“Would you like to see a collection of Oshkosh beer memorabilia?” Elaine and Gary asked us.  It was just a week before we flew to California for Thanksgiving with our daughter Brenda and her husband Michael.  “Whose collection?” I asked.  “The Akins.  They live on the circle just down the hill from your house.”  “Set something up,” I said. “We’ll be back December 3.”

So, on December 4 we drove down the hill to Kenlyn and Ron Akin’s two-story brick home on the “circle.”  I was still recovering from the time switch from Pacific to Midwest time zone, and it didn’t help that our flight from California to Appleton via Minneapolis had left California at 6:00 AM their time (4:00 AM ours).  I tried not to think of how many hours of sleep I had lost.

We’ve known the Akins for many years.  Kenlyn and I worked together back in the 90s with the National Writing Project at UW Oshkosh.  And Ron, like Marv and Gary, was a university professor at UWO.

After a few minutes of chit-chat, we were led to the basement of their house to begin our tour.  Now I don’t know what your base

Dressing like the “Chief”

ment looks like, but mine, except for a pool table, really looks like a basement.  Washer, dryer, ironing board, trunks and boxes of stuff, furnace, sump pump etc.  The Akin basement, however, was a series of rooms as classy as anyone’s classy living room:   rugs, comfy chairs, couches, end tables and lamps.  One room was a barroom complete with bar, tables and chairs.  No bare concrete blank walls or cement floors.  I have no idea where such basement utilities such as a furnace and water heater were.

Oshkosh has had lots of breweries since its beginnings back in the early 1800s.  Most likely because the population, especially during the mid to late 1800s consisted of large numbers of immigrants from Germany, Austria etc.  These were beer brewing and beer drinking folks.


Ron’s collection is dedicated to Oshkosh beers, mainly Chief Oshkosh beer, but also including People’s Beers and earlier Oshkosh brewers.  It’s like being in a small museum with glass display cases.  Filling the walls are neon signs, trays, and advertising signs and posters.  Cabinets hold old glass bottles, and cone-top cans.

We don’t know exactly when Ron began his collecting of Oshkosh beer memorabilia, but we do know that he attended UWO as an undergraduate back in the late 50s and lettered all four years on the basketball and track teams.  A cluster of photographs on one wall in a basement room showed him in his basketball uniform ready to take a shot and displayed many of the sports awards he had won.

Celebrate the Chief

After a few years teaching high school and being a basketball and track coach, he returned to college and earned a master’s degree and then a PhD at Indiana University.  Then he returned to Oshkosh and became a professor in the physed. department.  That was in the early 1960s.  Not only was he a professor but also a track coach.    He is also in the UW Oshkosh athletic Hall of Fame.

He told us his collecting began when he and his son were out camping and fishing.  They found some old Oshkosh beer bottles in a junk heap.  His interest was kindled..  Later at an auction he spotted an old Chief Oshkosh sign which he proudly pointed out to us.  While we sat in comfy chairs in his basement barroom, Ron told us the stories of several pieces in his collection.  We think he’s proudest of the Chief Oshkosh brewery as he dressed up like the Chief himself to tell the stories of Oshkosh breweries and show items from his collection.

Ron has made other presentations on his collection.  In 2012 he co-wrote a book, The Breweries of Oshkosh:  Their Rise and Fall with Lee Reiherzer.  Lee has had a blog “Oshkosh Beer” for many years.  Ron’s book traces the history of the Oshkosh breweries beginning in 1849 with Lake Brewery.  Twelve breweries are covered in the heavily illustrated book ending with the Fox River Brewing Co. along the Fox River on the north side of Oshkosh that opened in 1995.  It’s a beautiful coffee table type book with lots of photographs illustrating the history of the Oshkosh breweries and their owners.

Currently he is looking for some place that would have a permanent exhibit of his collection.  He spent many years putting together his magnificent collection and does not want to see it all dispersed by auctions and individual sales.  We understand.

Jockey Club Upgraded

From the Westhaven Golf Course bar on Oshkosh’s far southwest side, Gary, our designated driver, drove us to the Jockey Club at 24 E. Grunewald on Oshkosh’s far northeast side.  This was our third visit to this place.  It’s cool to see how the tavern has changed since the previous owners—the Strachen brothers—sold it.  Then it was a typical neighborhood Oshkosh tavern attracting working people on their way to or from their jobs, Now it’s a spiffy place.  We walked through a large outdoor picnic area complete with a gazebo and a

Jockey Club with Outdoor Additions

barbeque grill.

We sat at the bar and studied all the taps:  Leinikugel’s October Fest, New Glarus Spotted Cow, Elysian Space Dust (huh?), Cooper White Stout, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Badger State Grassy Place Hazy IPA.  Marv chose the Badger State. I had Spotted Cow.  Elaine chose the Goose Island October Fest.  Never did write down what Don and Judy had, but I’m sure it wasn’t Miller or Bud.  Gary, our designated driver, had a glass of water.

