In the days before homes had freezers and refrigerators, people trusted their meats and fruits to frozen food lockers. Almost every small town had one. A quick search of newspaper archives turned up mentions of lockers in Cape, Advance, Dexter and Jackson.
Judging by the newspaper stories, most of the businesses were family-owned and long-term fixtures in the community. The Daily Statesman had a story about Al Banken that mentioned that he had owned the Dexter Food Locker for 40 years.
The Missourian’s obituary for Paul Beussink noted that “Paul ‘Pops’ Beussink, 82, of Advance, passed away April 18, 2014. He and his wife Judy operated the Advance Food Locker for years and were blessed with many loyal customers from the surrounding area.”
Jackson locker opened in 1949
The Jackson Frozen Food Locker’s website history says that William Daniels, with Carlton “Cotton” Meyer as the general manager, founded the business at 400 High Street in 1949. Daniels operated the Cape Frozen Foods business on Broadway in Cape until it closed in 1971. (Fred Lynch has a Frony photo of it on his blog.)
Carlton bought the locker in 1972; from the late ’70s through 1993, Carlton’s youngest son, Charles Meyer, managed the business. In 1993, a third generation of Meyers took over the locker when Charles’ son Craig became manager. Carlton Meyer died January 28, 2005, at 86.
Rental lockers were popular
Until 1993, locker rental was popular. At one time, more than 400 freezer lockers were rented, each capable of holding 200 pounds of meat and vegetables. The locker also sold tons of frozen fruits each August up until the late 1980s when the demand for wholesale frozen fruits dropped off.
The locker’s main business is custom processing of locally raised beef and hogs. In the 1960’s the business attempted to put a slaughterhouse in the basement of the building, but the City Council voted against allowing it, due to concerns of “the smell.”
Showing that even an old business can learn new tricks, it started selling over the web from AsktheMeatman.com in 2000.
5 Replies to “Jackson Frozen Food Locker”
Frony took a picture of Carlton Meyer in a group of men at a Jackson Lions Club pancake dinner. It is one of several mystery photos identified:
‘Way back when these lockers were popular one reason was that there was a slaughter house in Cape out on what is now Kingshighway. One could buy half a beef, have it cut up by your butcher and put it in the locker. Low cost meat for months!
We had a locker in the Advance one full of fish. My brother would go on fishing trips and load it up for the winter. It was a huge adventure going into the locker and taking out a neatly wrapped package. My sister and I were talking about this recently, nice that you are too.
The down side is the physical effects of working in a frozen food locker–Judy Beussink told me several years ago that Paul’s lung problems in later years were caused by all the time he spent in the locker. They were good people and an asset to the Advance community.
Dennis here – This is a late comment because we are playing catch-up after being out of the country for nearly six weeks. My family had lockers in addition to a big freezer in the basement because my father was pretty good at the local shooting matches. We always had a side of beef and more, whole hogs, turkeys, etc. from his winnings. I remember times when they killed the cow as soon as someone won it…