by Mary Coleman
When I was a very young girl my paternal grandparents, Bill and Mary Sweeney, owned and operated the Sweeney Locker on Main Street in Kamas.
Grandma and Grandpa took care of the animals in all stages: kill, cut and wrap the meat, and freeze it. The building was made up of a room with hooks hanging from the ceiling that carried the animals after the kill. When you walked into the business there was sawdust all over the floor and tables with knives, saws, and the cash register. There was a walk-in freezer with lockers for patrons to leave their meat until they needed it. Very few people had a freezer in those days. Everyone had their own key. You couldn’t forget the key to pick up your meat.
There was an apartment above the Locker when Grandma and Grandpa lived. The back door of the apartment had wooden steps going down to the field below. And out back and down, down the steps was Ezra the Pig.
Ezra was Grandpa’s pig that he had raised from a piglet and Dad told me he just couldn’t sell him. Or eat him. So, Ezra lived his life out in the field in back of the Locker.
Ezra was the ugliest monster ever. He had a hump on his back and a very big snout. I would watch Grandpa walk with Ezra, carting a stick to guide him. I was always amazed that Grandpa was still alive! But Grandma eased my fears and said he doesn’t eat grownups.
Grandma was adamant about Ezra and his eating habits. His most favorite food was…children. My brown hair and knocky knees were to be high on his menu. Grandma made me promise to NEVER NEVER EVER go down those steps. And I never did.
But I did dream about Ezra. I dreamed I was falling and falling down those steps many times but he never got me. I always woke up before the terrible end.
There was a time though that I did get hurt in the Locker. It was off-limits to us kids but we would sneak into the freezer and hit the doorknob to get out. One day me and some of the cousins were in the locker and I was dared to stick my tongue on the metal doorknob. My cousin Billie Sue said we had to open the door first or we would be locked in. So, we opened the door and I put my tongue on the doorknob and it stuck. There was weeping and wailing and I screamed a lot. Grandma came rushing in and pilled me off. There was blood but Grandma said I was lucky. My tongue could’ve frozen off.
My memories of this wonderful place are close to my heart. In my mind’s eye I can picture my grandparents working hard, blood on their aprons and smiles on their faces. I miss them so much.
There was a time in the Valley when people came into town to pick up their meat and to meet family and friends. The Sweeney Locker was one of those places. I’m very proud of my mountain valley home.
My Dad, Willie Sweeney, is 89 years old and helped me with this story. I can’t tell you how sweet it is to hear him talk of old times with family who have left this earth. Thanks, Daddy! I love you…