Annual Pig Roast, November 13, 1999
(Always held on the 3rd Saturday in November)
Nell “Mom” Higginbotham 1930 - 2001
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Charley "Cholly Mac" McBroom and his hog-roasting crew left Sally Ann's Tavern in Tullos, Louisiana about 1:30 on the afternoon of Friday, November 12, 1999. Our destination: Mom's Biker Bar in Longview, Texas. Cholly Mac's crew consisted of his brother "Boonie" McBroom, "Big" George Tidwell, and Carl Casteel, all of them my beer-drinkin' and pool-shootin' buddies and the leading citizens of Tullos. Big George drove his brand-new crew-cab V-8 Chevy pickup, purchased, I now believe, especially for this annual trip and loaded down with iced-down long neck Budweiser.
Earlier that day I had told Big George that I was following them in the Bluesmobile. He had asked me, "Can that thang keep up?"
"Hell, yeah," I had replied, not knowing that Big George was in a hell of a hurry. After perusing the 41 photos included in this article, the reader will understand his haste.
Somewhere in the vicinity of Shreveport I replaced the 2 quarts of 50w motor oil the Bluesmobile had spurted through various leaky engine orifices, and I decided to quit chasing Big George. Either that or buy a 5-gallon bucket of 50w oil. Just at sunset, me and the Bluesmobile arrived at Mom's Biker Bar. An aging biker who looked like his Harley had rode him one time too many said, "Hey, man, that thang ain't on fire, is it? Sure is smokin'."
Just as darkness fell, I erected my little dome tent in the patch of woods behind the bar, and the party started–blues, booze, and beautiful biker babes.
That's Big George in the right background. That's Mom's granddaughter Danelle in the left background. Behind her stands her exboyfriend Donald Redfearn, formerly of Tullos and now of Tioga, Louisiana and the reason for the Tullos connection with a Longview hog roast.
Total weight = 700 lbs
They arrived about 10 pm and were placed over the fire at midnight.
A problem rose: Cholly Mac said that Donald had forgotten the hatchet with which to split the pigs' backbones and the hacksaw with which to remove the pigs' feet. Donald then said that Cholly Mac had forgotten the same. Never fear. Redneck ingenuity always pulls through. This fellow, Danelle's new boyfriend, I believe, broke out an extension cord and a circular saw.
I expected blood and gore and fingers to fly, but this fellow was cold sober.
In the left of the photo you can see the roll of chicken wire used to wrap the pigs inside the rack. The chicken wire is then cut and wired together. Each rack, containing 2 pigs and made of metal pipe, is then placed on top of the roasting rack, also made of metal pipe.
Here's Big George saying, "Pig feet, anyone?"
The fuzzy guy on the left pitched a big cabin tent in the woods near my little dome tent. He certainly enjoyed himself all weekend as any fool can plainly see. That's Donald on the right and a lucious babe named Jessica in the middle. Every time a sweet thang like Jessica started talking to me, up stepped my buddy Donald.
He's been interfering with my love life since he was 10 years old. I dated his older sister a few years ago. . . Well, many years ago. To get him out of the house I'd give him a quarter and send him down the street to a café where he'd play the 5¢ pinball machine. About 30 minutes later he'd return, wanting another damned quarter. About 30 years later, nothing has changed.
This is Jessica's navel. Isn't that a cute little navel ring?
IMHDBO (In My Humble Delta Bum Opinion) Coors Brewing Company should send me a check to keep this photo posted. Somebody mention that to them, please.
That's Leon Vines on 12-string guitar and Chesley Simmons on harp. They're playing blues, of course. Ain't nothing better than acoustic blues around an open fire. To be frank with y'all, I enjoyed Leon and Chesley's acoustic concert around the fire on Friday night and an on-stage band on Saturday night, but I paid far more attention to my surroundings than I did to the music. I didn't even try to sing Howlin' Wolf's "Little Red Rooster" with Leon and Chesley, a first for me.
But ain't no sunshine when she's gone. /
Little Sunshine brightened the fireside both Friday and Saturday nights. On Saturday night, Donald, that rascal and dirty old man, rode her around the block on his Harley. I'm never gonna forgive him.
Yeah, I know I'm older than Donald, but my intentions were honorable, my thoughts pure. . . .
I don't know what time I crawled in my tent on Friday night, but I know for a fact that Saturday morning came way too early and way too bright. From out of my drunken stupor and seemingly from somewhere inside my sodden brain, Cholly Mac's way-too-loud voice woke me, saying, "J.R., you gonna have to move the Bluesmobile. They gonna tow it away."
Why do tents amplify sunlight when you have a hangover? My eyes popped open and my brain imploded. Moaning in pain, I crawled from the tent. Luckily, I still wore clothing, even my shoes.
