Friday, August 25, 2006

Dr. Evermor: The World's Largest Metal Sculpture

My last column mentioned Dr. Evermor's place south of Baraboo. He has a guest book and strongly urges everyone to sign it. He saw Oshkosh and had a story to tell.

Dr. Evermor told about dismantling the People's Brewery in Oshkosh some thirty years ago. He detailed some items he thought would be a good investment and came back and bid on them during the auction. In the process of bidding the job and doing the dismantling he acquired the main large beer vat from the brewery.

He told me that he donated the beer vat to his (then) friend who owned the "House on the Rock" near Spring Green. Their friendship deteriorated over the years but 'donated' was the word he used about a month ago. I suspect that 'donated' is a pleasantry for 'traded something of value' or another business term.

Dr. Evermor was very clear on one point: People's Brewery of Oshkosh at the time of it's demise was the only black-owned brewery in the United States.

In the days after meeting him my memory was piqued and a beer discussion over some beers came back to me. The discussion took place in the early 1990's shortly after I became a resident. Small craft breweries were new and beginning to sprout up everywhere and then the subject matter turned to all of the breweries that had closed over the years.

I knew nothing of People's Brewery and listened as three guys explained and argued about it. A black fellow (they continually used the n-word) who wore a suit and came from some big city had bought the brewery and that's when the slide began. Oshkosh folks refused to buy People's Beer because a black owned it. Even the brewery workers fooled around on the job due to their distaste of getting a paycheck signed by a n_____. I knew little of Oshkosh and was amazed at what I was hearing after living two decades where minorities were given respect. They told me that the brewery closed in a very short time and the n____ left town.

Thanks Dr. Evermor for bringing back those personal memories, and thanks to Dr Evermor you can see that Brew Vat when you visit House on The Rock.

I have mentioned the above story to several folks around Oshkosh to a uniform reaction: The same thing would probably happen to a black-owned brewery if the year was 2006.

This is a sad state of affairs folks.
For more on the People's Brewery please go here and here.

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