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It was only a short drive from Captain Jack’s to our next stop Karmali’s at 1903 Harrison St. You may not have heard of this tavern by this name, but if I wrote George’s Gaslight, you would recognize it. One sign for George’s Gaslight still sits on the roof top of the building.

New Sign, New Owners, Old Building

New Sign, New Owners, Old Building

Karmali’s is owned by two couples who bought it last winter from the former George’s Gaslight owners, Jake and Jamie Perry last winter, I think. An Oshkosh assistant city clerk who knows about our beer blog, told me about the change in ownership. She’s the one who collects the fees for liquor licenses, so she knows her bars! She and her husband had stopped at Karmali’s for supper a few weeks previous to our City Hall conversation last spring.   “They’re remodeling the place,” she told me and said the dining room was still closed, but that they served “pub food” in the barroom. She assured me that the food was tasty.

 

Old Sign Hangs On

Old Sign Hangs On

That was why I suggested this place for supper. The off-and-on rain had stopped so I took some outside photos. We wondered where the name Karmali came from. Perhaps a name of some exotic place in Asia? Or maybe some place in a science fiction or fantasy novel? No. We learned that the name is a combination of the names of the three children of the two couples. Now, I suppose we could spend hours trying to figure out those names: hmmmm, Karen, Matt and Lily? No, I’m not going there.

There were five people seated at the bar and I knew two of them, Jay and Nancy, who own Camera Casino in downtown Oshkosh. Their kids were students of mine “back in the day.” Their son, who looks like Aaron Rogers and has the same initials, works at the shop also. He’s printed many of our son Tom’s photos for the shows Tom enters.

The signs of remodeling were evident. The walls opposite the bar are paneled with recycled raw blonde wood. The six tables along that wall are also made from this wood, but they are highly polished. After chatting with Jay and Nancy we chose a table. Marvin, Elaine and I ordered Karmali Ale. Judy chose a Stella Artois and Don Wisconsin Amber. There were six taps altogether. Gary, our designated driver drank only water.

Back Bar at Karmali's

Back Bar at Karmali’s

Our waitress Ann Marie was a native of Los Angeles. Not sure why she settled here, but she did. She talked about the importance of having her kids “see the world.” So, she ended up here after touring the States. Gary and Elaine travel more than the rest of us in the USA. So we listened as they dropped of “must visit” places in the US while Ann Marie nodded her head yes, meaning she and her kids had been there.

My parents took my sister and me and our maternal grandmother Lala on long trips when we were grade schoolers. We drove to the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, Pikes Peak, east to Quebec City, Montreal and Niagara Falls and south to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. My mom made sure we visited every state capitol building. So I’ve seen the bullet holes on the wall of the Louisiana state capitol building in Baton Rouge where Huey Long was shot and the oil wells on the state capitol grounds in Oklahoma City. Best looking capitol building? The kiva shaped one in Santa Fe. For me all these travels sure beat going to Disney World year after year.

 

Gary, Ann Marie & Elaine Naming National Parks

Gary, Ann Marie & Elaine Naming National Parks

But time to order some supper: Judy had a Rueben; Don a cheeseburger with onion rings. Gary and I ordered California burgers. I also had deep fried cheese curds. Marvin had the “heart attack special”-a burger with cheese and a fried egg. Elaine had a Buffalo Chicken Panini with spinach and blue cheese. We all enjoyed our sandwiches. Judy declared, “OMG this is sooo good.”

Out of the blue Don asked, “Why do we romanticize the South?” We decided Florida didn’t count even though it’s in the south. I let the others talk, as I’m not very familiar with the South. A few business trips to Atlanta hardly makes me a specialist on the South. Somebody thought it might have something to do with Gone With the Wind. Also the popularity of English novelist Sir Walter Scott with all that chivalry stuff was raised as a cause? Then the conversation switched to fishing and Marvin delighted us with stories of fishing in the Boundary Waters with our son Tom and Marv’s colleague Hugo. Hugo wasn’t an easy person to travel or fish with. After criticizing Marvin’s fish filleting technique, Marvin said, “I guess there’s more than one way to fillet a fish.” Marvin had learned from his grandfather, a lifelong fisherman. Hugo agreed: “Yes, there’s my way and the wrong way.”

Mary's Sandwich!

Mary’s Sandwich!

All this talk about the 50 states led me to ask where would you live if you couldn’t live in Wisconsin. I expected answers like Florida or Hawaii, but no. The answers were Ohio, Minnesota, New York and California (the Sacramento and San Francisco areas).

I thought we were going to a third tavern, but it was raining again. Not that we minded, but Gary and Elaine were in the midst of a major landscaping project at their home. They were concerned over the havoc more rain would cause in their basement. Therefore a third stop was eliminated. So we paid our bill, thanked our waitress and prepared to leave. Judy had one final question: “Do you have a quarter machine?” No, Karmali’s doesn’t.

