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The Experimental Aircraft Association 2019 convention was over; our getaway to Green Lake was past.  We were back in the city and eager for a beer trail ride.  We even had a place picked out:  The Beehive, but more about that later.  We wanted to start out with an old standby, a place where we could just have a beer and hang out.  We settled on Acee Duecee.  You can scroll back through our posts and find an earlier mention of this place on Oregon Street.

By the time we piled in the white van and backed out of Don and Judy’s driveway, it was already after five.  Nevertheless when Gary parked on 14thAvenue around the corner from Acee Duecee, we noticed the place seemed dark. Elaine jumpedout to check, and, sure enough, the front door to the tavern, which fronted Oregon Street,was locked.  What’s up with that we wondered.  Next Elaine knocked on the side door, which was on the avenue we parked on,and it slowly creaked open.  We were the first

Pilots photos of planes

customers of the day.  Guess the owner Bob Pollnow, who lives upstairs, wasn’t watching the time or had a good TV show on.  “I’m running late,” he said, adding, “I’m open now.”

Bob is Herbie’s son.  The bar’s full name is Herbie’s Acee Duecee.  Bob’s the third generation to run the place.  The five of us who drink had Spotted Cow, one of the four beers on tap. Gary stayed dry, ready to ferry us to the next place after we’d had our beers.

It’s not hard to tell that this place is an EAA hangout. Photos of planes signed by their pilots hang on the walls.  A large yellow model airplane hangs over the pool table.  Many more photos cover the walls of the backroom that decades ago was a bowling alley.

Shortly after we arrived another couple dropped in.

Our first visit here was in October of 2009.  Herbie himself was our bartender then.  This was before Larry Spanbauer’s book Oshkosh Neighborhood Taverns and the People Who Ran Themwas published.  I remember a discussion we had with Herbie whether his tavern was older than Jerry’s (said to be the oldest tavern in the city.) Obviously Herbie thought his tavern was older since the building housing Acee Duecee was built in 1876 as a grocery store. By 1883 it became a tavern, one of the

Bob Showing our Old Card

oldest in the city.  Anton Koplitz ran the place from 1883 to 1888. His wife and son ran it after that as the John Koplitz Sample Room until 1891.  More Koplitzs, Theodore and Frank, took over the business and ran it as the Brooklyn Sample Room.  They built an addition on the back that housed four bowling alleys.  By the way, this south side of Oshkosh was known as Brooklyn at the time.  I have no idea why.  Spanbauer doesn’t say what happened to the tavern during Prohibition, but I’m guessing it probably stayed open because of the bowling alleys.

The next owner Spanbauer mentions is Alois Kinatedor (1939-1944) who named the place Koplitz Tavern.  In 1944 it was sold to Jim Pollnow, Herbie’s father.  He’s the one who named it Acee Duecee, after a popular dice game.  And now Herbie’s son Bob runs the tavern.

Since we had last seen Don and Judy we knew that they were driving to Michigan, to listen to their

Plane over Pool Table

granddaughter perform at the music camp in Interlochen.  Whenever I talk to anyone who has visited lower Michigan I have to ask how they got there:  via the bottom of the lake through Chicago and a corner of Indiana or over the top across the Mackinac Bridge that connects St. Ignace in the upper peninsula to Mackinac city on the lower peninsula of Michigan.  They went via the Mackinac Bridge; it took them seven hours from Oshkosh to Interlochen.

This is not the bridge to cross if crossing bridges makes you nervous and fearful.  My Grandma Lala was terrified of crossing bridges.  You could hear her rosary beads clicking if she were crossing the Mississippi River, for example.  She’d get through at least a couple of decades crossing this bridge that is nearly 5 miles long.  There’s a story that says a Yugo car was blown off the bridge in 1987.  It now averages 11,600 vehicles per day.  Oh, by the way, Marv and I crossed it on our honeymoon oh so many years ago.

Don and Judy came home on the car ferry S. S. Badger that crosses Lake Michigan from Ludington, MI to Manitowoc, WI in fourhours.  I’ve gone via the bridge and via Chicago.  Next time, I’ll try the S. S. Badger.

By this time our glasses were empty, time to move on. We left discussing the easiestway to get tothe Beehive.

