The Mekemson Kids Did It: Who Shot Pavy’s Pig?… The MisAdventure Series

Who Shot the Pig?

Like the gunslingers of the Old West, our reputations far exceeded the reality of our actions. Take Tony Pavy’s pig for example. Tony had a large pond with bullfrogs, a hundred or so acres of scrubland, and a wooded hillside that housed a number of gray squirrels. He also had an attitude similar to Jimmy Pagonni’s: children were not to be heard or seen, particularly on his property. As with Pagonni, we didn’t allow Pavy to keep us from our appointed rounds. We would slip in at night to harvest his bullfrogs and during the day to bring down a squirrel. Tony had a very effective way of getting rid of us. In a very loud voice he would yell, “Mama, get my gun!” and we would streak out of there.

A couple of friends and I were hunting for the squirrels on his hillside when the unfortunate incident with the pig took place. But before I tell the story, I need to digress and provide some background information.

Growing up in Diamond in the 50s meant having a gun and shooting things. At least it did if you were a boy. We graduated from BB guns and 22s to deer rifles and shotguns. Obtaining your first rifle was an experience similar in importance to obtaining your driver’s license, except you could get one a lot earlier. Before we were allowed to hunt, however, certain rules were pounded into our heads. First, it was important to know exactly what you were shooting.

This might seem obvious but flatlanders out of Sacramento often had trouble making the distinction between a cow and a deer. Of a much more serious nature, at least to me, Allen shot my dog. Tickle had been clearing out an old abandoned mine shack of pack rats and Allen shot through the wall thinking he was a rat. Tickle survived; Allen almost didn’t. There were other things we weren’t supposed to shoot as well. Robins were high on the list. They ate their weight daily in bugs. It was okay to shoot ‘vermin’ such as ground squirrels, jackrabbits and coyotes.

My usual preference was for watching wildlife, not killing it. I made an exception for gray squirrels. The thrill of the hunt combined with my appetite for a delicious squirrel and dumpling stew my mother whipped up overcame any reservations I had. All of which brings me back to the pig. Gray squirrels have about the same appreciation for being shot that you or I might. To avoid this unhappy circumstance, they take off leaping through the trees. The one we had marked for dinner was jumping from limb to limb in a live oak tree on the hill above Pavy’s with all three of us shooting at it when we heard a bellow from the barnyard.

“Mama, get my gun! They shot my pig! They shot my pig! Hurry Mama!”

 

I don’t know how fast Mama moved but we flew. By the time Ernie Carlson, the County Sheriff, caught up with us we were far away from Pavy’s and about as innocent as newborn piglets.

“Excuse me boys,” the Sheriff remarked when he pulled over in his car and rolled down his window, “I don’t suppose you know anything about Tony Pavy’s pig being shot.”

“No, sir,” we replied respectfully in unison. We had rehearsed.  Besides, we were technically correct. We hadn’t shot Pavy’s pig; we hadn’t even shot the squirrel. It was a ricocheting bullet that did in the pig.

Ernie looked at us dubiously.

“Pavy described three kids that fit your description,” the Sheriff said as he continued to build pressure, hoping that one of us would break. The fact that there were no other kids in town that looked like us was a rather significant clue.

“We’ve been out in back of Ot Jones pond,” I argued indignantly. And we had been; so what if we had arrived there out of breath.

“Well, you kids behave yourselves,” the Sheriff said with an ominous I know you’re lying tone. We breathed a joint sigh of relief as he rolled up his window and drove off. Once more we had avoided a fate we probably deserved. I suspect now that Ernie was not one hundred percent dedicated to finding the alleged pig murderers. Tony was not universally loved in the community for several reasons, of which regularly threatening to shoot little kids was only one.

For example, my father did some electrical work for him once for free. As he was leaving, Tony asked, “Would you like one of my geese for dinner?”

“Sure,” Pop had replied assuming Pavy was offering it as thanks for his four hours of work.

“Good,” Tony had replied, “that will be five dollars.” Pop was more than a little irritated. He had a hearty laugh years later when I told him about our adventure with the pig. I wisely avoided telling him at the time, however. His perspective on our miscreant behavior softened substantially with distance and age.

The end. It was a twisted tale.

41 comments on “The Mekemson Kids Did It: Who Shot Pavy’s Pig?… The MisAdventure Series

  1. Curt you really were a handful as a child. Well as an adult too it seems. Never a dull moment it seems. When I grew up on the prairies it was prairie gophers and I recall a time when they were such pests that there was money given for each tail. I as a girl was not allowed to participate. That activity I may have been glad to forego.

    • We had the bounty’s as well, Sue. Anything that reduced a farmer or rancher’s profits might be included. Blue jays, for example, that liked cherries and other fruit. Sad. I don’t think that there were any rules about girls not being able to hunt, although they would have been few since it wasn’t considered a ‘girl-like’ thing to do, any more than climbing trees. –Curt

  2. I never got further than what we used to call airguns – pellet guns, I suppose, as the round ammo of a BB gun wasn’t allowed in the UK. Never hit anything, to my knowledge, though my friend whose pistol it was boasted he had done. Have to admire your supplying the cooking pot!

