Grunkemeyer weiners of Burwell, NE, remembered
This afternoon at Vacation Bible School, while I was waiting for my time to help with music, I discussed the Friday night picnic with Pastor. "I suppose we could boil the weiners," he said.
What a rush of memory those words brought to my mind. I was transported across time and space to the early 1960's. The setting was the Rose Community Hall, thirty-two Sandhill miles south of Bassett, Nebraska.
The 4-H meeting was over and I was a ten-year-old, standing in line for refreshments. The kitchen's air was heavy with steam and the smell of boiled weiners and hot chocolate. Hot dogs and hot chocolate were standard fare for Rose Scouts 4-H Club meetings.
Then I thought about "Burwell weenies", as my family called them. In Burwell, Nebraska, a small town about 45 miles southeast of Rose, there was a wonderful little store on the town square called Grunkemeyer's Meat Market.
At Grunkemeyers, they made weiners the old fashioned way -- with a sausage stuffer. They used natural casings, and the weiners were made in a long string with each weiner tied off by a bit of strong cotton thread.
Grunkemeyer's weiners were absolutely the best I've ever eaten. I still remember how the skin popped when bitten. My dad loved them and we rarely went to Burwell without coming home with a couple pounds of them.
I'm grateful for the memories Pastor's words stirred.
And in case you were wondering, we decided to cook the weiners for the VBS picnic under the broiler in the oven.
I'm not 100% sure about the spelling of Grunkemeyer, but I think it was spelled with an "eyer" at the end. I read on a Grunkemier genealogy bulletin board that different members of the family have spelled it various ways over the years. One member gave the following history of the surname:
I am part of the West Coast Grunkemeier's. Family name originates from Westerkappeln, and Osnabruck area in Westphalia region of northern Germany. The name, roughly translated, means watcher by the side of a field. It is an old farming name. My lineage is from Hermann Henrich Grunkemeier, who settled in Burwell, NE, 1870's...
In a 1906 history of the Loup River, I read about Fred J. Grunkemeyer organizing relief efforts after a tornado in Burwell.