Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Greased Pig contest

Many years ago, I was teaching in a private school. One year I was sponsor of what many of the faculty labeled as the most difficult of the senior classes-4D. Actually, I found them to be a very energetic and imaginative group, perhaps less concerned with the rules than most, and certainly less studious. But they were interesting, fun and goodhearted.

So it was no great surprise when they proposed holding a greased pig chase as a fund
raiser. I raised a number of objections, but they countered each with a reasonable answer. After seeking approval from administration, a date was set.

One boy in the class had an uncle who raised pigs, so that was taken care of. Posters were made. In fact, those in charge of publicity were very innovative . One day they were more animated than usual. The greased pig chase was being publicized on the local radio station most popular with high school kids. However, only students from our school could participate in the chase.

Entries began immediately ,with an amazing number coming from the freshman class. Briefly, I wondered if there was any coercion, but dismissed that thought. In fact, the whole school was buzzing about the upcoming porker party.

The day before the event, I received a call from an animal rights group. They were concerned about the safety of the pig. I thought to dismiss that thought also. The pig was soon to be shipped off to the packing house which would be a much worse experience than being chased by screaming teenagers. But the animal advocate was very serious. I explained that the pig would not be harmed. Once caught and secured by one or more students, he would be quickly returned to his home on the range. The contestants were allowed no tools, no aids at all. They must catch the pig using only their hands, and maybe their feet. Instantly, the pig's protector worried that someone might kick the pig. I assured her no kicking was allowed.

What were we going to put on the pig? Well, it was a "greased" pig contest. I guaranteed her it would be only natural products, quite possibly coming from the pig's ancestors.

"This might be too tiring for the pig," she continued. "I must insist you allow a rest period every five minutes." I suggested every fifteen minutes and we ultimately compromised on ten minutes. I wondered how effective this would be. Would the pig understand a rest period?

The day finally arrived and Joe drove his truck in with a very sturdy cage in the back with ... The Pig. To many, it looked like a wild boar. It snorted and banged against the cage, and several of the small freshmen began to have doubts about chasing this wild animal. Some worried the razorback might chase them.

The class committee decided to use vegetable oil to grease the swine, assuring the pig would be very hard to hold. Ten minutes before start time, students lined up behind a rope marking the starting line, and Joe and two classmates poured corn oil on the shoat, who didn't care for the attention. Hands would pop in and spread the oil and jerk back before the pig could bite.

Though close to eighty students had signed up, there were probably only fifty on the starting line. On the count of three, the rope was dropped and the door to the cage thrown opened.

Porky just stood there.

After railing against the cage, it didn't want to leave. Joe grabbed a pencil out of his shirt pocket, reached in the cage, and jabbed the pig in its hindquarters. The boar took off. And as the contestants started running and screaming, the pig kept running.

Two or three students got a hand on the porker, but the slippery oil let the swine escape. However, twin brothers had devised a plan and simultaneously dove at the pig from opposite sides. As the greasy bovine slipped out of one twin's hands, it put him in the brother's arms.

In three minutes, the contest was over. The twins held the oil covered pig down for the required thirty seconds and were declared the winners.

This special class, 4D, had once again deviated from the norm. During the week leading up to the event anticipation saturated the school and grabbed the attention of the entire student body and most of the faculty.

And though the contest was very short, everyone in attendance seemed to have a great time.

Except, perhaps, the pig.

James R. Callan, 2017


Rusty said...

Mr Callan - That 4D class was so lucky to have experienced at least a year of schooling with you. You were always open minded and knew how to work with your students to allow and encourage them to learn in a way most effecrtive for them. You channeled their energies. Thank you for the specialness you gave to them and for sharing their story with us; I sure hope some of them are connected and reading it now, too. Thank you also for the same kind of specialness and opportunity you brought to my cohort at Stockard Jr. High in Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas.
Thanks, Happy New Year & All th' e-Best
Franz "Rusty" Tyson
EPTAC Certified IPC Specialist
Electronic Manufacturing Yellow Belt
Electromagnetic Spectrum Technologist, DCSE, MCSA with Messaging, Net+, A+, CPA, Member of NSA, Member of AICPA, ... xyz

authorlindathorne said...

A greased a pig fund raiser? Now, that's unique. I enjoyed the story. The font was a little small. Might just be my trifocals, but I've started using the font marked large when I post.
Thank you.

G. B. Miller said...

Most animal rights activists have swiss cheese for brains to begin with. Kudos for you to not quite bending to the whims of the stupid and allowing the kids to what they want when they wanted to.

Jewel Amethyst said...

LOL. This definitely had to be in a rural area. The students in most urban areas only see pigs as bacon on their plates.

Many years ago back in the tiny developing country of St. Kitts, education was geared toward academics. One very smart headmaster decided to try some thing new. He determined that those who were considered "dumb" and failed at academics, could be good at things with the hands like carpentry, auto mechanics, plumbing etc. He offered those courses and proved successful as those who did not excel academically excelled at the more hands on technical stuff. To this day that man is credited with overhauling the school system and has a high school named after him. You remind me of him. When you give students who think outside the box the leeway to explore their own path,they accomplish great things.

Liane Spicer said...

Love the story! A local entertainer holds a party every Christmas and the highlight is the Greased Pig race. I think the winner gets to keep the pig.

Linda, I've fixed the font to the Blogger default. Copying the post from some other application and pasting into Blogger can be problematic, which is why I recommend dropping it first into Notepad which removes all formatting, then pasting into the Blogger "compose" box. Eliminates myriad issues.