On Ben's Farm

Karl, King of the Quad

Line of students waiting for food outside Karl's

It's 2 a.m. on a cold winter morning. After a long night of, let's say, studying, your stomach is growling. What can you do? For students fortunate enough to live near the Quad between 1965 and 1996, the humming generator of Karl Krecklow's truck announced that the cure for the munchies was but a short walk away.

To hungry UNH students, the always-long line at Karl's was no deterrent. For one thing, Karl could work on multiple orders at a time, which kept the line moving. But part of the attraction was Karl himself. "It was fascinating to watch him work," recalls Bob Smith '82G, one of more than 200 alumni who answered an e-mail request for memories of Karl's. "He was in constant motion. He must have had hundreds of regular customers, but person after person ahead of me would ask simply for 'the usual.'" Gary Stevens '80 describes Karl as "a short-order savant, unmatched in his ability to personalize every visit."

Bantering and telling jokes, Karl held court all school year. To order, students used Karl's lingo, most of it off-color. A three-cheeseburger sub with all the condiments and veggies, French fries with melted cheese and a chocolate milk shake in Karl-speak would be "a big guy through the garden, snotties and a brown cow."

Karl Krecklow
Photo by Eric Gleske

For favored regulars, Karl made room in his cramped kitchen. Those with back-door privileges could get in out of the cold and chat with Karl while waiting for their food. Others received special concessions as well: Michael Lanza '75 recalls that one cold winter night, a group of streakers was allowed to cut in line.

A burger from Karl's first truck (he went through four in 31 years) cost 25 cents. Over the years prices necessarily crept up, but he kept them as low as possible out of sympathy for the limited resources of his chosen clientele. "He would let you order food even when you had no money--you always paid him back and he never had to ask you for it, you just did it--and he even took checks," says Mark Lagakis '77. "My years at UNH were filled with cancelled checks for $1 or $1.50."

Put to a vote, the favorite item probably would have been the cheeseburger, especially the artery-clogging three-cheeseburger sub, followed closely by the hot pastrami sandwich. (Devotees of his brother Fritz's truck near Stoke Hall remember fondly his tuna sub with melted cheese.) Whatever their favorite, many alumni claim they have never found its equal. "I've been on a quest ever since to find hot Italian sausage subs as good," says Kevin Bacher '75. "Haven't yet, and I'm all the way to California now."

Karl, who could not be reached for this article, has acquired a sort of urban-legend status. But for many alums, Karl's will always be part of the fabric of their college experience. Says Brad Young '75, "Anytime I reminisce with UNHers from my time, or since my time, we always find a mutual fondness for Karl." ~

(See an "I Remember Karl's" page at http://www.alumni.unh.edu/keep/karls/ for more alumni memories, or to submit your own.)

blog comments powered by Disqus