Apr 29-07

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2007: April: Apr 29-07
Slippery Shoebox Memory    ...scroll down to share comments
Courtesy of Upper Peninsula Region of Library Cooperation

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 07:36 am:

Life as a lumberjack was not all hard work. Time for some fun and games back in 1915, at Camp One of the Morgan Lumber and Cedar Company near Foster City, a few miles northeast of Iron Mountain. The guy on the right with outspread arms seems to be saying, "Come to Papa", but Porky seems quite uninterested. Have you ever met anyone who actually won a greased pig contest?? Reminds me of Varsity Club initiations back in High School.

We send out today's shot with a special dedication to Edie's Dad Jerry Cobb, whom we visited last week after heart surgery. He's recovering nicely, with a double bypass and a borrowed pig valve (and more than his share of wisecracks about "bringing home the bacon").

This compelling photo is from the Upper Peninsula Digitization Center Collections of the U.P. Region of Library Cooperation in Marquette. Not only do they have lots of neat old pictures, but scans of notes and diaries that give us a taste of U.P. life, like a 1951 pasty party with the Girl Scouts.

By the way, if you're planning a pasty party for Mother's Day, we have the May shipping schedule available now. Every order during May will include a 2007 Pasty Cam Color Calendar at no extra charge.

Thanks for inviting us into your browser with another Shoebox Memory. Have a good week :o)

By kosk in Toronto (Koskintoronto) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 08:56 am:

I'll bet a number of us have had relatives who were lumberjacks.
And miners. Sometimes both. My great grandparents and
grandparents on my father's side of the family worked at the
lumber camps. My great grandparents were cooks at one UP
logging operation. Later my grandparents joined them and helped
out. My dad was just a little tyke, but he spent some of his earliest
years at that logging camp. My dad has an old picture of my great
grandparents cooking at the logging camp, and I've always been
intrigued by it. Several of my uncles also worked in logging in the
UP and northern Minnesota. Mining, logging, working on the
freighters and hard scrabble farming. Part of UP history and my

By Donald Kilpela (Commodore) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 09:17 am:

For a wonderful description of what happens at lumber camps, as well as on time off in places like Hurley, Wisconsin,read John Gagnon's excellent book, "Hard Maple, Hard Work." He has a chapter devoted to the late "Swede" Intermill which will knock your socks off.

By s. dearing (Geebeed) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 09:21 am:

Thanks for the interesting picture. Looks like one well-fed piggy!

By Paul H. Meier (Paul) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 11:00 am:

The piggy was typical of hogs in that era. Lard was an important commodity back then, so "fat" stock was the rule of the day. Both hogs and cattle were finished much fatter than they are today. In fact livestock shows were commonly called "fat stock" shows back in the 19th and early 20th centuries. By the mid 20th century, lard substitutes such as Crisco and cooking oils became more available. We also started to want more meat in our bacon so the "bacon" type hog was bred to go to market with a much leaner composition. Same with cattle, a modern beef steer finishes with much less fat than his forefathers.
Humans in the US seem to be going the opposite way - note that there aren't many fat lumberjacks in the photo.
Finally, for a U.P. connection to all that, pasty crusts were originally made with lard and suet to armor plate them for use in the mines.

By s. dearing (Geebeed) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 11:11 am:

Thanks, Paul! When my great-grand parents butchered hogs, they utilized all parts of the hogs they could. That lard made the best pies and cobblers!

By Liz B (Lizidaho) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 11:29 am:

Greased Pig event was part of the Eagle Harbor Centennial Celebration in 1960. The pig lived at our cabin til the big event. My sister was determined that pig would not be somebody's eventual meal. The pig was released in the Eagle Harbor ball park and a very athletic young man got it. I think my Dad had more grease on him than the pig did while he was getting it ready for the event. Needless to say, my sister was really out of sorts that the pig didn't come back to our home!

By Heikki (Heikki) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 11:38 am:

You're right, Paul. Not a 'belly' in that crowd. Only hard muscle. The way lumberjacks worked, no amount of caloric intake put an ounce of fat on them. My father was a lumberjack in the late 20's to early 30's. He said the most important position in camp was cook, and the cook ruled in the cookshack. No talking....just eat all you want and get moving! The camps with the best cooks had the better retention rates. As for bacon-on-the-hoof, as pictured, those days everything but the squeal was utilized.

By Brooke (Lovethekeweenaw) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 12:00 pm:

Now the lumberjacks work on air conditioned tractors with a CD player with saws on mechanical arms, times have changed. makes great history though.

By jeffryeleconte (Upwannabee) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 12:27 pm:

I"ve had two slabs of ribs smokin' for 5 hours. By their size I can tell they were not descendants of that guy. If the loggers had a Paul Bunyan size skillet, he is already greased, just "butterfly" and...yum yum...

