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Our last real trail ride was in November.  The Florida folks were now back in town and it was time for a visit to some bars.  It was May 16 and over the long winter we had collected names of some.  South Main Street had our interest.  With Oregon Street closed, Marv and I usually had taken Main Street home from downtown and we’d noticed the changes going on at Overtime, formerly The Lucky Penny.

Street View of the Overtime

Hugs all around at Don and Judy’s home where we met and decided South Main Street was our destination.  We climbed into the white van and set off with Don whirling us through the four roundabouts on Ninth Avenue.  He and Marv discussed the changes in coaches for the men’s team at UW Oshkosh.  We liked that Matt Lewis had been chosen as interim coach for the 2018-2019 season. Heading east on Ninth Avenue we slipped through the intersection with Oregon Street and caught sight of the piles of gravel, giant pipes and lots of yellow heavy machinery.  A right turn onto South Main took us to the parking lot of the Menominee Nation Arena.  Might as well park there as the Maple Pub was going to be our second stop.

Marv, son Tom and I had voted early in the February 13thprimary election at City Hall and chatted with assistant clerk Angela who told us that The Lucky Penny,which had been for sale for several months,had been purchased, had a new liquor license and was being renovated.  It opened April 28.

Overtime obviously takes its name from the fact that it is just across the street from the Arena where the Herd, the Milwaukee Bucks farm team plays its games.  I knew that the building dated back to the 1910s, but surely the glass block front was added many years later.  I’ll

Elaine Making Sure We Saw the Sign

have to look that up.  We paused long enough to snap a picture of Elaine with the outdoor sign saying that it was “Cantastic Tuesday” and all cans of Busch Light, PBR, Miller Lite and Bud Light were only $1.50.  We recalled from a previous ride that these were called “shit” beers on the bar menu at Pete’s Garage.

The layout of Overtime is very similar to that of dozens of old taverns in town:  a long narrow room with the bar stretching along one wall, a large table and chairs at the entrance and a few tables and chairs along the wall opposite the bar. None of the furnishing of the former Lucky Penny remain except the large mirror and fancy woodwork over the back bar. Jamie, our bartender told us all the rest (back bar, the bar itself, and the plumbing) was new.  Where are all the pennies?  Jamie had no idea what had happened to the 24,000 pennies that used to be there embedded in the woodwork, the bar’s surface, picture frames, room dividers, etc.  We gave up looking for pennies and instead checked out the rest rooms.  Like most old taverns, the restrooms are small containing just the necessities toilet and sink.  Each had a sassy sign above the toilet:  “Take a rest” in the women’s and “Have a saet and make yourself comfortable.” In the women’s restroom, however, the sink sits atop a large beer barrel.  Another large beer barrel supports the table top at the entrance to the tavern.

A couple of games that we had never seen before caught our attention.  One was a vertical four-hole Corn Hole type of game.  Judy tried it out and followed the directions “Underhand throws only.” We used to call Corn Hole Bean Bags when we were kids.  When did that name change? Corn Hole has really become popular.  Marv says there was a national Corn Hole tournament in Las Vegas that was shown on one of the sports TV channels.  Who knew?  Another new game to us, anyway, was a version of Battleship that sat on the table.  The ships were strips of wood with holes for shot glasses:  3, 4, or 5 shots.

The tables and bar surface are beautiful wood as are the walls.  We selected seats at the bar in front of the taps:  Spotted Cow (Don, Judy, Marv and I chose that), Hopalicious (Elaine), Miller Lite, Bud Light, Door County Stout and Leinekugels Summer Shandy.

We helped ourselves to popcorn from the bowls on the bar. And Don, the only golfer in the bunch, took a golf tee advertising Overtime from another bowl.

The Overtime is taking advantage of its closeness to the Arena.  There are two basketball jerseys in frames hanging on the wall.  One, a Bucks jersey, sports Number 34 belonging to Bucks’ star Antetokounmpo, the Greek Freak and the other is a Herd jersey with Number 15 on it.  I don’t know to whom that one belonged.  There were also two TVs on the walls and a dart game.

While we were sipping our beer,Jamie set a basket of spiral cut French Fries in front of us. Their thin slightly curled shapes reminded us of thin apple slices.  At the end of the bar Kurt and

Spiral Fries! Delicious!

Serena had ordered supper.  They invited Elaine and me to taste the goodies they had:  batter fried Portobello mushrooms and battered fried bonnet head shark strips.  Very tasty. Very tasty.  I had never had shark before; it had the consistency of white fish like cod, but tasted better.  Overtime’s menu also includes calamari rings (squid, in case you didn’t know.)  That got us talking about invasive species especially those that might make their way up the Illinois River into the Great Lakes, like Asian carp.  Kurt says it’s possible that a shark could adjust to fresh water and also do this, Yikes!

