The 21st Century embraced a new invention that revolutionized mobility for all Americans: the automobile! With this infatuation, new dimensions were added to everyday routines. Visiting was expanded beyond neighborhoods; and, even roadside picnic tables appeared for travelers to "Brown Bag" meals. One entrepreneur noticed this devotion to the motorcar and decided to capitalize on this whole new spectrum to everyday life. It was Jesse G. Kirby who coined the phrase, "People with cars are so lazy they don't want to get out of them to eat!" This candy and tobacco tycoon secured Reuben W. Jackson as a partner in a business venture that would change eating habits for many years: drive-by sandwiches.
In 1921 the Pig Stand made its debut in Dallas, with its tasty Pig Sandwiches that remain a favorite today. It was also during this time that young men, in an effort to serve all customers and avoid traffic jams, would jump on the running boards of cars, take the food orders and return as soon as possible with the meal. Thus, the term "carhop" originated!
One such carhop was a young Royce Hailey who began work in 1930 and worked his way up through the organization to become president in 1955. His son Richard Hailey continues the Pig Stand tradition. Rose Hoots, Pig Stand Manager for thirty years commented, "The biggest change that I have noticed in my many years as manager is the absence of the carhops. I think that since our customers have also stayed with us for years, that "trend" was simply outgrown." The Pig Stands were also pioneers in other areas such as drive-thru windows in 1931 and fluorescent lighting in 1939; as well as the first to use fried onion rings. Royce Hailey initiated the most famous invention: Texas Toast. When he had asked Rainbow Bakery to slice his loaves of bread thicker, slabs of bread appeared that were too thick to fit in the toaster. One of the cooks suggested that they butter them and toast them on both sides. What a hit with the customers! Unfortunately, Hailey failed to patent this invention which had its birthplace at the Pig Stand on Calder, Circa 1941.
Since the first appearance of the Pig Stand in Beaumont, 1924, Highland Avenue and West Port Arthur Road, it has been a home-away-from-home for many people over a period of turbulent decades of world wars, as well as financial heartaches. This one mainstay is the reason for its survival: most customers feel that this is their second home. Anabel Trahan Smith began working as a carhop for the Beaumont Pig Stands in 1943. Beaumont was an industrial center for shipbuilding for World War II; many of the customers were the Port of Beaumont workers.
Most of all production in Beaumont and in other parts of the United States was geared toward the War Effort. Rationing occurred; but, did not affect the Pig Stand. Ms. Smith reminisced, "The Pig Stand employees were second families to many of our customers. This has made the Pig Stand last all these years; and at one time, there were four Trahan women working between the Highland/West Port Arthur Rd. location and Calder: myself, Verna Mae Hale, Eloise Jutten and Electa Chatelain." Ms. Smith also shared that she made ten cents an hour, a Pig Sandwich was twenty cents; hamburger, fifteen cents; small cold drink, five cents; large cold drink, ten cents. In addition, when World War II was finally over, the Pig Stand closed as per orders of Royce Hailey, for the employees to share in the celebration at Texaco Island, now Pleasure Island.
Pig Stands in the Beaumont Area have an unusual phenomenon: both customers as well as employees stay with this restaurant! Twenty-six year veteran Tiny Rose commented, " I think the real success of our Pig Stand is the home-away-from-home atmosphere. Also, our food is not "fast food", but old-fashioned cooking. We take pride in what we serve and how we serve it!" Cook Verna Herman who has 27 years with the company also echoes that sentiment but adds, "honesty among the employees is always present. It is important that our customers feel the trust that exists." Recently, an 80 year celebration occurred at the Pig Stand on Calder. As the crowds swelled, everyone had good memories of the restaurant to share: the food, the people, the crusin' of the 50's and 60's down Eleventh Street, past the Circle and the Hub Diner and over to Calder, and maybe even a stop at Shelton's Restaurant; but, the magnetism of the Pig Stands still prevailed, even until today.
Rose Hoots also shared, "Another change was the shape of the Calder Site: it was built in a horseshoe and served drinks in the 40's , not as a nightclub, but as a restaurant that offered beer with a meal." During the 80 Year Celebration, the kindness and the sincerity of Richard Hailey, heir all of this tradition, is also apparent. As he wondered through the crowds during the wait for the rain to stop so he and his band could perform, the comments that were exchanged were nothing but happiness of a time gone by as well as the opportunity to remember.
Margaret Koncaba also has recollections of the Pig Stand, but from a different perspective: the young daughter of Rose Hoots. Margaret shares, "it is in my blood; that is why we try so hard to preserve it!" She also commented that now college students are seen studying once again at the College Street location that is open 24 hours; just as twenty to thirty years ago. These kids also share memories of the Pig Stand; but, this time it's their grandparents' recollections.
Most definitely, the Pig Stands of Beaumont still have a certain ambience, especially to the Pre-Baby Boomers and Baby Boomers who are drawn to the memories of the past and always want to 'tell their story'. For most, this trip down memory lane is of the good times without teenagers who write hate lists and have weapons and, most definitely, without killings in school cafeterias and on neighborhood streets.
Finally, the Pig Stands' influence on people's lives can best be summarized in Margaret Koncaba's most recent testimony of the past: "A couple entered the Pig Stand on College and requested a certain booth. Then, they played a particular song on the jukebox and began to dance. This was their 50th Wedding Anniversary; they had met at this Pig Stand!" The Circle of Life has been completed.
by Sharon Eaves, freelance writer & owner of The Source,
French High School '66
BACK TO PIG STAND PAGE!!