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The beer trail riders began in August of 2009 with the idea of visiting these old places and have a beer or two.  It was never our intention to delve into a tavern’s history, but if the owner was in the bar, we were going to ask.  So it was that first night that Jerry’s owner Steve said Jerry’s was the oldest tavern in Oshkosh.  Some months later, Acee Duecee said that was nonsense, though Herbie didn’t say it quite so nicely.

The guys at Oblio’s have pictures that show their bar in much earlier times, but most of the information we gathered back then was from present day owners and more hearsay than fact.

Then along in 2012 Larry Spanbauer published his book Oshkosh Neighborhood Taverns and the People Who Ran them.  If you’ve

Front Cover of Larry’s Book

been reading our blog over the years, you know we refer to Larry’s book frequently.  That’s because he provides a detailed list of dates and owners of the 70 or so taverns that were in existence when he wrote the book.

Larry’s original intent was to write a book about the tokens taverns handed out to customers.  He does that very well.  But it so happened his book and our trail rides occurred at the same time.  Seeing our struggle to find the background of a tavern inspired him, so he told us, to expand his book to include the dates and owners of the tavern as well as the name changes.  We did not know this until he gifted us with one of his books.

We found his information very helpful in determining the history of a tavern:  when it came into existence, who owned and operated it over the decades, what changes were made to the tavern’s name, etc.  We found of particular interest what happened to the tavern during Prohibition (1920-1933). Some ceased to exist, some became restaurants, (rumor says Oblio’s became a Chinese chop suey place).  Some bars sold near beer and soft drinks. Supposedly Jerry’s became an ice cream parlor, yet beer and hard liquor were available in a back room. Wink. Wink. We were once shown where the “secret” door was that led to the booze.

Larry’s book also contains pictures and articles on taverns that had closed their doors, been torn down, etc. before 2012 when his book was published.  A number of these were in the college area on Wisconsin Street.  Some had already been demolished by the time the six of us moved to Oshkosh (late 1960s). A few like Tosh’s, Andy’s Library, and the Titan Tap were around but long gone by the time our beer

typical pages in Larry’s book

trail rides began.

Larry’s book provides an historical account of the tavern business in Oshkosh. He answers questions of when and where and why taverns flourished in the city.

His book is on the table beside my notebook every time I write my first draft of a tavern visit.  But it’s more than just a list of taverns, their owners and pictures of bar tokens.  For in it you can see how the city echoed the national worldwide events:  World War I, Prohibition, Depression era, World War II, the loss of factories along the Fox River and so on.  Although his book is out of print, we know he gave a copy to the Oshkosh Public Library.  Check it out.

Thanks, Larry.

 

Pages showing tokens for drinks

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The Howard, originally the Eagles Club House, on Washington Avenue, had just completed a thorough remodel under the guidance of Senator Ron Johnson’s two daughters.  It was open now on the 23rdof October, but only until 6 PM.  Therefore we six set out earlier than usual from Don and Judy’s in the white van. Washington Avenue and other streets in the area were in the last throes of repaving, but Don found a way to the

One of The Howard’s bars–coffee here.

new parking lot (formerly a gas station).

We walked across the lawn (sidewalk wasn’t rebuilt yet) to the front door and recalled the other two attempts at restoration: the Electric Lounge in 2011 and Studio One at Washington Square in 2013.  The Studio One owners had ambitious plans for the place; plans that got thwarted months later when a heavy rain flooded the bowling alleys on the lower level of the building.  The place sat empty until the two sisters decided to renovate it to its former glory. Work started in 2017 and was nearly complete by October 23 when we stopped in.  The café on the first floor was open and a few people were there sipping coffee and working on their laptops.

Don stepped up to the counter and asked what beer was available.  “None” was the reply.  They had mainly a variety of coffees and juices.  Well, can we see the changes that were made? We were given a brief tour of the ballroom—very nice.  But the bar wasn’t open on the north side of the ballroom.  “Can we see the bowling alleys?”  “No.” “Why not?”

We looked at each other.  Decision made.  “Let’s go to Jerry’s.”  We left mumbling about a possible return months later.

Think this guy could use a beer!