The Overtime has a long list of deep fried appetizers as well as the mushrooms, and fish.  Also, they serve 8” pizzas with this choice of toppings:  Pepperoni, sausage, bacon, red onion, green peppers, Portobello mushrooms, roma tomatoes and banana peppers. A pizza oven and an Auto-Fry sit at the far end of the bar.

 

Jamie, our Bartender

Later I looked up this bar in Larry Spanbauer’s book, Oshkosh Neighborhood Taverns andthe People Who Ran Them.  Larry refers to The Lucky Penny as “the only tavern remaining on South Main Street.”  His earliest date for a tavern on the NW corner of 11thAvenue and Main Street is 1910 when the owner was Thomas Crowner.  It seems it was closed during Prohibition (Really?) but reopened in 1933 under the name Sig’s Cozy, but that owner then moved to 602-604 South

Tin Ceiling and Edison Bulb Classy!

Main in 1936.  It then became the Big Smile in 1936.  Later names were Bill’s Tavern (1942-1943), United Tavern (1945-1952), the Double R (1945-1952) and that’s when 24,000 pennies were inlaid in the bar and woodwork. It picked up the name RR’s Penny Bar in 1957-1973.  Between 1974-1975 it was JJ’s Penny Bar.  Shorty Bar (1977), Judy’s Gin Mill (1978), Heckee’s (1985), Penny’s Pit Stop (1991). Sometime after 1991 there was a Mexican restaurant and then Davie’s Catering and restaurant run out of this building.  However, I think these places used the small restaurant space on the north side of the building.  Who ran the tavern?  Marv recalls that the tavern was open while Davie’s was.  I haven’t the foggiest idea.  Since 2011 it’s been the Lucky Penny and now the Overtime.

Most commercial buildings that date back to the start of the 20thcentury had tin ceilings.  The years after that a dropped ceiling of fake tile was put into these buildings.  Now, the Overtime owners have removed part of the false ceiling and the tin one can be seen over the bar area.  Quite beautiful along with the Edison larger-bulb lights.

Alas, our visit had ended.  It was time to stroll across the street to try out the Maple Pub in the Menominee Nation Arena. Still, I wonder, where are those pennies?

Back Bar and Mirror from Former Times

 

 

 

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Well, here’s a dumb question:  Why do people go to taverns?  There’s probably a zillion answers to that questions, but here’s a quick list:

To have fun with friends

To play sheepshead

To have a drink after a long day at work or before a long day at work

To play darts

To shoot pool

To drown some sorrows, etc.

Then, here’s a second question.  Once there what do people talk about while downing a beer or sipping a Martini?  I asked my son and husband this question.  “Women,” said son Tom. “Yeah, and sports,” said Marv.  Maybe complain about work, or problems with family, and certainly politics. (although one commenter on our blog said people don’t talk about politics in bars.  Really? Wonder what bars she goes to.)   What do we six beer trail folks talk about? Well, you can cross work off as a topic since we are all retired.  But sports and current issues-city, state, country and world. Also travels, books, movies, TV shows, food, the weather.  Yeah all that stuff.

IMG_3058I’ll get back to this topic but first a digression.  We subscribe to Science Focus, a slick magazine published every other month in Great Britain.  The articles are short, well-researched and illustrated and cover just about any scientific topic, say from A to Z astronomy to zoology.  The latest issue arrived a few days ago and after I finished reading an article on the Nissan Leaf, an electric car, I turned the page to find “The Science Festival Guide.” It was a listing with pictures and web addresses of “the best science festivals happening in 2018.” The 5-page section included festivals for kids (I expected that), family, teens as well as adults-only at places like Oxford University, the Royal Society, Royal Albert Hall, as well as cities:  Bath, Cheltenham, Swansea, Manchester, etc.  And what especially caught the eye of this beer trail gal were ones that would be held May 12 – 14 in pubs located in 32 different cities in the UK, “science in pints” read the ad with web address www.scienceinpints.co.uk.  I typed in the address on my iPAD.  Yep. There it was with registration form included.

Cool! So cool, I thought, that I linked with them on my Facebook page.  Just minutes later I got a reply from former student Mark, a geography professor at the University of Oregon.  “There is a U.S. version of this called ‘Science Café’ or sometimes ‘Café Scientific.’ Sometimes they are organized by local universities even though they are off campus.  I did one last November in Colorado Springs,” he wrote.  And then he added the link http://www.sciencecafes.org. Of course I went to the website and typed in my zip code to see if there were any science cafes around here.  Five popped up:  Ashland, Menominee, Superior and two in Minocqua.  Not exactly my part of Wisconsin.  Later I learned there are some in Madison and Milwaukee.

Nada in Oshkosh.  Hmmmm, since this discovery I’ve mentioned the idea to many people-not just my beer trail buddies.  One, Joe Ferlo of The Grand said the Grand Opera House Lounge would be a perfect place. I also thought of mentioning this to science profs I know at UWO and organization like the Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance.

