We’ve been supplying Sterling Café and Grill, Luverne, MN., with veggies. Chef Faren drives out to our farm on Thursdays and picks up the best and freshest veggies. Lettuces, cucumbers, garlic, kohlrabi, beets, kales, and chards.
Egads! Is he really getting people to eat this ‘stuff’????
Folks must be eating and enjoying and returning because presently Faren is our number two customer; Look’s is number one. (Look’s sells more lettuce than any account we have other than Farmers Market.)
So Thursday Faren was running late. “What’s happening?”
“It’s Weiner Night in Luverne! Five thousand people come to Luverne to eat wieners.”
“Really? You must be kidding! Is it still free?”
“It’s still free. Sterling has five hundred wieners to give away.”
“Wow! Our folks took us there as kids. We LOVED it! Dad would only eat hot dogs at businesses where he did business but we would move from business to business and have another hotdog. Do you know how many years ago that was? It was a big deal for us kids. Farmers would stand around and visit. Little kids would run around and around their daddies’ legs. Mommies held bawling babies, handed them to dad; Dad would hold his kid for a few minutes and set him down again. And the bawling baby found his way right back to Mom.”
“Our neighbor was kind of strange. He wouldn’t go to Weiner Night but he would ask the folks to bring him a couple wieners. So Mom would wrap a few dogs in napkins and Dad would deliver later that night.”
All of which reminds me of Neighbor Frank. A little weird. “Harmless,” Dad said. But most folks were suspicious of him. Women avoided him.
Gossip had it that he had rustled a few cattle and got caught because of the extra large foot prints in the mud. Frank did have really large feet.
Once Dad did visit him in jail; Frank owed Dad some money. In my mind, I remember seeing those extra large boots laying outside the jail door, waiting. I also remember crying, “Because my Daddy is in jail and I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again!”
Frank always had a cow or two or three on the loose, munching Dad’s grass and Dad’s corn. Dad would come up short a couple calves each fall at weaning time but always said, “If it doesn’t get any worse than a couple of calves and a couple of free-loading cows, then it’s best just to get along.”
Frank could tell time really well. He would magically appear for coffee and dinner (noon on the farm) almost every day. Dad would invite him in and Mom would set another place at the table.
One time Frank teased me, “Look at her! Everything she eats goes up under her nose!”
I tried and tried but no matter what contortion I pulled, I absolutely couldn’t get a bite into my mouth without it going under my nose. Tears!!
Frank didn’t have a vehicle or driver’s license all the time I was growing up. He had a farm next to us and lived with his parents two miles away. He would walk to and from the farm every day. Sometimes folks stopped to give him a ride.
In the winter, when the wind was howling and the snow was flying, Frank still had to go take care of his cows in the morning and walk home again at night. In the worst blizzards, he made the trek. To protect his face, he pulled a feed sack over his head and upper body with only two holes for his eyes. Dad always chuckled when relating the story of this walking feed sack in the dark, scary night of a blizzard. We wondered what fright travelers experienced when they caught such a sight in their headlights.
Oh, the stories we kids would tell if we sat down and reminisced about Frank.
Frank never wore a belt.
Frank never wore underwear.
Frank never shaved.
Frank never bathed. Well … only whenever the Rock River flooded his farm.
Frank was as scared of women as they were scared of him.
Frank was valedictorian of his class.
Frank never spent a dime.
Frank lived with his cattle and his dog.
Frank died an old man.
Frank made a pretty good neighbor.
What nice! Memories running through my head as we worked in the heat and humidity. Weiner Night fifty-some years ago!
Harriet @ Seedtime & Harvest
E-mail: Harriet@seedtimeandharvest.net (mailto:email@example.com)
Alissa & Nathan Van Zweden, Alissa’s Flowers
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:email@example.com)
Falls Park Farmers Market, Sioux Falls:
May 3 to October 25
Saturdays 8 am-1 pm