From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hot Dog Memories

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.

- - - - -

Related:
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.

7 comments:

Neurotic Mom said...

It's amazing how a simple sentence can bring back memories.

Genevieve said...

In truth, I don't much like the smell or taste of boiled hot dogs. That's why I remember the smell of the steam in the kitchen so well, I'm sure.

Trixie said...

I am always amazed when I come across something on your blog that so parallels either events happening in my own life or memories that I've dredged up right as you post yours. Just yesterday morning I did something decadent -- I ate a chili dog for breakfast and had a long narrative-style memory of my neighborhood grocery store. Levi the butcher was famous for running a great meat counter. Tuesdays were "coney days" and he would make chili dogs by the hundreds. The store was located across the street from my grade school and was a short block from my house.
On coney days the kids from school would line up (in a prescribed fashion) inside the store, walk past Levi's meat case, tell him how many they wanted, then take their little brown sack to the counter to pay their quarter and go back to the school lunch room. Inside the bag was a delicious coney wrapped in white paper and a nickel bag of chips.
My standard order was two coneys. I'd then head for home for my lunch hour and momma and I would sit at the kitchen table eating our coneys and chips. Sometimes we'd play a short game of Fiddlestix while we ate, then I'd walk back to school all filled up in so many ways.

Phil said...

That triggers memories for me too. My dad and brother and I used to go on frequent outings to parks and lakes in the area, where we'd often roast weiners over a fire.

But speaking of triggered memories, I remember about four or five (or six?) summers ago when I'd ride my unicycle to help out at VBS.

Genevieve said...

Trixie, after the conversation and thoughts I've described here, I went to the grocery store and bought the best weiners I could find. I rolled them around a little on a cast iron griddle to brown them and we had hot dogs for supper. I hope my cholestrol pill is working, because I ate two of them! They tasted really good, even though I'm not usually much of a hot dog eater.

Loved your comment. Thanks for sharing your memories.

Genevieve said...

Phil, I'll bet you and your unicycle were very exciting to the kids at VBS.

That's really the best way to enjoy hot dogs, I think -- cooked outside over the fire and slightly burned. Toasting them a little on the cast iron griddle is a reasonable facsimile, though.

Sarabeth said...

My family calls boiled hotdogs "pot dogs" since most of us now nuke 'em in the microwave.

It's really lovely writing. The "pop of the skin" part is my favorite.

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