"We would know that a certain particular farmer was going to ship so many cattle, and we'd be watching for them. And oftentimes they would come in on a Sunday afternoon. And young lads like myself down there sitting on the fence like crows waiting for the cattle to come in because we knew that Mr. So-and-so was going to be having a truckload or two of cattle come in, any time from 3:00 to 6:00. We would take those cattle, take them up to their pens. And then in the morning, Monday morning, usually (way often) the owner of the particular cattle, his wife and kids and whoever else, they would come into the yards. And in a period of a couple of years, you would come to know them and you'd know their families. And the gentlemen usually came out to the pens where the cattle were at. They liked to watch the cattle sell, which they still do today. The ladies of the family oftentimes would sit in the lobby. The lobby was the lobby, of course, of the building. There was the third floor mezzanine above that, which was a ladies lounge. Nice sofas and chairs and tables. Often times, the place on Mondays and Tuesdays was full of ladies waiting for their husbands to finish up out in the stockyards. Little kids sprinkled all over. The little boys would go with their daddies and granddads. And the little girls would stay in there.
     "Once in a while there would be a wife who would come out and see what was going on, and they usually stayed up on the high walk. Now, the high walk is just that. You didn't have to go through all the pens and the brown stuff as we referred to it earlier. Now this is the randy part of me – we'd see the ladies, the daughters up on the high walk. And jeans were not a popular item to wear then. So, there were views that were afforded to us that we, you know, being young and active, we enjoyed. [Laughs.] Perhaps that's not what you want to hear, but that's the way it was."
     "Well, in the 50s when I started there, I'd say 80 percent of the wives would come along with because then it was, while they were selling their livestock, their hogs or their cattle or their sheep, it was also a social function for the family. And they would come in and they would do their – take care of the livestock marketing, and then go over to South Omaha – just a few blocks away – to Phillip's Department Store, which is no longer there. Walgreens, Kresge's, that type of place…
     "Then they'd go downtown to Brandeis, Nebraska Clothing Company, Goldstein-Chapman's for the ladies stores. My mother was a milliner there for many years. There were – Another reason to go downtown for the shippers, the farmers, was a place called the Castle Hotel. I don't know if it's still there or not. It was on South 16th Street. A grand kind of hotel. The lobby and the restaurant part was all done in paneled wood. And when I say paneled wood, I mean like oak or mahogany. It wasn't done with some staple gun and glue job on the wall. And this was historically the place where ranchers, feeders, shippers stayed the night was at the Castle Hotel. Lovely place to go and eat. Good service, treated them royally. And that was in downtown Omaha.
     "A lot of folks would come in and make a social event out of it. Do their shopping. Buy the new clothes. Perhaps in the fall, maybe, pick up something for the kids for school."
     Question: "It was not always families that came in, correct? In other words, sometimes the gentlemen came by themselves?"
     "Oh, yes. Yes, often. A lot of folks, shippers, enjoyed the 'offerings' of the saloons in Omaha, South Omaha. They perhaps had a little more 'strength' when they went in there as opposed to maybe when they were home in their smaller towns and nobody saw them, you know. The saloons in South Omaha did a gigantic business. You know, people retired with opulent wealth from running a saloon there in South Omaha…
     Question: "There were other hotels that were real close to the stockyards, as well."
     "Yes, there were. However they had offerings that perhaps we would avoid in pleasant company. [Laughs.] There was the Blue Moon. It had a clientele all of it's own. It was a whorehouse. What can I say, that was just one that I remember. Never was there myself. Anyway, I knew where it was at. It was on about 24th and N Street."
     Question: "So, the farmers who came into town without their families, some of them may have…"
     "Rumor has it that they occasionally went there. First hand knowledge? I'd have to speculate. I'm not given to wild speculation."

Tom Hoffman – Going to the City!


Other Excerpts from Tom Hoffman’s Interview:

Consumer Demands
Changes in Cattle Industry
Working at the Stockyards
A Typical Sales Day
The "Country" Market