Fotos from the Past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr.
Once again, the road to the White House will go through Merrill, WI as we prepare for another dignitary’s visit. Mrs. Barbara P. Bush, wife of presidential candidate George (H.W.) Bush will visit the home of Jacob Ament next Wednesday. Mrs. Bush will arrive at the Ament home at 2:00 PM for a coffee hour visit. Mrs. Bush will also speak to the local press about her husband’s plans as he seeks the Republican nomination. The event is open to the public; if you are interested please call Mrs. Ament and let her know your desire to attend. Barbara Bush has been married to George for the last 34 years. Although the couple resides in Houston, they have lived in 17 cities, 28 homes, and have traveled to 26 countries during their marriage. Mr. Bush has served as a Congressman, Permanent Representative to the United Nations for the United States, Chief of our Delegation in Peking, China, and director of the CIA. The couple has four sons and one daughter ranging in age from 33 to 20. (One our classiest first ladies)
The Merrill Blue Jay boys’ basketball team is headed to tournament play after a defeat of the Rhinelander Hodags. Merrill ran off to an 11-0 lead on Parents Night but the Hodags made the game interesting in the early quarters before the local team ran away with it late for a 59-51 victory. The good news is the 10-6 team is headed for the playoffs, but their first stop is visit is to the 14-2 Wausau East Lumberjacks who took the Valley this year. Coach Bob Wojtusik cited Mitch Wickman, Rick Bonnell, and Tom Dotter has standouts in the contest.
In a business feature story the story is told of Ament Distributing: In April of 1934, Charles Ament Sr. pulled a truck into Merrill and the town cheered. Crowds gathered to greet Ament and soon he found his new vocation. The farmer and logger wasn’t bringing in the harvest, rather he had a load of Chief Oshkosh 3.2% beer because prohibition had ended and our city and nation rejoiced. In truth, it probably wasn’t the first load of beer Ament brought to town as he and a group of fellow farmers were running “wildcat breweries” for years scattered among their farms. The production moved from farm to farm as they worked to stay ahead of the “revenuers” and get ahead during the waning days of the great depression. None of their product had labels, and they produced it in aging vats before bottling and boxing it for distribution. But now the law had changed and Ament was ready to fill the void. Using one of his trucks Ament hauled beer to Merrill and Wausau taverns in the early years. Barrels weighted 420 pound and common stops locally were Charlie Severt’s (S&S Bar), Bill and Roy Rohde’s Gesundheidt (now Elmer’s), Al Degner’s Farmers Home (now Helen’s Bar), and the Cosmo Bar which was located beneath the theater. Charles son Bud started working the route when he was just 15, and Shorty joined a short time later. In 1942 the boys headed off to serve their country. Bud served four years in the armored division, ending the war with General Patton’s third army. Shorty spent four years flying in China, Burma and India. When the boys came home they formed a partnership- Charles Ament and Sons. They business became Ament and Sons and now with six full time employees and four trucks they distribute Pabst, Andecker, Red White, and Blue, and Pabst Extra Light to the taverns in Lincoln and Oneida Counties. Their warehouse can hold 1000 barrels and 10,000 cases of beer.
A proposed McDonald’s restaurant will no longer be downtown as the company has applied for permits and variances to erect a building on Pine Ridge Ave. The city will hold a public hearing on the matter next Tuesday. The city building inspector Dan Dziadosz suspects the company felt more business would come from the highway.
Two well-known residents are in the obituary column this week. Retired DNR Conservation Warden Don Manthei died last Thursday at his home. Manthei worked for the DNR for over 30 years mostly based in Lincoln County. Byron “Barney” Johnson also passed away Monday at Pine Crest. Johnson operated Joyce’s Bar on East Main St for over 30 years. (Founder of the Board of Directors)
Today’s front page shows pictures of youth in the community playing tennis and riding horses as temperatures swelled into the 60’s. The editor could not help but muse about 20 years ago (1980) when the front page held a plea from Mayor Holt for factories and stores to close for the day due to the tremendous amount of snow the city received. The warm spell may be short lived as temps should be back in the normal range this weekend.