P.S. About a month after this beer trail ride, Marv and I ate supper at Players. It was heavily decorated for Halloween. As we left walking slowly to look at the goblins, skeletons, witches and pumpkins, we saw a quarter machine. Wow! Oops! Lost every quarter I slipped through the slot.

Taps at Karmali's.

Taps at Karmali’s.

We squeezed in a Beer Trail Ride between two vacation trips. Gary and Elaine were just back from a visit to the Maritime Provinces of Canada and Marv and I were about to leave for the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. The date was Wednesday, August 21. Gary and Elaine were going to “look after our house” while we were gone, so they made a quick stop to see what needed to be done. Our cat was staying at the Cats Cozy Inn north of the city, so they would not have to look after her.

Captain Jack's Advice

Captain Jack’s Advice

We decided to hit the north east side of Oshkosh on this ride. That meant Don drove the white van through so many roundabouts we were dizzy by the time we reached Captain Jack’s Tavern at 2116 Jackson Street. Formerly this was Naughty Girls, a strip club. Marv, Don and Gary claim no knowledge of what it looked like inside when it was Naughty Girls. We liked the sign: “Take My Advice I Don’t Use It Anyway.”

I didn’t think Larry Spanbauer in his book Oshkosh Neighborhood Taverns and the People Who Ran Them would have a page about this place. The day I decided to post this piece on the blog, I saw Larry’s book lying next to the computer. What the hey, I thought, might as well look it up. There it was on page 195 listed as Naughty Girls. Fred W. Ehrenberg opened Fritz’s Tavern on that spot in 1940. In 1950 it became George Losse’s Tavern. Some time after that the building was torn down and the current building constructed. Spanbauer lists a tavern, called Mr. Pete’s, in the new building in 1972. He renamed it Snoopy’s in 1977 and in 1991 it changed to Naughty Girls with Peter Moore still listed as the proprietor.

 

Looking up at Captain Jack's

Looking up at Captain Jack’s

The interior is one very large room with a square bar toward the front and a pool table in the back. The ceiling above the bar has a faux stained glass “window” in gold and amber shades lighted from the back. The framed ends of “this window” are intricately carved. The bartender told us it came from the former Marco’s Italian Restaurant (now Primo).

The surface of the bar was a deep red and the twenty or so bar chairs were black. A couple of patrons were at the bar including an older man who knew about our Riding the Beer Trail blog on Word Press. He brought it up on his device, but quickly returned to the screen he had been watching. There are three big-screen TVs in the room, five game machines and that pool table in the back. Also a quarter machine, but more about that later.

We studied the taps and placed our order with Sharon, our bartender. Elaine chose a Leinekugel Red Lager in a frosted glass. Judy

Elaine with unlucky pull tab

Elaine with unlucky pull tab

ordered a Stella Artois. Don and Marvin had Pabst Blue Ribbon in the 16 oz. can. I asked for my favorite, a New Glarus Spotted Cow. Gary, who would be our designated driver from this point on, had nothing to drink. Elaine had a pull tab, but alas it didn’t do her any good. I had one also, but no luck in getting a reduced price.

Our bartender Sharon didn’t want to be photographed, but she introduced us to the general manager Cindy who allowed us to take her picture. She also told us how this place became Captain Jack’s. Cindy and the owners had Googled the “most popular bar name.” That turned out to be “Captain.” “And the Jack,” we asked, “where did that come from?”

General Manager Cindy

General Manager Cindy

“Jackson Street,” Cindy said. We talked about taverns we had visited and what made one place different from another. Meanwhile Cindy set five shot glasses on the bar and poured us each the “shot of the day.” It turns out Captain Jack has a “shot” for each day of the week and Wednesday’s turned out to be “Sweet Tart.” Remember the candy of that name? Well, this tasted like that sorta. It was tangy at the beginning and sweet at the end. We all tossed ours off and washed them down with the beer (Except for designated driver Gary, of course.) This reminded me of the “Boiler Maker and Helper” combinations that were popular back in the 50s. Of course, I wasn’t “legal”

A Toast to Sweet Tarts

A Toast to Sweet Tarts

then.

Now back to the quarter machine. Judy and Elaine spotted it first and watched the slowly moving river of quarters tumble over the edge and onto a lower shelf—still steadily moving. “How do you play this game?” Judy wondered. “It says ‘insert a quarter,’” said Elaine. She did and lo and behold the river of quarters dropped two out of the machine and into her hand. Cool. We fed it more quarters. Sometimes we were rewarded, other times not. This could become a habit.

Meanwhile Don learned of another Shot of the Day, a Kamikaze that contains vodka, triple sec and lime juice. He ordered one of those and let us each—except for Gary—have a taste. Now that one had some bite to it, but I still preferred the Sweet Tart.

 

The Quarter Machine!

The Quarter Machine!

