When Larry Aasen was a young boy growing up in North Dakota, he befriended a young pig. Many years later, the 87-year-old Westport resident has turned that tale into a children's story.
"Growing up on a farm in Fargo, I heard this pig carrying on and squealing one day. So I went out and chased him," Aasen said. When I caught him he had this tin can stuck on his snout, so I pulled it off. He just started following me around everywhere after that, like a little dog."
He told the story to illustrator and artist Howard Munce in 1994 and the two collaborated to produce "My Friend the Pig." They didn't sell that version, instead they only sent it to friends and families with children.
"Howard kept needling me, 'We ought to reprint it,'" said Aasen. So a few months ago, they did just that after making some changes to the story. The original ending didn't go all too well for the pig, who grew up and went to the butcher. The new ending is a bit more uplifting. Unlike the original, this version can be purchased. Aasen estimated 60 copies have sold at $10 each.
"My Friend the Pig" isn't Aasen's first stab at writing. He left North Dakota and headed east in his youth to pursue a career in journalism. He worked for Hunting & Fishing and the Journal of Acountancy before landing at Trucking Magazine. There he met his wife, Martha. They worked side-by-side for about a year. "Familiarity did not breed contempt," said Aasen. Marriage brought with it a greater financial burden and Aasen made the jump from journalism to public relations, working for New York Life Insurance.
Over the years he has written three books about life in North Dakota. The first was about life in the state a century ago. The second was a narrative told through postcards his mother sent flirtatiously to her future husband. Lastly, the third book was a collection of Depression Era photographs his mother had taken. "She even had a picture of her brother going off to fight in WWI," said Aasen.
He also published a 20-page timeline of Westport, covering the 46 years he and Martha have lived in town. He said people loved it because they could relate to it. Events ranged from elections to the Martha Stewart's time in time.
Aasen has no plans to write a follow up to "My Friend the Pig" or to publish any other children's stories for now.
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