You missed a good conversation in the dry cleaners today. Vi Richards and I were visiting about raccoon hunting and feeds, of all things.
It all started with a conversation about Hat Barofsky wanting to go coon hunting many years ago with Ermon Richards and Glenn and Lyle Woodmansee. Hat, who was rarely seen without a suit and tie, didn’t own hunting clothes so he went to Seitz Clothing and got outfitted in gear for one night of coon hunting. He said he had the time of his life. I think there is more to coon hunting than some of us will ever know.
That led to the stories about the coon feeds that were annual affairs for many years at Earl Johnson’s Motor Company then later at Westerhaus Ford. Ermon, Lyle, Glenn and other coon hunters would hunt throughout the winter then skin and freeze their bounty in preparation for the annual coon feed. According to Vi, they needed 35 to 40 coons to feed the hungry crowd of 150 or more men.
Earl Johnson would scrub clean his dealership and line up all his new cars outside to show them off. It was sales pitch time too. That left the inside of the building clean and empty for the gathering. There was a great deal of preparation that went into the yearly feed and all the men who worked there got paid for the preparations even though they didn’t work on cars during that time.
Vi said Ella Sunderland, Guy’s wife, prepared the coon meat into burgers and roasts. She would remove all the fat and “stringers” from the meat and then would grind some of the meat for burgers and leave the rest for roasting. She would prepare the roasts surrounded by vegetables like a pot roast. “Vi said” it tasted a lot like beef once it was well-spiced and covered with sauces.
After Earl Johnson died and his dealership was sold to Harold Westerhaus, the tradition continued and the all male gathering of 150 or so continued for many years. In addition to the burgers and roasts, there were tables full salads, baked beans and other such sides. There was a lot of food!
Some of the people Vi could remember who were part of the effort were employees at the dealerships….Henry Macek, Joe Mattas, Lyle and Glenn Woodmansee, Foch Kempke, Ermon Richards, Mike Lazio, Joe Shanelec, Ralph Paul, Lloyd Harmon, Charlie Henry, Henry Herber and our very own Betty Gwinner (she didn’t attend, she said).
Of course, in order to wash down the raccoon, there was an abundance of libations that flowed through the dealership. I vaguely recall Brit attending from time to time. Raccoon wasn’t exactly at the top of his favorite foods, but I know he enjoyed the other dishes and the comaraderie. And the drinks! Those were the good ole days.