FRIDAY, March 9/07
Memoirs are a popular genre these days. I've been instructing a memoir writing group for the past few years, and as a result have collected a few stories of my own. I encourage people in my group to not only write their memoirs, but if they want to get family stories recorded, it's a good idea to tape them, in particular interviews with parents, grandparents and other family members. I was glad that I had asked my father to do an oral history some years ago. I have three tapes of his life story and the best part is having his voice telling those stories. I do wish I had asked him for his notes, though, as his story is well worth recording in writing.
Imagine what a surpise it was to hear that Willie Pickton, the Pig Farmer accused of murdering 26 of the women who had gone missing from the downtown east side, had made an oral history of his life. Yesterday in court, the 55 minute tape dubbed "Bob's Memoirs" was played and here is some of what was revealed, a rare glimpse into his life. The tape was made on December 28/01 and was evidently recorded for an unidentified woman named Victoria.
On the tape Pickton talked about his childhood. "It was a hard life but there was always food on the table," he said. He said he always wore hand-me-downs. The family had a farm with hogs and cows. When he was 12 he bought a calf "pretty as a day is long" but three weeks later the calf went missing. "I went everywheres looking for this here calf and I couldn't find it anywheres," he said. He later checked the barn and discovered they had butchered his calf. He was offered $20 consolation because the calf had 'brought a good dollar" but he was so upset he couldn't talk to anybody for 3 or 4 days.
He said he went to a one room schoolhouse but after 1964 only went to school two days a week, working 5 days for "long, long hours." He was a meat cutter for almost 6 1/2 years but got fed up with cutting meat. Once, on a trip to Detroit he was offered a job as a model for $40 an hour, which he turned down because he "just wanted to know more about what the country was like." He said he "had a good time and met a lot of people" on this trip.
His family bought the pig farm in 1063 which he and his brother were running at the time of his arrest. On the tape, he expressed a desire to 'go out and start a new life". He said he wanted to "slow down" and buy his own place, find somebody and settle down. He said he'd keep the wishes of his future partner in mind when planning a house. "When you get together with somebody else, I mean it's not just a one-way stream, it's a two-way stream."
He said he wanted to build a house with 4 to 6 rooms, a "spiral staircase" and a tennis court and swimming pool. "Not that I do swimming or anything. But the problem is you've got to build it for the year 2,000. We're becoming a sophisticated country now. Everything is computerized - no more adding machines are being used anywhere. And you've got to have fancy this and fancy that."
He also complained about how people wanted favors from him. "If I ask them to give me a hand, nobody's around. But if they want a hand, they know where I am....it's about time for them to start living on their own, someday I'm not going to be here. I'm going to be somewhere else."
Yes, Willie. Now you're in jail. And where are all those so-called 'friends' of yours?
An interesting fact: they have kept saying this man is 'slow' but some of the things he said on the tape sound reasonably fluent and sensible. I don't think he's 'stupid'. Simple, perhaps. And no doubt wiley as a fox.
THIS WEEK IN COURT: An anthropology student took the stand Wednesday to testify how she had worked on the Pig Farm from April 2002 along with other anthropology students to help sifting through soil to find objects, such as the fragments of human bones found in the screening machine. Ten anthropologists were hired to help police in their search for evidence. Besides the many fragments of bones found, the student reported finding the fragments of a human jawbone with three teeth. (There was no information as to whose bones they were.)
Apparantly, the defence alleges some of the "evidence" was contaminated by the police. Evidently on some property also owned by the Pickton brothers, a number of items were found, some inside a bus parked on the property. These were items of clothing and other personal things some with blood stains on them. They also found I.D. belonging to one of the women friends of Pickton who is a 'person of interest' in the case. There were 52 vehicles parked on this property and a number of buildings including the Pickton brothers' so-called "Piggy Palace" where they held parties, a partially constructed house dubbed "Willie's house", a smoke house and a slaughterhouse. 2,300 pieces of potential evidence were taken from this peroperty but not all was sent for testing.
The police inspector denied knowing that some of the evience found had been contaminated by officers involved in the search of the property, including ingerprints ona revolver. The jury was warned that this was heresay evidence.