A pig is a jolly companion,
Boar, sow, barrow, or gilt --
A pig is a pal, who'll boost your morale,
Though mountains may topple and tilt.
When they've blackballed, bamboozled, and burned you,
When they've turned on you, Tory and Whig,
Though you may be thrown over by Tabby and Rover,
You'll never go wrong with a pig, a pig,
You'll never go wrong with a pig!
Because of a pig ... an island was lost, or nearly. Our intrepid sojourner
heads to the last American frontier to steep himself in the
annals of a lesser-known U.S.-British conflict
OF ALL THE MAJOR and minor wars, border clashes, peacekeeping
interventions, long-range remote bombing missions, frontier
skirmishes, commando actions, temporary clandestine
invasions, and other military enterprises that the United
States of America has embarked on during its bellicose
200-year history, probably none is less likely ever to be the
subject of a major motion picture than the one that began, on
June 15, 1859, with the untimely death of a pig. Although no
potentially eye-moistening historical episode can now be
considered safe from the attentions of Steven Spielberg, it
seems fair to assume that the Pig War ranks somewhere far
below the 1983 invasion of Granada on his list of future
projects. One must even admit, regretfully that it would not
provide much material for Ken Burns.
If you have never heard of the Pig War, there is no need to
feel inadequate. All it means is that you probably do not
live within zip code 98250, the postal address of Washington
State's San Juan Island, a small tourism, farming, and
whale-watching community. Peaceable though it now seems, San
Juan Island was, more than a century ago, the staging ground
for a military contest between two mighty nations.
The pig's moment in history's limelight was a brief one. We
know nothing of its biography prior to that fateful June
morning, when it tunneled under a fence into a potato patch,
began rooting up and eating the tender young tubers, and very
shortly thereafter was shot dead by the man who had planted
them. The pig, a large black boar, belonged to the Hudson's
Bay Company (which had set up a farm on the island), and was
therefore British. The pig-killing farmer had recently
arrived from Kentucky, and was therefore American. This added
up to an international incident when both the farmer and the
Hudson's Bay Company started complaining to their respective
governments, which drew new attention to the fact that each
government, due to certain geographical irregularities,
considered itself rightful proprietor of the island.
Next thing, troops started landing. First, a company of the
Ninth U.S. Infantry, commanded by a young officer named
George E. Pickett (who would later win fame at Gettysburg),
showed up to assert America's manifest destiny on the beaches
of San Juan. A few days later, three Royal Navy warships
arrived, ready to defend the rights and immunities of all
British citizens and their livestock.
But the crisis passed almost as quickly as it had begun.
Within a few months, levelheaded officials assessed the
situation and agreed to a joint military occupation until the
two governments could figure out which of them was the
island's rightful proprietor. So the American troops hunkered
down on the south shore of San Juan, and a small detachment
of red-coated marines set up camp 16 miles away, on the north
Before long, the two garrisons more or less threw down their
rifles and settled into a friendly round of picnics,
track-and-field matches, and potluck dinners. This is how
they whiled away the next 13 years. The U.S. government was
preoccupied with the rather more urgent matter of civil war;
the British Empire, too, had other fish to fry. It was not
until 1872 that the contenders got around to settling the San
Then one day word arrived that Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany--who
had for some reason been asked to arbitrate--had decreed that
San Juan was American soil. The British lowered the Union
Jack and sailed away A farmer named William Crook bought
their campsite and planted fruit trees on the old parade
ground, and turned the old barrack buildings into storage
sheds. The U.S. Army left a couple years later, and the Pig
War was over.
It had not been a particularly bloody conflict, unless you
were the Hudson's Bay Company's pig. For that fortunate
animal, the war had meant a brief, glorious sortie across
enemy lines, a daring raid, a flash of light, and then a kind
WHEN YOU ARRIVE ON SAN JUAN Island today, at the ferry
landing in the too-cutely-named town of Friday Harbor, where
throngs of vacationers amble among the clam shacks, it is
hard to imagine that just a few generations ago this place
lay at the utmost frontier of the civilized world. It is
equally hard to imagine that anyone thought this place was
worth fighting a war over.
Then you head farther on, toward the less settled part of the
island, and it is easy to imagine both. Early one morning, I
hiked along the bluffs not far from where the Ninth Infantry
once camped, through rain-soaked alpine meadows above lonely
coves. At one point, I saw up ahead of me an old white-haired
man standing on a promontory, hunched against the wind in a
brown parka. As I approached him, he turned his head, ruffled
his wings, and I saw that he was a bald eagle. The place then
seemed worth any number of pigs, or soldiers.
Before leaving Washington, D.C., for Washington State, I'd
spent some time at the Library of Congress to see what books
I could find on the Pig War. One of them, The Pig War: And
Other Experiences of William Peck, Soldier 1858-1862, offered
a look at the journal of an American participant in the great
conflict. Unfortunately, it turned out to consist largely of
entries such as: "Camp Pickett, November 18th. Weather as
usual, dull. Detachment doing nothing. These are really
halcyon days of our soldiering, utterly idle."
