Source: Sherman Publications

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Jim's Jottings
Going from hogs to hogwash

by Jim Sherman, Sr.

July 20, 2011

I was raised on a farm. Well, that's not exactly correct. What my dad did was not exactly "farming." He liked farming, but we never rented more than 40 acres.

Dad would till with his Terraplane, or whatever kind of car he owned at the time.

And, Dad loved hogs. Big hogs. When we took our annual trip to the Ionia County Fair, first thing Dad would do is go to the hog barn, lean over the fence and scratch a sows belly.

Then he'd grin. And, he loved butchering them. That was our first exposure to the sweet, inviting flavor of boiled cow's tongue. Cooked one for myself recently.

We lived on farms in Laingsburg, Durand, Bancroft and Vernon. Dad worked the railroad in Durand, but country living was what he sought.

Pigs and farms, got it? So, with that lead-in . . . On a recent night out, someone asked if anyone knew what head cheese was. Well, yeah! Whenever Dad butchered a hog, mother made head cheese. We'd have head cheese sandwiches and head cheese and gravy. Can't say I loved it, but we ate it.

I'll tell you the ingredients, then you can make your own: Edible parts of the head, feet, tongue and heart; cut up fine, boiled and pressed.

I don't recall ever seeing it on a menu, in a meat counter or grocery advertisement. However, I do recall seeing it in cans.

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The thing that prompted this diatribe was waste in our world. Fireworks are an expensive waste. Shooting money into the air just doesn't appeal to me. I recall, as a businessman, contributing to fireworks only once in my 50-plus years.

And, don't think a bursting rocket is more patriotic than a non-bursting rocket.

Patriotism is a heart thing, not a firecracker.

As for waste, nothing was wasted in Dad's pig butchering. He even fried the tail.

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Remember the poem The Bee?

"He is a busy soul, he has not time for birth control.

"And that's why in times like these, there are so many sons of bees."

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You'd think the next national election was tomorrow, there's so much campaigning going on. With a Romney in the race, I was prompted to call a newspaper friend of mine, Dick Milliman.

In 1962 and '63 he was Michigan Governor George Romney's press secretary and speech writer.

He went on to get into the legitimate business of newspaper ownership, both weeklies and dailies and is still involved in a couple. My question to him was: Did the Mormon religion get the attention it's getting today?

I knew George Romney was of the Mormon faith, but don't recall it getting the media attention it's getting today. I remember John Kennedy's Catholicism got plenty of press.

Dick said little was made of the Romney-Mormon connection in Romney's quests. He did say George Romney wouldn't campaign on Sundays, but he did do some campaign work at home Sundays.

Now we have Mitt Romney, a Mormon, George's son, running for the highest office in the land.

Though it doesn't get the media attention the Kennedy-Catholic campaign got, it is still mentioned a lot more frequently than the religion of say, Pawlenty, Bachmann, McCotter, Huntsman, etc.