On my knees in the thick straw mat covering the floor of the pine sapling thicket in which I had camped, I glanced around and saw several tents that had not been there the night before. A few feet away stood a guy who looked like Sigmund Freud, M.D., Ph.D., dressed head to toe in black leather. He examined me knowingly as he worked on a fold of a bright blue tent which seemed to have been unfolded from a tiny, jet-black trailer which was still hitched to the rear of a huge, jet-black-and-chrome and extremely expensive-looking Harley Davidson motorcycle.
As I staggered to my feet under the examining eyes of Dr. Freud, the bright blue tent seemingly unzipped itself and out stepped Mrs. Freud, M.D., Ph.D., also dressed head to toe in black leather. As my brain pondered the apparitions before me, I heard Cholly Mac's voice say, "What's the matter, J.R.? Yore head bad this mornin'?"
I turned and dizzily watched the back of Cholly Mac's Mom's Biker Bar Hog Roast 1997 t-shirt as he walked in the direction of the smoke billowing from the pig-roasting fire. My brain formed a smart-ass and very vulgar reply, but my lips didn't utter it due to the proximity of Dr. and Mrs. Freud. I staggered out of the thicket, around the bar, and up to the Bluesmobile, parked out front. There beside it stood Moses in overalls.
The guy's wrinkled and sun-browned face was framed by an unkept mane of silver and white hair and beard. He looked like a photograph I once saw of Charlton Heston as Moses standing on top of a mountain. Only in this guy's case Moses's hand clutched not a gray stone tablet containing the Ten Commandments but the brown neck of a bottle containing Budweiser. He said, "This your Bluesmobile?"
I think I said, "Yeah."
He said, "You got to move it or Mom'll have it towed away. Mom's a mean old woman."
"Why have I got to move it?"
"All the parkin' in front is reserved for bikes. You gonna move it?"
I moved it.
Bright and early and seemingly hangover free on Saturday morning, here's Cholly Mac's crew watching the pigs. That's Big George on the left and Boonie and Cholly Mac in the smoke. I don't know where Carl was. Still asleep, probably.
When I walked up to them, they looked and acted like fellows who went to bed early and sober.
"What's the matter, J.R.?" Cholly Mac asked me again.
"Nothin'," I answered. "F---in' nothin'. Goddamn that sun is bright!"
"Damn J.R.," Big George grinned and said, "you look like death warmed over."
"F--- you, George," I said to him. "Oh, God, I ain't never drinkin' another long neck Budweiser."
"You'll change your mind when all those biker babes get here," Big George said through that same damned grin.
"Nope," I informed him. "I'm takin' a vow of sobriety. Gonna join the church. Even gonna quit listenin' to blues."
You can see Cholly Mac and Big George turning the pigs. They turned them over every 30 minutes or so, and they swapped ends every hour or so, i.e., put the pigs on the east side of the roasting rack on the west side. Occasionally they would move a rack to the other end of the roasting rack. That way all 10 pigs cooked evenly. These guys know their business.
Somebody made the marvelous suggestion that I should go inside the bar and buy some aspirin or something. So I did just that. Dr. Mom cured what ailed me. Behind the bar she had a rack containing little paper pouches of all kinds of headache remedies. I soon started feeling somewhat normal. That's Mom on the right. I asked her real name, but she wouldn't give it to me. "I'm known all over the world as Mom," she said. "You just call me Mom."
I poured myself a mug of free coffee from the big pot in the corner and eased my butt onto a stool at the bar, a stool topped not with the expected round seat but with a motorcycle seat. Very cool, I told myself and noticed that every stool at the bar was topped the same.
So I sat there, out of the piercing sunlight and sipping coffee. And nursing my head. And wondering if my stomach would ever hold solid food again. And watching what went on around me.
Bartenders, 3 or 4 or more of them, scurried back and forth behind the bar filling coolers and straightening beer already in coolers. One of them opened a tiny metal door built into the concrete block wall about chest high behind the bar. A long-haired head and a hand clutching dollar bills immediately poked through it and ordered 4 long neck Budweisers.
To my left toward a small hallway which served as the side entrance of the bar, a barmaid and a skinny fellow with a ZZ Top beard maneuvered a huge galvanized cattle watering trough into the little hallway. As she proceeded to fill it with bottled beer, a wooden table suddenly materialized in the empty doorway against the outside wall. Hummm, I told myself, sellin' beer across the bar and out the side door and out of a hole in the rear wall. They plannin' on lots of folks being here today.