Our bartender was Melissa, who along with her husband owns the Jockey Club.  We gave her our card and told her about our previous visits to the Jockey Club.  The first time it was owned by the Strachan brothers; the second time a new owner had done some remodeling, but the business was shaky.

Don bought us a “treat,” a large shot glass of Peanut Butter Whiskey.   We all took a sip, but no one suggested we put down our beer and switch to this.  We’d first seen this in the liquor department of our local Pick’n Save grocery store.  And to think I thought watermelon vodka was the worst hard liquor one could drink.  Elaine and Gary had recently attended the wedding of a friend’s granddaughter; at the bar at the wedding reception was Salted Caramel Bourbon.  They didn’t try it.  Good grief what next?


Bartender, Owner & Chef Melissa

This was our supper stop so we carried our beers over to a nearby table and ordered.  Gary, no surprise here, ordered a hamburger.  Marv and I had chicken, bacon and avocado sandwiches with homemade potato chips.  Judy had shrimp that was usually served only on Fridays.  But as Judy told me in a recent email from Florida, “Melissa made it especially for me!!!”  Judy’s favorite mark of punctuation is the exclamation mark.  Elaine had beef stroganoff.  Melissa said to her, “Let me know your opinion because that’s the first time I made that.”  Elaine recently told me that it was very good even though it was made with ground beef.

The décor in the Jockey Club had changed since the last time we were there back in

Gary and a Skelton

2014.  Gone are the dark booths and in their places are seven four-seat tables.  And one table for the six of us, which is where we sat.  The walls are painted maroon with lighter wood wainscoting.   Melissa and her husband spend a lot of time remodeling the place that explains the pleasant décor inside and the outside patio, seating and grill.  Of course, the Jockey Club comes with the usual fixings of an Oshkosh tavern:  a pool table, dart machine and four game machines.

I got out Larry Spanbauer’s book, Oshkosh Neighborhood Taverns and the People Who Ran Them to look up what he had to say

Horse Race at The Jockey Club

about the Jockey Club.  Weill, unlike many old taverns in town, this one doesn’t date back to the late 1800s.  Instead it opened in 1924. Yep, that was during Prohibition.  The owner was Davis Gallagher.  Larry does not record the tavern’s name but does write that in 1934 it was called the Chop Suey Tavern.  However, by 1936 it’s called the Jockey Club.  Larry lists other owners over the decades including a former neighbor of ours, George Genal (1958).  Larry’s last mention on the place his it owned by Edward Strachan (1994).  And indeed, Strachans were the owners the first time we visited in 2010.

Our dinner table conversation centered on the Menominee Arena on South Main Street, home of the professional basketball team, the Herd.  In addition to the basketball court, it also holds a restaurant, The Maple Pub.  It hosts many events set up by The Grand Opera House, for the most part events that attract a bigger crowd than the Grand itself can hold.   Last summer we took in a lot of Glo games, the new women’s professional basketball team in Oshkosh.  And we went to a couple of rollerball events, but I’m not a fan of that.

Before leaving, Elaine checked out the men’s and women’s bathrooms.  The women’s’ was strictly functional, but the men’s had some naughty but nice illustrations.  Giggling over those posters we left and got into the van andheaded home.  We knew it would be six months before we saw Don and Judy again.  And that in January and February only Marvin and I would be in Oshkosh enduring winter and taking in UW Oshkosh men’s and women’s basketball games.

Jockey Club’s Back Bar


It’s not that there were no more bars to visit, but rather that we didn’t have many nights remaining before Don and Judy left for Florida. So we were ready for the final ride of the year and couldn’t wait to get on the trail.  We pulled up to Don and Judy’s house and gone was the white van/buckboard!  In its place was a smaller five-seater with a large empty space where the last row of seats should be.  Judy chose to sit there, piling up pillows to make herself comfortable. They had gotten a year-old Subaru Outback and it looked good. No sooner had I snapped a shot of the new car than I learned

Our First Stop

it would b replaced soon by a brand new Outback, with all the safety features Don and Judy were looking for.

Our first stop that October 16 was Westhaven Golf Course Clubhouse at 1400 S. Westhaven Drive.  The course and clubhouse hadopened in 1968 when the large Westhaven subdivision was already underway on the west side of Interstate Highway 41.  The new subdivision consisted of into five parts, only one of them (Ninth Avenue south to the Westhaven Drive circle) was developed by 1968.  The streets were gravel or blacktop without any curbs and gutters. The golf course sprawls in the middle of this subdivision of Oshkosh, with houses all along its fairways.

Don and Judy’s house is in Westhaven I; Marv and I live in Westhaven II (Westhaven Circle to Twentieth Avenue), and ourstreets were still blacktop when we moved there in 1976.

