The Pig Roast Chronicles

A study in the development and fading of traditions

(Huh ? Well, a recurring theme/thing/event for me through my 20's and 30's has been a party centered on cooking a pig. At one point, a co-conspirator got into the habit of writing lengthy, amusing announcements, and I've saved them. Because so many people have been at the parties over the years, I wanted to collect the history as well. Perhaps you'll be amused, especially if you attended).

Initiation - 1982-3
North Carolina - 1984-7
Massachusetts - 1987 - future
        Bob Weisenbach's email announcements

Initiation - 1982-3:

In my senior year at CWRU (Cleveland), my roomates and I got to know Gar (Gary Lang). From his uncle, Gar had learned to cook pigs on a spit (over an open fire). Sometime in the fall of '82, our dorm had a pig roast - great fun, and all. I was just one of many faces in the crowd. Over spring break in '83, Gar, Dan, Alex and I drove my station wagon down to Miami Univ of Ohio (with a pig and spit in back) to do a pig roast there with some friends of Gar and Dan.

North Carolina - 1984-7:

I moved to Raleigh, NC to work for GE. In the spring of '84, my roommates came down for spring break. Somehow (mutually?) the idea of a pig roast occurred. I invited lots of folks from work (GE had a very crowd that socialized together alot) and friends from the apartment complex. Cris, Gar, Alex, and Jim (Dan too?) drove down (quite a haul). The party coincided with the ACC basketball tournament, so picture many people watching the pig cook and a TV propped on a fence. Cris met a nice woman (she was responsible for a cigarette burn in my brand new couch, alas). The morning after, we dragged ourselves to a par-3 course. 1 or 2 of us had played before.

Part of the fun was calling it a "Hog Roast", to differentiate it from NC style pig-pickings (cooking on a spit was unusual in NC. Gar's uncle had roots in West Virginia). With all of the side dishes, we had a good melding of southern and yankee cooking.

In the fall of '84, the dorm (back at CWRU) had another pig roast, and we were all there as roasters emeritus. Prior to the cooking, we went golfing again. By the 15th hole, we were concentrating on what we could do with carts (picture splashing through streams, polo shots...)

Itrepeated in the spring of '85 - again with the ACC tournament. Alex, Cris, and Gar drove down. A (different) nice woman afterwards admitted to a strong crush on Alex. I was quite impressed that a friend had brought along the morning DJ for the main rock radio station in the area. Pseudo-celebrity connections. Quite meaningless now.

Spring of '86 found me in my first home - a fantastic venue for a pig roast ! And what a pig roast it was ! The boys had money now, so they flew down - meaning that we had to assemble a spit for me. Some planning resulted in a industrial strength assembly that survives to this day. We finished the last piece on my new deck about 20 minutes before the official party start, though as always, the party started Friday night. Pre-cooking activities focused on acting like fake-JDs at a mall, buying stupid hats and cameras at Kmart, Alex kissed a manequin (it's on film). Dr. McGillicutty's Schnapps was a featured drink while cooking.

This '86 pig roast featured the bouncing floor - at some time, lots of people were sort of dancing in my living room, and a loud CRACK was suddenly heard. Standing at my doorway, I looked up to see what had fallen, then remembered that there wasn't anything breakable to worry about. But then people started saying "Chuck ! Chuck !" and pointing at the floor. A joist broke, leaving the floor bouncy. Fortunately, the builder honored his warranty. Oh, Alex met the nice woman that (still) had a crush on him.

Spring '87 - repeat, except that at the end, I hauled out a For Sale sign and announced that I was leaving GE and moving to Massachusetts. Alex once again met the nice woman that (still) had a crush on him, but he was impaired. Cris was similarly impaired, so the both of them entertained the crowd with some good WWA-style wrestling, with timeouts to have liquor poured into them. The floor held up.

Unfortunately, though they led me into all of this, Gar, Alex, and Cris have not made it to any of the roasts that followed, though we've stayed in touch.

Massachusetts - 1987 - future

At Digital, 5 coworkers had also come from GE in NC, so they egged me on to resume pig roasting. In Sept '87, Mike and Marcia Bates hosted the first one in Milford, MA. All of my belongings were still in storage (waiting for the NC house to sell), but since it had been 5 months, Digital paid for me to get some stuff out - and I included the spit in that. At this one, a future VP of Digital nearly killed himself on a skateboard. Lacking Gar, I had to figure out how to properly spit the pig and get the carving started. It went fine.

Sometime in 1988 (sept, perhaps?), Dina and Mike McKinney hosted another pig roast. At this one, a future VP of Digital was gracious enough to take care of covering my open top car with a tarp when it started to sprinkle. The event was starting to grow with the Massachusetts crowd. A loyal group of organizers and cookers coalesced, chief amoung them being Bob Weisenbach.

Bob and his roommate hosted the 3rd MA roast in May '89 as a going away thing for some forgotten Gardiol guy. It poured. It really poured. We had trouble cooking the pig, but managed somehow with a tarp on impromptu legs - water would cup on the tarp and threaten to collapse it if we didn't keep poking the tarp. It was a miserable bonding type experience. Attendence was poor, even though the rain stopped just as the eating hour arrived. This was the first roast for which Bob composed an email announcement.

Bob's email announcements became legendary. You really must read some of them (again).

Bob's announcements cover the venues and dates for the next batch of roasts, so I'll skip detailing them. At a later date, I may try to fill in some memories from them. (Such as a sudsy jacuzzi, a slip and slide monopolized by adults (PG-rated, nothing more), poison ivy, making furniture from a old deck, obtaining carving surfaces, late night firewood raids, embarrassing questions about engagement status, others...) The last one was '92, then Bob headed off to Calif.

Amoung the amusing traditions - note that though the NC roasts were at my place of abode, in MA I lived in a condo that just didn't fit the bill, so we always had the roast at someone elses place.

In the summer of 1994, Rob Mueller resurrected the roast. Rob created some fine web pages, and he has given them so I could put them here . He repeated in '96, with a real Blues band performing. Though he was supposed to learn how in '94, he still requested that I do the dirty work of spitting the pig.

30-Apr-97, chuck benz (a work in progress, but no guarantees about when updates will occur).