My journey from illness to hamburgers

By Shirley Prihoda

The Bulletin


A day can start out fine, and then out of nowhere, it hits - the crud.


As usual, I downed two cups of decaf coffee and headed to Stuckey Barns and Supply for my weekly task of financial management. It’s a pleasant job for several reasons: At 74, I need the mental stimulation to keep the neurons firing, and Pam Stuckey is my closest friend.


I find my once-a-week job fulfilling and would probably pay her to allow me to do it. She, on the other hand, finds that position unacceptable. It’s an ongoing sister-type battle we both find frustrating and a blessing, all rolled into one.


With fingers and numbers flying on the keyboard, the morning became noon. I didn’t feel quite as chipper as I did at 9 a.m. but attributed that to the frustration of trying to find an elusive 10 cents to reconcile the bank statement and expenditure report. With the aplomb of winning a gold medal, the discrepancy was discovered to be, as it usually is, a wrong entry on my part. With that settled, and my vitality draining, I felt the need to lie down. Since the office is not conducive to that, I headed home.


Arriving home, my bed was pulling me toward it more powerfully than the magnetic field of the 45 Tesla in Tallahassee. Other than pulling the covers over my head, that’s pretty much all I remember for the next two weeks, except for the fever and chills.


Two at-home Covid tests produced negative markers, so with my mail order medical degree, I slunk back to bed and diagnosed my condition as the flu.


I have found there to be two types of patients in this world - the needy and the need to be left alone. I am the latter. After 33 years of marriage, my husband has developed the art of barely opening the door to assess if I am still breathing and cautiously ask if I need anything.


Since my husband has the heart of a servant, waiting for a request has necessitated the growth in areas of restraint that had remained dormant until he married me - a woman known for her independence.


But then, growing in areas we don’t naturally gravitate toward is what living this life is all about. Sort of like the command to love others like we love ourselves.


Finally, the day arrived when I got up and made the coffee and savored the warmth and goodness, sitting in my easy chair. I am not sure if it was shock or gratitude when my husband said, “Beautiful, I am taking you to Kemah today for what is said to be the best hamburger in all of south Texas.”


Now, you have to love a man who can lie with such a straight face. I had looked in the mirror before making my way to the kitchen and knew I looked more like the “before” picture in an extreme makeover infomercial.


Nevertheless, I relished his euphemistic appraisal and got dressed. The drive to Kemah was pleasant as we headed to Tookie’s, nestled alongside the pleasure boats and Ferris wheel.


The restaurant was packed, and we had a 10–15-minute wait for a table. With each passing minute, our mouths were anticipating the first bite into a hamburger rated best in the area. We ordered the “Squealer,” noted for cooked bacon mixed into the patty prior to grilling. A side of onion rings with Ranch dipping sauce was added for a complete carb overload.


The order arrived, and the presentation did not disappoint. With relish, I bit into the hamburger a little too large for even my mouth.


I hoped my disappointment didn’t register on my face.


I continued to eat and wash it down with large sips of Diet Coke. After about the third bite, my husband said, “It’s not a Bulldog burger, is it?”


We have traveled far and wide over the grand state of Texas eating hamburgers. However, self-appointed as wandering hamburger connoisseurs, we have benchmarks to appraise hamburgers.


Tookie’s met one; it was a large burger and would rate a 3 out of 10, and that was mostly due to the miniature train that ran around the ceiling, creating a sense of rain falling on a tin roof.


While the Bulldog Café in Sweeny doesn’t have a train running around the ceiling, they do have one of the best hamburgers in all of Brazoria County. The jalapeno bun and large meat patty that’s never frozen and cooked to medium-well perfection would blow Tookie’s out of the top rating.


Bulldog’s onion rings are made in-house and the best we have ever had, and that’s saying something. Not to be outdone by the food, the staff is warm and friendly, like you would expect from a hometown restaurant.


Freddy’s Hamburgers has a sauce that’s good on hamburgers and for dipping French Fries.


This is a close copy.


Dipping Sauce

½ cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons ketchup

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 ½ tablespoons dill pickle relish or sweet pickle relish

⅛ teaspoon garlic powder

⅛ teaspoon onion powder

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste


Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

(To contact Shirley, please send emails to john.bulletin@gmail.com or write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516)