Jerry’s Bar, home of the Otter Street Fishing Club, is just a short distance away by car, but miles away in atmosphere.  It had been decorated for Halloween, but not the cute stuff with smiling pumpkins. Rather it was festooned with macabre witches and ghouls.  Jerry’s was one of the first stops we made on the evening we began our beer trail rides back in 2009.  Then a huge set of antlers hung from the ceiling with an assortment of women’s bras dangling from their various points.  A few years later, the antlers were still there minus the bras (part of the #metoo movement?).  Now the antlers are gone; I don’t know why.  To Judy’s delight a quarter machine has been added.  We gave it a try and had our usual bad luck with that.

Usually at this time of day Scotty, the owner, would be behind the bar, but not tonight.  Instead a pleasant guy was there eyeing the clock as he only had to work another 30 minutes or so.  We all ordered October Fest served in frosted mugs.  All, that is, except for Gary who would now be our

Marv and guest chat about California

designated driver. There were a few guys at the end of the bar and another guy who struck up a conversation with Marv.

The November election was not far away.  We did not talk politics, but rather early voting. There’d been a push for early voting. Gary and Elaine had to vote early in the Omro Town Hall, as they would be on a trip to New Orleans on Election Day. Wisconsin’s early voting is not the same as absentee voting in which a ballot is mailed to the voter, who fills it out and mails it back in.  Instead it is done in person this time at Oshkosh City Hall’s city clerk’s office. One other time it was in the council chambers at City Hall and once even in the convention center downtown.  Marv, son Tom and I voted the third day that early voting was available without any problems.  Don and Judy voted a week or so later and said the corridor to the City Clerk’s office was jammed with voters.  Now, weeks after the election, we all know the turnout of voters was one of the highest ever in a fall bi-election and we were glad we voted early before the rush.

Jerry’s Bar has only two TVs—one to the left and one to the right of the back bar.  An endless drone of weather reporting was on one.  The other had the three other bar patron’s raptly watching Home and Garden TV. That’s right—not one of the umpteen sports channels Spectrum TV offers.  What’s the world coming to?

We had time for one more stop and that was going to be a supper spot.  We decided on the Mexican restaurant, South of the Border, on Oregon Street.  We drained our beer glasses and left.

All the goodies at Jerry’s

DD’s BBQ’s bright pink food truck, the Dirty Pig, has been a common sight at Oshkosh farm markets and community picnics for several years now.  But late summer 2018 they opened in the former Ohio Street Station site at 815 Ohio Street.  This spot had been a tavern for decades.  There’s no parking on Ninth or Ohio, but there is a small parking of sorts on the corner of Ohio and 8thand also behind the tavern and a couple of  stores clustered there.  That’s where Gary parked the white van on September 12, our second beer trail stop. But rather than enter via the back door, we walked around to the front door on Ohio.  I crossed the street in order to get some pics of that place.

Since we were there for supper as well as beer, we took a table for six in the dining room.  It is the front room of the tavern.  It has seven tables with red and white-checkered vinyl tablecloths.  A big photo, 6 feet by 3 feet of the Dirty Pig food truck hangs on one wall.  The truck looks like it was once a yellow school bus.

Also seated in the dining room was a large party of the Red Hat Ladies.  One of them is a bobber friend of mine at the 20thStreet Y.  I snapped their pic.  The next day in the Y pool I asked her if she was familiar with the poem by Jenny Joseph that inspired the Red Hat Society.  No, she didn’t, so I looked it up online.  It’s called “Warning” and begins “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple with a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me…”.  You can find the complete poem online at poemhunter.com by typing in the title and Jenny Joseph.  It was in the British Lit. Anthology I used when teaching at Lourdes. An assignment I used with it was to ask them to write their own “When I am old…”.  Interesting to note that Josephs wrote the poem when she was 29.

  Carrie, our waitress was at our table to take our orders. Not that we were surprised, but Judy forsook beer and had a brandy Manhattan.  Elaine, Don, Marv and I had Bare Bones Amber Ale.  Nice to see a local brewery’s beer in a local restaurant. Gary, our designated driver had water. We started out with baskets of appetizers, the very popular battered deep fried veggies.  Of course our supper choices were all bar-be-que dishes from Marvin, Don and Judy’s BBQ ribs and chicken combo, Elaine and Gary had pulled pork sandwiches, as did I.  There were three bar-be-que sauces on the table:  hot, sweet, and mild.  Marvin said he didn’t like strangers pulling his pork so he ordered ribs and chicken.

