A Holy Cross landmark was brought down Jan. 9.
Darlene Rusch, of Holy Cross, purchased the Holy Cross Meet Locker building and the lot after the business shut down in 2018. She hired Lansing Brothers Construction to do the demolition.
For the better part of the last century, the Holy Cross Meat Locker had been processing some of the best meat money could buy. Dec. 2018, owner Bob Hayes called it a career and shut the doors of the business.
The business goes back to well before Bob, though. His father, Louie Hayes, was working at the Rock Island Arsenal in the early 1940s. He was doing this so he didn’t have to be an active duty member in the military. However, he joined the Navy in 1943 because he wanted to contribute to helping his country.
Three years later, he was discharged from the Navy and moved back to Holy Cross. Louie was approached by a friend of his, Vic Brecht, about purchasing what was a feed store at the time. Both men invested $4,000 and a loan of $8,000 from the Worthington Bank, and the two officially owned the building that became the Meat Locker.
“Dad owned the business before he met his wife Ruth,” Hayes said. “He bought out Vic from the business in 1949. Vic then introduced Louie to his future wife and they got married later in the 1950s.”
Additions to the small building started to happen. The first came in the form of a house attached to the west side of the building, then a garage area later. Bob and his brother lived in the home until Spring 1966. Ruth and Louie lived in the brick home at the top of Main Street for the rest of their lives.
It was business as usual after that for Louie at the Meat Locker until Bob graduated from Loras College in 1974.
“I was not a scholar,” Hayes jokingly said. “I didn’t interview for one job, and at the time, what I was doing was giving me enough money to get through the weekends.”
Hayes added that he had no plan in life. Life was cruising along for him, and then he met the girl who eventually became his wife, Sherry. The couple got married in 1982. One year later, they bought the Locker business from his parents and had their first child, Mike.
Louie still worked into his 80s and Ruth into her 70s part-time with Bob. Two other employees were brought in over the following years. Sherri Hogan started working for the Meat Locker Jan. 1995 and Marty Bries started in Sept. 2004.
“Those two were godsends,” Hayes said. “I couldn’t have done it without their help over the years.”
“I didn’t shed a tear and I am glad it was torn down,” Hayes said. “The building was shot and it was going to be an eyesore.”
Even though the building is no longer standing, Hayes will always have memories with him from the decades he lived and worked there.
“I have had so many good memories of that place that I can’t put my finger on one,” he said, “but they are all special.”