Would you attend one of these sessions?  They’re not a lecture where you must take notes because there will be a test next week.  But rather a chance to learn something about a science topic and have a conversation about it.  Just imagine sipping a Spotted Cow and taking part in a discussion on some scientific issue. Like why the Packers seem to have more injuries to key players than most other teams?

In the summer of 2009 when we began our beer trail rides, craft breweries were just beginning to pop up. Locally, there was the Fox River Brewery and in the southern part of the state New Glarus Brewery. And it seemed to us as if the local breweries that had been around for ages, such as Kingsbury in Sheboygan, were disappearing or gone completely or were swallowed up by large breweries such as Miller and Budweiser. So it was

looking in from outside

that on our first ever trail ride we chose Oblio’s as they were serving the original Schlitz after Schlitz had made the mistake of changing the formula of its original beer and gone from #1 selling beer in America to zilch. The “real” Schlitz was back. Even now, having been on this glorious beer trail ride nearly nine years, we usually opt for the smaller, craft breweries. You will see New Glarus’ Spotted Cow mentioned frequently in our blog posts. Having said that, we were looking forward to stopping in at The Fifth Ward Brewery, Oshkosh’s newest, on November 9, which was a Thursday.

Normally we prefer a Tuesday or Wednesday but our choices were limited. Don and Judy would be headed to Florida in a week. Marv and I were headed to New Orleans the week before Thanksgiving and Elaine and Gary were headed to California’s Death Valley the same time we would be in The Big Easy.

The founders of The Fifth Ward, Zach Clark and Ian Wenger, became brewers while students at UW Oshkosh. They lived in a rental house on Prospect Avenue in Oshkosh’s real Fifth Ward. In that house’s basement they brewed their first beer. And yes, their landlord knew they were

Me, Elaine, Gary & Marv–Happy to be here

doing this. “We read every book we could find” on the art of brewing they told us. And they served “culinary apprenticeships” under Ron Kitckes at Dublin’s Irish Pub, on Oshkosh’s west side. Finally they were ready to launch their own brewery. They say they picked the name Fifth Ward even before

The Music System

they started brewing beer.

Their location at 1009 South Main Street, in the newly named Sawdust District, is just a block north of the new Menominee Nation Arena where the Milwaukee Bucks G-League team, the Herd, plays its basketball games. I don’t know what ward of the city this is.

The Fifth Ward serves their own beer plus many others. That November 9th night, they had 22 beers in addition to their own. Don ordered a flight that included their three Fifth Ward beers plus New Glarus’ Snowshoe and Three Sheeps (Sheboygan) French Coast. Fifth Ward beers were Comb and Crocus, a honey saffron wheat ale, Burl Brown, a cinnamon molasses brown ale, and 842 Pale, a dry hopped American Pale Ale. We all took sips. I liked the Comb and Crocus. I’ve yet to develop a taste for brown ale. Well, since I’m a Sheboygan native, I also liked the 3 Sheeps French

Taps against the Wall

Coast. Then we settled in with full glasses: Judy had Outboard from the Milwaukee Brewing Company. Elaine chose the 3 Sheeps French Coast and Marv and I had the New Glarus Snowshoe. One of those 22 taps is a craft soda, Sprecher’s Root Beer.

The barroom itself is on the north end of the brewery building. It’s about twenty feet wide and 50 feet deep. Opposite the bar, seven small tables line the east wall. The taps are on the wall behind the bar, backed up to the brewery’s cooler. Therefore, no lines are needed leading from keg to tap. And they say, the beer is colder.

The bar is beautiful. Its wood is blue denim pine from North Dakota —a honey colored pine with blue veins. A fungus causes the blue coloration. For added interest, one of the bar’s boards sports a bullet hole. A man from Neenah who built the bar for the Lyon’s Den built the bar here. If

Blue Denim Pine and Brown Ale

you’ve been a faithful reader of our blog, you will recall our visit to the Lyon’s Den after it had been rebuilt following a fire that destroyed the old tavern. Look up our post on that place here: Lyon’s Den: A Phoenix Out of the Ashes at www.ridingthebeertrail.wordpress.com.

We were at the Fifth Ward on their second day after their grand opening. Seated next to us at the bar were Scott and Julie, members of the investment team. I gave them one of our cards and told them how pleased we were to see this place open. And we wished them lots of luck. There were lots of people in the place that night celebrating the newly opened brewery. We munched on popcorn and drank our beer while chatting with other patrons. Popcorn is the only food available there. However, they have made a deal with Gardina’s restaurant. One can order a meal at the Fifth Ward from Gardina’s and they will deliver it to the Fifth Ward. All the other bars we have visited have some kind of juke box \ music machine. Things are much simpler here—just a 33 rpm record player. Yep, check out our photo.

As they usually do, Marvin and Elaine went on the tour of restroom. Brand new and spotless with off-white walls. And each had a baby changing station. The men’s also had a poster advertising the Fox Valley Winter beer fest on Jan. 13.

