Help PAM Pen the Pig

Save the Pig

Have you heard the buzz about Porky’s the last few days? The place is to be sold, effectively ending its momentous run as St. Paul’s (and arguably Minnesota’s) premier drive-in hotspot. Opened in 1953 with its car canopy, bright neon, and as-yet-unmatched onion rings (yeah, that’s right), Porky’s epitomizes car-culture in America. But after tomorrow, Porky the Pig will be doing the limbo until a reuse or relocation option is found. (I refuse to acknowledge demolition as an option, because that’s just the way I am.)

From hot-rodders and classic car aficionados to foodies and drive-in junkies; from roadside architecture enthusiasts and preservationists to residents and employees of the midway; from St. Paulites to all Minnesotans; the closing of Porky’s has unquestionably struck a chord. (If you have any doubts just look to the long line waiting for fries on University Avenue or the most-viewed stories on the Star Tribune website).

With the all recent activity surrounding this landmark’s closing, it has become abundantly clear to me that preservation, while inextricably tied to sites and structures, is also undeniably about a sense of place and community. Throw a stone in St. Paul and you’ll hit someone who has a story about Porky’s. (Probably don’t throw it too hard though.) High school dates, cruising, family reunions, weddings, weekly car club meet-ups, work-time lunch runs and more have all taken place here. Porky’s is not just a checkered shack and a neon sign – it is the collective memory of countless individuals, not soon to be forgotten.

While we remember these things, what about the next generation? What place will they have that can evoke 1950s Americana like Porky’s does? The smell of engine exhaust and fried food on a sultry summer night is a special blend, and I shudder to think that some might never know it. Let’s make sure they do.

Next week, the gorgeous neon sign with the flirty winking pig (it gives me goose bumps every time…just kidding. Or maybe not…) will be auctioned off, and as part of our ongoing advocacy effort PAM is going to attempt to purchase it. We’re going to need all the help we can get and we’re calling on you. Whether you’re someone who’s driven past but never driven in, or someone with a thousand and one memories of Porky’s, please consider saving this irreplaceable part of history today.

Kate Scott

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