Big Red - From The Butcher, History, Meat Cutting

Ron and Judy Tillett – Family History

The Tillett Brothers where born and raised in central Washington. Judy Tillett is the daughter of Scandinavian immigrants. Judy’s father Oscar Brandt (Oscars Fish Fix’ns) Owned a tire shop in Selah Washington. The Brandt’s Tire was just a block away from where Ron and Judy Tillett opened Upper Valley Meats in 1963.

Ron Tillett was born in Iowa and and had 8 siblings. It the late 40’s coming out of the great depression, his dad Vurnace Tillett loaded the family and all their belonging in the Buick and headed out West to Washington State to work in the Apple Orchards. It was a tough life and Ron grew up learning to work hard.  Several of the Tillett boys learned the trade of farm butchering and cutting meat.

In the 1960’s Ron and his brothers opened Upper Valley Meats a meat shop downtown Selah Wa. There are so many great stories of Steve and I as we grew up around this business in the farming communities of central Washington. I loved going to all the farms and ranches and hanging out with people who where genuine down to earth people.

One strong memory I have is of the big 55 gallon pickle barrel in the front of the meat shop. Those where the most amazing pickles. They seemed to be as big as my head. Well I was only a kid.

I also remember the smoke house in the back of the meat shop. The smell was amazing. Hams, beacon and sausage links hanging from the rafters. Yum Yum!!

Ron Tillett was passionate about the meat business and was always teaching others the trade. Ron had many apprentices many of them are still in the business.

Ron also wrote a book about cutting and processing your own meat. His working title was From The Farm To TheTable. He wanted to share where he know. The notes, writings and research where extensive. There was only one thing that kept him from realizing this dream. In my opinion it was timing. This was all before the age of desktop publishing and it was a tough road to getting something like my dad had designed. It required 100s of photos and illustrations. Ron was not an illustrator or a photographer. Remember this was before digital cameras. The cool thing is he had so much great content. I am so excited that I will be able to share some of his knowledge and insights through Tillett Brothers’ BBQ content. My dad would be happy his ideas are being shared.

~mojo

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