Since it was September, the new TV season was just beginning so we talked about that.  We had watched “Magnum P.I.” which we

The Red Hat Ladies

thought had little in common with the original.  Higgins is a woman, former MI6 agent.  Don had watched “This Is Us” but no one else had.  We own the DVD’s of the early Perry Mason shows and usually watch one of those rather than reruns or shows like Survivor.  One of the good things about watching the old Perry Mason shows we don’t have to mute all the political ads.  And, yes, we did talk about the upcoming election.  All six of us are voting early.  I started doing that when I was a poll worker and was never working at my polling place.  Now it’s just easier, I guess.

After our meal we stopped at the bar for a chat with the bartender.  He knew about our blog, as he had been the bartender at the Maple Pub when we visited that place.  He also told us the D and D stand for David and Deb, the owners.  We snapped a photo of two employees who raved about the place. The barroom is separate from the dining room.  The bar itself is a large rectangle

The Riding the Beer Trail Six

with the liquor arranged in racks in the center. Two TVs hang over this center space. There are ten taps including beers from two local brewers:  the 5thWard and Bare Bones.  Also Pabst on tap.  Gotta tell my nephew about that.  There are also four gaming machines, three tables and a smaller than regulation size pool table.

When we were at this bar back in 2010, Larry Spanbauer’s book Oshkosh Neighborhood Taverns and the People Who Ran Them, had not been published.  All I knew was there had been a tavern on this corner run by a Nigl for ages.  According to Spanbauer, Joseph Nigl opened a grocery store and tavern in this current building in 1884.  The grocery store was in the part of the building that is now the dining room.  I have learned that such combinations were popular back then.  He ran this business until 1921.  Mr. Nigl was also an alderman from the 6thward from 1905 to 1918 and president of Peoples Brewing Company.  Mary, his wife, and Alois Kinatedor ran the tavern and

Elaine and Marvin with the Dirty Pig

grocery store from 1921 to 1936. The tavern’s name was Nigl’s Gemuthlichkeit Tavern.  In 1936 John Seibold became the owner.  He kept the name and moved the entrance to Ohio Street.  I’m guessing that the grocery part had ceased to exist by this time. From 1943-1942 the owner was Claude Boushelle and the name was Claude’s Bar.  In 1948 it was again a Nigl owned tavern.  Francis “Punky” Nigl changed the name to Punky Nigl’s Bar.  He also ran the Nigl’s tavern across the street that was called Nigl’s Chieftain.  From 1972 to 1975 Alvin Nouse owned it and called it Al and Pat’s Bar.  From 1978 to 1981 it was called O’Malley’s Pub and owned by William Rodhe and James McLaren.  In 1982 through 2007 the owner was Gary Basler and the name changed to Ohio Street Station.  That name stuck until DD’s BBQ took over, but there were two different owners.  In 2007 to 2010 the owner was David Toss and in 2011 Janet Schneider.

Spanbauer’s book also includes a full-page picture of the place with a band standing at the entrance.

Now that summer has left us and the last outdoor farm market was October 27, I think we will have to wait until next spring and summer to see the Dirty Pig food truck again, but we can always stop in at DD’s BBQ Company for some pulled pork.  Except for Marvin.

Taps at DD’s BBQ Company. Cheers!

We’d let a whole month slip by without a beer trail ride.  Time to get going.  We chose The Hangar at 1485 20thStreet, as our first stop on September 12. True to its name, the Hangar sits on the edge of Wittman Field.  The east-west runway is clearly visible from the patio behind The Hangar.

We parked in the gravel parking lot behind the building. No one was seated at the outdoor patio, but had there been an air show it would have been packed.

We weren’t here for dinner, just beer, so we bypassed the relatively empty restaurant and entered a very crowded barroom.   It was the

Landing at The Hangar

tail end of Happy Hour so there was a deal on the beer.  I’m not too sure what it was, but the bartender kept handing us a lot more change than we expected.  Don and Elaine drank Alaska Amber; Marv, Judy and I had New Glarus Spotted Cow.  Gary, our designated driver, had nothing.  We took a small table away from the circular bar where we all could sit down, talk, drink and munch on popcorn.

Originally, this restaurant and bar were known as The Charcoal Pit.  And the burgers and brats were grilled over charcoal.  It also had an aeronautic theme.  The owners decided to retire and the business passed to a daughter and son-in-law a year or so ago.  So, except for the name, some menu changes, and a few decorative changes, the place seems the same.

