Mondays are always special in some way or another. After a really great weekend, how often do you have to kick-start Monday to get in the groove? And how often does something really strange happen on a Monday?
So, it seemed fitting that the recent “Meatless Monday” controversy at the beginning of a work week.
The USDA’s support of “Meatless Mondays” came from two schools of thought, from what I’ve read: support of a movement to improve the health of Americans and the environment by cutting meat out of your diet for one day a week — and/or — because of our arid summer, which may cause food prices to rise and cause stress on water-dependent power plants, people could conserve water by not eating meat on Mondays.
In response, a couple of U.S. Senators took the bull by the horns and celebrated “Meat Monday” on July 30.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) celebrated with barbecue beef brisket, ribs and sausage. Of course they were criticized for their action and bets were even placed on their long term health.
The whole scenario rather amused me. Why??Because my family owned a meat market, Mikes Brothers in West Bend. I don’t remember a day we didn’t have meat on the table. And the idea of being a vegetarian sounded very strange to us.
About the time this Meatless Monday controversy was brewing, Ruby Besch from Rodman came to the office with a newspaper article about my dad, Harold Mikes, and his two brothers, Paul and Frank. I’m not sure what newspaper printed this article, but the year was 1969.
My grandfather, Adolph Mikes, and his brothers, John, Joe and Charlie, immigrated to the United States from Czechoslovakia in 1887. At age 17, Adolph worked for Armour &?Co. in Chicago before joining his brothers in a meat market in Fredricksburg in 1890. He and Joe moved to West Bend and opened their own meat market in 1901.
The Mikes brothers raised their own cattle for many years. They also made their own baloney, weiners and sausages. The article points out that “no recipe has been written down, the brothers retain their secrets in their heads just as their father and uncles before them.” Now, the recipe has been passed on and those same baloney and weiners are made at Skoglund’s in West Bend.
The meat market building, constructed in 1921, is now part of The Villager in West Bend. The walk-in refrigerator at the front of the store is used as display space for gift merchandise.
The article Ruby brought ends with, “The nostalgic sound of a saw cutting through bone, the rustle of paper as the meat is wrapped, the tantalizing smells are all reminders that there are still places where the customer takes precedence over efficiency.” The back of the meat market still brings back those many memories.
And, I plan to continue eating meat on Mondays.