Though election season was in full swing, we talked about a book Judy and Elaine had heard of called Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness. Clearly I am out of the loop for I had never heard of it. It’s a memoir by Suzy Favor Hamilton, Olympics runner and her battle with mental health. Sadly mistreatment led her to become the Number Two Call Girl in Las Vegas. What’s that, only a Silver Medal? Marv wondered. Well, that certainly makes the books I read, like novels by Austen and Dickens sound dull.

We pulled ourselves away from the quarter machine long enough to check the restrooms. Clean and neat. One offered free rides home at closing time. That’s nice.  The two urinals in the men’s room had lots of ice. I guess that’s a good thing. We also checked out the T-Shirts for sale that tell one where Captain Jack’s is located.

But it was time for us to find a place for another beer and a supper. So after one last quarter in the quarter machine, we left with Gary behind the wheel of the white van and sped away into a maze of shortcuts.

Aye, Aye Captain Jack!

Aye, Aye Captain Jack!

The Ruby Owl, a Gastropub

We left Big B’s with Gary, our designated driver, behind the wheel of the white van. All six of us told him how to find The Ruby Owl. The 400 block of N. Main Street is one of the large downtown blocks. The easiest parking is in a lot on the west side behind the stores. That’s where Gary parked, but then we couldn’t figure out where, or if, The Ruby Owl had a back entrance. So we fooled around behind the 2 Blondes shop sticking our heads through a display. 2 Blondes is a cool shop owned by two blonde (of course) sisters. According to their Facebook page “they developed a business in which they embellish uniforms, tshirts, sweatshirts or any clothing with bling and fun

We really like that sign!

We really like that sign!

designs.”

Still not finding an entrance to The Ruby Owl, we walked up to Church street, turned the corner onto Main and headed south until we found The Ruby Owl. Marv and I usually get to the farm market each Saturday morning on Main street. We noticed the plywood covering the tavern’s front. But in June the plywood was gone, windows and a door were in place and the cool Ruby Owl sign arched over the front.

The Ruby Owl is not a remake of an existing bar, but a brand new bar in an old building on Main Street. The Ruby Owl, at 421 N. Main Street, occupies a two-story building dating from the late 1800s. It was a ladies dress shop back in the day and most recently Soiree, an upscale shop selling all sorts of cool stuff: jewelry,

Being Silly at 2 Blondes

Being Silly at 2 Blondes

photographs, bric á brac. But alas, it closed. Then the owners of Gardina’s restaurant and wine store at 488N. Main Street bought the building. Their intent was to open a bar specializing in beer and also serving food−a bistro, if you will. They call it a Gastropub, which is a word my Microsoft Word dictionary doesn’t know about.

The Ruby Owl opened for business on June 27, which was several months later than they had planned on opening. But like most old buildings downtown the infrastructure was in bad shape and more serious work then they expected needed to be done. The wait was worth it. The place looks great. We especially liked the entrance sign that arches over the front of the building.

Like Bar 450 across the street, the walls are the original light colored brick (Around here we call that Cream City brick.) The front half of the place is filled with black tables and chairs. The bar runs about 30 feet beyond that along the north wall. The back “bar” has glass shelves holding hard liquor−the best stuff on the top shelf. The 30 taps are arranged in clusters.

Beer taps and the "good stuff"

Beer taps and the “good stuff”

Usually on our visits on Wednesday, the tavern crowd is sparse, but here all the tables were taken. We wedged into an opening at the middle of the bar and placed our order. Marv and I had Bell’s Amber Ale, Elaine chose Revolution Anti-Hero IPA (We think Elaine chooses a beer with the coolest name.) Don’t know what Don chose, but Judy chose Spotted Cow, as she said, “30 beers and I have a Spotted Cow.” Well, it’s a good beer and if you like it, why not? Gary, our designated driver had nothing.

All the tables were full so where we were going to sit to eat a meal was a problem. Judy spied a table for five with four guys sitting at it. They weren’t eating anything, so Don made a deal with them. “Exchange your table for our seats at the bar and we’ll buy you your next beer.” Deal made! Don mentioned later that except for one guy who drank a Gran Belt ($2.50) the rest chose the higher priced beers at $5 and $6 each.

 

Our table, note the brick walls

Our table, note the brick walls

We pulled another chair to the table and made it work for the six of us. This table like others closer to the bar was tall with bar stools type chairs. The tables in the front half are more conventional in height.

A few hours before we set out on this Ride, I had read the Ruby Owl’s menu and pretty much knew what I wanted: the roasted Brussel sprout salad with pears and almonds. I’ve always liked Brussel sprouts; my mom grew them in her victory Gardens during World War II so my sister and I had happily eaten all the vegetables that kids are not supposed to like. There were a few exceptions: Zucchini squash and eggplants. Mom didn’t like growing them. There was one time she breaded and fried zucchini slices that were about 3 inches in diameter. It was a failure. I’m guessing the squash was a gift, maybe from one of my dad’s patients.

