Column: Despite economy, it's a time of exciting growth
WORTHINGTON -- We still were selling souse at the Sav-Mor food market at Worthington during World War II. Souse was not purchased by the U.S. government; troops did not want souse. Souse was left to the civilians, and there were civilians who rev...
WORTHINGTON -- We still were selling souse at the Sav-Mor food market at Worthington during World War II. Souse was not purchased by the U.S. government; troops did not want souse. Souse was left to the civilians, and there were civilians who reveled in it.
I tried to find a simple recipe for souse, also known as head cheese. (Kopf kase.) This most likely is a recipe Julia Child never tried. You begin with the head of a hog:
"Cook hog's head and ears well done, pull meat off bones, mash fine. Add salt to taste, 1½ cups vinegar, red, black pepper and sage to taste. Refrigerate overnight."
What you get is a loaf of ear and snout slices and other things -- sometimes tongue -- suspended in what appears to be clear Jell-O. Loaves of souse were sold as a cold meat for sandwiches in the Sav-Mor meat department during those lean days of rationing.
I tried souse, maybe two times. You can't take my opinion because I am squeamish. I thought it was not very good. Truth: I thought it was pretty bad. But I sold souse day by day. Customers would say, "Give me half-a-dozen slices of that souse," or, "Give me some of that head cheese."
A thing that got me going on souse was the year-long flow of reports on the Great Recession or the Big Dipper or whatever term you choose to describe whatever it is that has beset the U.S. economy.
There have been effects through the local region. No question of this. Gramma and Grandpa may inform you that, on paper, they lost half of all they had in market investments. Overall, however, there surely has been no authentic suffering across southwest Minnesota or northwest Iowa. For Worthington, 2009 is emerging as a year for growth.
It probably is not good for the economy of any city to depend heavily on one industry. Worthington probably leans too much upon its pork plant, JBS. But while great numbers of people do not buy houses or automobiles or musicals instruments in hard times, they continue to eat. People ate pork chops in the Great Depression, pigs' heads during World War II and they are eating pork loins today.
So it is (one example) Grand Avenue, platted by George Dayton as the grand entrance into Worthington, is being extended for the first time since George Dayton sketched it on paper more than 100 years ago. North Grand, inching beyond Hardee's week by week, will be intersected by an emerging east-west street and will open a large area for development.
All the while, Worthington's 21st Century YMCA is entering its final building stages on the Minnesota West campus, to replace the 19th Century YMCA building on 11th Street. Unity House has nearly finalized its plan for a new facility on the vacant block where Central Elementary stood. The Fareway supermarket on Ryan's Road is edging toward completion for a reported grand opening in October. Hy-Vee has announced its plan for a new building on the north side of Oxford Street near the Oxford/U.S. 59 intersection.
There is more. Significant housing developments are in the offing. New housing continues to emerge on Worthington's west side, beyond Crailsheim Drive. Another seniors' apartment complex on the east is underway. Work is soon to begin on the eastside, four-lane Highway 60 project.
Twenty-First Century Worthington still has one of the longest gravel streets -- Kragness Avenue -- of any community in all the region but there are impressive, important developments taking shape in a time when America elsewhere is bemoaning its -- whatever -- its Tough Time.
Another thing quite exciting is the still-unannounced park which is emerging on the east side of Worthington's historic Union Pacific depot and which extends from the depot to the 12th Street crossing.
Railyard fixtures which long occupied the site all are gone and a significant grassy expanse has been cultivated through the summer. A huge and wonderful boulder, which is to feature a bronze historic plaque, has been moved to the site,
Worthington will once again have a railroad park where, among several things, it will be possible to take the kids and watch the long trains come and go.
It's an exciting time.
Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.