Among ourselves we talked about our upcoming travels. Don and Judy had been to New Orleans last year and told us we must have some

Here’s to The Fifth Ward!!

beniets. I didn’t tell them that I had been there years ago and much preferred pralines to beniets. But really all the food in New Orleans is great. When my sister and I were in high school, our parents took us to New Orleans during March for a two-week vacation. My folks loved that city especially the French Quarter. My dad never passed up a chance to have raw oysters. I knew that Marv was looking forward to having some of those too. We think Elaine and Gary have been to nearly all the National Parks in the USA. We were curious as to what Death Valley would be like and asked them to look for the mule team loaded with Borax.

We had a serious conversation about another mass shooting. This time in Las Vegas. Don, sarcastically, commented that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (a Wisconsin Congressman) said, “Prayer works.” Really? Apparently God’s not listening to anyone praying for tighter gun laws. Now I am writing this post in February 2018 and there has been another mass shooting. This time at a high school in Florida. Time to write to my Congressman and Senator once more.

One last item since our visit at the Fifth Ward. Marv and I have been to a Milwaukee Bucks G-League Herd game at the new Menominee Arena just a block away from the Fifth Ward. We noticed Fifth Ward beer is on sale at the arena. We think things are looking good for Oshkosh’s Sawdust District. Now if only someone would buy the dilapidated Pioneer Inn property and build a hotel and marina there.

We had finished our beer and bowls of popcorn. Time to find a place for supper. We headed to West End Pizza.

 

Though all of us had often been to the Roxy Supper Club at 571 N. Main Street. None of us had ever been to the Roxy Lounge. Wisconsin banned smoking in restaurants sometime in the late 1990s or early 2000s. This ban also included any bar in a restaurant that was open to the dining area. This affected the Roxy as well as other restaurant and bar combinations in the state. But if the bar were in a separate room behind a closed door, well then smokers could drink and smoke in that room, but not eat. So the Roxy took a room used for private parties and turned that into their bar and smoking lounge. Then, July 2010 Wisconsin became “smoke free” and that included all workplaces and all bars and taverns.

The Roxy, A Supper Club with Lounge

Often while dining at the Roxy, I have seen people enter the lounge through a door in the dining room, but I had never ventured into it. So this night, October 16, we entered the lounge from its own entrance on Main Street. A bar runs along the north wall. The back bar lacks the fancy ornamentation of old bars. Three flat screen TVs hang over it. The opposite wall has a row of tables and chairs that are bar height. We hiked ourselves up on the last available table and ordered our beers: Elaine had Hopalicious; Don, Badger Amber Ale; Judy, Spotted Cow; Marv and I, Badger Club. Marv slapped a five-dollar bill on the bar to pay for our beers. The bartender said, “That’ll be $8.00, sir.” Marv added another five and an explanation, “We just came from Gorilla’s.”

Marv, ever the New York Yankee fan, was distracted by a Yankee game on TV. They were ahead 4 – 0 in the 7th inning. He can’t wait to see their new 2018 “Murderer’s Row.”

We know supper clubs are common in our part of the states. So we are often puzzled when some out-of-stater says they’ve never heard of them, or they have some strange notion of what they are such as expecting a large dance floor and stage. Well, some do or did have that. I remember the Flamingo in Sheboygan did; that building was torn down ages ago. There are a couple of coffee table books on supper clubs in Wisconsin and northern Illinois that I have. According to these books, what supper clubs seem to have in common is a

Back Bar of the Lounge

menu (lots of steaks, fish fries on Fridays, prime rib on Saturdays) and drinks, especially Old Fashioneds, made with brandy in Wisconsin and usually whiskey in other states. Also many of them are in the rural areas of Northern Wisconsin. My sister and her husband who live “Up North” rave about the excellent meals they eat at supper clubs in their area.

While Marv was at the bar ordering our beers, a guy from New York City in Oshkosh on business introduced himself and said he’d never heard of supper clubs, but loved the Roxy. Marv gave him our card and mentioned we’d been on this beer trail stuff since 2009. “And your group’s favorite place?” the man asked. Probably Oblio’s Marv said, but no food there, just drinks.

We moved from the Lounge into the dining room for supper. “Show of hands,” Don asked. “How many of you think Oshkosh Corporation will build their headquarters here?” “I sure hope so,” I said raising my hand. I know Marv raised his, as I would have kicked his shin if he hadn’t. The rest were doubtful. They had that “Oshkosh is never lucky” attitude. We’ve been burned too often, I guess. Lost the airport to Appleton, major shopping mall to Appleton, etc. Some people moan about losing a city owned golf course that is the site where Oshkosh Corp. will build its headquarters. Really? A golf course that costs the city lots of money each year and no profits? A golf course that many city golfers don’t like playing on it? And no one can call it a “public park” since its bordered by No Trespassing signs and a rock filled shoreline. Here’s a quick update: A few weeks later, Oshkosh Corporation decided to build on that site in the city; ground breaking is set for April. Hurrah!! Play golf at Westhaven.