Judy and I ordered the salad, Gary a hamburger, Marv and Don had the meatloaf sandwich and Elaine chose grilled chicken gyro. Interesting and pretty good was her comment. Holly was our waitress and she took the time to explain all the different dishes to us. That was nice.

Our kind and patient waitress, Holly

Our kind and patient waitress, Holly

It’s not unusual for us to run into someone we know when we are visiting these taverns. And tonight was no exception. For at the end of the bar sat the pianist from our church having a beer and supper with her son. We visited with her and told her how much we enjoyed her mini-concerts before services began.

We noticed a decoration that seems to be coming more and more popular−Edison lights. They are oblong bulbs with a point on one end. The glass is clear, sometimes amber colored, and the filament is visible. Marv bought a string of red and green ones a couple of years ago to drape over the doorway to our house at Christmas time. We saw these bulbs at Chester V’s as well as The Ruby Owl where they are in chandeliers over the bar.

 

Check out the Edison lights

Check out the Edison lights

We had exhausted talk about college basketball and football, so tonight the subject of voting came up. For just around the corner was the Primary Election on August 9. Marv, Tom and I usually vote early. This stems from the fact that for 15 years I was a poll worker for the City of Oshkosh and never served at my own polling place. Even though I don’t work anymore at the polls, the habit has stuck and we vote early. Don and Judy are often in Florida during election time, so Don wanted to check with us to see if they still used the same polling place. I assured them that they did. I mentioned how easy it is to vote early, but Judy said she thinks it is important to vote on Election Day. She likes the feeling of standing in line and taking part on such an important day. Early or on the day itself, eligible voters should vote. That was our bottom line.

And with that we left The Ruby Owl. This time we found the back door and checked out the rest rooms which we passed on the way out. They were clean and modern, lacking some of the “charm” of restrooms in the old bars.

We slipped out the back door

We slipped out the back door

Mid July found the six of us picking a date for our next trail ride. We decided on July 20th. Don and Judy were back from France and Gary and Elaine back from Cleveland (The Paris of the Midwest). They had a family reunion there and had taken in –those lucky kids—an NBA championship game at the Quicken Loans Arena via video stream. But still a lively full house and, most importantly, Cleveland won that game and went on to win the championship.

We gathered at Judy and Don’s late on a hot afternoon. Before setting out we three gals looked at the wedding pictures from France. We oohed and aahed over the lovely bride and handsome groom, the lovely setting and pretty church. Of course Judy looked lovely too in her “wedding” dress. They stopped in Paris for a pair of days before flying home. In Paris, they found themselves staying next door to some Portugal soccer fans. Didn’t have to ask if they were from Portugal as their costumes spoke for them.

Boots on Merritt and Monroe

Boots on Merritt and Monroe

Our first stop this evening was Boots, formerly know as Big B’s and before that as Chasers. Don drove us from Westhaven, through the four roundabouts on Ninth Avenue and then across the city. Oops, he turned right onto Ceape before Marvin and I could tell him about the road construction from the railroad tracks to beyond Bowen. A real mess we said and explained the back street way we had taken less than a week before to get to a house on Bay Shore Drive. Don turned quickly and sent the white van north on State Street and then right on Washington Avenue avoiding the nest of one-way streets in that part of Oshkosh. “Just look for the steeples of St. Mary’s Church,” we said as he asked which way to go. St. Mary’s was built decades ago when Oshkosh Catholics thought it would be the home of a diocese; so it had been built as a cathedral. Well, the diocese didn’t happen, but the church is grand and gothic and recently improved.

Boots is on the southeast corner of Merritt and Monroe just across the street from the former St. Mary’s school where Judy once taught.

 

Honoring Those Who Served

Honoring Those Who Served

The new owners have brightened the interior of the tavern by painting the walls and ceilings a sunny yellow. By the way, the ceilings are fifteen feet above the floor. On the west wall and ceiling of the barroom hang the U.S. flag and the flags of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Below the flags are framed photos of the owner’s family members who served in the military from WWII to the present. It’s quite a nice display and tribute to their family.

Brandi was our bartender. She served up glasses of Spotted Cow for me, Marv, Don, Judy and Elaine. Someone said the only other beers on tap were light beers. Gary, our

Brandi, Our Bartender and Cook

Brandi, Our Bartender and Cook

designated driver for the rest of the evening, didn’t drink, not even a glass of water. Brandi told us the name of the current owners, but I missed that fact. Interestingly, the former owners of the bar when it was Chasers were sitting at the bar. We gave them our card and had a pleasant chat with them. They seemed right at home in their former establishment.

The guys moved into the back room of the tavern where the décor on the walls and ceiling switches to sports teams. Kinda hard to miss was the large Michael Jordon poster, and also, of course Green Bay Packer jerseys, pennants, etc., and Chicago Cubs and Chicago Black Hawks jersies. Marvin, the guy from Illinois, had me take a picture of the Black Hawks display. Somehow among the sports and military displays hangs a picture of Elvis painted on black velvet. You are nearly as old as we are if you remember all the “on-velvet” paintings sold from the back of vans and pickup trucks at gas stations during that era.

