Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Herman “Sheeny” Steckbauer Sr.

This photograph of Herman “Sheeny” Steckbauer was recently passed along to me by a friend of the blog and it’s such a great image that I thought it ought to be up here all by itself. There’ll be more to come on Sheeny Steckbauer’s saloon this winter, but for now, here are the basic details: Herman Steckbauer  was born in Bohemia in 1861. In 1891 he opened his saloon at 760 W. Sixth Ave., which he ran until his death in 1947. For much of that time the saloon was tied to the Oshkosh Brewing Company and served only their beer. Steckbauer’s was the prototypical “Bloody Sixth Ward” saloon and was an essential part of daily life for the people of the neighborhood. All that, of course, is merely trivia in comparison to the epoch contained in the look of his face.

There is one specific thing I’d like to point out about the image. Obviously, this was a staged photograph and I think the message trying to be conveyed is that this man bridges two cultures; the one fading away as the other comes to the fore. In Sheeny’s left hand he holds a ceramic beer stein of the sort that were fashionable throughout Germany and Austria from 1830-1900. In his right hand he holds a 1940s tap handle for Chief Oshkosh Beer. Joining them is Sheeny, the essential human link between the old world and the new.


  1. Dude..... I wrote a piece on the tavern back in 76? for the school newspaper. At that time it was run by Jake Steckbauer, his son. Jake was in his 80's when I met him and only opened when he felt like it. He had that photo on the wall. I will have to dig and see if I can find that article.

  2. Jimm, if you HAVE to find that!!!! And if you do, the beers on me!

  3. I'll be looking. The tavern was a 4-in-one. Bar in the back, grocery up front, dancehall upstairs and the family lived on the side.