It was a cold and windy Friday evening in March 1982. I worked the evening shift in the lab at Memorial General Hospital at that time. Ruth and I were dating, and we decided to have a wiener roast in the wood burning stove at her parent's home when I got off work at eleven o'clock.
In the afternoon before the roast, Ruth and her father straightened out about six coat hangers. The paint at one end was removed with steel wool to make them suitable to roast wieners. In the early evening, Ruth prepared some coleslaw, hotdog sauce and got some wieners and buns, along with some catsup and mustard. About an hour before I got off work, her father got the wood burning stove fired up to where there would be a good bed of coals.
When I came in the door, everything appeared to be ready. The stove was good and hot. Ruth and her mother brought everything out and placed it on the coffee table in the living room. The chili sauce was placed on the wood stove to stay warm.
All four of us started roasting wieners in the wood burning stove. They really smelled great and tasted even better. Everything appeared to be going well with this primitive idea.
About half an hour after we got started, Ruth's brother came home with a friend. They wanted to know what smelled so good. I told them that we were just roasting wieners in the wood burning stove and to join in if they wanted to.
In no time, they had wieners on coat hangers and were roasting them over the hot coals. A few minutes later, Ruth's sister came home from a date. She also wanted to know what smelled so good. Soon she was roasting herself a wiener over the hot coals. All of us in the living room sat around and "shot the bull" about this simple idea for the next half hour.
A few years ago, I was talking to the friend who was at the midnight wiener roast. He agreed with me that it may sound a little corny and trite, but it was something people can do in the dead of the winter to keep from going stir crazy or getting cabin fever.
As I have stated in past columns, this is the age of heavy electronics use. Cooking a snack over a wood burning fire is something people did to amuse or entertain themselves years ago before we had television or even radio. In this fast-moving, complex world, this is something people can do to slow down and have a good time.