 

Black Hawk Jersey with Hockey Sticks

Black Hawk Jersey with Hockey Sticks

We gals stayed in the barroom to listen to Judy tell us about her friends whose grandchildren are spending the summer here in Oshkosh. One of the many activities the grandparents chose for these grade-school kids was the garden camp at Growing Oshkosh. The kids were not overenthused, but after a day or two at the camp were really happy and excited to go. One exclaimed how great it was to eat kale for a snack. The other said making compost was great fun.

We knew Boots served food from the signs posted outside the building. Most of the choices were appetizers. Brandi showed us a list of appetizers and Judy ordered the deep fried green beans and cauliflower. Very tasty, but I think the beans won out over the

Deep Fried Beans & Cauliflower. Yum!

Deep Fried Beans & Cauliflower. Yum!

cauliflower. Everyone else agreed.

This building is one of the oldest taverns in Oshkosh. You can read its history at our earlier post on Big B’s on November 2013. We gave the information from Larry Spanbauer’s book Oshkosh Neighborhood Taverns and the People Who Ran Them in that post. The building dates from 1885. According to Jim Draeger’s book Wisconsin Taverns, this tavern turned into a pharmacy during the Prohibition years. If you know your history, it was legal for pharmacies to sell hard liquor during Prohibition “for medical purposes.” Marv checked out the men’s room. You have to remember how old this building is when you think of rest rooms. They are tiny. Many of them had no room for a sink; that stood out in the hallway. However, the ones here had a sink in them. And all the fixtures were very new and clean. The one-foot square tan stone floors impressed Marv and Gary. “Looks like this stone came from the Maribel caves,” said Gary. Say what? Elaine and I checked out the women’s rest room, which is in the back room. It too had all new fixtures and was spotless. Plus it had a large print of Georgia O’Keefe’s Camellias and purple painted wainscoting..

 

Telling Stories

Telling Stories

One topic of conversation was airports. Lost of stories of missed or late flights. I prefer flying out of Milwaukee’s Mitchell Field or Appleton and try very, very hard to avoid O’Hare. However, flying home a few years ago from a writing conference in New Mexico, I arrived on time (4:00 PM) at O’Hare only to learn my flight to Appleton would be delayed thirty minutes, a time period that stretched to three hours. Meanwhile the weather got worse and worse. One couple ditched O’Hare and rented a car to get to Milwaukee. Another woman threw herself on the floor sobbing that she couldn’t get to Fort Wayne, Indiana that night. I finished the mystery novel I was reading but was reluctant to pick up another one in the bookstore for fear I would miss my flight to Appleton. Finally it was called and we passengers boarded in the rain, wind and thunder. The plane took off with the pilot announcing ours was the last flight to leave O’Hare that night. Marv greeted me in Appleton saying “What took you so long?” “I’d like a drink.”

Judy told how just a few weeks ago her older brother and his wife flying in from California were stranded at O’Hare when their flight to Appleton was canceled. But they struck up a conversation with a couple from Arlington Heights who invited them to spend the night at their home, provided them with breakfast and drove them to O’Hare in the morning. See! There are good people in the world!

Of course UWO basketball season was only four months away, so we had to talk about the new recruits and also the possibility that a Bucks D-League team will be located here. We hope. We hope, We hope.

The last crumbs of deep fried veggies and empty glasses were all that was left on our table as we decided to move on to our supper locale.

IMG_1600

The Dockside at 425 Nebraska Street was our supper destination on June 9. Its website describes it as a riverside restaurant and bar. I’d guess that on a pleasant evening many if not most patrons arrive by boat and tie up at its piers as arrive by car. Judy’s white van was one of the few cars in the lot, yet the place was far from empty.

View of Dockside from the parking lot

View of Dockside from the parking lot

Don and Judy and Marv and I had dreamed up our tavern visits at this very place in June of 2009. We had been at an Oshkosh Vision get-together at the Convention Center. While we were sipping a beer on the patio afterwards the idea of our beer trail rides were born. Don had brought up the idea of what the old places looked like on the inside. Many times we had driven past these bars on our way to work or shopping and never took the time to stop in. We decided to ask Gary and Elaine to join us. And so the beer trail came into existence.

Since that night the Dockside has changed hands and has been remodeled. But the outdoor patio remains the same. Between the building and the Fox River are about a dozen metal tables and chairs under large umbrellas. There is also a small outdoor bar on the north side of this patio.

On the inside the bar, which originally dominated the middle of the main room of the restaurant, has now been moved to the east wall. That leaves a large square interior for the dining room. The weather was lovely this evening, sunny and warm which explained why the dining room was empty and the patio filled.

