I was doing some work-related Internet research — looking up some coaching detail or personage, as I recall — and came across this gem …
Pig Rides in Cars Just Like a Baby
(The New York Times – April 17, 1911)
If it hadn’t been for a stifled squeal and a very pig-like wriggle the taxicab driver would never have known that one of his fares wasn’t human. In fact, the chauffeur rubbed his eyes several times before it finally dawned on him that Mrs. Marie Watson’s traveling companion was a pig instead of a baby.
The chauffeur wasn’t to blame for being deceived, for several conductors had made the same mistake. They don’t know even now that the bundle Mrs. Watson carried so tenderly in her arms was not a baby at all, in spite of its baby cap and fluffy little coat and the milk bottle which Mrs. Watson produced every now and then on her ride from Newark.
Mrs. Watson, as almost every vaudeville performer knows, is the wife of Sam Watson, who has a barnyard circus. One of the star performers was a wee pig, but it got so fat that Mrs. Watson decided another pig would have to join the show, one that she could hold in her arms without straining her muscles.
After some correspondence she found what she wanted in the pig line on a farm just outside of Newark. The pig’s owner agreed to sell free on board at Newark, but not Manhattan.
Mrs. Watson and her husband went into conference to decide how to get the pig here. “Leave it to me,” said Mrs. Watson. “I’ll just bring the pig on the train.”
Her husband suggested that pigs were not allowed on passenger trains. But Mrs. Watson knew what she was talking about. “Leave it to me,” she repeated, and Mr. Watson did so.
Mrs. Watson made the trip to Newark Friday and met the farmer and his pig. Mrs. Watson whispered a few words of pig language in the little fellow’s ear and proceeded to dress him up in baby attire. The cap was a cute affair of muslin and baby chiffon, with a near-blue ribbon at the tip. The baby coat was also blue, as was a blanket which Mrs. Watson had provided. When the dressing was finished the farmer departed chuckling over the transformation.
With the pig in her arms, Mrs. Watson proceeded to the Newark station of the Pennsylvania Railroad and boarded a train for Jersey City. The pig wasn’t making a sound. Perhaps it was because of those few whispered words of pig language of which Mrs. Watson says she has a smattering. Perhaps it was a bottle of milk which the pig tippled now and then. Anyhow, no one on the train imagined that it was anything else than a very quiet and well-behaved baby that Mrs. Watson was carrying in her arms.
At Jersey City, Mrs. Watson and her charge proceeded to the Hudson Tunnel station. While waiting for a tunnel trail an elderly man suggested to Mrs. Watson that she had better stand well back from the edge of the platform. “You know these drafts are very bad for babies,” said the elderly gentleman. Mrs. Watson smiled and thanked the solicitous old man. Never once during the trip to Manhattan did the pig betray himself.
At Thirty-third Street, Mrs. Watson hailed a taxicab, and in this the last lap of the journey was made. At the theatre Mrs. Watson alighted and paid her fare. The movement of getting into her purse must have disturbed the pig, for there was a sudden squeal and a very vigorous wriggle. The baby cap slipped back, displaying a very piglike face. It was then that the chauffeur began rubbing his eyes and pinching himself.
In a few days the little pig will take the place of the elderly porker in the barnyard scene. He is now undergoing the necessary preliminary training.
Naturally, I had to find out more about the Watsons and their farmyard circus, so I did a little more sleuthing and found these two newspaper announcements, both published two years before the article above. And (bonus!) one of them even included a photo of Mr. Watson himself and a little piggy … presumably the very one who, in 1911, was being replaced by the piglet who rode the train dressed as a baby.
Variety of Amusements for Summer Evenings
(The Evening Chronicle – Spokane, Washington – June 26, 1909)
The inhabitants of a well-regulated farmyard appear in the act which heads the bill at the Orpheum theater for the week beginning with the matinee tomorrow afternoon.
“Sam Watson’s Farmyard circus has been described as a treat for children from six to 69, and it is true that everyone finds something appealing in this quaint European novelty,” says the manager.
Watson introduces a donkey, dogs, cats, roosters, and a tiny pink pig in his routine of comedy, and the results obtained by persistent training of presumably brainless creatures, such as roosters, are astonishing.
Sam Watson at the Orpheum
(The Deseret Evening News – Salt Lake City, Utah – September 15, 1909)
Sam Watson, who is appearing this week at the Orpheum theater with his Farmyard Circus, is an old-time performer, and his animal act is the cleverest playing over the Orpheum circuit, while his “little pink pig” with which he appears in the above picture, is the provoker of extraordinary interest and merriment at every performance. Many people wonder how it is that Sam has trained some of his animals — to wit, his roosters and cats — to accomplish some of the stunts they perform. Sam avers, and it is easy on looking into his open countenance to believe, that it is all done by kindness, and though he may hold old-fashioned beliefs, he believes that a kind work or a pat of the head does more good than a swish from the whip. He never uses the hammer, either before, during, or after his act, and this is one of the principal reasons that his animals work with such a good will and display such fond affection for their master. Sam’s wife personally bathes all her pets, and they are all spotlessly clean and as white as snow. The animals should amuse many a youngster and grown-up, being all this week at the Orpheum.