Not everyone gets family support when choosing to become a vegetarian. With Labor Day approaching, the infamous annual Pigeon Shoot in Hegins, PA comes to mind and with that the legacy that was left to my husband Jim. Here is a short piece he wrote a couple of years ago.
While growing up in the 1960s, I recall my grandmother telling me proudly that her father, Henry, was a one of the best shots in the area. He and other locals would get together and have shooting matches — and that these matches evolved into the annual Labor Day pigeon shoot in Hegins.
There were photos of he and my great-grandmother in the back dining room of my grandmother’s home. To me at the time, they didn’t look like very friendly people. I’m sure part of that was that they had to hold still for a long time for the photographer, as well as the fact that life was hard maintaining a farm in remote Schuylkill County.
Fast forward to the mid 1980s. A lot of things I felt all my life started to come together for me. I became a vegetarian, and animal rights supporter. When the protests started in the late 1980s over the pigeon shoot, I thought it was ironic that a descendant of one of the shoot’s founding fathers was opposed to the shoot. I never went to the protests though because of the physical violence from both sides of the controversy — I had a young family to think about at the time. However, my beliefs and values were a cause to be disinherited by my father.
The annual pigeon shoot was ended in 1999 after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court gave animal control officers the power to write citations for animal cruelty. My grandmother’s homestead was put up for sale around that time as well. The times were changing.
I have a copy of one of the few photos of my great-grandfather, and I recently imagined myself at that photographer’s studio on the day that photo was taken. Me with our 11-year old cat, and my great-grandfather with his pony. Legacies and transformations — two Henry’s, Mooch, and Molly together for a moment frozen in time.
James Henry Lukens-Gable 2009