Thursday, May 30, 2013

Giggling With The Pig


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I’ll always remember the day we drove into a small little West Texas town on our move  from California and spotted a Piggly Wiggly sign.  Our family had never seen a Piggly Wiggly, much less heard of that particular grocery store chain and so my brothers and I did what came most natural to us kids, we laughed ourselves silly. 

After years of living in the Texas, we grew accustomed to the name and joined the locals in shopping there.  Years passed and eventually my family moved away and I’ve never seen a Piggly Wiggly since.

Recently as I was going through some family pictures, I came across this picture of my Grandpa’s twin brother, Orson Merritt Ganus, driving a Piggly Wiggly truck.  I couldn’t help but smile at the site of the Piggly Wiggly logo on the side.

Orson Merritt Ganus
Orson Merritt Ganus
I wish I knew the full story behind this picture.  Was it possibly taken on Orson’s first day of work at Piggly Wiggly? Dressed in a suit and tie, this job was in stark contrast to the farm life he had experienced in Colorado as a young man and I wonder if he felt an anxiety over that difference.  Was he excited and hopeful for a future in a new career?

While I am unsure exactly when this picture was taken, based on pictures of grocery trucks found on the internet, my best guess would be that this picture was taken in approximately the late 1920’s or early 1930’s.  I turned to the census to see if I could find any clues about when Orson worked with Piggly Wiggly.

In 1920, Orson was living in Sanford, Colorado where he worked as a farm laborer according to the census.1    But by 1930, Orson had moved and was living in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.  Orson married Frieda Hembree in May of 1924 and by 1930 they had one son, and were expecting their second child.  On the 1930 census, Orson is listed as a salesman for a grocery store and Frieda indicated that she was working as a sales girl at a dry goods store2. This seems to support the possibility that the picture of Orson was taken around 1930, give or take a few years.

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imageHad Orson taken a job as a salesman with the hope of being able to better provide for his growing family? With a second child on the way, was he looking for a job with a higher earning potential?

Being a  salesman did not become a lifetime pursuit for Orson, however, as evidenced by the 1940 census, where he is no longer listed as a salesman, but is listed as a filling station attendant.3

Did the job of salesman not suit him?  Were the hours too long?  Was there too much pressure or was wearing a suit too foreign? While I may never know any more about Orson’s time as a grocery salesman or why he didn’t continue in that job, I am grateful to have a copy of the picture of him driving a Piggly Wiggly truck.  This image adds dimension to Orson’s life and makes me think that he was willing to try different things in an effort to support his family. In addition, the picture reminds me of time with my brothers and when something as simple as a sign seemed hysterically funny.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2013


1.  1920 U.S. Census,  Sanford, Conejos,Colorado, population schedule, Sanford Town, Enumeration District (ED) 35, sheet 6-B, p. 6B; 35; p. 120 (stamped)  dwelling 114, family 118, Orson Hanus, (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 28 May 2013) citing National Archives microfilm publication T625_157.

2.  1930 U.S. Census, Okmulgee, Okmulgee, Oklahoma; population schedule, Okmulgee City, Enumeration District (ED) 56-28, sheet 8-B, p. 88 (stamped) dwelling 185, family 190, Orson Ganus (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 28 May 2013) citing National Archives microfilm publication T626

3.  1940 U.S. Census, Okmulgee, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, population schedule, Okmulgee City, Enumeration District (ED) 56-30, sheet 7-B, p. 408 (stamped), line 72, Visited No. 149, Orson Ganus (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 28 May 2013) citing Nation Archives microfilm publication T627_3319 .
Piggly Wiggly sign and Piggly Wiggly store front pictures from Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain.  

22 comments:

  1. I've never been to a Piggly Wiggly store myself, but have heard of them. I can understand the giggles too. Such an interesting name. I wonder where it came from.

    That's a great photo of your grandpa's brother.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Jana. It really is a great picture of my Grandpa's twin and was fun to find.