The Hangar plays up its aeronautic theme with lots of photos of planes and parts of planes–a large wooden propeller from an old plane hangs on one wall.  Photos of EAA participants and / or their planes hang on other walls.  One photo shows the maiden flight of the China Clipper flying over the Golden Gate at San Francisco before the Golden Gate Bridge was built.

 

Seaplane Overhead

All this led us to talk about our flying adventures. We agreed the glamor of flying is long gone.  I recalled flying British Airways to London back in the early 1980s with my mom.  Our dinner came on real dishes with real silverware and glass tumblers.  Not any more. All of us had stories of delayed flights, lost luggage, crowded seating.  Sigh.  Somehow makes train travel sound good.

Three men and nine bottles of Coors were at a table next to us.  We assumed they were in Oshkosh for some aviation event, but we were wrong.  They were here for a golf tournament at the Oshkosh Country Club.  Did we know where that was?  Don and Gary did and told them the course was very nice, though I don’t think they’d ever played it.  We suggested that since they were in Wisconsin (the Chicago area was their home) that they should drink our Wisconsin beer:  Spotted Cow.

Judy and Don come from larger families than the rest of us and are the youngest among their siblings.  Judy told us one of her older sisters had died.  Not unexpectedly as she had been ill for a very long time. “She was a great cheerleader in high school,” said Judy.  So Judy practiced the cheers.  She took us back to a time when football cheerleaders wore long full skits and bulky letter sweaters.  And the cheers were very different too.  With that we began reciting some that we remembered:

“Baby in the high chair

Who put her up there?

Sis, boom bah

Golden Raiders Rah! Rah! Rah!” (The Golden Raiders were Sheboygan North’s team.)

 

And Also from North: “Two bits, four bits / Six bits a dollar/ All from North High/ Stand up and holler.”

 

Or this one:

“Big apple Little Apple

Suzy Q

C’mon team we’re rootin’ for you!

With a struttin’ to the left

And a struttin’ to the right

C’mon team let’s

Fight! Fight! Fight!” This one was from Chilton.

At Marvin’s high school in Illinois, they didn’t strut—they boogied.

And, of course “Let’s do that locomotive/ And do it slow…”

Nothing better than popcorn with a beer.

The kids in the stands in those days knew all the cheers and yelled.  I’m not saying that was better than today, just different.  Now at the college games we go to, the cheerleaders are mainly doing stunts and their outfits are skimpy compared to those worn in the 50s and 60s.  They no longer call themselves cheerleaders, but instead refer to themselves as stunt squad members.

Oops, our glasses were empty and we had decided that our second stop would be our supper stop.  We said good-bye to the guys from Chicago and left the bar.

 

We left Knuth’s and walked down Ripon’s main street to Roadhouse pizza.  Along the way Judy, Elaine and I commented on the women’s ready-to-wear shops pausing to gaze in the windows.  We lamented the loss of such shops in Oshkosh, especially my favorite The Gilded Lily.

At Roadhouse Pizza – Love the Sign

Ripon’s Watson Street was lively this Wednesday afternoon.  Watson Street is a very wide boulevard.  I always liked them.  My Sheboygan home was on a boulevard.  Like most, this one held many trees and flowering shrubs as well as streetlights.  But Ripon’s is much wider, more like a park with benches and statues.

Roadhouse Pizza sits on the corner of Watson Street and Madison. It occupies two storefronts.  We entered the one that took us right to the bar that is very long and this day was crowded. All except Gary (our designated driver) had a beer.  Marv and I had Ale Asylum Ambergeddon.  There were eleven beers on tap and an additional 24 available in bottles.  If Marv had waited for me to choose what I wanted to drink we would probably still be there.  So, he chose for me.  As usual there was the Miller Lite but why drink that when you could have on tap Tyranena Balling the Queen, or Blue Moon Summer Wheat, or Goose Island Project No. 1 Scotch Ale.  Among the bottled or canned beer were many I had never heard of like Toppling Goliath Light Speed, or White

Beer Lists on the Back Bar

Claw Raspberry, or Zywiec, or Flying Dog – Bloodline, or one I had heard of, 3 Sheeps Fresh Coast IPA.

