SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - The Joy Of Pork, A Hur Thanksgiving

By Bob Weaver

There was seldom turkey at the Thanksgiving dinner of my youth in the Village of Hur. Turkey came years later with the invention of supermarkets.

There was plenty of the usual pork, in chops, roasts, slices or odds and ends, either canned or smoked, but sometimes fresh from butchering down on the barn lot.

My grandparents at Hur, the McCoy's, enjoyed pork three times a day, boiled, fried, ground or roasted. There was always some scraps on the table for a between-the-meal snack.

Pork was cured by honest-to-goodness smoking, and huge hams and bacons hung in the smoke house to be carved upon til gone.

The life of pork was extended by pots of gravy, the light or the thick starched kind, which could be dumped on sweet potatoes, splashed over potatoes or used on its creator, pork itself. The gravy went well with biscuits and toast, enough bad stuff to whip any good nutritionist into a twit.

A diet of pork and its complimentary food put a lot of extra weight on my grandmother McCoy, who like her mother and grandmother before her, wore a large apron over her obese stomach to keep the droppings off her good clothes.

Poor health practices caused her hair to turn gray when she was ninety, and she went on to be with the Lord a few days shy of 100, her cholesterol sky high.

All nine McCoy offspring, all deceased, and their kids would return to the home place, all the way from Parkersburg or "up in Ohio." Thanksgiving Dinner was complete with lots of root vegetables like parsnips, turnips and sweet potatoes.

Grandma Jenny was big on pickled items, corn, green beans, sauerkraut and beets, not to forget pickles themselves. She used large crocks, the ten to twenty gallon containers, to prepare the delicacies down in the basement.

Horseradish pickles, a tradition kept alive by Jim Bell, Blanche Whytsell and other Calhouners, were served in large bowls, a Thanksgiving favorite.

Uncle Eddie, who was famous for having more naps than any living person, used one of Grandma's large crocks to make home-brew, which was secretly sipped by the elders before and after the meal, to maintain moral turpitude among the kids.

It was here I had my brief experience as a social drinker, sharing a few glasses with Uncle Eddie.

All the McCoy women made pies and cakes for Thanksgiving, dozens of them. The art of bakery was topped with the dapping of thick, sugary icing, twice as much as store bought models and high fluffy meringues on the pies, or real sweetened cream to paste over the goodies, no Kool Whip here.

The object was to eat.

Eat until you could barely move and then retire to the living room or the front porch to sprawl on the stuffed furniture, but some souls went straight to bed to sleep off the calories.

After all, they survived the Great Depression, and now was a time to feast.

It was time to celebrate.