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Holly Johnson: Zoom series to discuss a growing Hormel

We started hanging lights in the Hormel Historic Home Peace Garden this week.

We’re gearing up for the holidays at the Hormel Historic Home. Photo provided

I know it’s early but the weather said “Just Do It.”  And to be honest, it was fun as we begin preparing for our annual holiday traditions.  Indoor decorating begins on Monday, so don’t be surprised if you start hearing Christmas music in the garden in the near future. I won’t apologize this year for being early. We need some happy things to look forward to.

As you may know, a small group of bookworms have been gathering in person and on Zoom to discuss the words and wisdom of George A. Hormel from his autobiography “The Open Road.”  We will be discussing chapter 9 on Monday, the 9, which details continued growth and expansion of George’s company, the failure of the Water St. Dam and Jay’s enlistment in the army.  Throughout the book, George referenced the positive influence his father had on him time and time again.

In looking through some old letters, I found an example of just how much George valued his father’s advice.

On Nov. 9, 1887, just after he started his new life in Austin as a butcher, George wrote to his father for advice.

“Dear Father,

I want some pointers in regard to our tanking outfit-so please answer the following questions at your earliest convenience.  How long do you have tallow cook and under what pressure of steam-when do you commence cooking?  Do you let it stand in tank after you turn off steam overnight-and draw tallow off in the morning when you have no cooler?  We have a pipe connected with pipes feeding the tank running to our scalding tub.  Can we run another joint pipe for the tub in which we want to cook out the bones, heads, feet & hooves?  Can we feed the bones into the tub and tank at the same time?  If we can produce steam enough-or will it- interfere with the tallow in tank.  Do you cook the bones or chop some off, split the head and cook it alone?  Do you cut off the hoof from the knee bones before cooking?  Do you sort bones-if so what are the selections?  Can tallow be pounded in solid-or must it-be loose in tank.  Is it best to tank out the bones-or cook them & leave slop for hogs?  Think I have asked you all…”

George concluded the letter by predicting he would have quite a surplus of money by June if trade kept up.  He was choosing optimism and so are we with the hanging of Christmas lights.

Upcoming Events

History’s Sweet Reads Book Discussion, Week 9

5-6 p.m., Monday, Nov. 9

“The Open Road,” Autobiography of George A. Hormel

Sponsored by the Hormel Historic Home and Sweet Reads Book Store. Join virtually. All sessions recorded so participants can join at any time.  Pre-registration required on the website or by calling the Hormel Historic Home. $5 per session. Register at www.hormelhistorichome.org

Holiday Open House Tours

10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, Nov. 20

3 ticket options $7-$15

Tour, Enjoy Music, Take Home a Treat