Our other topic of conversation was the Wisconsin Herd, a G-League basketball team of the Milwaukee Bucks. Their arena on South Main Street was nearly finished. Going to any of their games? Marv and I, who don’t go south in the winter unless its to Fond du Lac, said we certainly hoped to get to some as long as they did not conflict with the UW Oshkosh Titans. The Herd and its arena, the Menominee Nation, is another plus for the city.

Time to order dinner. Usually Marv and I are here on a Friday, fish fry night, or Tuesday, German night. Regardless of the day, I always choose blackened salmon. Elaine, Marv, and Judy had the mounds of shrimp. Gary, (we are going to start calling him Wimpy—as in the Popeye comic strip) had a hamburger and fries. Don, the birthday boy, had surf and turf. By now our waitress, Cassie, knew it was

Elaine, Cassie and the Birthday Boy

Don’s birthday so she arrived at dessert time with a small cake and candle. While Don blew out the candle we sang Happy Birthday. Many people sitting at the nearby tables joined us in our singing.

We left by the main entrance to the Roxy that meant we passed through the large oval-shaped bar that separates the two dining rooms. That’s the bar Marv and I sit at on Friday nights after the University Club’s cocktail parties and have a Manhattan. The best in town, we think.

Our October 18th trail ride was also Don’s birthday. So we printed him a card that showed him celebrating an earlier birthday also on a beer trail ride. That October we were at Mario’s (now replaced by Chester V’s) and Don was looking at a birthday candle stuck in a scoop of fried ice cream. After kidding Don about being a year older and looking at all the smart alecky cards he had received, we piled in the

Elaine, Don and 400 LB Gorilla

white van headed toward Gorilla’s at 1309 Oregon Street. We had been here before, but then the tavern had a different owner and name. Chillerz. Since then it had become 10 Pin Tap, but we never got there. Now it’s Gorilla’s. Owners are Cooter and Momma. After they purchased the place last spring, they have done a lot of remodeling.

As we parked in front, a car passed us with its horn beeping and passenger and driver waving. “Who’s that?” We asked. Don laughed, “My golfing buddy Dennis and his wife Lisa.”

We walked up the two steps leading into Gorilla’s and seated ourselves at the bar. We noticed that there are no taps here but a large refrigerated case with glass doors that showed an impressive selection of beers. Marvin and Elaine chose Killian’s Red, Don had a Rolling Rock, Judy a Corona Light and I had a Spotted Cow. After my first sip, Marv pointed out that I could have had a Pabst Blue Ribbon. (I’ll have to tell nephew Steve about that. It’s his favorite beer.) Gary, our designated driver, had nothing.

 

Back Bar with Cooter

We gave Cooter our card and were telling him about our blog when the door swung open and Dennis and Lisa popped in. Turns out they were celebrating their 37th wedding anniversary. So we raised our glasses in a toast to them. They knew about our beer trail

Happy Anniversary Dennis and Lisa!

rides and were tickled pink to find us on one.

Then Cooter and I had a nice chat. He wants to get his hands on a copy of Larry Spanbauer’s book Oshkosh Neighborhood Taverns and the People Who Ran Them. I know the book’s been sold out for years and I also know I’m not giving up my copy. Elaine says the book’s not copyrighted, so legally anyone could print one for himself or herself. According to Spanbauer who printed his book in 2012, this location has been a tavern since 1906. During Prohibition it sold soft drinks and near beer. There’s a picture in the book of the interior of this tavern in 1940 when the bar was named Cy’s Casino. What’s interesting about that picture is the absence of the elaborate back bar which the place has today.

Cooter and Momma previously ran a bar on Oshkosh Avenue (also called Gorilla’s). We had been there when it was known as Sawyer Creek Pub. (You can read about our visit there at this web address http://www.ridingthebeertrail.wordpress.com. Then type Sawyer Creek Pub in the search window.) Both back bars are the same! I remember looking for the Robert Brand Co. trademark there and not finding one.

Back Bar Capital

Wish we could find out who made these bars.

Gorilla’s calls itself more than a tavern. It’s a “neighborhood Bar and Grill.” So we could have had a supper there of the usual tavern fare. But chose not to. Cooter told Gary that he was installing a new device and soon would be serving crab. Watch for it in December. Now that’s certainly different from the usual burgers and pizza.

We took a tour out back to the outdoor patio and the sand volleyball court. Yes, Gorilla’s sponsor teams for volleyball and pool. Maybe more, but those were obvious. “What’s this?” I asked pointing to a large square board with numbers and pegs. “Hmmm, looks like Plinko!” Anyone who’s watched the TV show “The Price is Right” knows this game. We wanted to

Plinko, Anyone?

play a game, but the board wasn’t installed yet. It had been Momma’s idea to have a Plinko board in the tavern.

