Oh, yeah, the name, about that…. I grew up on the family farm in the same house that my mother was born. We lived with my grandparents in this big farmhouse that was about 100 years old at the time. They owned over 500 acres, about a third of which was forest. Growing up, we tried to emulate the stories we heard from our uncles, who had dominion over the woods, swamps and bayous. So we played in the woods, swinging from vines and jumping into the bayou just like Tarzan.
Since we lived so far from town, we didn’t have the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities like Boy Scouts, so my cousins and I formed our own club, The Swamphogs. To be a Swamphog one had to pass a series of endurance tests: hold your breath underwater for at least a minute; drink water from a vine; run through the woods barefoot as fast as possible, and, finally, face one’s fears, specifically, Billy the Ram. Billy was a really big male sheep who terrorized us. He’d chase us and buck us every chance he got. Now, I’ll admit that facing one’s fears is not the same as overcoming those fears. Even though I did touch Billy, that was the test, I was still scared of him.
The Swamphogs followed the Boy Scout handbook, or at least the one we found. But since we weren’t true Boy Scouts we didn’t really follow the merit badges listed; we kind of added our own. I’m sure the BSA would not have approved of some of our required skills: throw a knife between another’s feet; skinny-dipping in February, and others, which by blood oath, I cannot divulge here.
Now, since there are no Swamphogs under the age of 50 now their legacy is secure. Still, I could probably stick a knife perfectly in the ground between Sparky’s feet, but that February swim? I think I’ll just keep that a memory.
Categories: Let's talk about me