WORDS & IMAGES - ELLA WEISSER '17
Rosie’s Racing Pigs was right next to a mud pit full of monster trucks jumping over a tiny beat up red car. Children surrounded it. I looked over their little heads and saw a tiny man wearing overalls and a straw hat ambling around a wild little world. Bright blue carpeting had been laid over the dirt in front of a trailer with a barn-like façade that spelled out “Rosie’s Racing Pigs.”
The blue-carpeted area was festooned with fake flowers and old toys. Their opaque plastic was dirty and battered. There was a chimpanzee doll squashed into a pink baby stroller, a plastic swan full of fake yellow flowers, a red carpeted ramp, a white picket fence as tall as a baby, and matching pastel blue and pink toy pianos.
The area was surrounded by a low metal fence, which was surrounded by a ring of sawdust, which was surrounded by another metal fence. Off to the side, white ducks meandered around a kiddy pool full of dank water, proudly bobbing their heads.
The tiny man in the overalls had a leathery wrinkled face like a nut. His skin looked like gold; it was radiant. He had a slightly stooped posture and a big grin. He spoke in the strangest voice I have ever heard. It was high pitched yet authoritative like how Napoleon was short but conquered tons of countries. He paced around choosing children from the audience to represent each pig. He only chose girls.
The pigs screamed loudly from their trailer. It was a constant screeching wail that was a highly disconcerting sound, making the entire situation sinister and mysterious.
After each pig had been assigned to a child, the man went into the trailer. I could hear him squawking at the pigs, “C’mere Rosie c’mere. C’mon Rose. Rosie c’mon.” The pigs continued to screech. He eventually walked out with four pigs. The pigs were the size of six month old babies and the same opaque pale pink as the plastic toys. The man wrangled them into a metal crate and stuck a number onto each pig. I could see the pigs clawing at the chain link walls of the crate.
The man reached his hand into the crate and began clanging a bell to rile the pigs up. He pulled a string and the front wall of the crate fell open. The pigs streamed out and ran around on the sawdust track in a tiny oval. “C’mon, lets go. C’mon, let’s go. Go go go go go.” They raced back into their trailer. Those pigs were pretty dang fast. Pig #3 won and the blonde toddler representing it went up to the man and received a plastic medal on a red white and blue ribbon.
When the show ended the crowd quickly dispersed, probably to go drink apple cider or something. I went up to the edge of the fence and asked if I could interview him. His name was Roger and being close to him made me apprehensive. He is a total carnie.
* * *
Ella: Nice to meet you, Roger
Roger: Nice to meet you.
E: So, when did you start doing Rosie’s Racing Pigs?
R: Well, I was with the circus. I had a gentleman who taught me how to train pigs and then I left the circus and I went with another circus and there was someone else that had pigs and they helped me train pigs. So I always kept that all through my years as I was with all the different circuses traveling all over the country. Now later on in life I got some TV shows and I did a few movies and then I started going to the fairs. I always played the fairs with the high trapeze act I had and then from there on it’s been about 14, 15 years that I retired and I had been training pigs and then I said “I’m just going to do a pig show for the rest of my life.”
R: Cause I couldn't do a trapeze anymore. Because I was already working till I was 62 years old from my trapeze act. So it was time for me to quit.
E: Wow, you look so young.
E: It must be the pigs I guess.
R: I don’t know.
E: So, wait– when did you join the circus?
R: I was with the circus when I was about 16, 17 years old. And then I did other things. I did a juggling act, I had a chimp act, I had a balancing act, I had a puppet show– I done all kinds of different things through my life, but my trapeze act was always the main one that I did, and by going and being with the circus, meeting all these people, they’re the ones that helped me. In between shows when they were practicing I was watching and they would help show me how to train pigs and that was a way of learning.
E: So how did you join the circus?
R: Well I went for an interview and people saw who I was. They knew my grandfather. In the days back then he been working training horses. He knew a lot of circus people and I went and I kind of auditioned.
R: And thats how I got the job and thats how I first started.
E: And so you traveled all over in the circus?
R: All over, yep.
E: So wait, what was it like to live in the circus?
R: It was nice because back then in the early days we used to move every day. The show was set up and torn down and we did that for many, many years and then the shows started to change where theys were doing three and four day spots which was a little bit better. We weren't moving every day and as time went by everything started to change, you know. And it’s like today, there isn't many circuses out. There was Ringling Brothers. I was on the Ringling show, too, and there were many, many shows that were out years ago, but now there are not so many of them. It makes a big change.
E: Why do you think that there are less circus shows now?
R: Well, people are not as interested as they were with shows like that. You know because its all changed. The lifestyles of the kids today are all altogether different.
E: How many pigs do you have?
R: I have four.
E: Could I come see them or no?
R: Not really, no.
E: That’s understandable. Thank you so much for letting me interview you.