The Beatles’ music hit the American airwaves and I attended a hog auction…

What does a hog auction and the Beatles have in common?

Nothing actually, except maybe in my life.

I just read an article noting that 50 years ago now the Beatles wrote a song one day and recorded it the next and the rest was history. That song was “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.

It was a cheery and lighthearted and upbeat tune coming on the heels of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

If you were not around then but only knew the Beatles from later photos you might not recognize them. At the time they wore close-fitting suits with weird mop-top hairdos (mop top, not long, shaggy hair). They did not look like they were part of the drug culture — that came later. And their music was simple and innocent (and I am not criticizing their subsequent work).

I was a freshman in high school, and I recall I had seen a news report on them on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. We watched that every night at home at dinner time. We actually sometimes moved our plates into the living room and watched the news on our small  black and white set. As I recall, the gist of the story was that this new rock ‘n’ roll group in Great Britain was gaining a lot of popularity with their upbeat, happy tunes.

Okay, the hog auction.

So, unrelated to this, I was at the time a member of the Future Farmers of America chapter at my high school in Northern California. With the donation of what was called a Sears Project pig (never did understand why Sears did this), that is a baby sow (called a “gilt”), I was on my way to make my name in the swine business (was, I said). My dad was a newspaper man with a rural background. So he arranged to cover a hog auction in a nearby town, just north in the next county. My dad and I and my mom were the ones still at home by then, my siblings off in the world, and we made a day of it. They even pulled me out of school. I recall that my math teacher was not too enthused about that. I was not a top student in that subject, and he was having hard time understanding that I was skipping his class for a hog auction (and I imagine if you ever intended to attend a hog auction as other than an observer you might need some good and quick math skills).

We indeed attended the auction. And really, like I said, no real connection between the Beatles and a hog auction, except that on the way back home we took the scenic route out, what some locals in Shasta or Tehama counties will recognize, Bowman Road. Somewhere out there at a country store we stopped. That little store had a hamburger stand and we had our lunch. And there was a juke box and it was playing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” — or was it “She Loves You, yeah, yeah, yeah”? Well, anyway, it was the Beatles singing one of those two songs.

The Beatles of course went on to super fame.

I did not end up a big time or even a small time hog farmer. I did raise a litter out of that little pig who grew up to be a big sow and I did show some swine at the Junior Grand National Livestock Show at the San Francisco Cow Palace and at my local county fair.

Although hogs had been quite popular in my local area at an earlier time — not as much in the more modern times. I think I learned something about the livestock raising business, though. You have to have a cheap source of feed and you have to have good markets nearby. The major hog markets were gone by my time, and cheap feed was scarce, with good land being used for higher-priced things. I mean if you don’t see a lot of other people doing a particular thing, there must be a reason why.

But I’m glad I had the experience. And I’m glad I witnessed the early popularity of the Beatles. The assassination of JFK notwithstanding, it was a happy and innocent time, except I guess that assassination portended darker things to come.

Everything would soon change:

Protests against the draft and the Vietnam War, more assassinations (Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy), and even the Beatles’ music changed. It was still good, but some of it was kind of weird (always original and inventive, though). It was not of the world I grew up in.

Yup, I remember when the Beatles’ music came to America and the day of the hog auction.


About that happy and innocent time stuff. It’s in my mind. My mom, who’s almost 103 years old, would scoff at that. She always tells me things have not changed as much as people say they have.

P.s. P.s.

Oh, and the story that inspired this little essay, here’s a link:


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