In the 1960s, my father was a photographer for a popular magazine which will remain nameless, but trust me, you have heard of it. Anyway, he was on assignment in Tennesee, working on documenting the simple people of America. Sometimes known as “hillbillies.”
As part of his job, we were asked to follow a particular family for several months so he could photograph and document exactly how these mountain people survived off the land.
I was only 14 years old and I was allowed to visit my dad on location at his assigned family. This is the story of the Dipweed family of Tennessee. The head of the Dipweed family was Bubba. Everyone just called him Crazy Bubba.
My name is Jason, and this is my story.
It was the third week in November 1966. We were getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Dipweeds. My father, Jay was the photographer for this assignment. His colleague Marty was the chief editor who was writing the article which was scheduled to be released the following February 1967.
We were living with the Dipweed family who owned land in the Smoky Mountains just south of Gatlinburg Tennessee. The Dipweed family lived completely off of the land, eating what they could catch and kill, or grow in their own garden.
Their only source of income was from moonshine and the sale of extra vegetables they produced off of the land. They built their own house on a clearing.
This was a true mountain family, very simple. I wouldn’t call them stupid, but I will say, they do things a lot differently than most folks.
The Dipweed family really knew how to cook.
They could rival any Manhattan restaurant in the heart of New Your City. Their meals were exceptional, with the flavor of secret family recipes, handed down throughout generations of past Deepweeds family members.
These people would eat anything that could walk, crawl swim or fly. Bubba Dipweed had 11 kids, ranging from 14 up to 52. Bubba was 70 years old, and he was the king of the castle.
Most of his kids made their home nearby. It was like their own little town on the side of a mountain. Each family member was assigned a different task, and Bubba made sure things got done.
When it was dinner time, everyone would meet outside around the fire pit, where there were more than two dozen wooden picnic tables. Every meal was like a big family reunion. The meals were enormous. No one ever went hungry.
An average meal would consist of fresh meat and garden vegetables. There were never leftovers because whatever didn’t get consumed at their meal time was thrown into a wild animal pit, and would be eaten before the sun came up every day, usually by opossums, raccoons, rats, birds, foxes, coyotes, and the like.
As Bubba would say, “The eaters become the eaten.” By feeding wild animals, they never had to go far to find tomorrow’s dinner. Many times wild animals would be just waiting for the after-dinner feast.
Bubba was a big believer in Bigfoot
He would often tease his grandkids around dinner time. He would say things like, “if you don’t do what I say, I’m going to feed you to Bigfoot.” The grandkids would take his threat seriously. This often would guide the conversation to Bigfoot sightings and stories.
After dinner, Bubba would sit with all the children and tell them spooky stories, while the women folk cleaned up the after-dinner mess, and washed the dishes, pots, and pans.
Bubba’s stories were extra creepy and he claims they are true. It was usually about a past family member who was caught and eaten alive by a bigfoot. When Bubba was in the middle of one of his bigfoot stories, you had better keep your mouth shut and just listen. If anyone were to interrupt his story, he would give them his evil Bubba stare that could paralyze them in terror.
If you crossed Bubba, you best be in the next county for your own safety.
After dinner, Bubba would pass out the next-day assignments.
His older adult kids would gather around for the nightly family meeting. It usually sounded something like this:
Jarad – Go down to the creek and catch us some catfish for tomorrow. Also, try to get some crawdads too.
Billy – I want you to gather enough firewood for the next three days. Go up the mountain where the wood is drier and take your boy with you.
Michael – I want you to repair the roofs of our houses. Some of them are leaking and need some attention. Use the tar we have left over from the parking lot job.
This would go on for about 15 minutes and at the end of the meeting, everyone knew what was expected of them. Bubba was the boss.
Thanksgiving was going to be epic.
Bubba had everything planned out. What they were going to eat, and what they were going to do. He even arranged for some of the family members to put on a Thanksgiving show to entertain everyone.
This usually consisted of playing music and acting out comedy skits.
