Peter ‘Piggy’ Case 1944-2019
The first day of Peter Griffin Case’s life was Monday, March 6, 1944. From then on the man you probably know as “Piggy” enjoyed a grand total of precisely 27,571 days of fun and family, love and laughs, merrymaking and mustard making, bright ideas and big dreams.
Day one was in post-war Milford, C.T., which was a fine place to grow up in, and the seven Case kids living at 7 Maple Street took full advantage. Peter was the middle kid and in the middle of everything. He was a Cub Scout and an altar boy at the nearby Catholic Church. He sailed in the summer on Long Island Sound and skated in the winter on the Wepawaug River.
Much of his high schooling was in Milford but his most senior year was spent at the A. Crosby Kennett High School in Conway, N.H. As longtime friend Alicia Mulkern said of Peter, “He was the best looking guy in the class of ’63. That’s the truth.” Happy in the Mount Washington Valley, Peter the teen drove his Singer fast, skied fast, made friends fast, and was steadfast: he loved it up here.
After Kennett, he enlisted in the military, just as his two older brothers had, and following training at Fort Polk in Louisiana, he got his U.S. Army Parachutist’s Badge (Airborne wings). He was stationed in Germany which led to more skiing and experience as a medic prepping to mend wounds in the event of war with the former USSR. He had learned German stateside on his father’s instruction and was welcomed from Wiesbaden to Munich for even attempting some Deutsch sprechen.
He met a variety of people in the army from all over the U.S. and was able to put his mother Ally’s mantra into action: “Peter, you’re no better than anybody else and nobody else is better than you.”
Post-Army, he married and had a daughter whom he and his first wife named Jessica Van Buren Case. He also watched out for his youngest sibling, David “Taffy” Case, after their mother and father had died. He managed the Wildcat Tavern in Jackson, N.H., and tended to vacationing skiers as a Wildcat Mountain Skipatrolman. He broke his leg on the last “sweep” of the last day of the spring skiing season and still found a way to ride his motorcycle in a cast up to his crotch that summer.
He healed well enough and was asked to be Hutmaster at “Hojo’s” during the spring of ’71. This meant running the small holdfast of civilization that sits at the base of Tuckerman’s Ravine, a low-slung cabin out of the wind and under the right breast of the comely Mount Washington [editor’s note: skier’s right]. He offered assistance to hikers, skinners, and overnighters who were likely kept in stitches by the former medic and kept in olives which he carried around in a glass jar in case anyone else brought the additional ingredients needed for a martini.
Once off the mountain, he eventually headed south and remarried, finding a suitable spot in Georgetown in the early ’70s where he and his brunette bride could enjoy the convivial coziness of that Washington, D.C., neighborhood. Here he was the “Omelette King” at Clyde’s, a well-loved and still-running restaurant. Here he was a volunteer for George McGovern’s honorable campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination that rode what the Times called “a stunning sweep” to victory in the primary directly into a decimating defeat against the since disgraced Richard Milhouse Nixon.
His wife had a son, born at the University of Georgetown Hospital, whom they named Jameson North Case and whom Peter raised to have a healthy distrust of authority in any form.
In D.C., he found his truest calling: he volunteered at and then was hired by the Library of Congress where he read and recorded books for the blind. His father David (also known as “OBD” or Old Blind Dave) had lost most of his sight in an ordinance accident in the U.S. Army in the ’40s and after that OBD was fond of listening to recorded books which he played on platters spun by a Victrola. At the Library, Peter read and recorded hundreds of books out loud: everything from Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows” to Ernest Tidyman’s “Shaft.” When it came to accents and enunciation, he was a bad mutha [editor’s note: we can dig it].
In the early ’80s, Peter moved back north to Freedom, N.H., and started a mustard company called Cochon et Co. Here he was the one and only “Mustard King” of the Mount Washington Valley and an enthusiastic contributor to the festivities of Freedom Old Home Week and the Championship of Mud Football, known as the Mud Bowl, played every fall at the Hog Coliseum in North Conway. He would often visit his local hero Skip Sherman, founder of WMWV and unrepentant jazz enthusiast, when the radio station was still in a converted farmhouse just down East Main Street. Back in the late ’60s/early ’70s, Skip had hired Peter to read the news and play records and they would catch up and reminisce about the blood, sweat, and tears of those times.
Later in the ’80s he moved near Portsmouth, N.H., to raise his boy on his own. It wasn’t all Mr. Mom; he also had some fun friends in those years. Several times he sailed in the Marion-to-Bermuda Race, where he kept watch when asked and cooked meals for his mates such as “Beef on a Cloud” [editor’s note: creamed chipped beef over instant mashed potatoes]. On any given Sunday you could find Peter on the southernmost end of Jenness Beach at the seaside home of fellow raconteur James Connor, Esq., former bail commissioner of Manchester, N.H., and all-around good buddy, enjoying some refreshments.
In the early ’90s, Peter couldn’t escape the siren call of the valley and the mountains. It was right around that time that he fell in love with Wendy Damon. After the courtliest of courtships, they married in ’95 and a few years later moved from Wendy’s house in Effingham to the house she had grown up in (and that her father had built) in Tamworth.
The next nearly 20 years were beauts with many friends stopping by, all the good tunes, and only amazing meals (if you know Wendy, you know why). During that time Peter spent several years writing for The Conway Daily Sun, covering the Conway school board and somehow getting to interview/report on John McCain, Barbara Bush, her eldest son, and then senator Barack Obama during their visits to the north country.
After that he helped his old high school buddy Phil Kelly revive the Eaton Village Store (EVS). He worked the grill and turned out breakfasts and burgers that are still spoken of in hushed tones up and down Route 153. After EVS, he went back to Kennett, except this time he was in new building and he worked as a teacher’s aid, spending time with kids who needed a vocal advocate.
In retirement, he took up his two favorite sports full time [editor’s note: watching politics on TV and keeping up with friends on Facebook].
He died on a Friday night, the second to last day of August 2019, just after the people in the same room as him were remarking on how clear the night sky was and how overwhelming the number of stars were. He is survived by (and was surrounded by) a lot of people who love him very much. He was comfortable and received all manner of good friends who came to say one last goodbye even if Peter’s replies sounded a bit stream of consciousness toward the end. He adored James Joyce so it was fitting.
This fall in Tamworth, a gathering will be held to toast the living and the dead and tell stories about one of our favorite storytellers.
Donations are encouraged. You can give gently worn clothes, new backpacks, and new toiletries for teens and tweens to North Country Cares which is run by one of Peter’s faves, Emily Smith-Mossman (www.northcountrycaresnh.org). You could also send money to the Tamworth Community Nurse Association (tamworthnurses.org). They deserve it, for Pete’s sake.
submitted by Taffy Case