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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Higgerson's Food Grater

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Annabelle Gullion's food grater made by Andrew Higgerson. Anna's daughter gave the grater to Andrew's son, Mack Higgerson. The food grater is now on display at the Higgerson School Historic Site Visitor Center. [Food grater loaned by Mary Alice Higgerson]
Andrew Higgerson made things.

Andrew's family lived in the isolated river bottoms along the Mississippi River 12 miles east of New Madrid.

When Andrew was growing up, coming to New Madrid from Higgerson Landing was a difficult trip of several hours--each way in a wagon drawn by mules. Back then, if someone needed some tool or other device, it was usually needed right then. It was easier, faster, and cheaper just to make it.

Annabelle Gullion (right) and co-worker Thelma Cobb in the City Pig on Main Street in New Madrid, 1948. [Photo courtesy of Martha Henry Hunter]
Andrew had a workshop set up under a tree in the yard and nearby was his small forge for heating iron. Over the years he developed a real talent for making about anything. Everyone knew it, too.

As time passed, going to New Madrid became a quick trip in the car or truck, and New Madrid had plenty of stores that sold everything. Still, Andrew preferred to make things rather than buy them.

Andrew's cousin, Annabelle Gullion, worked at the City Pig in New Madrid. Later the business was named Tom's Grill and the Pig Stand. The building still stands across from the Courthouse. Jimmy Cheatham acquired it a few years ago after the Pig Stand closed. Jimmy opens up on occasion and sells BBQ.

But, back to the days when it was the City Pig: This was in the 1940s.

Andrew was in the restaurant one day eating and visiting with Cousin "Anna," as she was called.

Anna was quite the cook and prided herself in her work. On that particular day she was engaged in some cooking task that required the use of a food grater--maybe shredding cabbage for slaw or something similar. Well, she was mightily upset with the poor performance of the grater and unloaded her frustrations on Andrew about it.

"It's no good. It doesn't grate worth a darn," she probably told him.

Andrew listened and may have asked a few questions about it.

Andrew left that day pondering her "problem" grater. Before leaving town for home, he might have wandered up the block to Mann Bros. Store to see its selection of food graters--for ideas--not to purchase one, of course.

Several days later he was back at the City Pig to see Cousin Anna and presented her with a food grater he had made.

Andrew had removed the ends and straightened out a tin vegetable can, used a 20 penny nail to create the holes and shredding edges, and mounted it in a wooden frame.

Anna was elated. Andrew's food grater worked better than anything she had ever seen, and, for the rest of her years at the City Pig, she used it. In fact, she nearly wore it out.

When she retired from the City Pig years later, she took the grater with her.

Andrew Higgerson made things--and he made them well.

H. Riley Bock