 

Don and Marv and some guy in the background

Don and Marv and some guy in the background

We pulled two tables together and tilted the umbrellas to keep the sun our of our eyes. That was only partially successful so those of us wearing sunglasses sat at the east end of the tables and those without at the west end. Alyssa was our waitress. Marv, Elaine and Don ordered Dockside Amber. I was about to get the same when Marv said, “Here’s one for you; tell your water aerobics friends you had a Blu Bobber.” Marv has referred to my aquatic exercising friends as The Bobbers. “Sure, why not,” I said and told Alyssa to bring me one. Judy, our designated driver, had an O’Douls. Gary ordered a glass of water.

I wondered if my beer would be blue, but it wasn’t. There were, however, four plump blueberries floating in the foam. Since that night I have seen packs of Blu Bobber, made by the Fox River Brewing Co., on the shelves of super markets and even Shopko. Yep, they sell beer there too. And, some of my water aerobics friends have tried the Blu Bobber beer also.

Count the blueberries!

Count the blueberries!

We studied the menu which we felt was much improved from previous years and previous owners. Marv and I ordered grilled cheese with bacon and avocado sandwiches. Elaine had walleye fingers which she shared with Judy who had Bam Bam shrimp. Don had the Cuban sandwich and Gary a burger. Whoever came up with the idea of calling strips of walleye “fingers.” Thank God they didn’t decide on toes.

At an adjacent table were three male friends of ours who live in Omro. They had arrived by boat. “Where are your wives?” we asked. It turns out they were at another bar in town participating in a learn-to-paint-while-drinking-beer less. They raised their glasses in a toast to that.

Gary again brought up the book The Bees. Don has now read it. I’ll have to give it a try, I guess. It does sound good. I have read other books in which animals are the main character like the rabbits in Watership Down. Speaking of books about animals, Don mentioned The good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood.” He heard about it from a woman on the Florida beach who said it was “exciting.” Don made it only halfway through. Guess he didn’t find it “exciting” or else it was due back at the library. I thought it must be a biography of some rich business tycoon, but no it’s about a pig that a woman rescued. Don’t think that will go on my “Must Read List.” One more comment about books in which animals are the leading characters. I remember Watership Down was the book on Chapter a Day, an NPR program. The reader got halfway through and quit. He couldn’t take another page of rabbits in control.

The Beer Trail Riders at Dockside

The Beer Trail Riders at Dockside

But there were other topics of conversation. We teased Judy about her driving, how she took the direct routes and main traveled roads to get from Bare Bones to Dockside. A sharp contrast to Gary’s choice of the back streets and supposed “short cuts.” Gary also has a motorcycle and I think that has led him to the lesser-traveled streets, where survival is surer.

And then we put in our two cents worth on the U.S. summer topic: politics. Who came up with the adjective “presumptive” to hand on the name of a candidate who won the primaries? We couldn’t remember that being used in former Presidential races. And will the “presumptive” Republican candidate get the nod at the Convention? Yahoo News thinks not.

A more enjoyable topic was Marv’s report on the new recruits to the UWO man’s and women’s basketball teams. Already the men’s 2016-2017 season is up on the UWO Titans website.

We had finished our supper and our beer, but lingered longer in the pleasant evening watching people strolling the Riverwalk on the north side of the Fox. Now a portion of the south side Riverwalk stretches from Oregon Street east to the Dockside. Whoever had that idea for the Riverwalk, kudos to him or her.

Boats, River, Riverwalk

Boats, River, Riverwalk

We six had been talking about a “trail ride” to the Bare Bones Brewery almost since it opened a couple of years ago. It was finally time action not just talk. It was Wednesday, June 1 and Bare Bones was our destination.

Marv and I parked in front of Don and Judy’s house a tad before five and found Gary and Elaine’s car already in the driveway. Don greeted us with “Elaine and Judy are upstairs looking at wedding dresses.” Really, what didn’t I know?

Pic from Kelly Reemtson's book

Pic from Kelly Reemtson’s book

I joined Elaine and Judy in an upstairs room. Judy was pulling dresses out of a closet. “This is what I’m wearing,” said Judy as she revealed a two-piece ivory frock. It was gorgeous—the sleeveless dress buttoned down the back. The “buttons” on the matching jacket were tiny pink silk roses.

We oohed and aahed over the workmanship of Mrs. Ju at Ju’s Tailoring in downtown Oshkosh. That woman’s a genius with needle and thread. But the show wasn’t over. There were also mother-of-the-bride dresses, prom gowns, a Baptismal dress and Judy’s own wedding dress.

“So,” I asked, “Who’s getting married?” “The grand daughter of a dear friend in France,” Judy said. Wow! Going to a wedding is cool. Going to one in France is even cooler!

Next we took some minutes to look at an art book of Kelly Reemtson, Judy’s niece. Not only was the art work beautiful – the picture titles were clever. Our son Tom enters his photos in shows. He takes a lot of time coming up with just the perfect title. So, a close up of our tabby cat becomes “Tiger in the House” and the close-up of a dandelion gone to seed is “The Big Bang.”

