Editor's note: This is the 124th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks.
HUNTINGTON - For decades, Jim Brackman was Huntington's "Crown Prince of Hamburgers and Hot Dogs," holding that undisputed title until his death in 1937.
Brackman was born in Charleston in 1872. On the death of their father, he and his brothers, Bob and Oakes, decided they would seek jobs in Huntington, walking all the way from Charleston. The brothers took turns leading a cow, which was nearly their sole procession. Later they persuaded their mother to join them in Huntington, where she opened a popular boarding house in the 800 block of 3rd Avenue.
Young Brackman quickly found employment at the Ensign Manufacturing Co. rail car plant. Soon he began earning extra money by selling wieners from a tin basket he carried slung over his shoulder.
An adventuresome young man, Brackman and a partner, Tom Jobe, were somehow able to scrape together the money required to put together a small traveling circus. When the circus performed in Columbus, Ohio, Brackman was told about a lunch wagon that was for sale. Thirty minutes later, it belonged to Brackman.
Parking his newly purchased wagon at 4th Avenue and 16th Street (today's Hal Greer Boulevard), Brackman sold the first wieners from it during a Grand Army of the Republic reunion in 1893. Business was brisk, and he quickly added other items to the menu - hamburgers, chili and even full lunches.
As the years passed, Brackman added more wagons to what became a small fleet, parked at strategic spots around the city's downtown.
Brackman's lunch wagons long ago vanished from Huntington's streets. But one wagon remains, parked inside a vacant restaurant building at 526 9th St., where Brackman installed it in the 1920s.