Many of you knew my father Albert Finlay. But most of you probably didn’t know that at one time he reared a lot of pigs. Well, if you didn’t, now you do. With nine mouths to feed, he wasn’t going to let us go hungry. On Midland Row right in front of where the high school is built now was my grandparents’ land and our house was on that grassy place in front of the school. Actually the school was built on my grandparents land without their permission, but through an ombudsman my Uncle Paddy was able to get my grandmother some money for the land. But that’s a story for another day! Now let’s get back to the pigs.
It was my sister Rose’s birthday, probably her 7th or 8th, and she wanted to tell Dad something and it was at a time that the pigs were after getting out of their pen and we were trying to round them up. And as you can probably imagine it is not that easy to catch pigs! We tried to chase them back into the pen, but we weren’t having much success. Then Rose showed up to tell Dad something. I have no idea what it was but she didn’t have very long to think about it for she was about to be taken right off her legs. A pig ran right between her legs and away she rode! A little girl riding a pig! She was open eyed and pitiful to see, as she was on her own, nothing no one could do but watch.
It is funny now to picture it but I saw it with my own eyes. I shouted to Dad to look at Rose riding the pig. Mom was in the window with Helen in her arms, shouting ” Finlay, watch out for Rosie! I don’t want her to get hurt!” Mom always called Dad by his last name.
The pig was running as fast as he could go. What could Dad do when Rose was keeping her balance, and then finally she was bounced right off the pig’s back! Right onto her face into the mud and wet grass.
Seconds later she was still on the ground yelling and crying. Dad was lifting her up and brushing her off, while the pig was running way down the field. Before long Rose wiped the tears off her face and hugged into Dad. When she finally got her breath she said, “Imagine, Dad, the pig took me for a ride on my birthday!” And we all laughed. What a birthday present it turned out to be! I’m sure not many in Pasadena would request such a gift. It was unique, but I’m sure totally coincidental.
I wrote this story up many years ago, so I wouldn’t forget it. I told it to my class in Torbay and the kids loved it. They couldn’t believe that Rose actually rode on the back of a pig. Not many months after that we ate that pig, with nary a care that he had taken Rose for a ride. It was survival and the pig helped eleven of us survive.
If you read this again tomorrow, it may be edited. But I promised Rose I’d write it and although her birthday is past, this one’s for her!