Judy was our designated driver that night. She took charge: Gary and Don in the back seats, Marv and I in the middle and Elaine riding shotgun and navigating.

Bare Bones Brewery on Cty. Trunk S

Bare Bones Brewery on Cty. Trunk S

It was then I realized that Judy didn’t know how to get to Bare Bones. Highway 10? Highway 76? No. No, we said. Highway 45 or else County Road S. With the calm voice of a navigator telling her to turn right in one-third mile, we got onto Ninth Avenue, then Interstate 41 and across the Butte des Morts Bridge and then the “flyway” exit onto Highway 45. Soon enough we exited onto the Ryf Road, turned onto County Trunk S and there in the bright red building was the Bare Bones Brewery, 4362 County Highway S.

We admired the outdoor patio; its pots of hop vines climbing to the roof. It looked inviting, but we went inside. The barroom is spacious; it has six tables seating 4 each and two tables seating three each. The long bar has 18 bar stools. To the right of the bar hung a sign listing the Bare Bones brews of the day. There were a lot to choose from. We ignored

Me, Marv & Hop Vines

Me, Marv & Hop Vines

the craft beers from other breweries and selected Bare Bones own. Gary, Elaine and I chose Bare Bones Alpha Pale Ale. Don and Marv chose Bare Bones Amber Ale. Jerry, the bartender filled our glasses for us. Judy, our designated driver, chose a non-alcoholic beer. Hers came in a bottle; it was not brewed by Bare Bones. “I’m used to having a candle with non-alcoholic beer, “ she said. Reader, don’t ask me why. I just write this stuff down. We raised our glasses in a toast to our friendship and also to a dear friend, Jim Flood, who recently passed away.

 

Elaine with Beer and its Makins'

Elaine with Beer and its Makins’

We pulled two tables together so we could drink our beers and talk. The only food available here is popcorn. Since that is a favorite food of Marv and Don, they brought a few dishes of it to the table. It went down well with the beer. Meanwhile Elaine continued to look at the list of beers and soon came back to the table with a sample glass of Dog Dazes. It’s an 8 % alcoholic content.  She passed it around and we all thought it was tasty.

It’s clear that Don and Gary are the newshounds in our group. They wake up to NPR, I bet. So it wasn’t

Don, the Politico Newshound

Don, the Politico Newshound

surprising that Don asked, “If the Republicans come up with a third party candidate, what keeps Bernie Sanders from running as a third party candidate?” We didn’t answer that but recalled many Presidential elections with 3rd party candidates. If you paid attention in high school U.S. history class, you should be able to rattle off a few, especially Teddy Roosevelt and his Bull Moose party in 1912 and the Dixiecrats in 1948 led by Strom Thurmond. And, George Wallace in 1967 and Ross Perot, who ran twice in 1992 and 1996. Of course there are always the smaller party candidates from the Libertarian Party or the Green Party. Well, it should make for an interesting election.

Elaine and Gary spent Memorial Day weekend fishing at Fish Lake near Hancock, WI. Of the two of them, Elaine seems to be more successful than Gary at catching walleyes, northern pike and bass. She caught three of each, all keepers. Perhaps it’s because she used leeches as bait. The very word made us shudder. Brings to mind Humphrey Bogart covered with them in The African Queen. Also as kids in Sheboygan my friends and I made a raft and floated it on the Pigeon River from 8th to 6th street. We brought along a box of salt to pour on our bare toes once the leeches grabbed hold. They’d sizzle and fall off.

 

Next Time We Will Order a Flight

Next Time We Will Order a Flight

Spotless, sparkling clean are words I’m using to describe Bare Bones. We check out the rest rooms: neat, clean. Marv found some signs on the men’s room wall that he asked me to include. One read: “Please do not put chew / tobacco or gum in urinal. It loses its flavor after a few flushes.” Another sign advertised a golf outing and a third advertised the Wednesday Growler fills at 8 dollars each. And this last one which fits our little group: “Everyone should believe in something. I believe I’ll have another beer.”We peeked through the windows into the brew room and saw lots of tall aluminum tanks and other spotlessly clean brewing equipment. We liked the sign on the door: No popcorn in the

Okay, I Won't!!!

Okay, I Won’t!!!

brew room.

The Bare Bones website currently lists eleven beers: Bare Bones Alpha Pale Ale, Amber Ale, Bitch in Heat (strawberry jalapeno), Chiquita Limon Cervesa, Dirty snout Summer Stout, Dog Daze, Happy Tail Cream Ale, Sled Dog Coffee Porter, Stone Bone and Swifty Irish Red. We’ll have to come back and try some of these. Or better still order a flight or two. Seems like most beer names reflect dogs and their behavior. One woman came in with her dog and ordered a glass of Dog Daze. Fitting. By the time we left, many more people had entered; some carrying growlers for a refill. The patio was getting filled up too.

