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"I was born in Omaha, Nebraska. 1937. When I say Omaha, Nebraska, I have to be fair to my roots in 'Soud' Omaha. Emphasis on 'Soud' Omaha. You can always tell when somebody is from – They say they're from 'South' Omaha I'm always skeptical. We always refer to it as Soud Omaha… I'm the youngest of six. Half Irish, half German. My mother was 100 percent Irish, 102 pounds of pure bedlam, and when she came after me, I fled. And I gave her often opportunity to come after me. Sorry, Mom…
     "Went to St. Mary's Grade School, which is just in the stone's throw of the stockyards… I was in the Irish part of South Omaha. They called it 'The Hill.' We lived over on 'The Hill.' That was where the Irish pretty much hung out and lived. And I think to this day a lot of them are still there. North of us over in the area of St. Stanislav's Church was where the Polish community was. Just north and east of us, the Irish thing, was a place called the Belgian Curve where the Belgians and the Flemish people lived. And then east of us, which would be east of the stockyards, was the place called Brown Park where the Bohemian people and Czechs lived. And I think to some extent still live there. And then south of the stockyards, south of St. Mary's School – There's a church down there, St. Peter and Paul, and at that time there was a school (perhaps there still is, don't know) that's where the Croatian and the Slavic peoples lived… But it was very tight knit. We stayed in South Omaha along west Q Street at the Irish [area]. You spent the time there with the ethnic group there. And if you occasionally got brave and risked your life and limb, you would go into the Polish community in pursuit of what they had to offer. Need I go further?
     "I followed my father and older brother into the stockyards. My Daddy was down there for 55 years, give or take a month or two. My older brother for 30 perhaps… And then I started there in '55. And I'm rather proud of that particular year because 1955 was the world record run for livestock, for cattle in the Omaha stockyards, was in the fall of 1955. The largest collection of cattle in the stockyard's history. And I had just gotten down there. It was pretty exciting. But it was bedlam keeping track of 53,000 cattle on a Monday. That was what they called the fall run, which was historically the first Monday in October. A lot of cattle were, of course, slaughter cattle. But, perhaps half of those numbers were replacements, stocker-feeder cattle that came from the Sandhills, that came from Wyoming, from Montana, the Dakotas, Colorado… They would come from Utah. Idaho. Western Nebraska. From the Mississippi west. That doesn't leave a whole lot of the country left. The ranch country. Wherever there was a ranch. Those cattle, at that time, that time – in the 40s, 50s, 30s, into the 60s – came to Omaha. Some might go to Sioux City. Some might go to Kansas City. But the big guy on the block was Omaha…
     "They were shipped, in those days, usually by rail. And the fellows that sold their cattle in those days, their fat cattle, they would go up on what we called 'the hill' which is the western part of the stockyards and buy the replacement cattle.
     "But for a young man like myself working in the stockyards, all I saw was one animal with four legs that had to be watered, fed, weighed, kept track of, moved from here to there, and it was glorious bedlam."

Tom Hoffman – Working at the Stockyards

   

Other Excerpts from Tom Hoffman’s Interview:

Consumer Demands
Changes in Cattle Industry
A Typical Sales Day
Going to the City
The "Country" Market