As I often do, this morning I had a moment of nostalgia. I am quite blessed to have items handed down from generations, and some of those, I still use in my kitchen. For example, I have my maternal grandmother’s metal quickube ice trays, in my freezer, full of ice. Each time I fill them, I feel a little drunk with nostalgia and those sweet, almost weepy moments, from the memories.
The item that brought the feelings this morning was something new. It may seem quite odd, but a product, brought a rush of memories, and pride, and excitement, and stories around the breakfast table. Now, before I continue to share my “moment” and “memories,” I want to clarify that this company has not contacted me in any way, or asked me to write this. I just have a precious memory about a great company, and I wanted to share a bit of good with “Lori’s Own Little World!”
While grocery shopping this week, I wanted to find something quick for breakfast. I often make sausage biscuits and wanted to give the “precooked” sausage a second chance. My problem, in the past, has been that every brand I have tried felt almost rubbery and the taste, while not the worst thing in the world, certainly wasn’t close to being the best. My family, however, doesn’t complain about it, so I thought I would get it and give it another try. Standing in front of the freezer section, looking at the few different brands, I almost decided on a store brand, when I looked up to my left, and there, on the shelf was a product I had not noticed before, but a company that gave me a rush of warmth and comfort: Williams Sausage Company had precooked sausages. The cost was a few pennies cheaper than the store brand, and I knew I had to give it a try.
My family owned a grocery store in the small town of Tiptonville, in West Tennessee. My grandfather, JW Dial, was a man of integrity, keen business sense, a witty sense of humor, but more importantly, he was a man of his word, and everyone who knew him knew he expected the same in return. He expected that from his family, from his friends, from his customers, and from the companies with which he stocked our shelves. Most of my early memories are in that store and the people who interacted with us on a daily basis. Our store wasn’t one of those fancy establishments like the one that belonged to Mr. Godsey on the Waltons, but it was filled with love and warmth that made everyone feel welcome and like part of our family. It didn’t matter that our shelves were packed so tight some of them swayed from the weight, or that hundreds of items hung from hooks from the ceiling, or the dimly lit large old building, this store was the social hub for farmers and families to relax and visit and enjoy, along with conversation, a coke and peanuts, or an RC Cola and a Moon Pie. Children walked several blocks to spend their nickels and get 5 pieces of candy out of a huge box kept behind the counter.
Here are a few old photos of my grandparents in the store:
My grandmother in the store. My mother (center) and her friends.
The new store sign!
William’s Sausage Company was one of the companies that was a long standing tradition in our store. I remember salesmen from other companies coming to try and convince my grandfather he needed more than one brand of sausage in his meat counter. All of those other company salesmen went away with the same answer, “No! I will only carry William’s Sausage.” This company was a small family-owned company in the neighboring county of Obion, and in those times of big stores moving in and putting the little man out of business, the small family businesses had to stick together, in order to survive.
But it wasn’t just about the small businesses sticking together. My grandparents believed that William’s was the best. My grandmother made the best sausage balls, ever. I have her recipe and make it for my family now, but even after my grandfather passed away and the store was no longer, my grandmother only wanted William’s Sausage for those sausage balls and for breakfast.
Many years later, when I was grown and was serving as a music director for a church in Obion County, we decided to join with another small church and have our Christmas Cantata together, and I would direct the choirs. The Williams family was in the choir and learning, over those two to three months in preparing for the cantata, that they loved the Lord, made me like the product, even more.
Today, when I opened the package of pre-cooked sausage from Williams, I noticed immediately a difference from the other pre-cooked brands. It looked like real sausage, just like it looks when I slice it from the one-pound stick. It was not rubbery looking! It didn’t look processed and fake. I prepared it and served it to my family and everyone around my table enjoyed the sausage. I shared my memories of the company and how it has been in my life, as long as I can remember. My husband could not believe it was pre-cooked and after hearing the stories, he suggested I only buy Williams in the future. I even had a teenager ask after breakfast was long over, “Can I have the last piece of Williams’ Sausage?” He knew it by name! It made me smile with warmth in my heart.