Meanwhile our talk was about traveling. Marv, son Tom and I had spent a few days in Chicago celebrating Marv’s birthday. His birthday dinner at Shaw’s Crab House started with raw oysters and a bourbon Manhattan. I skipped the oysters, but not the Manhattan.

Don and Judy were in Door County a few days with their Florida friends. These friends are French and live in France half of the year and the other half (winter, of course) in Florida. They had never been to Wisconsin. They were impressed with Door County, especially Death’s Door and the Lake Michigan shoreline. I think many of us Wisconsinites don’t realize the significance of the Great Lakes. They are the largest supply of fresh water in the world. And, of course, great for all kinds of recreation. The beaches at Sheboygan (my home town) were great for swimming as well as “working on one’s tan.” Elaine and Gary are headed west to Las Vegas, boating on the Colorado River and visiting Death Valley.

Nothing Subtle About This Sign

We had fun reading all the clever signs in the men’s and women’s restrooms. As well as the ones on the back bar. We admired Cooter’s chute that quickly sent empty cans and bottles on their way to recycling bins.

We’re not too sure why this place is called Gorilla’s. Maybe because of the 400-pound gorilla statue at the front door. No one is going to steal that easily! Whatever the reason, Marv thinks Cooter should dream up a Jane Goodall martini.

Our last stop on Friday, August 18 was Christine’s. And it’s the reason we had a beer trail ride on a Friday. Those egg rolls! We’d tasted them on November 15, 2014 when we stopped at the original location of Christine’s on Oregon Street. Now jump ahead to April 17, 2017 – the day after Easter – when Marv and I stopped at Tamara’s, The Cake Guru to buy some cupcakes. To our dismay Tamara’s was closed and so was Christine’s which was just across the street. Tamara’s would be open the next day, but not Christine’s. The building was up for sale.

Christine’s Classy Sign

However, a few weeks after that we learned Christine’s was relocating to 686 N. Main Street in the former home of Daisy’s Western Saloon. Ah, the egg roles. Also, we learned that Christine’s served suppers. Make a reservation the group urged me. I called and learned that Friday was the best date and no earlier than 7:00 PM. And that’s why we were riding the beer trail on a Friday. We weren’t going to go another day without those egg rolls.

Gary, our designated driver, drove us from Molly McGuire’s on Campus Drive to Main Street and snagged a parking space in front of Christine’s. We entered the front door and found a very different décor from the previous Western stuff. The floor plan was the

The First Bar at the Entrance

same. Just inside the front door is a long bar. That one was closed. To find the second bar, we walked through an area with lots of game machine, three pool tables and a dance floor. This bar is square with seating on three sides. We were the only ones there. Since this was our supper stop, we ordered our beer at the bar and carried it to a table. Marv, Elaine and I drank Blue Moon; Judy had a Spotted Cow and Don Dos Equis.

Our table was one of several in the dining area around the bar. A large American flag decorated one wall. We think that was leftover from Daisy’s days. We also saw some of the artwork that had hung in the former Christine’s. Marilyn for one.

Stacie, our server, brought us the egg rolls. Yes! Just as we remembered them! We had these as our starters; although we could have had deep-fried chicken feet or chicken gizzards. When it came to ordering supper, Marv and I stayed with Midwest food and had chicken tenders and fries. But Gary and Elaine and Don and Judy chose Pho. According to Stacie, Pho takes a long time to make, like twenty-four hours. It’s a soup that’s a delicious

Elaine, Chopsticks Expert

blend of beef consommé, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, srircha sauce, fish sauce, fennel and coriander, in addition to noodles, bean sprouts, basil and lime.

Elaine and Gary impressed us by using the chop sticks to fish out the noodles, meat and veggie pieces from the broth. It was a skill they learned while travelling in China. Judy and Don used soupspoons, but we snapped a picture of Don drinking the last of the broth.

While eating we talked about books. We are all avid readers. Marv and I had read The North Water and liked it, calling it a very well written novel of British whalers getting

Good to the Last Drop

stranded in the ice of the Artic Circle. It’s one of those books in which only two survivors make it back to England. One survivor is the epitome of evil and the other not. The blurb for the book said anyone who read Melville’s Moby-Dick and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness should read The North Water. Well, that included Marv and me. Don had also read it, but was not as impressed as we were. Elaine and Gary read Paddle to the Sea, a Caldecott Honor Book, and also saw the movie. They encouraged us to read and watch it also.

Meanwhile Stacie brought us a treat—lemon drop shots. She set a plate of lemon wedges dusted with sugar on the table and a shot of Limoncello (I think) in front of each of us. “Down the shot and then suck on the lemon slice. Gary watched, but did not partake. Each of us did as we were told except for Judy who sipped her drink. Then Stacia brought us a second tray of shots. She called them Nova, I think. They were foamy and pale green. I much preferred the lemon.

