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Nobody Makes (or Sells) Sausage Like George Just

Lind, Bob. "Nobody Makes (or Sells) Sausage Like George Just." Forum, 22 February 1995, sec. B.


George Just, a butcher in Wishek, N.D., won't reveal his special sausage recipe.
WISHEK, N.D. - George Just isn't a big man. Not unless you develop a hankering for sausage. Then he's the biggest man around.

Because, folks around Wishek say, nobody makes sausage like George.

He cranks it out for class reunions, and the class members generally take some home with them.

People who come to Wishek for family get-togethers or on vacation take some back to show their neighbors how they make sausage back in North Dakota.

The owner of the funeral home in Wishek says folks who return to town for a funeral often buy Just's sausage to take home.

C'mon, George, how come your sausage is so special? What do you put in it?

"Oh, salt, pepper, garlic, how's that?" he says, and he smiles over his big put-on.

Because George Just won't tell what he does to make his sausage such a hot item.

Just, 57, runs the meat department in Stan's Super Valu in Wishek. He's been working for Stan Deile, the store's owner, since 1962.

Just's meat counter has one section devoted to his sausage: unsmoked country style, smoked country style, liver sausage, summer sausage.

Jerky, too. And head cheese? "You betcha," Just says.

Just had shots at other occupations. He was born and raised on a Wishek farm. He was in construction for a few years. That was OK, he says.

But when he was without construction work during a winter layoff, Deile and Jim Klundt, who were partners then, asked him to help out in their meat department.

With one taste of the meat business, any other occupation was chopped liver. Just was hooked.

"I'm still up and at it, you betcha," he says.

Just never went to meat-cutting school. He credits Klundt with teaching him how to make sausage. Klundt had learned how from someone else.

"It's a hand-me-down recipe" Just says.

Klundt moved to California. Deile built a new store. Just stayed on.

Two others now work in the meat department. Both graduated from meat-cutting school in Pipestone, Minnesota. But their education is continuing.

"I've learned a lot from George," says one of them, Justin Hoggarth, originally of Kensal, N.D. "But it's pretty hard to keep up with him some days; he's a mover."

Does Hoggarth know how Just makes sausage?

No way. "George always mixes it himself," Hoggarth says.

Just says he makes and sells an average of 1,700 pounds of sausage a week. The record occurred during Wishek's annual Sauerkraut Day two years ago when he made and sold 3,845 pounds.

Was he tired? "We felt it at the end of the week, you betcha," Just says. "But you can't sell it if you don't have it."

The store always has it, even when Just is on vacation; he makes up a batch before he leaves.

Wishek is primarily a community of German-Russians, and Just says, "Everybody makes sausage in these little German towns."

Still, he worries that sausage-making "may be a lost art some day."

Being a bachelor, he has no descendants to keep his sausage recipe alive. "I might have to tell it to someone before I forget it," he says insincerely.

Deile, meanwhile, has an agreement with Just. When Just retires, Deile will pay him for his sausage recipe.

Because today, even store owner Deile doesn't know the secret to George's sausage.

Reprinted with permission of The Forum.

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