I snapped several pics of the exterior of the clubhouse and then we went inside.  The bar was to our left, a large room with a row of windows that looked east out at the course.  The three-sided bar with enough stools for 20 people juts out into the room.  Behind it was Sam, a young woman bartender who didn’t want her photo taken.  She had made it very clear to Elaine via a phone call that last call at the bar was 5:30 and the doors would close by 6:00.

There was a draft beer special that night: all draft beer was only $1.50. We had our choice of Bud Light, Coors Light, Spotted Cow and for those under 21, Sprecher Root Beer.  Marv, Judy, Elaine and I ordered Spotted Cow. Don had Wisconsin Belgian Amber and Gary, our designated driver, had nothing.  We reminisced about the times we had been here in the past. Beers in hand, we

Banquet Hall View of Course

wandered from the barroom into the large dining room.  We walked into the banquet hall that was set up with tables and chairs for a large event.  We found ourselves gazing out the south windows at the large retention pond which the city built several years back to prevent flooding in the area.  Whitey, an egret, watched and followed by the Westhaven folks was standing on a rock looking for frogs for dinner.

Though I know the kitchen is closed, the place still does its share of catering for weddings and other events.  We remembered when it had a full-scale restaurant.  It was a convenient place for Marv, me and our kids to eat for special events like Mothers’ Day. From our seat at the bar, we could look into the room that had once been the kitchen.  Now it’s empty; only a tall red ladder leaning against a wall.  Also we recalled the rumors over the years that the course was going to close.  One rumor said it would become parkland with large retention ponds to prevent flooding. Another said housing would be built on the front nine.  Whatever, the course is still open for golf at least until the snow flies.  And the snow did fly early this year—October! So the course is closed until spring.  Marvin recalls that about 19 or 20 years ago the course was still open on December 5, but maybe that’s just his trickster memory at work!


Leaving Acee Duecee,we headed north on Oregon Street,over the Fox River Bridge where Oregon changes its name to Jackson,and on to the intersection with County G. By the way, Oshkosh has other streets that change their names once they cross the river.  For example,Ohio becomes Wisconsin and Oshkosh Avenue becomes Congress.  This makes giving directions to newcomers tricky.  But back to the Beehive.

Don and Judy knew about this place.  Apparently,the original Beehive on the southwest corner of Highway 76 (Jackson Street) and County Highway G closed down because the highway was widened.  Well, actually Judy learned later and told us that a roundabout will replace the 4-way stop signs at this intersection.  And the Beehive was in the way.  The new Beehive opened recently and is far enough away from the proposed construction.

Judy was convinced we all had been here before to the original Beehive, but we assured her we had not.  Don, though, had been to it with golfing buddies.

The place was packed,which we found unusual for a Wednesday night.  Most folks were there for party.  It was the retirement of a woman from Oshkosh Truck, after 39 years.  We knew getting a beer and finding a table wasn’t going to be easy.  Plus,we’d

Don and the Happy Retiree

have to shout at each other.  There was the option of eating outside, but dark clouds on the horizon said that wasn’t wise.

So we snapped a picture of theretiree and the dark clouds and got back in the white van. We headed backsouth on Jackson to Primo Restaurant, at 2605 Jackson Street.  Primo is a supper club that has been at this spot since November 26, 2007.  When Marv and I moved to Oshkosh in 1966, the place was called Sarres.  But a few years later, the owner and name changed.  We tried to remember its other names, but only came up with Marco’s.  Butthe next day I put the question to my fellow bobbers at the Y’s water aerobics class.  Cathy knew and told us that Garden View was the supper club’s name before it became Primo.  When it was Marco’s, it was owned by Butch Arps.  If you lived in Oshkosh as long as we have you remember his Anchor Inn on 20thand Oregon and before that on the northeast corner of 6thand Knapp, across the street from Sacred Heart Church.

His son John was Primo head chef until a few years ago.  It is now owned by Bob Wolf (the Roxy), Mark Schultz (Oblio’s) and Tony Scheiderker (he worked for both Bob Wolf and John Arps as a chef). John had been in a couple of my English classes at Lourdes High School back in the day.  A delightful kid full of mischief

Elaine and Gary Studying Primo menu

often.   He went on to some classy chef school in the east after he graduated.  The first time we ate at Primo when he was the head chef, a special treat showed up at our table and John came out to visit with us.

Meanwhile we were seated at a table in the main dining room and ordered a beer.  Marv, Elaine and Don had Alaska Amber, brewed in Juneau Alaska.  I had a Moon Man (New Glarus) and Judy drank a Spotted Cow (New Glarus).  Alas, I did not write down what we had to eat.  But let me say Primo is a favorite place of mine.  It’s hard to find anything on the menu I don’t like.

By the time we left, the first few sprinkles of a thunderstorm fell on us.  By the time Gary got us onto Jackson, all hell broke loo,and we revved up the windshield wipers.  But that’s the way our summer has gone.  If it rains, it pours.

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

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.

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