By Emory Jones
My old friend Frank was a pig. I don’t mean that he was sloppy, although he was pretty informal. No, Frank was a real pig, curly tail and all.
Here’s how we met; it was up in North Dakota – just outside Hoople. Or maybe it was Can Do – I can’t remember. Anyway, I was interviewing this corn farmer for one of the ag magazines.
Now, the thing North Dakotans wish for most is for summer to fall on a weekend. I’m not sure when it fell that year, but summer wasn’t happening that day because it was full-blown cold, so the farmer invited me into the kitchen for some hot North Dakota coffee. There we sat – talking about nematodes and such, when I glanced into his living room and spotted Frank.
I only mention this to establish my credentials, but I was the FFA Star Greenhand in high school, and I know a pig when I see one. Even if the swine I saw was stretched on a couch covered with a quilt. He even had a pillow. No doubt about it, this was a real pig in a blanket!
I try to mind my own business, but I just couldn’t keep chatting about corn when there was a sow on the sofa. (Frank was actually a boy pig, but I wanted to use that “sow on the sofa” line). Still I hesitated. Did the farmer know the pig was on his sofa? If not, how might he take such talk?
Finally, I raked up my courage and asked politely, “Sir, are you aware there is a full-grown hog in your home?” He wasn’t troubled at all. “Oh sure,” he said. “That’s Frank! Would you like to meet him?” (At first I wasn’t sure if he said “meet him” or “eat him,” but I nodded to cover my bases). So we went into the living room, which smelled passable, by the way. (I know you were wondering).
The farmer bent over the sleeping pig and whispered, “Frankkkkk…we’ve got companyyyy. Wake up and meet our new friend Frankkkk…”
Frank grunted hello and offered me his hoof while the farmer filled me in. It seems that a few years ago, they’d bought a miniature, pet Vietnamese Pot Bellied pig. By the time they discovered Frank’s DNA wasn’t programmed for petite, the kids were attached.
The farmer explained that Frank was clever and well trained, but I may have appeared doubtful, so he said, “Let me show you. Frank, get the paper.” Frank shook his head and grunted something that sounded like, “No way big boy, it’s waaayyy too cold out there. Get your own paper!”
The farmer said somberly, (They speak somberly up there because of the cold) “Get the paper, Frank. If you don’t, you’re grounded.” He whispered to me that pigs respond to the word “grounded.” I can’t repeat what Frank said next, but he was walking to the door as he said it. Then Frank raced down the long, frozen driveway, grabbed the paper and headed home.
But when Frank got close, the farmer held up his hand, saying “Stop! Go potty before you come in the house.” Frank dropped the paper, looked at me and then back at the farmer. “I’m sorry,” said the farmer, “but Frank can’t go potty if anyone is watching.”
I spent the rest of that afternoon talking more to Frank than the farmer. It wasn’t “boaring” at all and, surprisingly, Frank knew a lot about corn. But here’s the kicker; do you remember Charles Kuralt of CBS-TV who covered the country interviewing remarkable people? One Sunday morning, a summer or two later, I heard a voice on TV saying, “Stay tuned as Charles Kuralt interviews Frank, North Dakota’s only piano-playing pig!”
And suddenly there is my ole buddy Frank, hamming it up on the piano as Charles Kuralt watched in amazement! Everyone knows pigs are intelligent, ranking just behind dolphins and slightly ahead of Congress, but that was amazing. Because not once during our interview did Frank mention that he knew anything at all about music.
– Emory Jones, Cleveland, Ga.