EAA Member Photo of His Plane

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Back in the Day

Thanks to a couple of ancient history and archeology classes I took as an undergraduate, I knew that 5,000 or more years ago Middle Eastern and Egyptian people knew how to brew beer.  It was, so they say, safer to drink than water.  That doesn’t say much for the water at that time!

I figured by today’s brewing standards, that ancient beer would be pretty nasty tasting stuff.  However,a recent article in the British magazine Science Focus, July 2019 has changed my mind. The article, “Unbeerlievable: Ancient Egyptian ale recreated from 5,000 year-old yeast,” describes how microbiologist Dr. Ronen Hazan at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, co-leader of the study, made the beer.

Researchers from the university were examining shards from pottery jugs found in the middle east that were at least 5,000 years old. In the cracks and pits of the jars were bits of yeast, also 5,000 years old.  As any beer drinker knows, yeast is a necessary ingredient in beer.

They must have said, “Hmmm, do you suppose we can grow this yeast and make some beer?”  So these scientists sequenced the genomes of the yeast strains.  They found a match with the yeast currently used to brew traditional African beers and a “still popular Ethiopian honey wine ‘tej’ as well as ‘modern beer.’ ”

The beer these scientists produced from the ancient yeast created an “aromatic and flavorful” drink with six percent alcohol content.

After brewing the beer from the ancient yeast, the scientists tasted it.  Dr. Hazan commented, “By the way, the beer isn’t bad.”

Interesting I thought.  I’ve been on a few archeological digs in Winnebago County, Wisconsin,but we never uncovered pottery shards with yeast granules. Shucks!

I knew beer was around for centuries.  Certainly Europeans from theRoman era onward made beer.  That was ahousewife’s job.  And everyone drank it, from the youngest kid to the oldest adult except for the upper, upper classes.  They drank wine.  Remember, water wasn’t safe to drink.  Having read Wolfgang Schivelbush’s book, Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants, I learned the importance of beer for Europeans in the Middle Ages.  He writes: “Prior to the introduction of the potato, beer was second only to bread as the main source of nourishment for most central and north Europeans.”  Again, no drinking water!  I can understand that in medieval Europe, as all waste products tended to find their way intorivers and lakes.  Want to get sick?  Drink the water.  Even our Puritan and Pilgrim ancestors made and drank beer (even the kids) and avoided fresh water.

For all you experimental chefs out there, here’s the breakfast dish Schivelbush included in his book:  Breakfast was not Cheerios with a sliced banana, but rather beer soup made by heating beer, adding a chunk of butter, stirring in some cold beer and scrambled eggs. Pour that hot mixture over bread and Presto! Breakfast.

All this leads me to wonder what did it taste like? Marv’s comment: “I’d bet it tasted better than Budweiser.”  He’s such a beer snob!

 

P.S. This morning I read an article in the New York Timesabout some archeologists and scientists who discovered 5000-year-old yeast used to make bread.  You guessed it!  They took that and baked a loaf of rye bread and said it tasted great.  Who knew?

On Monday, May 6 we six riders of the Beer Trail bunchhad found a night we were free to visit a couple of bars.  We had been talking about this for days, but something always came up.  We even knew where we were going—Monkey Bars, 1013 Oregon Street.

Here we are!!

Like most bars in town, this one has been around for decades, but now it had a new name.  The leasee likes monkeys, hence the name.  She assured us the name had nothing to do with her cliental. And the back bar is loaded with stuffed monkeys.  Denise, bartender Leased the bar,formerly known as the Oregon Club,on November 30. She knew she wanted the word “monkeys”in the bar’s name. She considered Monkey Business, but dropped that and went with Bars.  Though laid out like most old Oshkosh taverns, this one sits in the middle of the block, not on a corner.  And its first floor front is cream city brick not wood siding.  By the way, Cream City brick is the name given to a pale yellow/cream colored brick, which  supposedly came from brick yards in Milwaukee.

Just past the front door is the main room of the tavern with a long bar running along the north wall.  On the south side are tables and chairs and farther back a fireplace. We think it is the only bar in town with a working fireplace.  Then there is a back room with a pool table.

