It doesn't even need to be said that Usinger's is a Milwaukee tradition, does it?
I didn't even grow up in Brew City and I have fond memories of visiting the store at 1030 N. Old World 3rd St., as a child with my grandparents. I love that nearly 40 years later, it still smells and looks exactly the same as I remember it from my youth.
When my eldest was born, I made it a point to take him there. We went on a few occasions and he was always happy to look at the tiny houses in the window, the old world murals of the elves making sausages and to take a number and wait for it to be called. Oh, the suspense.
That the women working behind the counter would always give him a free wiener was the icing on the sausage cake.
On a recent weekend I realized during a visit to Milwaukee Public Museum, that my second child has never experienced Usinger's. So, we hopped in the car and made a stop on our way home.
On a Saturday morning, the shop was bustling and we had to wait for about a dozen numbers to be called before ours came up. The kids checked out the wee village houses in the meantime and then I stocked up on goodies off the imperfect table.
I got a package of "mis-sliced" bacon, another of "mis-sliced ham," half a roll of liver sausage and three packages of "imperfect" wieners for $20. The deal of the week! It reminded me that I need to stop at Usinger's more often, not only to create memories for the kids, but to stock up on some great Milwaukee sausage at unbeatable prices.
Of course, the kids got their free wieners, too, and we all left happy.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.