For Thanksgiving dinner, Bubba was planning out a secret meal that he promised would be memorable. He talked about a special hunt he had planned and the meal was going to be a surprise. Of course, there were other items such as pies, cakes, chicken, roasted vegetables, and a wild turkey with stuffing.
Some of the grandkids asked Bubba, “what the surprise?” Bubba said, “well if I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise would it?” “Maybe it will be a MacHenry meal!” The MacHenreys were another family that lived over on the next mountain, and Bubba often had a feud going on with them about something.
The kids would squeal “No Grandpa, we can’t be eating people” Of course, Bubba was just kidding. “Maybe it will be a bigfoot meal! You will just have to wait and see.”
Thanksgiving was the meal of the century
I never saw such a spread in my life. This banquet took up three complete picnic tables. There were different kinds of meats, pies, bread, and vegetables with all the fixings.
We ate and ate and ate until we were full. Half the time I had no idea what I was eating. It all tasted great.
The meal, along with the family entertainment last for several hours, and when it was all done, everyone was exhausted. We all went to sleep just as the sun was setting.
A night of very strange dreams
I fell asleep at about 7:00 PM but kept waking up all night long. Just about every couple of hours, I would wake up staring at the ceiling. I was unable to move. It seemed that I was paralyzed laying in my bed. Then I would drift off to sleep again. Was this a dream, or was this actually happening?
The next morning I finally woke up and I was able to move again. Wow, what a night. I wondered if I ate some kind of psychedelic mushrooms or something. What caused those crazy dreams, and why did I wake up so much?
I asked my father who seems to suffer the same symptoms, and so did Marty, the chief editor of the project. I started comparing notes and it seems that they too woke up paralyzed every couple of hours.
It had to be something we ate, what else could it have been? We started comparing our meals and the only thing that stood out was a slice of smoked meat. What was that meat? Was it a goat? A small animal that we aren’t used to eating? Maybe a squirrel?
We asked Bubba about it and he said, that was the surprise I was talking about. It was special meat that he had found a month ago. It was smoking in the meat locker for the past month.
My dad asked, “what do you mean found?” You mean you shot and killed an animal?” Bubba said, “no, it was already dead when he found it.” Ugh, that sounds disgusting, what the hell was it? Well, it seems that hillbillies will try anything if it looks good, even if it’s already dead.
Bubba said that Jared had found it. He said that it was just a carcass without any limbs. Probably a wolf or mountain lion had already separated its limbs, so it could have been a goat, or maybe a wild pig, who knows? But he thought it was someone’s pet? “OH My God, you mean a pet dog?”
As gross as this sounds, it didn’t taste bad, but then again, if you smoke a pair of tennis shoes for an entire month, they would probably taste good too.
Just the thought of this made me sick to my stomach. I told my dad, “OK I’m done, I am ready to go back home now.”
My dad asked Bubba, “why did you think it was someone’s pet?” Bubba said, “because it had on a little outfit, you know that type people dress their pets in?” Bubba said, “I’m thinking it was someone’s pet pig”
We discover the origin of the mystery meat
Bubba asked Jared, “Where did you find this meat? and Jarad said on the other side of the creek” Bubba said, “take us there, I want to see this myself.”
We put on our hiking boots and started following Jared to the spot where he found the pet pig. He pointed to a little hill and it seemed to be a burnt area like someone had built a fire there.
We looked around and found the outfit the pig was wearing. It was a silver-colored material that looked a little like aluminum foil, but it had the consistency of expensive silk.
What the hell is this stuff? I’ve never seen material like this before. Then we saw a burned-out hole in the ground. “Look at this! What the hell is this? This looked like it fell out of the sky and buried itself about 4 feet into the ground.
This looks like some kind of spaceship, like a UFO crash site! You mean, we just ate an alien? Bubba said, “don’t worry, it won’t hurt you, it was smoked for a month.”
My dad asked, “So Bubba let me get this straight, a space alien traveled from a planet hundreds of light years away, and we ate him?”
Bubba just wiped off his chin and said, “Yep, and it was right good too.”