My mother came from a very large family. As was the custom in many Slavic families, as the older children finished school, they went to work to help raise their younger siblings.

Gradually, as the younger kids grew up, the older ones started their own families. When they all came home for a holiday, it was like the county fair.

One holiday that was different was Thanksgiving, the day Grandpa George butchered a hog. The whole family helped. The boys killed and dressed the hog, while the women took care of the small details. By the time they were done, what was left of the hog could be put in a small bucket. The meat was either smoked, cured in wooden tubs, or eaten. After all, it was Thanksgiving.

I vaguely remember the process, since small children weren’t allowed outside while the hog was being prepared. My older brother Dan took great pleasure to paint a vivid picture in my mind of what was happening to the poor hog. When Grandma came in the kitchen with the hog’s head on a platter, I was ready to go home.

Grandpa George had a smokehouse that fascinated me. The first time I saw it, I thought his outside toilet was on fire. Later, when the process was complete, Dad opened the door, exposing the cured meat hanging inside.

A few days later, back home in Lore City, my brother and I decided to try our hand at smoking some baloney. We built a fire on the wood floor of Grandpa Joe’s old pigpen. It didn’t take long for the baloney and wood floor to catch fire. Dad saw the smoke and quickly extinguished it. Surprisingly, all we received was a stern warning. Years later, I mentioned the incident to my mother. She just smiled and said, "Only Grandpa Joe was mad, everyone else hoped it would have burned down."