Chapter 2: Bringing home the bacon

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This is this is the second in a series of literacy enhancement articles that will appear biweekly in The Sentinel-News.

This land is your land, this land is my land. From California to the …

“What’s the matter, Woody? Why did you stop singing?”

“I’m sorry, Chloe,” I said, trying not to let my sister see my tears. “I’m just scared – and I miss Mom and Dad.”

“I understand, but it’s going to be OK. Mom says that if we’re ever worried, singing helps. Besides, I’m sure Mom and Dad know exactly what truck we’re in. And Mr. Grover knows the truck driver and where he’s going. I bet Mr. G has called him already.  And best of all, remember when Mom and Dad took us to Doc Albert and we had chips put in our back?”

“Yeah, I thought Doc Albert was putting potato chips in my back,” I said, giggling, thankful Chloe had made me feel better.

“Doc Albert said the chips would tell Mom and Dad exactly where we were if we ever get lost,” Chloe said. “So we aren’t really lost – just separated at the moment. At least you have your backpack.”

“You’re right!” I said, perking up. I always liked to take my backpack when we went somewhere. I never knew when I might need important things such as my “Work and Dream Like a Big Dog” jacket, my toothbrush, my sock monkey, my paddleball and my harmonica – anything I could ever need in an emergency. To pass the time, I played harmonica while Chloe sang. We played every song we knew – Camptown Races, She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain, Old MacDonald, Paw Paw Patch, Oh My Darling Clementine, and Oh! Susanna – with Chloe’s soprano voice ringing through the trailer. Finally, in the fourth verse of z’John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,” the truck came to a stop.

You can imagine the driver’s surprise when he opened the trailer of the semi and found Chloe and me.

“Glory be!” said the trucker, who had a very Southern accent. “I thought I heard lots of screeching and carrying on in the back. I figured I had a problem so I pulled in the first rest area I approached. I never dreamed I’d find you two cuties. I’m Tom. Who are you? And how’d you get in the back of my rig?”

“I’m Chloe and this is my brother, Woody. We were at Grover’s Supermarket with our Mom and Dad. Mr. Grover told us to look around his storeroom while he went to the front of the store.”

“And that’s when we smelled something really delicious and decided to check it out,” I interjected.  “By the way, you said you heard screeching. Chloe and I never heard a thing. Of course it might have been because we were too busy singing and playing harmonica.”

“Oh,” Tom said, chuckling and looking as if he had just learned something. “Well, you were right about one thing, you did smell something mighty scrumptious. I had picked up a load of meat from the packing plant and had taken it to Grover’s. After I unloaded, I hopped back in to head to another packing plant. Sure glad I heard screeching and pulled over.”

“We’re glad too! What’s a packing plant?” I asked.

“It’s where farmers take their livestock to be slaughtered,” Tom said.

 “Mr. Tom, I don’t want to interrupt, but what is livestock?” I asked.

“You don’t live on a farm, do you Woody?” Mr. Tom said before he continued. “Livestock are animals used for three things: food (eggs, steak, bacon), fiber (material) and labor (more so in the past when farmers used mules or horses to plow a field). Like I was saying, the farmer sends the livestock to the packing plant where it’s slaughtered. The meatpackers process the meat – or get it ready for humans to eat it. Then they package it. Finally, I take the packaged meat to supermarkets, like Grover’s.”

“I guess that’s why Mr. G said he couldn’t take all the credit,” I said.

“You mean you thought Mr. Grover was responsible for preparing all the food?” Mr. Tom asked.

“Kind of,” I said, looking at Chloe.

“Oh, no, buddy. It’s a collective effort of the farmer, the trucker, the meatpackers, the distributors; the list goes on and on.”

“Wow! I can’t wait to tell Mom and Dad what we’ve learned,” Chloe said

“Me either! Speaking of Mom and Dad, are you ready to take us back?” I asked Mr. Tom.

“Well little fellow, I hate to tell you this, but that’s impossible.”

For more about the series including audio versions of each chapter, visit www.kypress.com.