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    2. Michelle,

      I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/05/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-may-31-2013.html

      Have a great weekend!

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    3. Thank you so much Jana! I appreciate it.

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  2. Great photo! My Grandfather was a butcher for Piggly Wiggly in SC for many years.

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    1. It really is a great photo. That is a fun thing to know about your Grandfather--do you have a picture of him there?

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  3. I was tickled by the Piggly Wiggly sign when I first moved to Texas too! That is a wonderful picture to have. He may have been very grateful for his job at Piggly Wiggly given the hard times during those years.

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    1. That is fun to know that you had the same reaction. I love knowing where he worked and think it is such a treasure when a picture surfaces that helps with the details of an ancestor's life. And I am sure that you are right and that he was grateful for it during those lean years. Thanks!

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  4. The Piggly Wiggly stores still exist here in NC. I grew up going to one in my early childhood. I have to wonder about the origin of the name!

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    1. It does make you wonder doesn't it? I also remember seeing a Henny Penny store somewhere in Texas. Piggly Wiggly was a good store then and I am sure it still is. Thanks for your comment.

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  5. Nothing so interesting in Canada, or at least not on the West Coast! Love the sign and the great photos, Michelle. As for all the job changes... a job's a job - unless you have a profession or specific skills - one could raise a family on those particular jobs. Thanks for sharing this - made me smile!

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    1. Thanks for the comments Celia. I do have to admire Orson for his determination to try various jobs in an effort to provide for his family. I am sure times were very tough and he was fortunate to have a job. It is interesting just how varied his jobs were though from farming to selling to gas station attendant. I wish I knew what he did the remainder of his life.

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  6. Check out this 1920 newspaper article RE: Piggly Wiggly.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=ooAXAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA29&lpg=RA1-PA29&dq=piggly+wiggly+hoggly+woggly&source=bl&ots=FpaAML7igp&sig=FPCXZPyUOTcJRqaontx1oG91XhU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=j46oUae9J_HM0gH13oGoBw&ved=0CD0Q6AEwAjgK

    My grandmother always called our hometown "Piggly Wiggly" store by her pet nickname for it of "Hoggly Woggly". We have a Piggly Wiggly here in Blount County, Alabama, and the name has always made me snicker. :)

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  7. Oh my! That is an interesting article Karen, so thanks for the link. Hard to believe that someone would really name a store Hoggly Woggly. It's nice to know Piggly Wiggly is alive and well still.

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  8. I wonder if being a salesman took him away from home too much. My only knowledge of Piggly Wiggly stores is from the movie "Driving Miss Daisy." That's a great photo!

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    1. That's a good point Nancy-it likely did. I forgot about Piggly Wiggly in "Driving Miss Daisy"! Thanks so much for your comments.

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  9. Nice post Michelle! Brought back memories of me and my siblings when we spotted a Piggly Wisggly in Washington on our way to visit grandpa. Thanks for reminding me of the giggles!

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    1. Thanks so much Valerie. There are so many fun memories. Thanks for "dropping by."

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  10. I also remember the very first time I heard "Piggly Wiggly," and it made me laugh out loud. And I remember when gas stations, today called service stations, were called "filling stations." I guess that's from the usual request, "Fill 'er up!" I very much enjoyed your post and your searching questions about your grandpa's twin brother, Orson. That does look like a 20s car to me . . . I have a picture of my grandfather with his foot propped on one of those "running boards."

    I just googled "Piggly Wiggly," and they are still very much there -- in Southern states and as far west as Missouri. Go figure! Thanks for this post!

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  11. I remember them being called "filling stations" as well Mariann. I also remember when we moved to that little town in West Texas how the gas station attendant would run out and start filling our tank and would wash the windows AND vacuum out the car, both front and back seats. It was really full service!

    Thanks for the input on the approximate year of that picture. I had hoped I guessed it right, but you never know.

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  12. I saw my first Piggly Wiggly while on vacation in South Carolina, I was 36--I giggled too

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    1. I believe it! It's just a funny name for a store.

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