 

Denise, the owner, at the taps

We weren’t the only people there at 5 p.m.  Gary and Alanda were there throwing darts.  Alanda was very good.  She told Don that she’d been in some dart tournaments.  They were playing against another couple “remotely.” She also told Don that she’s Mormon and her husband is Lutheran.  That got us talking about marriage preparations when there’s a mixed marriage. She and her husband went through one with the Mormon church.  Marv did sowith the Roman Catholic Church.

That led us to talk about when and where we three couples got married.  For Marv and me it was the Newman Center, St. Paul’s, in Madison on State Street.  Back then (1962) it was a small church at the bottom of Bascom Hill across from the University Library.  Our reception was at Troia’s also on State Street.  Since then St. Paul’s has rebuilt into a much larger church, and Troia’s was replaced by a MacDonald’s and now that has been torn down. But we are still married, leading Marv to believe there’s something to this miracle stuff.    Like us, Gary and Elaine were married in their

Judy and Don at the Monkey Bars

college town, Athens, Ohio, home of Ohio University, when they were students.  The wedding took place at the church that they attended there.  Don and Judy were married in Chilton, Wisconsin – no college or university there.

Back to Monkey Bars: on our first round of beers we all drank Spotted Cow from New Glarus, Wisconsin.  All except Gary,our designated driver.  On a second round Don switched to Blue Moon complete with an orange slice.

Monkey Bars also serves food; the choice for Monday was hot beef sandwiches.  And though that sounded tasty, we had picked a different spot for dinner.  Choices for the rest of the week were Tuesday, Sloppy Joe; Wednesday, Turkey or chicken; Thursday, Tacos; Friday, Italian

Beef. What?! No Friday night fish fry? Saturday, BBQ pork, chicken or beef; and Sunday, Hot Ham and Cheese.

Also, like many Oshkosh taverns, there are meat raffles. The last one was June 23. Supposedly 16 people participated.

We asked Denise if she had ever heard of Larry Spanbauer’s book on Oshkosh taverns.  Yes, she had,and produced her copy from the back bar. The book wasn’t in print when we had been here before and Monkey Bars w

Check out all the Monkeys

as known as the Oregon Club.

We looked up the tavern.  According to Oshkosh Neighborhood Taverns and the People Who Ran Them (Larry’s book),

Charles Nenn opened up a tavern at this location in 1898.  From 1905 to 1920 the owner of the Sample Room was Jacob Embs. Larry writes that Frank Steinert owned it during Prohibition, but Larry didn’t say if it was a tavern during that time. It re-opened as the Oregon Street Tavern in 1936 by the owner Oscar “Happy” Marquardt.  It kept that name for 40 years even though the ownership changed to John and Elmer Muza.  In 1973 the name changed to Oregon Bar and in 1974, under Garylord Weitz ownership, to the House of Gaylord.  Then in 1978 to the Ball Park owned by Dan Baerwald and in 1979 to Tuffy’s Tavern owned by Albert Likes and in 1983-1991 by Darwin Kisnert.  Later, 1994, the name changed to Rusch’s Bar.  Finally in 1997 it became Oregon Bison and Elk.  At this point 2012, Larry’s book came out.  But we know it then became the Oregon Club and now Monkey Bars.  I wish I knew if the fireplace was in the original bar.

Just a couple of weeks ago I learned the Park and Print at 150 Jackson Street had reprinted Larry’s book.  On their Facebook page, they announce that they had “more books available after being sold out.”  Price is $25.00.  Guess a lot of people want to know about Oshkosh taverns!

We had looked at all the monkeys (and there are dozens of them) and finished our beers.  We all scratched ourselves under our arms and then moved on to someplace for supper, our knuckles dragging on the sidewalk as we shuffled along.

 

 

 

Our blog,Riding the Beer Trail,is not the only blog about beer in Oshkosh.A far more historical and serious one is Lee Reiherzer’s “Oshkosh Beer:  Brewing, Pouring and The History of Beer in Oshkosh Wisconsin.”   Whereas we write about our actual tavern visits, Lee tellsthe history of brewers and breweries in the city and Winnebago County.

Lee’s book with a Blu Bober

So it was no surprise to us that he wrote a book entitled Winnebago County Beer:  A Heady History.(You gotta love that pun!!) At one o’clock on April 6, the Fox River Brewing Company held a book sale and signing in its taproom.  Of course we weren’t going to miss that!  We met Elaine and Gary there just a few feet away from the table where Lee sat signing his book.  Gary and Elaine had already snagged us a table and beer glasses. We were happy to see friends of ours, Ron and Kenlyn Akin,there.  Ron is a collector of beer memorabilia and aco-author with Lee of The Breweries of Oshkosh: Their Rise and Fall.

