need you to help me watch him, so he doesn’t make a mess.
Me: What if he attacks us?
Papa: That’s why I need you. As long as you keep eye contact with his good eye he’ll stay calm.
Me: How long do I need to stare at his eye?
Papa: No more than a couple of hours.
I knew the fate of our neighborhood was at stake (my grandparents lived on the same street as me). If I broke eye contact with Ol’ Blue Boar, he’d break out of the pen, mess up my grandpa’s woodshop, and destroy everything. Far worse than that, if the authorities caught up with Ol’ Blue Boar they would certainly have to put him down. I was terrified but I needed to do this for Ol’ Blue Boar and for the good of Smith Street.
Me: When is he coming?
Papa: Next Saturday at 8 AM, be ready I’ll pick you up.
I was terrified all week long but knew that Ol’ Blue Boar needed me. He wouldn’t attack as long as I was brave and stared him in the eye! I spent a lot of time that week staring into mirrors, preparing, trying not to blink, practicing.
Saturday morning came, it was a cold and snowy Michigan morning. I had my snow pants on, winter jacket was zipped and ready to go, knit hat with a knit ball on top, ears were covered. Snow boots. Check! Mittens. Check! I was ready to go.
8 AM) I’m out on the front porch…waiting…and waiting. I was hoping everything was okay, maybe the truck carrying him was running late, maybe Ol’ Blue Boar escaped.
9 AM) Sitting alone on my front porch bundled up in the cold – Gary (the babysitter) comes to check on me.
Gary: What’s going on?
Me: I’m waiting for Blue Boar.
10 AM) sitting alone on my front porch bundled up in the cold, teeth chattering – Gary (the babysitter) comes to check on me.
Gary: What’s going on?
Me: I’m waiting for Ol’ Blue Boar.
Gary: Who’s Ol’ Blue Boar?
Me: A one eyed pig with a curly tail, and he’s blue, and me and Papa are going to watch him, so he doesn’t destroy the neighborhood.
Gary: What is Blue Boar?
Papa: Oh shit.
I don’t remember the exact reason that Ol’ Blue Boar didn’t make it that day, (other than that he was totally made up) but I do remember getting warmed up with a bowl of soup at my grandparent’s dining room table. Relieved but sad that I wouldn’t meet Ol’ Blue Boar, I quicky had to refocus. As it turned out, my grandpa and I would soon have to help evict an angry and despondent family that didn’t care about anything. They were living in an eight-story tall, twelve-ton tire sitting on the side of northbound I-75.
I still love pigs!
Some friends of ours recently moved out to the Lake Tahoe area, which motivated me to check out some crags in the area. One spot that really caught my eye was a place called Pig Rock. Especially one particular route aptly named ‘The Pig’.
https://www.mountainproject.com/photo/107423934 (You have to see the picture of this rock.)
According to Mountain Project ‘The Pig’ is on a rock with top rope anchors and one route with four variations all in the 5.7 to 5.8 range. I can’t wait to make it out to that rock and send that pig!
I’ll do it for Ol’ Blue Boar, I’ll do it for my grandpa, and I’ll do it for all of Smith St. With the grace of the climbing community perhaps I’ll be able to name one of these four lesser known routes “Ol’ Blue Boar”! Who knows? But I smell a worthy destination for a road trip, and it has the faint scent of bacon.
- For more from Carrot and theDIHEDRAL, we host a monthly podcast found here and on most podcast hosting sites including Apple, Spotify, and Amazon.