This is a story about a logo.
When I was a preschooler, I brought home a finger-painting. It quickly became my mother’s and my grandmother’s prize possession.
The parchment paper moved from refrigerator magnets into family work of art, dutifully framed.
For decades, the picture remained a fixture of our kitchen. It remains in her former apartment in Louisiana to this day.
I don’t recall the presentation of my object d’art, but my grandmother did. She’d say this was my explanation. On one side, a cowboy and a cactus. On the other, two small drops of paint that was an invisible squirrel.
But the dominant image of this abstract was a collection of bright red tempura paint strokes.
This was the Razorback.
Looking back on it today, if you squint and connect the dots, sure, the outlines are there. The arching back with pointed edges. The furiously churning legs.
It wasn’t the usual proud momma business. Her little boy had managed to work a Razorback into some kind of addled western abstract.
While I was born and raised in north Louisiana, large portions of my childhood were spent riding in the back of a black VW Beetle churning along Highway 165 back and forth to Arkansas City.
That’s where my mom was raised, and her mom remained as an elementary teacher living right across the street from Arkansas City’s one-building-holds-all school house.
Calling the hogs was a natural, although not necessarily practiced at home as my father was personal friends with Billy Cannon and as big a LSU fan as they come. (Maybe Thanksgiving week I’ll tell another story, this time about a Heisman trophy).
I remembered that first-ever Razorback artwork today as I walked across the field Friday afternoon.
When almost 70,000 fans arrive at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium Saturday afternoon, they will be greeted by the largest Razorback ever painted on a University of Arkansas athletic facility.
The visitors from Western Illinois this weekend, like those from other schools, might not understand just how big a deal this is.
For the first time, the Hog Nation will behold its most precious symbol – right there at midfield.
It’s special, and it took me back to the incredible pride those two women held in their heart for the Razorbacks. It didn’t matter how abstract; that finger painting nailed to the kitchen paneling was a Razorback.
I guess all these years I never really got why that was. When all the excitement of the changes that have taken place over the past eight to nine months reach a peak at about 6 p.m. Saturday night, I bet it will be clear to every single Arkansas fan, whether they are in the stadium or listening somewhere on the other side of the world.
At the end of the day, it’s not so much whether it’s a finger-paint hog or the magnificent Classic Hog, all 20 or so yards of him, at midfield.
Of the Hogs.
Oh yeah, WPS – see you at the game or on-line with the live blog tomorrow afternoon.