Hamilton, “The Hot Dog Lady,” retires after almost 50 years

Published 5:41 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2024

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There’s no telling how many Bill’s hot dogs Mildred Hamilton, aka “The Hot Dog Lady,” has prepared in almost 50 years of employment at the Washington staple. On Tuesday, Mar. 12, she prepared her last – a hot dog all the way – that was split between her sons, Mike and Charles Hamilton.

Hamilton said it “feels good” to retire from Bill’s Hot Dogs located on Gladden Street.

Hamilton, 85, has gained as much popularity as an employee of Bill’s Hot Dogs as the stand itself. Without her, it will be like missing a “pillar” of the business, Jay Boyd, owner of Bill’s Hot Dogs says. “She has got some shoes that will never be filled,” he added. Boyd has worked with Hamilton for about 20 years. He continued, saying that he’s learned many life lessons from Hamilton, and she is a grandmother figure in his life.

What will Hamilton do now with her time? “Aggravate my sons,” she said with a chuckle. “I’ll keep them busy – both of them.”

“Couldn’t ever get her to make a hot dog at home,” Mike Hamilton, laughed.

“It’s always been a good place to come eat. She met a lot of people, made a lot of friends – not only in this state, but in New York,” Mike said. Those who moved away, but visit Washington, would stop by Bill’s to request hot dogs made by Hamilton, because they always tasted better, Mike added. “Ninety percent of them want her to make the hot dogs for them. They said it just tastes different.” That can be attributed to the fact that Hamilton puts an extra dollop of Bill’s famous chili on the dogs.

He continued to say that Hamilton is so well beloved by fellow employees, locals and visitors that they often refer to her as “Mom.” “They’ve been really been good to her,” he said.

Hamilton says she “loves” all the customers that have stopped by the hotdog stand.

As a teenager, Hamilton worked for Bill Jackson – the founder of Bill’s Hot Dog Stand then later for the second owner, Parker Gerard and most recently, Jay Boyd.

In the near 50 years that she worked there, the largest order she prepared, with help, was 1,000 hot dogs for a wedding, her co-worker Maryanne Jefferson said. Jefferson worked with Hamilton for the last ten years. She said it was an “awesome” experience working with Hamilton. Jefferson hopes Hamilton has a “good retirement” and hopes she will return often to visit.

Hamilton doesn’t eat very many hot dogs from Bill’s, but when she does she gets it all the way with ketchup, mustard, onions, chili and sometimes slaw.