Once I arrived on San Juan, the first thing I did was to head
out to the site of the old English camp, now part of a
national park. On a sheltered inlet hemmed in by Douglas
firs, a few whitewashed frame buildings still stand by the
parade ground. Down on the eroding beach, among the rocks and
shells, I found pieces of old whiskey bottles, bits of clay
pipestem, and even an old brass button, gone green with age,
that bore the globe insignia of the Royal Marines.
Later that day, on my way into Friday Harbor, I saw a sign
that said "Pig War Museum." When I stopped by to investigate,
I was greeted by Emilia L. Bave, who for the last 40 years
has been San Juan Island's self-appointed curator of Pig War
history. No doubt, I thought, she is just a nice local
historical-society lady of advanced years, who will sit me
down with a cup of tea and make pleasant chitchat about the
The first clue I got that this would not be the case was when
she jabbed her forefinger toward a placard on the lobby wall.
"House rules," it read. "No smoking. No drinking. No drugs.
No fighting. No obscenities. No lewd behavior."
She locked the door behind us (I noted with some trepidation)
and showed me to a vast, malodorous armchair. She seated
herself at the opposite end of the room, and for the next
hour proceeded to tell me about everything except the Pig
War. I heard about her career in the Coast Guard, her late
husband Milt, and how a defective box of Great Western
Toasted Oats had given her a case of internal shingles. At
last I leapt up and told her I didn't want to run out of time
to see the museum properly. Mrs. Bave rose, opened a door
behind me, and began flip ping light switches. The vast,
sunless room was lined with cases of shop-window dummies
dressed in historical garb, enacting episodes from the
island's history. "I got them from Miller's department
store," Mrs. Bave said. "I couldn't get enough male ones, so
a lot of these are women."
This was indeed true. In addition to his luxuriant beard, the
early Spanish explorer Francisco Eliza had a pert nose and
dimples, and part of his conquistador attire consisted of a
baby-blue-and-white cotton dress, circa 1965. In another
display case, George Pickett wore what looked suspiciously
like a Coast Guard uniform.
My guide soon retired to her armchair for a nap, and I
continued on alone. The exhibits, as I progressed, grew
stranger and stranger. One, which depicted a certain Charles
McKay, an ex-miner who lived on San Juan during the Pig War,
bore a placard that read: "His granddaughter, Aurelia Gagner,
remembered when he was eighty years old that his teeth were
still strong enough to shell walnuts. How he loved to play
Finally, I came to an entire wall devoted to the Crook
family, who had farmed where the English camp once stood,
until William's last superannuated children transferred the
land to the National Park Service in the 1960s. There was
James Crook, who "lost his eye from a flying knot while
chopping wood"; his sister Mary, who "was a perky little
woman and very religious"; and sister Rhoda, who "wore her
shirt collar up to try to hide huge goiters." This last dummy
was particularly unsettling in appearance. Apparently, the
mannequins at Miller's department store had all been
goiterless, and drastic measures had been taken. Rhoda's
life-size likeness, the placard stated proudly, "was created
from wall spackle by Emilia L. Bave."
Goiters made of wall spackle aren't quite up there with the
Iwo Jima Memorial. Yet I couldn't help but wonder, as I
looked over to where Mrs. Bave sat snoring peacefully,
whether she hadn't created a suitable monument for a war that
was started by a pig.
PHOTO (COLOR): Scenes from a skirmish: British marines stand
in formation at the English camp (left); U.S. troops pose
next to a Napoleon gun (right)
first of all, how can you right that much, me? i just don't understand. anyway... pigs are what everyone in elementry and middle school call that little fat girl who sits in the front row. latter, if they are lucky, they will realize that that same "pig" writes beautiful poetry, and one day, she'll be rich and happy and they will all poor and sad.
he makes me upset.
she makes me upset.
i make me upste.
i am a pig
Thanks for the travelog "me?", being a traveler once myself I enjoy a well described visit to someplace new to me.
noone likes carnitas.
she's soft and dirty!
carnitas is my squishy
soft and pink.
carnitas loves me.
i love carnitas.
what am i suposed to do?
lost my shit because of you.
nothing can stop me now
cause I don't care anymore
nothing can stop me now
cause I just don't care...
it was a great moment. we were eating outdoors at this place on santa monica blvd. and this pig came up to us and said that We Faggots had to move. And my friend John said that we weren't Faggots. That we paid for this food, and we were gonna eat it. The pig told us Faggots not to get him mad. John stood up and the pig found out that john was bigger and meaner looking than he thought and john was probably someone you should address as 'SIR.' Anyway, the pig saw that he might get his stupid ass KICKED and backed off in front of about 20 people who started laughing really hard. There was no way the pig could make it look like anything else than what it was. Pigs think they're magic, til they smell shit running down their legs after theve been shot.
japanese people there at chinese resturant eating italian food with mexicans and faggotsraping little children in the nostrils
pork... the other white meat.
You can never go wrong with a Pig!
That round animal and its spider friend,
They just roll through all that shit with a smile,
That pig, it's really something,
That will do pig, Babe,
A source for soul, a source for bacon,
You can never go wrong with a Pig!
what's it to you?