To my right a few beer-drinking folks sat on the motorcycle seat stools. It made my stomach queasy to watch them drink beer so early in the morning. I almost puked. Past them and seated at the first table near that end of the bar sat an old guy I had seen hobbling around outside the bar the evening before. His hair and beard were long and stringy, and he wore overalls like he had the evening before. Also like the evening before, his right hand clutched a foam hugger which contained what looked like a can of 16 oz Old Milwaukee beer. His left hand and arm, like they had the evening before, dangled uselessly at his side. He had walked with great difficulty because of his almost useless left leg, and I knew that he had had a stroke. I saw my mother in the exact same condition. The sight of him and the memory of her brought tears to my eyes, so I turned my head so no one would see a macho guy like me cry.
Around me the bar was a beehive of activity. Activity devoted to the logistics of preparing the bar and its environs for the arrival of lots of people on motorcycles. Many of the biker-types around me and outside were not customers, as I had first assumed, but employees, probably hired for the weekend. Mom walked back and forth giving order after order, all with the authority of General George S. Patton instead of a little old gray-headed lady.
Moses came in for new commandments and, a new long neck Budweiser in hand, went out relaying those commandments to underlings. He was some kind of outside-the-building supervisor, I presumed. The "mean old woman" wouldn't have called a tow truck; he would have.
After a while Mom walked up to the bar, about 4 stools down from me. "Hey, everybody," she said. "Come here. Listen."
They gathered around her and activity ceased. A sudden quietness enveloped the room. She started talking to them, giving orders and instructions. I paid no attention. Then she said something that caught my attention. She looked at her bartenders and barmaids, lined up on the other side of the bar. She said, "No tabs. Nobody with a tab uses it this weekend."
That made sense to me. The bartenders and barmaids would obviously be too busy to keep books. Then she looked over at the old guy with the stroke and the stringy hair and the Old Milwaukee in his one good hand. And she said, "Of course that doesn't mean Johnny. He can get anything he wants anytime he wants."
With that gesture and those words, a little old gray-headed general named Mom made a new and life-long friend–me.
I sat there out of that awful sunlight for 30 minutes or so. Then I noticed that the barroom was filling with people. Since I was a confirmed teetotaler I did the right thing and gave my motorcycle seat stool to a lady beer drinker. Out into the sunlight I went.
From right to left in this off-center photo you see Mom, Junior the ex-beer drinker, and Mom's sister, known as Aunt Betty. She ran the t-shirt concession. I didn't even consider asking her real name.
I took this photo around 11am or so. That's Mom on her Harley. She has diabetes and problems with her feet, so she gets around on that little electric scooter. Lots of folks are worried about her, including me.
I thought there was a bunch of bikes in the parking lot and in front of the bar when I took that photo. I had lots to learn. All afternoon bikes in singles and in groups of up to 20 arrived. The number of families with children there surprised me. I saw dads with sons on the seat behind them, and I saw mothers with daughters on the seat behind them.
"No," I said. "What's your real name?"
"That's it," she informed me. "Wild Thang"
"Thang, huh? Not Thing?"
"Nope," she said with a wink. "Thang. Wiiiiiiiilllllld Thang!"
The skillful observer will notice that she is wearing a see-through purple blouse over a purple bra. The thought struck me as I wrote this that she might be a Northwestern of Louisiana alumnus like myself. Dang, a missed opportunity to strike up a conversation.
She said, "Sure."
She works at a bar in Haughton, Louisiana, a small town east of Shreveport. Somebody go by there and tell her that Junior still thinks she's gorgeous.
Notice Boonie McBroom on the right side of Jo-Jo's picture. They're sitting at what the roasting crew calls the "round table." It's really octagonal, and it's made with 2 x 4s. The top is thick plywood topped with linoleum. It has a hole in the center with a trash barrel beneath the hole. When the pigs come off the rack, they place them on that table and remove the meat from the bones. They simply slide the bones and skin in the hole and it falls in the trash barrel.
In the far background over Jo-Jo's left shoulder you can see the top of the Budweiser tent. The Budweiser van parked beside the tent provided the afternoon music via a PA system. The Budweiser crew brought 3 Budweiser girls in 3 skin-tight Budweiser swimming suits and no music. Notta. Zilch. But our good buddy Leon Vines the 12-string man came through. He loaned them the only CD he brought with him to the hog roast–Keb' Mo's Keb' Mo'.
It's now around 3 pm and bikes are steadily arriving. The bar sits to the left, and all of those bikes are really parked on the front lawn. Before dark, the entire area around the bar and the street out front was wall-to-wall motorcycles. Across the street you can see the red tops of trucks parked at a trucking company.
In the midst of all that confusion and steadily arriving bikes, up the street came an 18-wheeler. With the help of the guy you see clearing her a path, the female driver eased that big rig right on through without even scratching a paint job. I'd guess that about a thousand people gave her a cheer when she made it through.