Longtime meat cutter retires from Britt store after 50 years
BRITT, Iowa (AP) — Larry Hagen is sure he’ll miss it.
The store, the meat cutting and the people.
Hagen, 72, meat manager at Britt Food Center, retired, May 10, after 50 years in the department.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” he said to the Globe Gazette.
Hagen began meat cutting at the grocery store in Garner when he was 18 years old after his parents, Earl and Adene Hagen, moved from the farm to Garner in 1964, and he needed a job.
There, Lou Fisher, taught him the basics of cutting meat.
“I went from feeding them to not knowing a thing about (cutting it),” he said.
Less than a year later, Hagen was drafted into the U.S. Army for two years during the Vietnam War. He was discharged in 1967, and when he returned, he began working at Winnebago Industries in Forest City with his parents.
But when the opportunity to return to meat cutting arose, he took it.
Hagen worked at the grocery store in Garner until 1969 before he started at We Three Market in Britt, where he’s remained for five decades despite several new ownerships.
He credits Wilmer Gabrielson and Dave Kabrick for teaching him even more about meat cutting, like the “Hawkeye Delight,” a specialty cut featuring pork tenderloin and bacon Hagen’s known for.
His ground beef is also a hit.
“There are still so many people who call him and want a certain kind of cut at a certain time,” said Ann, Hagen’s wife of 50 years.
Within the past 50 years, he’s cut all kinds of meat at the grocery store for the community.
Some of which include the hundreds of sausage patties for the United Methodist Church’s annual pancake supper, sliced ham for the St. Patrick Catholic Church’s annual meal, ground pork for Hobo Days’ mulligan stew, steaks for the Wesley and Britt golf courses, ground beef and pork patties for the West Hancock concession stands, steaks for the Britt Fire Department and countless specialty orders for area residents.
“There’s a lot of people who’ve known him for a lot of years,” Ann said.
Hagen’s spent months — even years — sharing his “little secrets” of meat cutting with those who will take the reins when he retires.
He admits he hadn’t thought of retiring before he fell and broke his left arm at the grocery store in April 2017.
“It took a toll on me,” Hagen said.
Since then, he’s been working four-hour shifts during the week.
“It all must come to an end I guess,” he said.
Hagen isn’t sure how he’ll spend retirement.
His two sons, Vance and Travis, and seven grandchildren who live in the area, will likely keep him busy, and if not, there’s always watching Westerns, cruising in his 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle convertible and going on trips with his wife.
Hagen said he’s grateful for the support he’s received as a meat cutter at the local grocery store the past 50 years.
“You can only work 50 years in the same job if the community supports you and your business,” he said.
He also appreciates Jackie and Darin Eckels, who took ownership of Britt Food Center in 2017, and all his coworkers throughout the years.
“You are all part of our extended family,” Hagen said. “I will forever be grateful to have worked alongside so many wonderful people.”
A retirement open house took place from 9 a.m. to noon, May 9, at the store.
Information from: Globe Gazette, http://www.globegazette.com/