Last Laugh: Hog-Calling Politics

“Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it’s important.” Eugene McCarthy

| July/August 1984

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    "Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half the people are right more than half the time." E.B. White

  • 088-176-01

Well sir, I oughta be hanged. I'd knowed it. But I kin't help myself. Everytime I gits to thinking about the upcoming Demycrat and Republycan National Conventions, I can't help but recall an event once related to me by a feller named H. Allen Smith. It's sticking in my mind like that dog-awful Muzak tune you hear in the dentist's office right before they crank up the drill. So I figure I better just up and share it and be done with it.

Then when you watch this summer's conventions, see if this tale don't keep coming back into your mind.

Champion Hog-Caller  

Several years ago I found myself in the pleasant community of Wilson in North Carolina. The town was in an abnormal state of excitement because of a championship hog-calling competition that was to be held in the local ball park. Normally I have small interest in such matters, but I was attracted to the contest for the reason that Olla Ray Boyd was one of the two participants. Mr. Boyd was a candidate for governor of the state. He was reputed to be the best hog-caller in the South and on his calling cards (or hog-calling cards) identified himself as a hogologist. He was cheered and saluted and feted wherever he went, and because of the power of his hog-calling voice, his opinions were listened to and respected. It was only natural that such a man, every time election year came around, should run for governor. Somehow he never quite made it, but he went right on building up friendships by calling hogs from one end of the state to the other.

On the afternoon of the contest I made my way to the ball park and found a seat in the crowded stands. A platform had been erected between home plate and the pitcher's mound and the whole park had been decorated with bunting. A brass band played and some girls twirled batons and I sought enlightenment from the people sitting around me. I was told that ole Mist' Boyd had mebby finey met his match. Someone had dug up a lady by the name of Miz Johnson who was a hog-caller from who-laid-the-chunk.

When Olla Ray Boyd finally climbed to the platform the crowd broke into a wild demonstration. The man sitting next to me was tensed up like a drumhead. He jabbed at me with his elbow and exclaimed, "Yonda's a hwag-calluh! Ah mean hawg-calluh!" Then Mrs. Johnson was introduced and another great cheer arose from the stands. Mrs. Johnson was a lady of middle age, plainly dressed and appearing to be a little nervous.


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