There are deli owners and there are Deli Men. How do you measure the worth of a Deli Man? He lives deli, he makes no compromises, and he preserves it for future generations.
By any accounts, Sam Brummer would be a certified Deli Man par excellence. After fleeing the Nazis from Poland in 1939, Brummer found himself in the Bronx, and learned the deli trade at Clifton Deli in Lakewood, NJ; Kartzmann’s in Newark, and the Globe, near Wall Street. Over the ensuing decades he moved into Hockey’s Delicatessen in Newark, turning it into Hobby’s, which he still runs today, with his sons Marc and Michael. When other white businesses fled downtown Newark, especially after the 1968 riots, Brummer stayed, an anchor of the community. When other delis supplanted homemade meats for stuff bought from purveyors, he insisted on curing corned beef and tongues in the store…slowly…in a low cure of salt, sugar, and spices. He works there every day, even after recovering from a recent open heart surgery.
By all accounts, a Deli Man of great renown.
But there’s a few crucial details left out. Because when Brummer came to America in 1939, he simply turned around and went back to Europe as a member of the US Army. On June 6, 1944, Brummer’s 29th Infantry Division landed on the bloody shores of Omaha Beach. “To stay in the water meant we were dead men – to survive, we had to get to the path on the beach that led up the cliffs. When we reached the beach, we had to get out of the truck and, while dodging enemy fire, move countless bodies out of our way in order to reach that path,” Brummer said. It was his first combat experience.
Fighting through Normandy, Brummer’s unit suffered 80 percent casualties. He lost the hearing in his right ear from the 105mm Howitzer he operated, but eventually they fought into Germany and ended the Nazi tyranny.
In honor of this, Brummer received the Bronze Star in 2006, but today at noon, at a ceremony in New York’s French Consulate, Brummer will be appointed a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor of the French Republic by the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy.
If you want to thank Mr. Brummer for all he’s done, you can stop by Hobby’s deli in Newark, NJ.
If you can’t make it to Newark, you can support Hobby’s Operation Salami Drop, which sends salamis to American troops overseas.
Send a salami to your boy in the army. He may just be the next great Deli Man.