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A love story in Barton: A revealing photo of Hank and Essie

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Essie’s was operating with a short fuse. She knew she had to work the weekend but it was this weekend in particular that just never sat right with her.


“At least you get to sit,” said Hank as he pulled his ‘Straight outta Barton’ shirt over his head.


Hank could feel Essie was on edge and like all men, he had no idea what to do or say to make her feel better.


The brat fry at The Sign Shop was going extremely well.  Hank didn’t mind the ladies fawning over him, however every time he glanced back at Essie she seemed to have her hands full and was liking it not at all.

“I’ve really gotta go check on grandma,” said Essie handing her pink feather boa over to Hank as she walked up Schmidt Road.


Essie was miserable and Hank’s heart hurt for her. He didn’t know if Essie was having trouble because it was Mother’s Day or if she was worried about grandma and her failing memory.


Meet Mr. Carl Mies

By the time Essie got up to Roosevelt Drive she could see grandma on the sidewalk talking to a rather large man in a white sweat-stained shirt.


“I do thank you very kindly for the cool drink ma’am,” said the man.


Grandma stood close and stared, almost as if she was watching the water go down his throat. She snapped the red aluminum glass out of the man’s hand.  “That’s been the best part of my day,” he said.


The man was Carl Mies. “That’s Mies of Mies Products,” he said tipping his hat to Essie and bowing in salutation. “Have you ever tried our breading? It has a blend of 13 herb and spices.”


Essie was not familiar and grandma bumped past her on the walk with another glass of water. “My that was quick grandma,” said Essie.


“Acht…. I filled it up out back from the hose,” she grumbled. “Hose water never killed anybody.” Grandma yelled that last bit. The salesman’s charm obviously wasn’t winning her over.


The church bell at St. Mary’s struck noon. Mies took a white handkerchief out of his pocket and wipe his forehead and the back of his neck. “Ahh yup…” he said, filling the silence.


“Would you ladies like to try some of the best chicken you’ve ever et?” said Mr. Mies.


Both Essie and grandma looked a bit startled at the rather forward offer.  “A man who cooks is as rare as hen’s teeth,” said grandma. “Come on now I’ll show you the kitchen.”


Essie couldn’t believe grandma was so welcoming. Mr. Mies must have seen right through her gruff demeanor.


By the time Essie climbed the stairs grandma had her green and red Pyrex bowls on the counter and Mr. Mies was tying on his apron.  “We won’t need that many bowls,” he said. “This breading doesn’t require an egg or milk wash… we’ll simply wet it and bread it.”

Grandma looked like she was ’bout ready to slap him upside the head with a spatula. “You have absolutely no idea what you’re doin,” said grandma with a ‘this-is-my-kitchen’ tone.


Essie leaned against the wood door frame and watched how Mr. Mies, with his deep voice talked in a respectful but sing-song manner and gently guided grandma through the process.


“No eggs,” groused grandma under her breath. “Is your man friend coming for supper?” she asked.


The question kicked Essie out of her daze.  “I’m not sure grandma… Let me set the table,” she said.


Within the hour the three were sitting down at the round dining room table. Grandma used two hands and a kitchen towel to carry in a steaming bowl of mashed potatoes. She set it down next to the decorative glass dish that held pickle spears and sliced radishes.


The aroma coming from the kitchen was heavenly and pretty soon the spicy smell was set between Essie and grandma as Mr. Mies placed the hot golden chicken on the table.


“Oh my,” said Essie. “What do I smell?”


Mr. Mies helped push grandma’s chair close to the table. “Secret recipe, just like the Colonel,” said Mies as he snapped open his white napkin and rested it in his lap.


The cordial conversation eventually turned familiar as Mr. Mies rolled out stories about his pressure cooker and the one-step breading that seals in the juices.


Essie never saw grandma eat so much. “You’ll be full as a fat ladies sock,” piped up Mr. Mies with a laugh.


Photo confusion

Maybe it was the supper or the company and conversation that took the edge off to the evening for Essie.


She liked Mr. Mies and his stories about KFC and Colonel Sanders. She felt a sort of grandfatherly comfort in his tales about machinery, the Paddlewheel boat and WWII Grumman Duck airplane.


Mr. Mies couldn’t help but stare at Essie. “I know I’ve seen you somewhere before,” he said.


Essie tried to trigger a memory as she talked about St. Mary’s School, singing in the choir at church and working in the window at Over the Moon.


“A ha! That’s it,” and Mr. Mies was off rummaging in his unfortunate brown leather briefcase. “I know it’s in here,” he said.


Next thing Mr. Mies handed Essie a photo. “There it is – I knew I’d seen you somewhere before.”  He passed the picture along to Essie.

Barton Park

It was from the picnic at Barton Park. Essie stared at the photo. She remembered the event, the music and buzz in the community as everybody looked forward to the annual picnic.


“Right there you are,” said Mr. Mies pointing to a couple in the photo.


Essie locked in on it and drew the photo closer. She couldn’t believe it….. that was Hank and…..


…to be continued.

Hank & Essie



Build. Boost & Buy in Barton  – – Shop these local businesses

          Wisconsin House Woodworks 

           Undercar Service & Repair

          Albiero Plumbing

         Master Electric

           Mies Products
           Lake Lenwood Beach and Campground

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