Johnson: George Hormel’s hometown celebrated 4th in grand style

Published 4:01 am Saturday, July 4, 2015

I hope your Fourth of July celebrations have been safe, festive and filled with appreciation for the freedoms we have in this country. I found a short excerpt from an anonymous manuscript describing the Independence Day festivities of the late 1800s in George Hormel’s childhood home of Toledo, Ohio.

“These were the days of intense patriotism, lots of firecrackers and noise, particularly on the Fourth of July. The approaching centennial was much talked about and Toledo was for several days gaily decked with flags and filled with visiting bands from nearby smaller towns. Martial fife and drum corps, singfests, parades, fairs and picnics built around an ideal of home, patriotism, God and the church, formed one of the most lasting inspirational facets in the life of the growing Hormel family, and particularly in the life of George Hormel.”

The manuscript was drafted when George was in his 80th year so he must have been feeling reminiscent when he described his fondness for Independence Day in this manner.

Another popular American tradition was featured in the August 1921 edition of The Squeal magazine. A three-page spread detailed the baseball games played by the Hormel sponsored baseball team during the month of July. Teams from Minneapolis (the Silver Bows), Rochester, Spring Valley, Dubuque, Charles City and Adams traveled to play in Austin. The column described the games in great detail mentioning players Cipra, Meany, Grady, Dietrich, and Kaufmann to name a few.

The game of July 4, 1921, pitted Austin against Rochester. “The thermometer registered about 647 degrees in the shade and there wasn’t any shade. Cipra again entered the pitcher’s box for the Packers. The Hormelites started the ball rolling in the very first stanza and managed to keep at least one run ahead of their opponents from the famed Hospital City all the way through the game. Cipra pitched easily and allowed a few hits but always tightened up when there was any danger. The boys secured eleven hits behind him and gave him great support throughout. Final score 6 to 4 with the Packers on the long end.”

If you would enjoy hearing more about Austin’s rich baseball history join us for History Happy Hour on July 13 when Paul Spyhalski will discuss the highlights of America’s pastime in our community.

From freedom to fireworks to baseball, July offers many opportunities to celebrate.


History Happy Hour, 5:30 social, 6 p.m. presentation on Monday, July 13

Snapshots of Austin’s Baseball History, presented by Paul Spyhalski

Free for members of the HHH, Friends of the Library, and the Mower County Historical Society. $5 for non-members.

Refreshments included; cash bar available


Free Garden Concert, 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21,

Join us for an evening of classic Bob Dylan tunes and other 60’s tracks, performed by Ray, Mary, and Tony Bissen and Pete Jacobsen. Enjoy going back a few decades in music to relive your favorites.

Rain site is inside the banquet hall. Refreshments will be available for purchase.