Celebrating German heritage in Aurora
By Judy Buchenot For The Beacon-News October 9, 2012 12:36PM
Walt Duy watches as his wife Dolores Duy fries the bacon to make the sauce for a batch of German Potato Salad.
German Potato Salad
12 medium sized potatoes
12 slices bacon, diced
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cup corn starch
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup white vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons celery salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
Boil potatoes, peel them and thinly slice. Set aside while making sauce. Sauté bacon and onion until both are browned. Stir the cornstarch into the mixture until if forms a paste. Add the vinegar, water and sugar while cooking over medium heat. Cook and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add salt, celery salt, parsley and pepper. Mix well. Pour over the potatoes and gently stir to coat the potatoes. Should be served warm.
As part of Aurora’s 175 anniversary celebration, The Aurora Historical Society is recognizing the city’s rich cultural heritage through “Flavors of Aurora: Stirred Not Shaken.” The current exhibit celebrating Aurora’s German heritage was co-curated with Ed Heriaud, historian of the Turners Club and will run through Oct. 27 at the Pierce Art and History Center, 20 E. Downer Place. Center hours are Wednesdays-Saturdays, noon-4 p.m.
The ethnic series will conclude for 2012 in November, when recent immigrants and refugees from Third World countries will present their stories, music and cuisine, with an emphasis on the American holiday of Thanksgiving.
More salutes are planned for 2013 and will include African American and Italian cultures. For more information, visit www.aurorahistory.net or call 630-906-0650.
Updated: November 13, 2012 6:09AM
In celebrating Aurora’s 175th anniversary, the Aurora Historical Society is focusing on the many different ethnic groups that brought their cultures, foods and skills to Aurora.
The latest group to be highlighted with an exhibit at the Pierce Art and History Center are the Germans.
Walt Duy is one of many Aurora residents proud of his German heritage. Walt’s parents, Amelia and Henry, came to America in 1928 to join relatives already settled in Aurora.
Like many of Aurora’s German immigrants, they had come from Padew, a German settlement located in an area of Poland known as Galicia.
“My mother and dad lived across the street from each other in Padew so they did know each other but they didn’t get married until after they moved to Aurora,” recalls Duy.
“My mother was very proud that she had saved the money to make a down payment for a house on Hinman Street in the area near St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. The area was called German Town.”
Duy recalls a wonderful childhood with summers spent running barefoot through the then-open fields and woodlands of Aurora.
“At that time, we only had meat on Sundays,” notes Duy.
“The rest of the time it was vegetables, dumplings with fillings. She also made sauerkraut on top of mashed potatoes. I remember my uncles butchering a pig to make sausage that they smoked in another uncle’s smokehouse. And there was always kuchen (cake) once a week.”
Duy’s uncles had many skills and worked as carpenters, cabinetmakers and in other trades.
His father did upholstery for Kroehler’s Furniture in Naperville and also worked on covering the seats for Burlington railroad trains.
Duy’s first job was for the Burlington Railroad. He worked on the 5th floor but was interested in a lovely gal who worked on the 6th floor.
When she was crowned Miss Burlington of 1959 at a contest held in Phillips Park in Aurora, Duy made a point of meeting the young beauty.
When he learned that she liked to cook, he was determined to marry her. He and Dolores have been married for 49 years, have raised two daughters and now have seven grandchildren.
Duy recalls many parties in the German Town neighborhoods.
The celebrations always included lots of sausage, sauerkraut and German potato salad.
The families have scattered but reunions are still held for the families who came here from Galicia.
There is a mailing list of about 700 people and one reunion had an attendance of over 300.
The group met this year and plans to continue meeting every three years.
One dish that shows up at every reunion is German Potato Salad.
Walt and Dolores share their recipe for this German favorite for others to try.