Many people in North Hudson knew my Grandpa Wally as the village’s skating rink attendant and a worker on the street maintenance crew. He wasn’t one given to chatting with kids at the rink, but if he removed his glass eye from its socket, that talent would be a source of chatter at the rink and at the next day.
Those kids probably didn’t know that one of Grandpa’s other talents was baking a mean loaf of bread. For as long as I can remember, he baked loaf after loaf, week after week, year after year. And it was awesome.
As my paternal grandmother’s second (or maybe third) husband, Walburn Wilson was always busy at something. If he wasn’t in his woodworking shop making coasters, bookends, candle holders or bowls, then he was baking bread in the kitchen or working with Grandma Margie on her endless flower beds in their yard next to the empty lot by the Mallalieu Inn. If he did sit down, it was to watch the Crusher on Verne Gagne’s AWA on TV, with a thick slice of his hot bread covered in butter and homemade jam.
Of course, fond family memories for many folks are associated with food, and for good reason as food and cooking plays a major role in life’s rituals, remembrances and celebrations.
For that very reason, Mary (nee Anderson) Wekkin, a member of North Hudson’s centennial planning committee, is hoping to gain enough interest from residents both past and present to create an old-fashioned centennial cookbook for the village’s 100th birthday.
“The idea has been bandied about for many years,” said Wekkin, who moved to the village in 1973 with her family and graduated from in 1978. “The time seemed right to do it for the village’s centennial in 2012. As a volunteer on the centennial committee, I hope I can get enough interest and recipe submissions to do one.”
Wekkin’s vision for the cookbook is a step up from old-fashioned centennial cookbooks produced by clubs and churches of the past. While recipes would be organized into sections and be the primary content in the book, Wekkin said that she would also like to include short articles with photographs on North Hudson history, such as the Galahad School, the railroad car shops, Pepper Fest and other topics. In addition to recipe submissions, volunteers who would like to research and write a short historical article are needed too.
“Any current residents, former residents of North Hudson or anyone with ties to North Hudson such as a relative who visited family here is encouraged to submit one recipe or as many as they like,” Wekkin said.
This project has my crock pot all fired up, and I hope to help out because well, food runs deep in my family history. Before my Grandma Margie married Wally, she cooked at the old Buckhorn Inn and later Holcomb's Supper Club in Houlton. Besides her stories such as folks passing out face-first in their steaks from too many libations, a favorite story was when my paternal grandfather, Lloyd Kramer, was sitting at the bar and told Grandma that she was lucky to have such a “dashing Cuba Libre”—the funniest and most appropriate malaprop for a Caballero sitting at a bar I’ve ever heard.
I’m also claiming the Lerkburger—a burger once famous near and far—from Lerk’s Bar in Afton, MN, on the family food pedigree—as my Great Uncle Harold “Lerk” and Great Aunt Ruby Lind founded the place in the 1930s. After their deaths my cousin Bonnie took over the family business and closed it upon her retirement a few years back. Oh, I miss those Lerkburgers.
I’m going to get busy digging up Grandpa Wally’s bread recipe from my mom’s cookbooks and recipes that my niece, Alyssa Hansen-Kramer, who works in the Twin Cities restaurant industry, fortunately hung on to since my mom died in 1999. One year Mom typed up a bunch of holiday family recipes—fruit cake that is actually edible, scalloped corn, lemon meringue pie, cream puffs, Tom and Jerries and more, and gave it to us kids as a gift. I know exactly where those recipes are. Others, such as Grandma Margie’s oyster stew, Grandpa Wally’s Danish hamburgers or the famous Lerkburger, may take some sleuthing.
I guess I'll go fix myself a Cuba Libre and start delving into the family repast.
Community members can get more information to submit recipes, stories or photos, or to volunteer with the project by doing the following:
- Download the PDF flyer linked with this story
- Call Wekkin at 715-386-2078
- Call Debi Copeland at 715-386-2349
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org