Since we were out of the range of Larry Spanbauer’s book on Oshkosh taverns, I relied on the website for Roadhouse Pizza to learn of its background.  Like a lot of Oshkosh taverns, Roadhouse Pizza is located in an old building that dates back to the 1870s.  Their website says it was “at various times a saloon, a battery shop, a piano and music store, and an ice cream shop.  In 1959 the space was a restaurant named Mill’s Grill which later became the Maple Lunch Restaurant, then the Happ Inn Restaurant and finally in the 1970s Gus’s Pizza Palace.” Roadhouse moved from Fond du Lac to Ripon in 1978.  It underwent major renovation in 2009 – 2010 adding another adjacent storefront.  Its current owners are Andy Radke and Alisa Zabel.

I gave Elaine my camera and she snapped some pictures of the back bar and the murals on the walls.  She says this place is very popular

One of the many murals

with high school and college sports teams as a place to celebrate after a game.

We carried our beers outside and sat at a table enjoying the late afternoon sun.  Across the street sits the original Marcus movie theater, the Campus Theater.  It opened in 1935.  Marcus theaters are sprinkled across the Midwest; most of them are multi-screen with reclining seats and full menus.  If you want to attend a movie, you select the seat you want and the time of day.  Except for Tuesdays, the cost is around $12 to $14 dollars. According to Elaine’s friend Bev, at this Marcus Theater no reservations are needed and the seats are unassigned.  And, the cost of a movie is only $5.00 and has been that for years with no plans to raise the price.  Antman and the Waspwas that night’s movie. We talked about going to the movies “back in the day” when you could buy a ticket before 6:00PM and get in at a lower fare.  Once inside you could stay as long as you liked.  Most theaters showed double features; some ran movies for 24-hours. One of my dad’s patients told how he and his brother would spend the night in a movie theater while travelling to avoid the cost of a hotel room.  That’s going a little too far.

 

Enjoying our beer on the patio.

We were wrong to think that we were escaping the EAA crowds, for soon some settled at a table near us.  Not hard to see that they were here for the EAA because not only did they have the entrance bracelets on their wrists, but their hats and shirts had aviation prints.  Where from? we asked.  Washington and Idaho.  We gave them our card and urged them to try a Wisconsin beer like Spotted Cow.

Though I thought a dinner of pizza would be great, Elaine and Gary wanted us to try a Mexican supper at El Fogon.  This place was on our way back to Oshkosh at 800 W. Fond du Lac Street.  Gary, our designated driver and probably the only one who knew how to get to this place, drove.  As we walked inside, Judy asked, “Do we have to drink beer?  I’d rather have a Margarita.”  The place was busy (all of Ripon seemed busy that night).  The wait staff pushed a couple of tables together to make room for the six of us and handed out menus.  We ordered drinks.  Judy had a large Margarita that came in a large bowl-shaped glass. Elaine and Don had blended Margaritas; I

The Original Marcus Theater

had a medium Margarita that came in a tumbler.  Marv ordered a Mexican beer and Gary asked for water.

Most of us ordered tacos or enchiladas. I chose a salad. Hard to avoid talking about the EAA. Marv and I told them about the book The Oshkosh Connectionby Andrew Watts that is thriller set (at least the last half) at the EAA.  The leading character is a CIA agent for the US who works with a female Canadian agent.  He is an experienced pilot, but mainly is on the track of an international opioid group that is intent on wheeling and dealing at the EAA.  A US Senator and his aerobatic flyer daughter are also involved. Lots of fun reading.

The last of our Mexican food and Margaritas were gone. It was time to move on.  One more stop before home-ice cream at the gas station at Pickett.  Nothing like a double dip cone on top of a Margarita and tacos.  Great night.  But we’ll be riding back in Oshkosh the next time.

Whoa!! Judy’s Margarita

 

 

We were thirsty, but the EAA was in town.  Great time watching planes fly over, but not a good time to visit Oshkosh taverns.  What a dilemma!  We decided on a road trip to Ripon, home of Ripon College, the Republican Party and Rippin Good Cookies.  The cookies are long gone, but the college is doing just fine.

First Stop: Ripon College

One of the legs of this trail ride took us to the athletic center.  In 1973 Elaine introduced women’s athletics to the campus thanks to Title IX. She became the head coach for women’s volleyball, basketball and track and field, a title she held for 20 years.  The college has since seen fit to recognize her achievement by creating a Wall in her honor within the newly renovated college’s sports center, Willmore Center.

How cool is that!  We took pictures of The Wall and Elaine next to her picture and sports statistics emblazoned on The Wall.  Her teams

Congratulations Elaine!!

won 10 conference championships during her 20-year career. Then we toured the athletic and fitness center.  We learned that Ripon had received a huge grant from the USDA to help fund the expansion and fitness center of what was then called the Storzer Center.  Judy and I tried out some of the weight lifting equipment.  The fitness center is open to Ripon residents for just $15.00 per month.  Good deal!