 

Jerry, Our Bartender

Jerry, Our Bartender

We have friends who live near the Bare Bones Brewery. After they heard of our excursion there, they decided to visit. But unlike us, they did not drive their car there, rather they road their bikes along the Wiouwash trail.

It was super time and we headed back into town. This time Judy listened to five people telling her how to bet back via County Trunk S. “This isn’t going to work,” she said glancing at Lake Butte des Morts on her right and Highway 45 on her left. But it did and we entered Oshkosh on a traffic circle on Algoma Blvd. She drove slowly past the Schreiber House, a three-story red brick house that had just been moved one block up Algoma from a lot its former home next to the Paine Art Center. It was sitting over an excavation for its basement and still held up by dozens of steel beams. Then we headed for supper.

Bare Bones Back Bar

Bare Bones Back Bar

Our usual trail rides are on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. We choose those days for a couple of reasons. One, the owner’s usually working

Hot Dogs! Must be Trail's End

Hot Dogs! Must be Trail’s End

then and can answer our questions and second, the crowd’s not so big and the noise level is lower. We used to go out sometimes on a Monday, but learned some places aren’t opened on that day. However, it was Thursday April 7, National Beer Day. We had just come from Oblio’s where Jim Draeger of the Wisconsin Historical Society and Lee Reiherzer had spoken about Prohibition and the history of Oblio’s.

The last time we had been to Trail’s End was the night of our first ever rides, August of 2009. We had begun our adventure at Oblio’s on that day also. That time we ate hot dogs, sang and danced to songs on the jukebox. We were novices at this blog stuff and never asked to meet the owner or find out the history of the place.

 

Is this a Brand bar?

Is this a Brand bar?

And again this time the owner was not there. But we had learned a lot about old Oshkosh taverns since we were novices in the summer of 2009. We stared at the old back bar and agreed it looked like a Robert Brand Company bar. The Robert Brand Company would “woodburn” their trade mark on the front of the cash drawers. But those drawers haven’t stood up to the years of operation. In the Trail’s End back bar, the drawer itself is missing. Only a few decks of playing cards and other stuff was tucked in the space where the cash drawer had been.

We had been told by Jim Draeger that taverns before Prohibition did not have bar stools. Instead there was a brass foot rail along the bar that a patron could use as a foot rest. Trail’s End still has its brass rail. Indeed according to Larry Spanbauer’s book Oshkosh Neighborhood Taverns and the People Who Ran Them, Trail’s End Tavern at 500 Merritt opened in 1887 as a boarding house and tavern. It was a “frequent stop” for passengers waiting to board the trail as the Chicago Northwestern railroad station was just across the tracks from the tavern. Rail

Hmmm, is this sexist?

Hmmm, is this sexist?

passenger service is long gone from Oshkosh, but the tracks remain for Canadian National freight trains. Making use of its popularity to rail passengers the name of the tavern was Northwestern Sample Room (1902-1913) and Northwestern Buffet (1914-1920).

It was one of the few taverns that closed during the decade of Prohibition. It reopened in 1933 and took the name Trail’s End. Even though new owners came and went, it remained Trail’s End. The popularity of its “chili dogs” dates back probably to 1985 says Spanbauer.

Since we were here for supper, we chose a table near the jukebox and ordered. Marvin and I drank Spotted Cow and Elaine drank a Leinenkugle Red Pale Ale. Gary and Tom had water. Most important were the hot dogs we had. Tom had two with just catsup and mustard. Marv had one with “the works.” Gary and Elaine ordered three with “the works” and I had one with just the chili meat sauce. The works includes raw onions and the chili meat sauce. The waitress gave us lots of napkins and also produced a bunch of photos of the place from “back in the day.” The lack of bar stools and the brass rail are prominent in these pictures. And so is the back bar−the same as always minus the rack of snacks and ads.

Guess they tasted good!

Guess they tasted good!

Like most of the taverns built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the rest rooms are tiny, containing only a toilet (and urinal for men). Sinks were outside of the rest rooms. You can see that today in many old taverns in Oshkosh including Trail’s End.

Marvin and Gary looked for a Merle Haggard song on the juke box (it’s not a Touch Tune machine), but failed to find one. Since Haggard had just died, Gary thought hearing one of his songs would be appropriate, but that was not to be.

We talked about basketball—that seems to be our favorite topic. Ripon college sports banquet was a few days previous and Elaine said it was a happy event as the women’s team had done so well this year, and the men’s team also.

We also talked about the April 5 election just two days previous. It was the fist one in 15 years in which I didn’t work at the polls. But Gary and Elaine worked the early shift in the Town of Omro. Lots of voters because of the Presidential Primary.

This ends our trail rides with just the four of us. Don and Judy are leaving Florida soon and the “gang” will be back together again. We are looking forward to visiting the new brewery just northwest of the city.

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