Learning the trade from Uncle JacobPublished 4:31pm Saturday, January 18, 2014
As mentioned last week, George A. Hormel gained much of his knowledge for the meat packing business from his uncle, Jacob.
George described his experience working for his uncle in his manuscript.
“He (Jacob) was a hard taskmaster, an exacting employer. Himself a graduate of the school of hard knocks, he had no patience with coddling the young. My hours were long and the work exhausting, often twelve hours at a stretch. I was young and tough but at the day’s end I tumbled into bed like a felled ox. When morning came someone had literally to kick me out to waken me. It was a killing pace.” George was only about 15 or 16 when he first went to Chicago.
“But I learned things working for my uncle I might otherwise never have learned so thoroughly. Like my mother, he had a passion for cleanliness and order, qualities not common in the food processing business of his time. He was a big scrubbed-looking man who usually wore a sea captain’s hat and a spotless butcher’s frock while working. He had a knack for keeping clean, and his insistence on cleanliness earned for him a reputation along Jackson Street and the Canal Docks (in Chicago).” One of George’s jobs was to help keep the premise clean. He adopted his uncle’s obsession for cleanliness and maintained a similar philosophy in his own operation. Jacob’s motto was “Keep the place and everything in it clean and you won’t lose money by spoilage. Clean food doesn’t spoil in a hurry, dirty food spoils while you’re looking at it.”
In his personal life, Jacob Decker married Augusta Schramm, also of German descent, in 1874. They had four surviving children, two boys (Jay Edward and Ralph) and two girls (Laura and Gertrude). Jacob moved around a bit and had several successful ventures, which George was a part. However the meat packing industry in Chicago was changing and it became more difficult for the small business to survive. Though I don’t know exactly what led up to Jacob’s move, in 1901, he purchased the Mason City (Iowa) Packing Company and established a new meat processing business for himself and his sons, the Jacob E. Decker and Sons Company. The company thrived in Mason City for many years and the Decker family contributions to the town are important to its history.
Social Concerns: Owl Talk
Presented by Larry Dolphin of the
Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, Jan. 21
Come meet Guka the barred owl and hear Larry tell us all about this Nature Center resident.
Event is free. Coffee and treats will be served. Please call 507-433-4243 to register.
Austin Wedding Showcase
12-3 p.m., Jan. 26, 2014
Area wedding specialists will be showcasing their unique products and services. Fashion show presented by Belles and Beaus at 2 p.m. Admission is $3 per person.
Valentines Day Dinner
5:30 to 10 p.m., Friday, Feb. 14
Hormel Historic Home and Hy-Vee present a night of great food and entertainment to help you celebrate with your Valentine.
As the kick-off event for the Paint the Town Pink activities, this will be a great event and will support the Hormel Institute’s breast cancer research efforts.
$10 of each ticket sold will be donated to the Institute. Dueling Pianos by the River Rats, will be the entertainment.
Tickets are $50 if purchased before Feb. 1 and $55 after. Get your tickets online at www.hormelhistorichome.org or call 507-433-4243.