Daddio served in the army during WWII, but rarely spoke of it. Once in a while he would drink apple brandy, and mention a French farm family who gave him Calvados. If really pressed for a story, he would tell us about the pigs.
France? Belgium? I’m not sure where he was, but it was during the Battle of the Bulge. He had been in the front lines for about six months. The troops were fatigued from fighting, worn from the constant movement toward Germany, and frequently hungry, due to difficulties with supplies. The hunger is something he would never mention directly. Rather, he’d talk about the kindness of the people, how they would give the soldiers half of their family’s loaf of bread, or ‘accidently’ leave a bucket of potatoes in a field for them.
The winter of ’44-’45 was bitterly cold. In the surviving pictures, I recognize his brilliant white smile, matching the snowy landscape surrounding him. He didn’t smile when talking about the pigs. His unit had been moving rapidly across the countryside, in-between battles with the Germans. At night, they would find an existing hole, perhaps a shallow well or animal shelter, or dig a foxhole to sleep in.
One morning he woke up in a trench, with the usual hunger pangs, filthy and shivering. He wiggled his toes to make sure they were still there. Hearing grunts and squeals, he looked up to see a family of pigs staring down at him. The biggest pig kneeled down and sniffed him, his nose dripping onto Daddio’s face.
That, he said, was his lowest moment. There could be nothing lower than laying in a ditch, lower than a common pig. After that, the rest of the war, the rest of his life, could only be better.
And that was always his attitude. No matter what trials life brought him (and there were many), nothing would be lower than having pig slime dripped on you from above. And maybe, just maybe, this explains the bacon balls.
God bless you, Daddio.
© 2014 Tracey Enerson Wood. All rights reserved.