    • England’s rules on guns are much stricter, Dave. And more civilized. The wild west is still alive and booming in the US. I don’t see anyone taking away hunter’s guns in the near future, or the far future. But it would be a big step forward if we could just get rid of the semi-automatics like the AR 15. –Curt

  3. Your tales are simply marvelous and told so well. Nice puns at the very end, too! You never missed a beat. I have to feel a bit sorry for kids who grew up in the city (like me?) and missed these sorts of adventures. Though I could probably root around in the memory banks and think up some adventures of riding the buses and street cars of Boston in the way back times. Pity I’m not a natural born teller of stories. 😉

    • Laughing. I was trying to figure out the buses in Boston on Friday. I figured out ti was easier to go from South Station out to the airport and catch the hotels shuttle. Boston seems to have a great public transportation system, however, regardless of Charly’s problems getting off the MTA. 🙂 And thanks, Gunta. I enjoy telling stories. I always have. –Curt

  4. I remember my days out in Alberta when we sat and took potshots at the Prairie Gophers that stuck their heads out of the holes in the hill. There was a bounty on them too. I bet old Pavy cut up the pig and put it in the freezer if he could not sell him. Nothing like a tasty pork roast, I always say.

    • We did the same with ground squirrels, Bob. Now I just trap the ones trying to get into our garden and transport them across the river where they have to make their living the old fashioned way. I tell them how lucky they are since my neighbors shoot them for similar transgressions. 🙂

  5. Your childhood is certainly filled with twisted tales, Curt.
    Love this story. As we are currently engaging in a profound debate about gun control and gun safety, it’s informative to read that BB guns and other rifles have been part of people’s lives for a very long time in the U.S. and elsewhere too, by the way. There are tons of hunters in France.
    I read a fabulous book called Untamed (I think I blogged about it, since I loved the book), which portrays a woman (now well in her late 70s) who embarked on a long-life goal to protect the Georgia Island of Cumberland. She ate the product of her fishing and hunting and also fed on fresh roadkills. The book includes many passages related to her cooking, which is described as phenomenal. The author of the book especially loved her squirrel stew.
    Never ate any personnally and probably won’t, but I love the fact that you grew up eating wild dishes that now feel more than rustic.
    Such childhoods make for vivid stories for sure.

    • The sad thing about the gun debate in America to me, Evelyne, isn’t that hunters hunt. Although I gave that up long ago as something I wanted to do. It’s the fact that so many hunters support the gun industry’s promotion of WMD’s like AR 15s. And AR 15s are weapons of mass destruction. There are not made for hunting.
      I was proud of the young people across America yesterday who spoke out for the need to control gun violence. Maybe they can make a difference. I certainly don’t have a lot of faith in America’s political leaders who are owned ‘lock, stock, and barrel’ by the gun industry, to make use of an old phrase.
      We didn’t have a lot of money, Evelyne, so whatever we could add to the larder was appreciated. We weren’t even questioned to closely about where the cherries we brought home came from. 🙂 –Curt

      • I do agree with you again, Curt. I understand hunting, even though I don’t hunt. One of my uncles did, and I’ve eaten the rabbits or pheasants he killed. I had mixed feelings about the hunting culture, but none of us were rich either, so it was a way of feeding families. There were also some necessary skills to acquire if you wanted to be a good hunter and respect for the prey. Now in the USA, the NRA owns our government and nothing can change if they don’t budge.
        I was also so so proud of the high school students who articulated so well and so passionately the need for change. Who knows it could start something as big as the anti-Vietnam war marches. In any case, they shame anyone who still supports weapons of mass destruction.

  6. My brother shot his own hand but tried to hide the accident from his parents. It was only when it became infected he went to the doctor who had a hard time understanding the possibility of shooting own hand. It did not prevent him from continuing his hunting for wild pigs.

    • There was a time in America, like back when I was a kid, that the NRA devoted itself to promoting gun safety as opposed to protecting the profits of the gun industry.
      Guns are dangerous, no doubt about it. Several hundred deaths a year in America are attributable to a person shooting himself or someone else by mistake. “I didn’t know the gun was loaded,” One of my friends in the 8th Grade was killed by his friend when they were playing around with a shotgun. Even worse is when an adult leaves a loaded gun around that is picked up by a five-year-old.
      So, Gerard, did your parents finally learn the truth? –Curt

    • Depends a bit on state laws. And laws are changing. Laws vary for pistols and rifles and semi automatic weapons like the AR 15. You can’t knowingly own a firearm in Oregon under the age of 18 in Oregon— unless you parent gives it to you. Then all bets are off. 12, 13, 14, 7… who knows.
      One of the debates nationally is that younger people could buy an AR 15 in many areas before they can vote or drink alcohol.
      I don’t remember exactly, but we were probably 12 or so.

  7. A friend and I were talking last night about our high school days, when having a shotgun in the truck was as common as stopping for malts and french fries after school. When classes let out, the boys would head off to hunt whatever, depending on the season. If there wasn’t opportunity to hunt, they’d share a rifle for target practice, shooting tin cans or bottles down in a ravine.

    I laughed at your remark about those who can’t tell a cow from a deer. It’s still a fact of life around here, and listening to ranchers or hunting lease owners tell their tales is always amusing.

    • Your comments speak to how deeply hunting was/is ingrained in our society, Linda, at least the more rural parts. I find it frustrating that the gun industry has been able to persuade legitimate hunters that their hunting rifles will be taken away from them if AR 15s and other automatic/semi-automatic weapons are banned. I am reminded of the time in California when I pushed for an increase on tobacco to use the money for prevention purposes, the tobacco industry did everything in its power to persuade beer and wine drinkers that they were next. The tobacco industry knew that they might very well lose otherwise. They didn’t succeed with the beer and wine drinkers and they lost.
      And occasionally, there are the hunters who can’t tell the difference between a deer and another hunter! Thus the admonition to always wear bright clothes. –Curt

  8. We shot guns, too, but I never could bring myself to shoot any animal. A can on a fencepost and clay birds were my only prey. And squirrel and dumping stew?!?! That would have turned me off meat even earlier!

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