Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


Wienie Memories

When I got up about an hour ago, the first thing I did, after making coffee, was build a fire. Oh! Great memories came rushing in.

Most of the time, we don’t heat our house with wood. But we have wood floors, and on really cold days it seems as if the bones of our house just never warm up unless we have one.

Our fireplace is in the livingroom here, but a long time ago, when we lived on the other side of C Town, we built a house with the fireplace in the family room. (We live the majority of our lives in the family room. Why would the fireplace be anyplace else?)

#1 son was just a baby when we moved into that house. We built it on 50-some family acres just outside of town. My cousin, Rick, and his wife, Barbara, built a house next door, so they were our only nearby neighbors.

Because no one had lived there before us, we had to knock down a lot of blackjacks to have room to build.  That left plenty of wood for our fireplace. Of course, it had to be moved (trees knocked down by a bulldozer nearly always end up in a tangled pile) but my man bought a great old tractor to snake those trees around the place. And it had to be cut into fireplace sized sticks, and yes, he took care of that, too. (He has yet to offer to teach me to use a chain saw.)

But even with him cutting the wood and me burning it as fast as I could in the fireplace, we still had a lot that wasn’t usable heaped around the place. Not a very pretty view out of the front window.

Sometimes when the weather was nice, we’d pick a pile and burn it. With all those flames, we just had to have a wienie roast! We’d get out the lawn chairs, my cousin and his wife would come up with theirs, and we’d eat half charred half raw wienies on buns until we popped.

Sometimes Barbara would bury foil-wrapped potatoes in the coals, and an hour or so later, we’d eat smoky potatoes. Oh, were they good!

In my memory, everything was flame colored those nights. We’d sit back and just let the fire hypnotize us while we talked about little or nothing at all.

I always got drowzy, and the kids usually fell asleep while we were out there. But we couldn’t just toddle off to bed. We had to clean up our mess, put the leftover food away, go inside and shower, because we smelled smoky as those potatoes and usually had a fine layer of ash covering us.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a wienie roast where the fire wasn’t contained in a grill or fire pit, but that’s where I find some of my sweetest memories.

  • When I was three or so, Dad and Granddad were burning piles of grass in the pasture behind our house, and I asked Mom if we were going to have a wienie roast. Of course, she told me you have to have a wood fire to have roast wienies, not dead grass, but it wasn’t very long before Dad had built us a wood fire, and we were cooking our food on a stick.
  • When I was growing up, Halloween was a fantastic time for our youth group to have hayrides and wienie roasts. We had so much fun, going out to members’ farms or to the lake. I was a freshman when the guy I would date for the next four years and I started going together at a weinie roast. 🙂
  • Going to the lake with the Spess families to water ski, sometimes we’d have a wienie roast at night. (Grandmother nearly always took fried chicken for dinner.)
  •   The year we took the kids to Mount Rushmore (my arm was in a sling as a result of shoulder surgery) we had a wiener roast (the fire in a grill at our cabin) and then made ‘Smores. Yum!

Wienie memories–some of my favorites.