C’mom. Judy! You can do this!

We continued our tour of the building and checked out the Red Hawks suite that overlooks the basketball court.  We left untouched the bottle of Chardonnay Ste. Michele cooling in the refrigerator.  We’re on beer tours, not wine, for heaven’s sake.

We were impressed with the red surface of the indoor track.  And both Marv and Don got in the runner’s start position, but didn’t dash off.

All this made us thirsty, so we drove to downtown Ripon to visit Knuth’s Brewery at 221 Watson Street.  David Knuth is the head brewer and founder of this craft brewery. He credits his father-in-law who gave him a homebrewing kit for his bachelor party for getting him interested in brewing beers.  On the brewery’s website he also credits George Washington who not only was the commander of forces during the Revolutionary War, but also our first President.  And, he also had a brewery at his Mount Vernon home.  We hear it has recently been started up again.

 

Brewmaster Ryan

Knuth’s was jumping.  We met Ryan the head brewer and placed our order.  Elaine had a Blue Eyed Blonde, Marv and I had Red House Ale, Don and Judy shared a flight of six Knuth beer: an APA, Citra Spice, Honey Wheat, Hefelwiese, Blue Eyed Blonde and one other I forgot to write down.  Usually a flight comes on a long narrow tray that holds the small glasses of beer in a line, a flight line.  But not here.  Instead they had a wooden tray shaped like the state of Wisconsin (but not as big) with niches to hold the glasses.

We chose a table just off the end of the L-shaped bar. Across the room from us was an arrangement of padded

A Wisconsin flight!

leather couches and chairs.  In front of the bar were two long wooden benches with small tables.  The benches, I’m sure, were formerly pews in a church.

In addition to being a brewery, Knuth’s is also a restaurant.  That explains the cookies and tortes in a case next to the bar.  Elaine and Gary who have dined there told us the food was very good.  Knuth’s has a pretty good menu with neat appetizers such as cream cheese and smoked salmon and several different kinds of crackers. Also a soup of the day made fresh every day from scratch, wood-fired pizza, several interesting wraps and sandwiches, a pretty full menu according to Elaine.  But no burgers, reminded Elaine.

On the wall next to the bar and close to us was a chalkboard advertising a token system.  For 5 dollars you could buy a beer for the person whose name you had written on the board. A woman tried to explain this procedure to us, but I think she had had one too many or else I was just too dense to understand.  Marv votes for “one too many.”

While we were there, Don and Judy told us about their trip to Morocco to attend a wedding.  They were in Rabat which they described as a lovely city cooled by breezes off the Atlantic Ocean.  Inland, however, was a different story—hot and dry.  Alas, they did not get to Casablanca to see Rick’s place, although Don had a bottle of Casablanca beer while there.

Alas, our glasses were empty.  We avoided the woman at the bar who now wanted to give us (mainly the guys) hugs.  Time to move on.

Where the good beers are made

Our second stop on June 18 was The Granary.  But before I get into that I need to talk about socks.  It seems it’s only been recently that socks have become so popular.  I’m not going to speculate why that is, but rather mention that there are now catalogs that just contain socks.  I remember how cool argyle socks were with white bucks, but that was ages ago.  Socks seem to be a popular gift now like handkerchiefs were in

Marv’s Beer Sox

my grandmother’s day. For purposes of the beer trail rides, Marv got himself a pair of sox with beer mugs on them.  He wore them this night.  Not to be outdone, Don slipped on a pair given to him by one of his daughters.  Clearly Don’s are meant for that time of day when you kick off your shoes and lounge in your recliner, while Marv’s are meant to be seen out and about.

Don’s beer sox

Gary, our designated driver, drove us from The Spot to the Oregon Street Bridge and made a sharp left turn on 6thAvenue to avoid the construction on Oregon.  We remembered when the Granary was a granary called H. P. Schmidt Milling and the tower of the building showed the red and white checkerboard trademark of Purina.  When we moved to Oshkosh in the 1960s it was still a granary milling grain and dispensing farm and garden supplies.  Marv and I bought bags of marsh hay there.  Gary and Elaine bought birdseed; Gary also drove loads of his neighbor’s grain there for milling.  Judy’s father farmed across the lake, but took his grain to H.P. Schmidt.  Judy recalled riding along with him when she was just a young girl.  Years later when it became a restaurant, she brought her parents there for dinner.

