My mother has given me innumerable gifts over the years–some anticipated, some not–but when she told me a few days before Christmas that my package contained a “surprise” it got my wheels cranking.
I was stumped. The box was medium in size and square. It was light for its size so I imagined there was a bit of packing material in there. I didn’t have to sign for its delivery, and it was left on my front stoop like a sweater might be. But something told me: this is not a sweater.
When I slit the box open on Christmas morning styrofoam peanuts exploded out. As I scooped off the top layer I saw the size and shape of the bubble wrapped present and instantly knew what it was.
It was Porky, my grandfather’s piggy bank. For the record, I was 100% surprised by this gift.
I suppose I could’ve expected something special this year, but I also know what a hard time my grandmother has getting rid of things with sentimental value. I can only imagine how hard it was to remove Porky from the bookshelf where he’d sat among dozens of old 78 records, vintage photo albums and other necessary things like broken flashlight parts and expired insurance cards.
But she knew he was going to a good home.
My pop was a sharp pool player, and he loved the game, the table banter, and winning. When he won a game he’d put his winnings in Porky, and when the pig got full he’d “take him for a walk” down to the bank and cash the full belly in for a few crisp bills for me. He did this once or twice a year, and if Porky had a tough season or two he’d add a little on the top for me.
He’d send me that money with a note that instructed me to either “go out for a burger and a beer” (it was a Coke when I was underage) or to “buy something nice for Mimi and Mommy.” What a treat it always was to have cash to buy something terrific and beautiful for my mom and grandmother!
So. Porky is in my hands now. I realized when I took him put of the bubble wrap that I’d probably only held him once or twice. He was never a toy. I held him in my Christmas morning hands, turned him over and over, and inspected him in the bright light.
He has quite a few chips and a few slight cracks. His plug is missing and there is masking tape residue from where various makeshift stoppers have been held in place. He’s nicked up at the slot from years of coins dropping in and he has a flat spot on his right side from what looks to have been a drop.
He’s been around for a while–so he must be pretty tough–but I don’t know what he’s made of. Could be ceramic, stoneware, or chalkware. I’m guessing chalkware and that he was made during The Great Depression when that medium hit its second high point for production. I did a little research to try to find out where and when he was originally made, but the “Edmond original” stamp that’s on his neck didn’t turn up much with a Google search. As it turns out, there are still some things Google can’t help much with.
I know I heard numerous stories about Porky’s origins, but my mind draws a blank. A huge blank where all I can remember is the history that Porky and I shared with my pop. I think he belonged to my great-grandmother first, but I’m not sure right now.
I want to know if he sat on the bar at the original cottage or on a bedroom bureau? Was he bought at a Woolworth’s or a “better” store like Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, or Macy’s? Was he a gift or a personal purchase? Did he serve a purpose as a money saver or was he mainly a cute decoration?
I can get some of these answers from my mother and grandmother, but the details will not be as accurate as they would be from the the mouth of my pop as informed by his (almost until his death) rock solid brain.
Does it matter? Yes and no, I think. Do I wish I remembered everything my pop ever told me? Of course I do, but I also have to be realistic and grateful for the memories I do have, and the acknowledgment that we don’t always get all of the answers and that some of the blanks do not get filled in.
The history that Porky and I shared with my pop is locked down in my brain, and now Porky and I can create new memories together. Who would ever have thought he’d migrate to Montana? Here he is though, as usual, looking happy and content. Just like my pop.