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Hot Dogs – 2 for 25¢

Kenny Stallard

     For the freshman class entering Lynn View High School in 1953, the freedom of being able to leave the campus for lunch was a heady thing. A full hour of freedom.  Some only rushed across the street to The Hut  getting in line for hot dogs, chips and soda pop.  These goodies would be carried back across the street for outside dining on the sidewalk and school steps or around the flagpole. 

     Some upper-classmen may have had a car and would drive to a local drive-in for lunch.  For the lowly freshman, if you did not eat in the school cafeteria or stand in line at The Hut, the other alternative was to make a mad dash to Garden Grill.

     Garden Grill was on Lynn Garden Drive, two-1/2 blocks from school.  You had to really hurry if you expected to get a booth or table.  The Grill was owned and operated by Lawrence Wheatley.  Lawrence and his crew had been bustling around for the last couple of hours, preparing hot dogs and hamburgers.  Hot dogs with mustard, onions and chili were 15¢ each or two for 25¢; hamburgers with lettuce, tomato and onion were 25¢.  A soft drink was 5¢.  Lunch was 30¢, the same as purchasing lunch in the school cafeteria.

     The hot dogs and hamburgers were prepared, wrapped in waxed sandwich papers, the same as used today and placed in 5-gallon lard cans.  These were kept warm and dispensed from hand over fist when the lunch crowd appeared, usually 20-30 minutes of chaos.  Nothing could get the gastric juices flowing like seeing the grease stains seeping through the paper wrappings, clear on the hamburgers, orange on the hot dogs.

     Lawrence would repeat the same scene, dispensing hot dogs and hamburgers after home basketball games.  The Grill would be packed for at least an hour after a basketball game.  Hungry teenagers.  One big difference here, sometimes the girls would purchase a nickel pack of potato chips and use half a bottle of catsup dipping the chips.  This would usually set Lawrence to complaining.

     One thing all Lynn View students remember is Lawrence’s hot dog chili.  The chili’s taste was something you could not buy in the grocery stores, cans or tubes.  Lawrence’s chili went well with the hot dogs of the day.  This was before consumers became so conscious of what they were eating in regards to fat content.  You need some fat for flavor.  Natural flavor, no artificial enhancers.  No MSG.

     Occasionally some of the boys would try to out eat each other in regards to number of hot dogs.  The most hot dogs eaten at one sitting that I have heard of was Tom “Polecat” Woods; fourteen.  Tom still likes hot dogs.

 

Lawrence Wheatley’s Hot Dog Chili Recipe:

1 to 1-1/2 Pound finely ground beef (85% lean for best taste)

1 package of McCormick’s® Original Chili Powder

Salt & Pepper to taste

          Place the ground beef in a large skillet or shallow pot. Add a little salt and pepper.
          Cover the meat with hot tap water.  Using a large fork, break up the meat.  
         
Do not leave any clumps, the finer the better.

          Bring the meat slurry to a boil and cook to boil off the water.  
         
Do not allow the meat to clump while cooking down.

          Do not allow the meat slurry to cook to complete dryness and brown the meat.

          Repeat covering the meat with water and cooking down twice more.
          Add the packet of McCormick’s® Original Chili Powder when starting the third slurry
          cook down.

          Taste the chili and add salt and pepper to preference.

          If the hot dog chili is too thick for your preference, add a little water to the desired consistency. 

          If it is too fluid for your preference, cook off a little water.

          Never let the meat come to complete dryness and start browning, this will drastically change
             the taste.

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