Hormel Historic Home: Winters provided long days, hunger

Published 7:01 am Sunday, January 17, 2016

Winter is finally upon us so I thought I would share a few seasonal recollections from George Hormel.

Referring to his time working in the Chicago meat industry, George wrote in “Three Men and A Business,”:

“In winter, we working people lived in a perpetual night, for our workrooms were dark and gloomy. My day was typical of millions. Up at five-thirty, I ate a breakfast at six of coffee, bread and butter, meat and potatoes, and was at work by six-thirty. By noon I was starved, having put in five and a half hours without a break. ‘Lunch hour’ was long enough to eat cold beans and pork, bread and butter, pie and cold coffee. In a slack season, the day ended at six o’clock. Often I had to work later. As soon as supper was over, I was so tired I went to bed.”

Email newsletter signup

Though tough, these days seemed to have prepared George for his future endeavors that required hard work and long hours.

The following is a reference to the exceptionally cold winter of 1879 when George was still in Chicago. Regardless of his hardship he seemed to recognize the blessings in his life.  In a letter to his family he wrote:

“You haven’t heard from me, because for the past week it has been so cold that I couldn’t write very well. But now three of us have clubbed together and rented a splendid parlor for $12.00 a month. The room is furnished with a good carpet and good beds and has a fine marble fireplace. You have no idea what it meant to come home tonight and sit down in a nice warm room, something I never really appreciated until now.

During an Austin winter, George was happy that the company he built could offer a source of income to farmers during their often unprofitable winter season.

“I was proud that the business offered also increasing opportunity to ambitious farmers, more of whom were coming into town to work for us in their slack season, winter, — our busiest time. The constant stream of money pouring into the countryside as wages or from livestock sales, worked wonders in the increased well-being of the farming community. Many were able to acquire laborsaving tools,… farm wives had better clothes and equipment, and more farm children went away to school.”

George’s words encourage me to remain positive despite the harshness of our long winter season.

Austin Wedding Showcase

Noon to 3 p.m., Sunday, January 24

Austin Wedding Showcase-Plan your wedding from start to finish. A wide variety of vendors will be on hand to answer all your questions. Austin Bruins players will serve as models the male fashions. $4 per person. Tickets available at the door.