The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Parsons and Pigs

Parsons and PigsBy Jennifer Perkins © 1992

Issue: July-August-September, 1992

"My best peach preserves and a comb of honey will make our meal complete," said Granny Emma while she finished setting the table for Sunday dinner. She touched the petals of the bouquet of Peace roses gracing the table.

"Henry, you hurry the boys along or we'll be late for church." He put down the Sunday paper and went to check on his sons' progress.

"Do we have to wear these ties, Pa?" Jeremy asked, as he tied it again. The tie was rumpled but his best white shirt was neat and clean. He slicked down his cowlick for the third time.

"Ma wants us lookin' our best for the new preacher. No fightin' with Jimmy after Sunday school."

"Okay, Pa."

"No more visits to Aunt Amanda's chicken coop to hunt eggs, either." He shook a finger at his son but there was a twinkle in his green eyes. He remembered a previous incident involving his sons, a city boy's choir and rotten eggs.

"Yes, siree."

After checking on the baking ham, Granny went to the fruit cellar for her preserves and a fresh comb of honey.

"Now what's this?" said Granny after she removed the jam jar from the shelf. She set the jam jar down on the dirt floor and began pulling several hidden jars off the shelf. "Not my grape juice," she said after opening the lid of one and sniffing its contents.

"Henry's been up to his tricks again." she said after screwing on the lid. "'Tis blackberry wine."

"I'll soon be fixin' that. And him a thinkin' he could fool me."

Granny took the four jars of wine with her when she left the cellar. She found a bucket and proceeded to dump the contents into it. "I'll dump this bootleg wine in the creek. that'll teach him."

"Emma, you best be a hurrin' or we'll be late for church," Grandpa hollered. I'll go crank up the car."

Granny set down the bucket in exasperation. she pushed back the urge to throttle Grandpa. "I'll dispose of this after the parson's left," she said to herself. She put the bucket down next to a bucket of peelings and scraps outside the fence by the chicken coop and pig pen.

Granny Emma bustled into the house, hastily washed her hands and poked a hat pin in her best hat decorated with a red rose. She joined Henry and the boys in the Model-T. the family set off to their small country church down the dirt and gravel lane.

After Sunday school, the boys took their places next to Grandpa. Jeremy and Jimmy fidgeted with their rumpled ties. Granny whispered, "Jimmy tuck in your shirt," as the choir sang "Amazing Grace."

After the offering plate was passed, Parson Brown began to speak. "My subject today is Temperance." Grandpa was sure the parson was speakin' to him and squirmed in his seat. He picked up his straw hat and fanned himself. "Hottest day and not a breath of air stirrin'." The preacher droned on and Grandpa's eyelids lowered.

"The wages of sin is death," Parson Brown slammed down his Bible. Grandpa awoke as the Bible thumped on the podium. This preacher may be a city "fellar," but he's a hell fire and brimstone kind, he thought to himself. He looked over at Emma but she was listening to the parson's words.

When church was over and the parson was done shaking hands with the congregation, Grandpa and Granny went over to speak to him.

"Mighty good preachin'," said Grandpa. "I like a parson that can thump a Bible now and again." He shook the preacher's hand with a strong grip.

"You can follow us home in your car," spoke up Granny.

"I knew your Grandpappy Preacher Shell, Mrs. Green. He was a mighty fine man," Parson Brown said, finding favor with Granny.

Parson Brown followed them home. Granny hurried into the house to finish fixing dinner. "Henry, you keep an eye on the boys while you show the Reverend around the farm. Tell Joe to slop the pigs before he comes in to eat."

"Yes'm." said Grandpa.

Grandpa, Granny, and the parson took their places at the table along with Jeremy, Jimmy and the hired hand, Joe. They joined hands while the parson said grace. Granny served dinner.

"These are mighty fine preserves. Bet you win all the prizes at the county fair," said Rev. Brown, helping himself to more peaches.

"Yep, thems Emma's best peach preserves. The good Lord gave us the bees and the sourwood honey."

"You set a fine table, Mrs. Green."

"Have some more ham. Nothin' like country ham and fixin's. Henry butchers his own pigs. We smoke and cure 'em ourselves," said Granny impressing the preacher. "After dinner, Henry can show you our garden and berry patch."

Grandpa and the preacher pushed their chairs away from the table. "Need to stretch my legs and walk some of this off," said Parson Brown, patting his bulging tummy.

"We'll have berry pie and coffee later."

The preacher and Grandpa stopped to admire Granny's roses on their way to the vegetable garden. Grandpa could hear the pigs squealing and rooting around in their pen. Their squeals increased in pitch, raising a ruckus in the sweltering heat.

"Do pigs always act that way, so noisy? They're acting like a bunch of noisy drunks staggering and stumbling around," said the Reverend with a straight face.

"Drunk. Drunk. That's impossible. Now me and my pigs are the sober sort of folk." said Grandpa. "I swear, I've never seen them act so strange."

As soon as Parson Brown left, Grandpa decided to do a little investigating. The pigs snored on in their drunken slumber. By the fence stood the two empty buckets, one reeking of blackberry wine. "I'll bet Emma found my stash and dumped it."

Emma came outside. "So you found my finest blackberry wine," he said to her.

"I was going to dispose of it in the creek, to teach you a lesson."

"Well, the pigs enjoyed it." Grandpa grinned sheepishly.

"And a find Sunday this turned out to be. A parson a preachin' on temperance and us havin' drunken pigs," said Granny, as her sense of humor returned. "Some impression we made."

Up the road and around the bend from the farm, Parson Brown stopped his car. He started chuckling, then laughed until he had to stop and wipe the tears from his eyes with his neatly folded white handkerchief. His sides ached from all his laughter. "The good Lord guided me to preach on the sins of liquor, but I don't think drunken swine was what he had in mind."