Even though it was early afternoon, we decided to have a beer.  Elaine had an IPA, Marvin had Marble Eye Scottish Ale, and I had Fox River Brewery’s newest beer, a Red Bobber.  I’ve been a fan of its Blu Bobber that comes with blueberries floating in it.  The Red Bobber has a nod to raspberries, but alas, there are no raspberries floating in the beer.  But these “fruity” beers make me wonder what other fruits might come along? Hmmm, a pear? (There already is apple in hard cider) Orange? Lime? Grapefruit?­–well, maybe not.

Lee’s book is only 175 pages long, but covers the history of breweries in Winnebago County from the 1840s to present day.  It’s a paperback with a gorgeous cover showing a night picture of one of the four bridges that cross the Fox River in Oshkosh. The bridge is lit up in bright pink lights.

Though I haven’t read the book yet, I did look at the “Chronology of Winnebago County Breweries” and learned the first brewery in the county was Lake Brewery started in 1849 in Oshkosh and closing in 1868.  Of the 31 breweries listed, 21 were or are in Oshkosh, 5 in Menasha, 2 in Neenah and one each in Butte des Morts, Omro, and Winneconne.  The most recently opened is High Holder at 2211 Oregon Street in Oshkosh,in O’Marro’s Public House.

As I mentioned, we knew some people there, the Akins and Lee, of course.  But not many others.  Elaine and I were impressed by one fellow who was wearing a pair of Oshkosh B’Gosh bib overalls.  How did we know they were B’Gosh? They still had the large paper label attached to the right pants leg.

We figured a second beer would not be a good idea as Marv and I had one more afternoon stop­–Mass at 4:30.

 

Ready to Read Lee’s Book

 

While our beer trail buddies were sunning themselves in Florida, Marvin and I were keeping our eyes on the local tavern scene.  One place especially caught our notice:  Pixels Arcade and Sports Bar at 2049 Witzel located in the strip mall at Washburn and Witzel.  We picked a night we were free, Wednesday, March 27 and set out.  Without Don and Judy (who are still in Florida) we piled into Gary’s roomy Honda.  We had a fifth passenger, our son Tom, sitting in for Don and Judy.  Buckling up seat belts in the back seat of Gary’s Honda CRV took some maneuvering, but we managed.

Pixel’s Arcade is located in the southern part of the former Kodiak Jack’s restaurant and bar building.  That was a popular

All set for some fun!

steak house and bar that closed in 2015. Entering Pixel’s one would never guess this place had once sported an outdoor Alaska look with dioramas of Alaskan wilderness complete with stuffed grizzly bear, elk, eagles and other Alaskan wildlife.

Now the walls are painted a deep blue; the bar is a rectangle set up in an open space.  No back bar, no stacked shelves of liquor.  The emphasis definitely falls on the rows of arcade games.  We sat at the bar and ordered our beer from Lynsde, the bartender.  The tap beers came in two sizes, we chose the 16-ounce.  Marv and I had Spotted Cow and son Tom had a Fanta.  We are pleased that Pixel’s sells Coke products!  Elaine had a Blue Moon complete with Orange slice. Gary, our designated driver had nothing, not even water.  Marv struck up a conversation with the owner

Lynsde, our bartender

Rob.  He told us the place opened on March 15thwith about 45 to 50 “attractions.” Its Facebook pages show many pictures of the renovation.  I asked him why he decided to open a place like this.  His answer and smile were quick, “I got divorced, so I could do what I wanted.”

The room is filled with game machines– four dart ball games, oodles of arcade games including “Joust” and “Double Dragon,” and “Vanguard,” 3 flipper pinball machines: “Iron Maiden League of the Beast, “Family Guy,” and “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.” There are also three pool tables, a Skee Ball game, two Hydro

Marv and Rob talk game machines

Thunder games, and an Air Hockey game.  A father and his daughter were playing that with much excitement.  There are many TV sets mounted on the blue walls just below the ceiling and above the games. All were showing sports shows. The open spaces left in the room are filled with tables and chairs.