After our dinner we took a closer look at the game room and played a little with Big Daddy Blackjack. Judy looked for a quarter machine, but, alas, none was there. We saw a game machine we hadn’t seen in any other bar—a Boxer Machine. We didn’t try that.

By this time it was after 9:00 PM and a few other patrons were at the bar. We wondered if a band would be playing soon, but didn’t hang around to see if that would happen.

Care to Dance, Anyone?

What? The Beer Trail 6 went out on a Friday? Really? We always joke and say Friday is for amateurs. However, it was necessary. We started at Don and Judy’s with a beer, cheese and crackers and a chance to talk. Their 50th Wedding Anniversary was just a few weeks away. Elaine, Gary, Marv and I had a surprise gift for them: a book on how to make Parisian cocktails including some of Hemingway’s favorites, and a set of eight coasters. Each coaster had a photo of one or both of them from our beer trail rides. The coasters were made by Camera Casino in Oshkosh. After hugs and laughter and a bottle of beer (but no beer for Gary our designated driver) we got in the white van and headed for the University neighborhood.

We were going to Molly McGuire’s, a popular UWO hangout east of the campus at 539 Campus Place. Since the fall semester was still a couple weeks down the road, Campus Place was deserted. Gary parked the white van in front of the of the bar.

Elaine snapping me snapping Molly’s

Except for the bartender Rick, (not the guy from Casablanca) the place was empty. The interior was not what I expected. A college hangout—let’s see: large empty room, beat up furniture, sticky floor and bar surface, etc. A place my hairdresser calls a “Meat Market.” Nope, not here. The back bar was elegant carved wood from the Athearn Hotel, a high-class hotel in downtown Oshkosh that closed and was torn down in 1964. Gaslights that used to light Oshkosh’s downtown in the Victorian era hung from the tavern’s ceiling. To the left of the forty-foot bar a short staircase led to small balcony with a few tables and chairs, a perfect place for a quiet conversation or whatever. Tiles on the ceiling also come from the Athearn. A second bar down the hall was cobbled out of an antique sideboard. All in all we were impressed with the place and could understand why Molly’s calls itself a nightclub. The dance floor with a stage for a DJ is in an adjacent room visible through glass doors.

Judy on the Balcony

Before we toured the place, we gave Rick our card and ordered our beer. There were only five taps and Spotted Cow was not among them. Oh well, New Glarus’ Moon Man was available and we drank that. Though I think Don had Dos Equis. Is Don Oshkosh’s “most interesting man”? Molly’s also calls itself a Grill. Its menu lists typical pub fare: burgers, fish fries, wings, quesadillas, club sandwiches, mac & cheese, etc.   Plus for an additional $2.00 they will deliver any dish from their menu, but no liquor. You can see the complete menu on their website:

Speaking of liquor, Marvin was interested in the top-shelf liquor: Makers Mark, Knob Creek bourbons; Boodles, Sapphire, and Bombay gin, and, somewhat surprisingly, Johnny Walker Blue. Rick said he pours about two bottles a year of JWB at $25.00 per ounce. Well, maybe if I aced a tough course, I’d buy a shot of that.

Since parts of the Athearn Hotel are at Molly’s I looked up some information on it. It was the jewel of

Our bartender, Rick

the city when it opened in 1892. It was another of William Waters’ architectural designs. At that time Oshkosh was the second largest city in Wisconsin. I think now it is 7th or 8th. The five-story hotel was across the street from The Grand Opera House. Supposedly there is a tunnel underground that ran from the hotel to the Grand so that entertainers could access the theater without being accosted by theatergoers. When I asked Joe Ferlo, the manager of The Grand, if there is a tunnel, he didn’t say yes or no. Hmmm, I think that part of the tunnel must still be there, but Joe doesn’t want nosy folks to look into it. The entrance to the tunnel (if there is one, he said) is bricked off. The Hotel’s main floor had 16-foot ceilings. The second floor rooms were suites. All rooms had bathrooms and fireplaces.

By the 1960s downtown hotels in mid-sized cities were falling out of favor as motel chains sprang up along the highways luring an automobile population to stop there. Downtown hotels in other Wisconsin cities have suffered also. In my hometown, Sheboygan, the Foeste Hotel is long gone. A motel and restaurant have replaced it. In Oshkosh the other downtown hotel, the Raulf, is now low-income housing. The Retlaw in Fond du Lac spent many years as low-income housing, but is now undergoing renovation and will be a “luxury boutique hotel” by 2018. In Green Bay, renovations of the Northland Hotel have stalled over investor and money matters. Yet it promises to be an elegant downtown spot whenever…

But back to Molly’s. Without students, the place was quiet. We talked about Elaine and Gary redoing their kitchen countertop. Marble? Or laminate? We fooled around with one of the

Wow! Shocking Pink

few game machines. Elaine had brought along her IPhone and took many pics. Nice additions to the ones I took. And Marv checked out the men’s john and declared it neat and very clean, but lacking in a “health center.” Elaine and I checked out the women. It too was spotless. We liked the magenta counter tops with stainless steel sinks. And the Miller High

The High Life Gal

Life sign with the gal riding on the crescent moon. Wish Miller’s had not done away with that.

