Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Hunk" of Meat On a Stick - Ericksen Meats by Alice Hafen, granddaughter of Henry Ericksen

Inside Ericksen Meat and Grocery

In about 1885, Grandpa Ericksen (Henry Ericksen) and his brother Allif started a meat and grocery store in Mt. Pleasant. Grandpa managed the store while Alif ran the farm and livestock; buying, feeding and slaughtering for the store. They would notify the townspeople that on a certain day they were going to kill a beef in the evening and bring it to the store the next morning, so that people could get a "hunk" of meat.

There were steaks, roasts, boils, stews or hamburger - just a chunk of meat. They would start cutting just back of the ears and end at the hind shank. all the cuts sold for the same price per pound; whether it was the neck or the porter house. Then, to carry it home, the customer whittled a sharp stick, jabbed it in the piece of meat and went home to mama, to have it prepared for the family dinner. There was no paper, twine or plastic to wrap the piece of meat in.

In 1893, they built their store on Main Street and took in another partner; brother-in-law, Judge Ferdinand Ericksen. The store was incorporated as the Ericksen Meat and Grocery Co. Their store was in a two story brick building with a full basement. It was considered one of the finest institutions in the community.

Ferdinand Ericksen was a lawyer and occupied three rooms on the second floor for his law practice. The town doctor, Dr. W.W. Woodring, occupied the other two rooms on the second floor.

In 1920, Soren M. Nielson and Uncle Harry, Henry's son, bought the store. Then in 1925, Uncle Harry, bought Nielson's half interest and owned and managed the business alone. Uncle Harry put in about forty five years operating the store. They did their own slaughtering and feed their own livestock such as hogs, lambs and cattle. Before the meat packers came into the state, they shipped out daily loads of dressed meat to Salt Lake City, Bingham, Eureka and also Carbon County.

During those first twenty years of operation they started to make their own lunch meats, bologna, minced ham, corned beef, head cheese, hamburger and sausage. But when the big packers came into the state that phase of manufacturing was discontinued. Until 1925 they handled the livestock with a first class saddle horse. After that, motor trucks and trailers were used to move the livestock between range, feed lot and slaughter house.

Ice was used in the store coolers until 1915, when modern refrigeration was installed. Before that, ice blocks were stored in the ice house under sawdust, and used to refill the store's ice about once a week. With the advent of electric home refrigerators, the store discontinued using their own ice supply.

After Uncle Harry sold the store, there has been several companies using the Main Street building, including Al and Naomi Berti's Red and White store, Terrel's Red and White Store.
The Ericksen Meat and Grocery Co. had a lot of competitors come and go, but operated for over sixty two years. And since 1986 it has been the home of the Mt. Pleasant Pyramid, the local newspaper.

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