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Now Hear This: 1937

Now Hear This: 1937

June 9, 1937. Washington, D.C. "Congressional hog caller. The Capitol Plaza reverberated with sounds of the barnyard today as Rep. Robert L. Mouton of Louisiana went into serious training for his coming hog-calling contest with Rep. Otha D. Wearin of Iowa. The contest, which will take place on the Capitol steps sometime in the near future, is the result of an argument between the two solons as to the abilities of the hog-yodelers from the respective states. Judging from his demonstration today, the cameraman is willing right now to place the mantle of champion on Rep. Mouton." Harris & Ewing glass negative. View full size.


Fark! Hark!

Best Background Yet!

He's almost life sized on my screen. Representative Mouton will keep everyone away from the computer.

Hog Calling

My understanding is that this was the kind of thing we lost with the coming of television.

Somebody has to say it

Pork. It's called pork, and for a reason.

It seems to me

Can't fool us today. This guy is auditioning for the Lion in the Wizard of Oz movie, coming out in two years.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

I wonder if this image was the inspiration for this scene from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington:

Wearin out

Congressman Wearin's loss in this contest began a streak that ultimately returned him to Hastings, Iowa. After three wins in a historically Republican district, Wearin was talked into challenging an incumbent Democratic senator, Guy Gillette, in the 1938 primary by New Dealers who viewed Gillette as too independent of Roosevelt. WPA Administrator Harry Hopkins' endorsement for Wearin backfired; Gillette beat Wearin handily, and someone else claimed the nomination for Wearin's house seat. He then lost two more U.S. Senate primaries and one for the Iowa Senate, before he found something to which he could win election - the Cowboy Hall of Fame.


It is heartening that American politicians - then as now - had a laser like focus on the vital issues of the day.

Uh huh

And they haven't been able to get the hogs out of congress ever since.

On the spot

Jason Powell devotes his blog to locating spots seen in old photos (many of them familiar to Shorpyists), and photographing the photo against the contemporary backdrop. Here is Rep. Mouton, in situ:


The Congressional Representative's name, Mouton, means "Sheep" in French.

Ah, what memories "hog calling" conjures up. When we we kids when we went shopping (or practically any place else for that matter) with my Dad, when he was ready to leave and we weren't to be seen would holler "HELLIONS!!!". We knew we'd better get there quick before he started yelling "SOOIE, SOOIE, SOOIE!!!!", a-la a hog-caller. It was all in fun but SO embarrassing! I suppose it could have been worse if Monsieur Mouton had been our Dad.

As said to Marge Simpson

"I know you don't think you're good enough for me, but believe me, you are. Hell, I've done it with pigs ... real no-foolin' pigs."

Eh, La Bas!

Washington Post, Jun 13, 1937

Congress' Rival Hog-Callers Charged With Dodging Issue.

By Sidney Olson.

A sinister rumor is rife in the halls of Congress that the two hog-calling artists of the House are dodging a showdown.

Representative Robert Mouton, of Louisiana, exponent of the Bayou Bawl, and Representative Otha D. Wearin, of Iowa, producer of the Prairie Shout, have been avoiding the direct issue of face-to-face contest, the cynics say. While each is willing to strut his stuff separately, neither has emitted a time-and-place challenge.

Already the whisper is heard in the cloakrooms: "Wearin and Mouton are phonies! Neither one could call a hog across the street, even with corn-cobs hidden in their pockets."

Papers Demand Truth.

Sneers are observed in the faces of some members when the subject is mentioned. Others, holding the honor of the House is at stake, have begged that the matter be dropped. Newspapers, however, probing the truth, continue to insist on the showdown.

Wearin and Mouton, at the invitation of the National Broadcasting Co., displayed their wares on the Capitol Plaza yesterday for the delectation of a crowd of tourists and the radio audience.

Mouton, whose opened mouth resembles a gaping satchel, has a warm, alluring bellow which must be highly attractive to any sensitive hog. His old Cajun cry, "Eh, la bas!" (Hey, you down there!) rings forth in a rich vibrato that flutters the ear-drums of everyone in a two-block radius.

Mouton Makes Bet.

Wearin, of slight, almost fragile build, bespectacled and studious in appearance, has unexpected physical reserves, with a window-rattling roar that makes his whole frame shimmy while he produces it.

He begins with a low, seductive repetition of "piggy, piggy," shifts rapidly into second for a tremendous hoot and then swings into his final smashing blast, a call which his backers claim can start up a medium-sized dust storm on the spot. He closes with a soft "Coo-ee," which is supposed to keep the pigs, who have responded to his thrilling barytone from climbing up his leg.

Mouton has bet two pigs that he can out-clamor Wearin. Wearin says his only present worry is where to put the to pigs he wins. But still no time has been set for the colossal conflict. People are beginning to talk.

Washington Post, Jun 17, 1937

Rep. Wearin Wins Hog-Calling Contest But Pigs Disappear.

Representative Otha Wearin, of Iowa, exponent of the "S-oo-o-ie," hog call of the Corn Belt, laid claim last night to two pigs, whereabouts undetermined.

The pigs were the State of Louisiana's bet that the Cajun dawn greeting call of "Eh, la bas!" had the hog call licked for carrying power and tonal quality.

Wearin pressed his claim for the pigs after Representative Bob Mouton, official Louisiana representative in the scheduled contest, suddenly announced he had withdrawn.

Calling this a "victory by default," Wearin said that he was "willing to let it go at that, as long as Louisiana acknowledges the superiority of Iowa hollerin'."

Then Wearin learned the pigs were missing. Wearin said Mouton kept them in his office for several days, but a clerk there denied any knowledge of their whereabouts.

Sheep shot

As a hog-calling expert, it is funny to think that the very name of Rep. Robert L. Mouton of Louisiana actually means "sheep" in French.

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