We took our drinks and sat at one of the many tables and decided what games to play.  There was a quarter machine!  Too bad Judy wasn’t here, we said, counting out our quarters.  Tom had never seen such a machine.  Well, we told him, you drop in a

Tom learns about quarter machines

quarter which falls through a slowly spinning wheel onto a sliding tray or shelf of quarters and hopefully knocks some other quarters off the shelf.  These fall on other quarters and could push one or more though the slot and into your hand.  I tried first-no luck at all.  Then Elaine dropped in five quarters one by one and eased one quarter out!

Next she and Marvin renewed their rivalry at the Ripley’s Believe it or Not pinball machine.  Marvin says this machine at one point dropped two balls simultaneously. Owner Rob had told us that the pinball machines made the most money and that he was ordering a couple more.  We think that’s because the player gets to do more than just watch the action on a screen. This time Elaine was victorious earning 3,035,900 points to Marv’s 1,585,170.  Nice going Elaine!

Marv remembers playing pinball machines at the Hampshire, Illinois, bowling alley.  While his folks bowled on their teams, he took his pocket full of dimes (that’s what a game cost then) and played pinball.  Rarely my sister and I had a chance to play when our folks took us out for supper at a bar/restaurant in Sheboygan.  Remember that in Wisconsin kids can be in taverns as along as their parents are with them.  I certainly wasn’t very good at the game, but liked seeing the balls bounce off the lighted stops on the game.

We found Pixel’s to be a fun place.  We liked seeing kids and their parents playing the games, eating pizzas and generally having fun.  Pixels has designated times for kids to be there and designated times for them to leave.  (I think 8:00pm is the latest they can be there.)  The place has a cacophony of noises from the games, the laughter of the kids and their folks.  We could have stayed there for supper as Pixel’s serves eleven varieties of pizzas. We also noticed on Pixel’s Facebook page that they stage tournaments.  Neat place!

Marv watches Elaine win

When in Rome…

Do as the Romans. Heard that often as a kid and knew that it meant you did not order Chinese food at a restaurant in Rome.  So too in Wisconsin, you’d order a beer and brat especially in my hometown, Sheboygan.  And if you were visiting California? Well, then you’d visit vineyards and sip wines.  Hmmm, well maybe that was then, but there’s a new “now.”

On our last two visits to California we hadn’t been to a single winery. Actually that’s not true.  We did go to one, but that was just to pick up a standing order of my daughter and son-in-law for some table wines.  However, breweries? Yeah. They seem to be popping up all over in the Yolo, Sonoma and Napa counties.  The counties loaded with the fields of grape vines and wineries.

So it was on our last visit, Thanksgiving 2018, as the “Camp Fire” 80 miles north died down and the air cleared of smoke from a rain that we spent a sunny day in Sacramento and lunched at the Sacrament Brewery.  Our table was on the lower level nestled next to the brewery paraphernalia—a long row of stainless steel vats.  A few minutes later a few young people were bustling around the vats, draining this one and checking valves on that one.  They were the owners of the brewery.

We meet the Sacrament Brewery Crew

Marv and I introduced ourselves to them and handed out our “Riding the Beer Trail” cards.  We told them our blog started in

2009 after our first “ride” to Oblio’s, Trail’s End and Jerry’s.  Presently we have had about 70,000 hits.  And we know it is read by people in 70 different countries.  Oshkosh issues 134 class A liquor licenses a year we told them feeling smug.  “Oshkosh, Wisconsin, has five micro breweries at last count.,” we bragged (and slightly exaggerated),  “Every city and town in the Fox Valley from Green Bay south to Fond du Lac has at least one.  Well, no, guess that Fondy doesn’t have one…yet.  But they will soon.”

“Can I take your picture?” I asked.  “I’ll write up a blog post about your place.”

Michael, my son-in-law, reminded me as we drove back to their home in Woodland that there are many other small breweries in the area. He mentioned The Blue Note in Woodland. Of course I had been there.  It’s not unusual to find students from UC Davis drinking a beer and studying their notes for their university classes.

And we had visited another one where they offered a flight of seventeen!! beers to sample.  A quick Google search says there are 17 craft breweries in Sacramento.  Wow! Maybe Wisconsin should annex Sacramento.

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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