As I write this, the semester is underway. I’m sure Molly’s is crowded on weekends. We wonder if the young people who spend their weekend night there dancing, laughing and drinking even glance at the remains of the once elegant Athearn Hotel.

Our beer glasses were empty. We’d looked into every nook and cranny. Time to check out Christine’s–the main reason we were out on a Friday

Except for the bartender Rick, (not the guy from Casablanca) the place was empty. The interior was not what I expected. A college hangout—let’s see: large empty room, beat up furniture, sticky floor and bar surface, etc. A place my hairdresser calls a “Meat Market.” Nope, not here. The back bar was elegant carved wood from the Athearn Hotel, a high-class hotel in downtown Oshkosh that closed and was torn down in 1964. Gaslights that used to light Oshkosh’s downtown in the Victorian era hung from the tavern’s ceiling. To the left of the forty-foot bar a short staircase led to small balcony with a few tables and chairs, a perfect place for a quiet conversation or whatever. Tiles on the ceiling also come from the Athearn. A second bar down the hall was cobbled out of an antique sideboard. All in all we were impressed with the place and could understand why Molly’s calls itself a nightclub. The dance floor with a stage for a DJ is in an adjacent room visible through glass doors.

Before we toured the place, we gave Rick our card and ordered our beer. There were only five taps and Spotted Cow was not among them. Oh well, New Glarus’ Moon Man was available and we drank that. Though I think Don had Dos Equis. Is Don Oshkosh’s “most interesting man”? Molly’s also calls itself a Grill. Its menu lists typical pub fare: burgers, fish fries, wings, quesadillas, club sandwiches, mac & cheese, etc.   Plus for an additional $2.00 they will deliver any dish from their menu, but no liquor. You can see the complete menu on their website:

Speaking of liquor, Marvin was interested in the top-shelf liquor: Makers Mark, Knob Creek bourbons; Boodles, Sapphire, and Bombay gin, and, somewhat surprisingly, Johnny Walker Blue. Rick said he pours about two bottles a year of JWB at $25.00 per ounce. Well, maybe if I aced a tough course, I’d buy a shot of that.

Since parts of the Athearn Hotel are at Molly’s I looked up some information on it. It was the jewel of the city when it opened in 1892. It was another of William Waters’ architectural designs. At that time Oshkosh was the second largest city in Wisconsin. I think now it is 7th or 8th. The five-story hotel was across the street from The Grand Opera House. Supposedly there is a tunnel underground that ran from the hotel to the Grand so that entertainers could access the theater without being accosted by theatergoers. When I asked Joe Ferlo, the manager of The Grand, if there is a tunnel, he didn’t say yes or no. Hmmm, I think that part of the tunnel must still be there, but Joe doesn’t want nosy folks to look into it. The entrance to the tunnel (if there is one, he said) is bricked off. The Hotel’s main floor had 16-foot ceilings. The second floor rooms were suites. All rooms had bathrooms and fireplaces.

By the 1960s downtown hotels in mid-sized cities were falling out of favor as motel chains sprang up along the highways luring an automobile population to stop there. Downtown hotels in other Wisconsin cities have suffered also. In my hometown, Sheboygan, the Foeste Hotel is long gone. A motel and restaurant have replaced it. In Oshkosh the other downtown hotel, the Raulf, is now low-income housing. The Retlaw in Fond du Lac spent many years as low-income housing, but is now undergoing renovation and will be a “luxury boutique hotel” by 2018. In Green Bay, renovations of the Northland Hotel have stalled over investor and money matters. Yet it promises to be an elegant downtown spot whenever…

But back to Molly’s. Without students, the place was quiet. We talked about Elaine and Gary redoing their kitchen countertop. Marble? Or laminate? We fooled around with one of the few game machines. Elaine had brought along her IPhone and took many pics. Nice additions to the ones I took. And Marv checked out the men’s john and declared it neat and very clean, but lacking in a “health center.” Elaine and I checked out the women. It too was spotless. We liked the magenta counter tops with stainless steel sinks. And the Miller High Life sign with the gal riding on the crescent moon. Wish Miller’s had not done away with that.

As I write this, the semester is underway. I’m sure Molly’s is crowded on weekends. We wonder if the young people who spend their weekend night there dancing, laughing and drinking even glance at the remains of the once elegant Athearn Hotel.

Our beer glasses were empty. We’d looked into every nook and cranny. Time to check out Christine’s–the main reason we were out on a Friday.

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