That was also the year my dad decided that, since we were hosting more people than usual, we’d have a roasted pig with an apple in its mouth for Christrmas dinner.
Our oven wasn’t big enough to slow cook a a whole pig all day.
So a baker downtown named Mr. Gregory let use the big gas flamed rotating oven he used to bake bread every day.
Mr. Gregory lived above the bakery. He baked bread every morning starting around five a.m. so he didn’t mind lighting the flame of the big gas oven well before the sun came up even on Christmas Day, so that the oven was preheated when we arrived.
Early Christmas morning we drove downtown to the bakery parked the car in the alley and let ourselves in with the key.
When we pulled down on the oven door the warm air rushed out at our faces. The morning air was cold and damp and the back door was still open so the warm air felt good against our faces and hands.
An electric motor attached to a chain moving over a over a metal sprocket slowly turned the shelves around and around. The oven was heated by blue flames hissing through b b sized holes around a metal tube the width of the oven.
The pig rested on a square cast iron skillet with curled edges so that the juice wouldn’t leak out onto Mr. Gregory’s bread shelves AND so that my grandmother could make the best gravy in the world that we could spoon over the best mashed in the world.
After turning off the motor we lifted the pig and the iron skillet onto a shelf. We used a wooden bakers pole to slide the pig to the center of the shelf close, but not too close to the blue flame.