There was vacant land next to my elementary school way back last century when I was in primary school . ( Or was it Grammar school ? My friend Joe and I had a discussion about the use of those terms : elementary vs. primary vs. grammar school . ) A Hughes Market grocery store was built there . Now it’s a Ralph’s Market . Most of the space , or half of it at least , is now the parking lot , of course . But that’s irrelevant to my story , so let’s get on with it .
Another random memory , emerging now from my brain bunker where I keep them , uncatalogued , forgotten for decades , came back to light suddenly . I had gone to Berlin , saw a wurst stand , and began , I guess , to ponder wieners ( The name comes from Vienna , by the way , I hear ) . Unknown things trigger memories sometimes . We’ll just leave it at that . I can’t better explain why the memory came . Doesn’t matter .
One day the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile pulled up and parked on the vacant land next to the school . The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile , a 1930’s idea of one of the Mayers , was a vehicle shaped like a giant hotdog in a bun . It was driven by ” Little Oscar” , who was a little person dressed in a chef’s outfit , traditional high chef’s hat and all . The nuns ( Corpus Christi Catholic Elementary School ) took the entire school out to see the Wienermobile . Why ? How that happened ? Your guess is as good as mine . Stranger things have happened , I guess . Perhaps .
Well , this event was memorable . Who knew there was such a thing ? Who knew that hot dogs were cooked by little happy chefs in high hats ? Who knew ?
When I was a kid I didn’t know much about the world ( Same holds true now — a little less so ) . From time to time little bits of it would show themselves , surprising things , good or bad things . The Wienermobile was one of the oddest things to come along . Now that I think of it , it’s still an odd piece of the reality puzzle . I know that there are odder things ; but for a seven-year-old , a Wienermobile with a small chef inside with wiener whistles for everyone —- that was something !
Yeah , to top it all off , Little Oscar handed out little plastic wiener whistles to every student and we all whistled like crazy out there in the open , and then we got to play with the silly things for a few minutes back in the classroom . Amazing !
Wiener whistles are available on eBay . Get a vintage one for $ 3.75 !
There are , evidently , eight Weinermobiles still in operation . The drivers , recruited from the ranks of college students , are called hotdoggers . A hotdogger blog hides on the world wide web , telling of hotdogger exploits .
I had forgotten all about that old Wienermobile and my wiener whistle ( which probably broke that same day ) , and Little Oscar the happy hot dog chef . I never missed them , I have to say ; but , it made a nice break in that long-ago day from reading , writing , and arithmetic .