Take it outside Christmas morning and jump on it with both feet

Posted by | December 9, 2011

Three remaining parts of the hog deserve brief mention. One, the tail, is a most delectable morsel when roasted in an oven or over an open fire.

Two, the hog’s spleen, sometimes called the milt (German), is a tasty delicacy when roasted and sprinkled with salt. Immediately after its removal, along with the viscera en masse, the spleen often was broiled on a hot rock taken from the hog-killing fire. Eating of spleens thus prepared was one of the perquisites of hog-killers.

Finally there was the hog’s bladder. It was a common practice during my youth and in my hillbilly community, for people to inflate hogs’ bladders and hang them up in the attic or smokehouse to dry. A bladder-blowing tube was needed for this. The classic procedure for making a tube was to punch the pith from a section of sassafras bush by means of a piece of hay-baling wire. Some simply used a short length of dead ragweed stalk.

Anyway, the tube, whatever its origin, was introduced into the opening at the neck of the bladder. As much air as it could hold was blown in, and the bladder neck was tied off with a string. Considerable shrinkage would occur as the bladder dried.

However, by warming it over an open fire or stove the contained air would expand and produce a tensely inflated balloon. The conventional thing to do with this used to be to take it out of doors on Christmas morning, after distending it completely by warming, lay it down and jump on it with both feet.

The sound of its popping was quite like that of a firecracker. It was much less expensive than a firecracker and far less dangerous. Incidentally, Christmas and not the Fourth of July was the time for setting off firecrackers in my boyhood community.

Although my home was less than 20 miles from that of the author of the Declaration of Independence, we paid little attention to the Fourth of July except as the day by which we tried to have our growing corn “laid by,” i.e., the deadline for the last cultivation of the corn.

—Herbert Lamont Pugh
born in Batesville VA, 1895
author of “Navy Surgeon,” online at www.archive.org/stream/navysurgeon027128mbp/navysurgeon027128mbp_djvu.txt

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