In 1982 it ceased to cater to farmers and was remodeled into a restaurant called The Granary.  The dining room was in the tower; the bar and lounge were in an addition built on the east side.  The dining room seating was on three levels that surrounded an open space that reached up to the top of the tower.  This restaurant closed in 2004.  In 2007 it reopened as Club Element, a sports bar and dance hall designed to attract

Spiffy new sign

UWO students.  But that didn’t work out, probably because there were many other bars and dance halls closer to the University.  After that it sat empty until 2017.  From what I have heard it took a Herculean effort to clean up the place.  The tower section became office space.  The east side now holds the bar and restaurant.

In the fall of 2017, we beer trail folks talked about dropping into this place, but Don and Judy were soon to leave for Florida. “Don’t go,” they asked, “until we get back.”   Marv and I meant to honor their request, but our Assemblyman Gordon Hintz’s birthday party was held there on Nov. 29.  We had to go. However, we just had a beer or two, some snacks and offered him congratulations.  We did notice that the place looked somewhat the same as it had back in the 1990s.  Most

H. P. Schmidt Sign still hangs above bar.

noticeable different was the Purina checkerboard up on top; it had been painted a dull solid gray

Gary parked the van in a parking lot space off the west side of the building and we walked past the newly installed outdoor seating to get to the door on the east side which took us into the barroom.  The bar is the same one from the former Granary. The H. P. Schmitt Milling sign is still on the wall above the back bar.  Like so many other bars today, the Granary also has strings of Edison light bulbs. On the upper level the stone fireplace was blazing.  Three of the 8 tables had patrons eating supper.  Some of the original stonewalls of the original granary building still are visible.  And some of those still have spots of the red and white paint of Purina.  What luck for us beer trail folks domestic beers and pizzas were half-price this night.  We ordered beers at the bar.  We had a lot to choose from:  30 tap beers all from Wisconsin and 31 choices of bottled beer.  Don had a Johnny Blood (an old timer Green Bay Packer) Red from Titletown brewery in Green Bay.  Elaine had Ale Asylum from Asylum Brewery in Madison.  Marv, Judy and I had New Glarus Spotted Cow.  Judy commented on Don and Elaine’s choices saying, “I’m very impressed by your venturing out, but I like my Spotted Cow.”

We sat at a table in the barroom that had a lovely wood top and ordered our half-price pizzas.  Marv and I split a 10” duck comfit and bacon pizza.  Going with the “build your own choice,” Don and Judy chose fresh mozzarella, Italian sausage and mushrooms.  Elaine and Gary bought two pizzas so they would have leftovers to take home:  a mozzarella, prosciutto and mushroom and a chicken primavera.

Our table conversation was about food and drink. Marvin told one of his favorite stories about dining out with his mother.  When the waitress asked what kind of wine she wanted, Adeline couldn’t decide.  So she said to Marvin, “Oh, something innocuous.” Marvin then asked the waitress “Do you have any innocuous?”  “I’m sorry,” the waitress said, “This is only my third day at work, but I can ask the bartender.”  At

Fireplace adds warming touch

Our duck Comfit pizza. Yum!

that point Adeline saved everyone (Marvin and the waitress) from embarrassment by saying, “Oh, just bring me a Chardonnay.”  Judy and Don talked about dining out in Paris and a delicious meal they had of rabbit cooked in honey. I told about our experience with rabbit. For a few years, I would prepare a dinner of something different for New Year’s Day.  One year I chose rabbit.  Tom who was about five at the time asked what “That was.” Before I could say anything, his older sister Brenda leaned across the table and said, “Don’t eat it!  It’s a bunny, Tom.” Tom looked anxiously at Marv and me.  “Yes,” we said,” it’s rabbit.”  Well, that was the end of a pleasant meal.  He cried.  Brenda had a smug “I told you so” look on her face.  Marv and I ate the rabbit.  It was delicious.

We were pleased to see the Granary opened again. There are high hopes for a commercial resurgence on the southeast side of the city.  Just a few blocks away is the Menominee Nation Arena.  And there is talk that the last Miles Kimball building on South Main will be renovated as an office building with an outdoor restaurant and bar on the roof.  Keep your fingers crossed, Oshkosh.

Outdoor Seating

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