Monday, December 21, 2015

A Christmas Card From the Oshkosh Brewing Company

Here’s a swank Christmas card sent out by the folks at the Oshkosh Brewing Company in 1933. Click the image if you'd care to see a larger version.

The 10 shadowy figures represent a handful of OBC's finest in the years immediately following Prohibition's end. This had to have been a happy time for them. The dry law was flushed on December 5, 1933. At OBC, they were back to making real beer for the first Christmas since 1919. Let's get to know these folks a little better.

That's Otto C. Horn, president of OBC. He was born in 1863, a couple years before his father had helped launch Horn & Schwalm's Brooklyn Brewery. Otto actually lived at that brewery during his early childhood.

In 1933, Arthur L. Schwalm was vice-president of OBC. His grandfather was Leonhardt Schwalm, the other half of the original Horn & Schwalm team. Art started in the bottling department of OBC in 1912. He became the brewery's president in 1941.

Earl Horn was Otto Horn's son. He had been with the brewery since 1911 when he became OBC's bookkeeper. In 1933 he was the company's secretary. He became VP of OBC in 1941. I have a few letters written by Earl Horn floating around here. In those letters he comes across as a genuinely nice person.

Look at that, they didn't call him "Shorty" for nothing. Lorenz Kuenzl was the grandson of Lorenz Kuenzl, the Bohemian brewmaster whose Gambrinus Brewery was on Harney Ave. Lorenz the younger had recently started his career at OBC. He was working as a salesman. Later he would become OBC secretary and a member of the brewery's board of directors.

Earl Pfotenhauer was working as a shipping clerk at OBC in 1933. The Pfotenhauer family had been engaged with the brewery since the early 1900s. Pfoty would eventually go on to join the board of directors at OBC.

Lester Schultz was the other shipping clerk at the brewery in 1933. A few years later, he left OBC to work for Oshkosh Truck.

Merritt M. Safford began his career at OBC in 1931 as a salesman. Merritt also eventually found his way onto the board of directors. He remained with the brewery into the mid-1960s.

I'm at a loss with this Bill. Who is Bill? I'm guessing he was part of the OBC sales force. I can't find a Bill listed in any of the brewery's rosters from the period. For now, Bill remains as mysterious as his long shadow on this Christmas card.

Is Clifford J. McCarthy, the assistant secretary at the brewery. He would move on from the brewery to launch several businesses in Oshkosh.

Brewmaster Felix Gertsch had been with OBC since 1908. He's the guy who dreamed up the original recipe for Chief Oshkosh Beer. There's a lot more about Felix right here.

Well, folks, they're all gone now. I'm sure if they were with us, though, they'd send tidings as musical as those from 1933...
May this Convivial Season bring 
Health, Happiness, Joy and Cheer
Peace, Prosperity and everything
From the Brewers of Chief Oshkosh Beer

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