By Marianne Y (Marianne) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 03:39 pm:

That picture of that "pig" (sorry, but he's a hog where my family came from, Iowa), gives me the creeps! He looks like he's bloated almost to the point of exploding! My uncles had a few hogs on their farms (no, they were not like some of the modern-day huge huge farmers; they were and are grain farmers). The hogs that I remember, at least from the early 1960's, did not look anything like that. The pictures that I have seen of greased pig contests were with pigs, not hogs. But, maybe that's the difference between a farming state (Iowa) and a lumbering state (Mich)? :-) Anyway, it is interesting.

In honor of my middle son, this conversation reminds me of Boss Hogg on the old TV series, the Dukes of Hazzard. :-)

By RD, Iowa (Rdiowa) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 04:02 pm:

Commodore Kilpela's comment sent me on a search around the web for famed individuals in logging history. I don't know if he's a Swede, but here's another lumberjack "Big Eric" from the Digital Collection noted above:

Big Eric
The UPRLC is a remarkable website with a wealth of historic photographs.
Gus LL (Gusll) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 04:37 pm:

Probably the pigs at the lumber camps at that time got to eat all of the left over scraps from the cook shack. That would make for a real fat producing diet. A pig will eat most anything you give them.

By Heikki (Heikki) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 05:02 pm:


Big Eric was a Swede. Big Eric Erickson was a distant relative of my bro-in-law. He has this photo of Big Eric. My sis and he are trying to trace his grandmother, Hannah Petterson Hoglind to Big Eric on their family tree. They may have a lead in South Dakota.

By Strummin the Strings (Flipflop) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 05:30 pm:

Lumber Jacking was hard work. Everyone had a job.
Dont forget about the "River Rats" who could balance on one foot on a 20' log while chewing on a piece of jerky and keep their eyes open for any danger ahead, but still be daydreamin' about the sweetheart they left behind !

By kosk in Toronto (Koskintoronto) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 07:58 pm:


You're right. White Water has a song about the logdrivers. My
daughter choreographed a dance to it while pursuing her post
secondary degree in dance here in Toronto. At intermission, she
served cookies shaped like the UP. She introduced her dance with
a UP accent. I guess it's not surprising she ended UP. It was one
of the happiest and proudest evenings in my life.

By Dave R. (Shutterbug) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 08:23 pm:

Marianne, I also grew up in Iowa and woke up every morning to the "farm report" on radio station KMA in Shenendoah, IA. sponsored by Purina Hog Chow. The announcer talked about hog bellies and hog futures. These prices were much more important than the Dow Jones.

And shame on you for down sizing Iowa hogs! Why I remember getting a blue ribbon at the county fair for my hog, Buford. He was so big that when they tried to weigh him at the grain elevator he broke the scale! He got loose one time and ate up 400 acres of corn and 200 acres of soy beans and that was just in the morning. He ate so much that afternoon that the next day soybean futures went up 34 percent. We had to ride him to market cause there weren't any trucks big enough to haul him. And he was the "runt" of the litter! ;>)

By kosk in Toronto (Koskintoronto) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 08:53 pm:

Shutterbug--Is this the hog equivalent of a fish story???!

By Marianne Y (Marianne) on Sunday, April 29, 2007 - 09:19 pm:

Kosk, I think that was more the equivalent of a Paul Bunyan story. :-) Well, Shutterbug, I hestitate to mention this, but, my cousin (who is 5 years older than I am) was once the National Pork Queen a number of years ago.

I never actually lived in Iowa myself. My parents were both born & raised in Iowa, so our families were all from there. We spent about 3 weeks every summer there, as well as many of the Christmases while I was growing up. I fed the hogs, the cattle, and the chickens & gathered eggs, and drove tractors, walked beans, you name it, while I was growing up. Since I went off to college, I have not spent that much time there. I do have a small farm in Iowa, though, that has been in my mom's family for 113 years now.

By Cindy Pihlaja Russell (Gone2long) on Monday, April 30, 2007 - 03:08 pm:

Check out the horse on the right...you can see the poor thing's ribs. Maybe that hog should have been sharing some of its slop with the horses.

By Trish (Padraigin_wa) on Monday, October 6, 2008 - 01:26 am:

RD and Heikki,
Erick "Big Erick" Julius Erickson is my grandfather. My mom is one
of his nine children. He was born in Froskog, Sweden. He and his
wife, my grandma Elin, lived in Skanee until after WWII, when they
retired to Houghton. Big Erick was Henry Ford's logging contractor
from approx. the 1920's-1940's. Heikki, I can maybe help you
with your family tree. Give me some names and I'll ask my mom.
She has an amazing memory.

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