|Beer and Sausage Propel
Idyllic Town on a Wheat Prairie
Church, Foster. "Beer and Sausage Propel Idyllic Town on a Wheat Prairie." Oregonian, 20 January 2008.
Best loved of the music acts is the Oom Pa's and
Ma's, a local group whose members wear yellow hats
in the shape of geese and put out a wonderfully wheezy,
pumpy sound from sax, clarinet, trombone, tuba, flute,
accordion and anything else that can handle the repertoire
of up-tempo polkas and waltzes.
The place to stay in town is La Collage Inn on First
Avenue. Ed Hayden runs it with his wife, Nadya, who
arrived two years ago from Kyrgyzstan. Hayden designed
the rooms with different themes, including South Sea,
Frontier and Outback. The motel is about a 10-minute
walk from the action, and considering the amount of
beer flowing and the police presence in town, a walk
is not a bad idea.
Back at Das Kraut House, Schafer presides genially
at his biggest weekend of the year. People line up
for blocks, and as Deutschesfest cranks into full
power, he puts out stand-up tables on the street and
people eat their paper plates of food in harmony with
In the three months Das Kraut Haus operates each
year, Schafer estimates he grinds out 4,000 pounds
of sausage -- a chewy, delicious combination of one-third
beef and two-thirds pork, flavored with garlic and
brown sugar. He serves sausages on a plate, cut up
in barbecue sauce or on a stick like a Popsicle.
Schafer's father came to Washington in the late 19th
century from a farm on the Volga River and cleared
160 acres of sagebrush for a farm that Schafer still
Odessa's German influence adds seasoning for sure,
but more than an ethnic enclave, it's an idyll of
small-town American culture, circa 1915 -- the kind
of place Americans long for and seldom find. It's
got a hospital, a golf course and many churches. Its
streets are lined with spacious, pleasingly proportioned,
century-old houses with columned verandas.
First Avenue remains the classic American town center,
and the towering grain elevators suggest the plenty
of the American soil and the prosperity of local farmers.
People are gracious and conversational.
An elderly woman, inching down the street, is patted
on the arm by passers-by.
The question for Odessa and for lots of little towns
shriveling on the Washington prairie is whether they
can hold on long enough for the world outside to discover