The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


June 4, 2014

A Don McCormack column: Of Wenner, a pig and a new ’49 Oldsmobile

The recent pieces that appeared in this space regarding Wenner Field and the massive renovations done to the home of the Ashtabula Midget Football League with a huge helping hand from Cristal Global — along with the followup efforts about the history of the location — have continued to prompt responses.

The most recent message came from Ashtabula native Ron DePue, who now resides in Richmond, Va.

“I just received your articles about Wenner Field, dated May 19 and 20, sent to me by a classmate, Elsa Shepard,” he wrote. “We Graduated Harbor High School, Class of 1958, and this is my Wenner Field story.

“I think the year was 1949. I was about 9 years old and a program was organized to keep the children off of the streets that year for Halloween.

“There was a story printed in The Star Beacon about the event and me. Parents and children were in attendance for the festivities. ”

This is where Ron’s story goes high on the hog, so to speak.

“The main event was The Greased Pig Contest,” he said. “All the boys formed a large circle and they let a greased pig go in the middle. It was a mad scramble and I got pushed further and further toward the center of the pack.”

But wait, it gets better.

“Well, you guessed it, I fell on the pig and was judged the winner,” he said. “The pig and I were covered in axle grease. They put the pig in a burlap bag and gave it to me. When the announcement came over the PA system that I had won my mother was beside herself.

“‘What have you done, now? What are we going to do with that pig? Look at you — you are covered in grease. What is Uncle Elmer going to say?’”

Turns out, “Uncle Elmer” plays a central roll in Ron’s tale.

“He brought us there in his brand new 1949 — just from the showroom — Oldsmobile,” Ron said. “My great uncle was Elmer Alfred and was single, never married and I could tell he was more than willing to leave me there rather then have me in his status powder-blue, four-door, wide white side-wall-tire Sedan.”

Then, Mom entered the fray.  

“Well, after some pleading by my mother, he agreed to let me ride home — in the trunk with the pig. If we did that today, we would all go to jail... including the pig,” he said. “My father worked on The New York Central Railroad and happened to be working the second shift. He got home about 11 that night.”

Again, still another problem arose.

“Not knowing what to do with the pig when we got home, we put it in the garage and closed all the doors,” he said.

That led to yet another amusing aspect of Ron’s story.

“Well! My father came home from work opened the garage door to come in the house and, of course, the garage was dark,” he said. “The pig was startled and my father was startled. He had thought some wild animal was in there.

“He woke up the whole house and half of the neighbors!”

In the end, though, all was well for everyone involved... including the porker.

“It all worked out in the end,” Ron said. “We kept the pig, which we named Susie for awhile, and then gave it a good country home.

“And that is my Wenner Field story. Thanks to you and Elsa for bringing back fond childhood memories.”

No, Ron, thank you.

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at

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