My Grandpa in 1936 invested in the Koester Springs Distillery Company... it didn’t work out so well.
My Grandpa, the former mayor of the great Bloomsdale, Missouri, invested in the Koester Springs Distillery Company in 1936. I am quite sure it didn’t work out so well as when he passed away a few years back this certificate was found tucked in a Ford Motor Company envelope that simply said, “Past Experience.”
I suppose my Grandpa saved it to remember that sometimes things didn’t always go his way. There were 50,000 shares available to the now defunct Koester Springs Distillery and my grandpa was able to pick up 25 of them which means he owned .0005 of the company. A quick internet search didn’t turn up any history on Koester Springs but I did find out that Koester is around 16 miles from Bloomsdale.
I guess what is most interesting in this old stock certificate is the detail involved with a certificate representing a mere 25 shares. I would venture to say that in 1936 shares weren’t running a bit over 10 cents but the certificate has such fine details, two actual signatures (President and Secretary), Francis Basler’s typed name, an official Koester Springs stamped seal, and a finely detailed drawing of a lady holding a lightbulb up in front of a factory with a street car moving through the scene.
As you know in today’s computer world, stock purchases show up as a simple line on a computer screen. They can happen at a rate so fast that no human really understands. Programs vie for any advantage and humans sit behind computer screens trying to figure out how their program can gain an advantage from even the smallest most insignificant moves in the price of a stock. When someone loses money in the stock market or a company goes out of business, someone gets a message from a computer.
I am not sure about any of the history behind my grandpa’s decision to invest in this company. My bet is he knew one of the guys running the company and did a courtesy investment to try and help him out. I doubt he was terribly upset about the loss at the time but I do know he at least filed it away but he wasn’t really caught up in the pursuit of money.
He didn’t have to be. He and my grandma canned most of their food, raised chickens and cows, and the house he built was paid for as he was building it. He had kept the records on that too and if I recall correctly it added up to around 2,000 dollars. (Nick if you are reading this please confirm this...my cousin Nick moved into my Grandpa’s house).
So here’s to a simpler time and the “past experience” my Grandpa passed on me.
Did you know? We installed 104 American made solar panels on our roof this past summer.
Many of you know we get almost 40% of our electric from Solar Energy at the Brewery and when the sun is out we generally aren’t paying for electric. We have even gone as far as trying to get a team of scientists to tackle the problem we are facing when the sun goes down at night.
It gives me one of those good feelings to know we are doing things right here. The massive amount of money we spent on insulation has paid off in the form of much lower electric bills. The fact we are barely heating the warehouse also helps a bit. Our hand dryers (Xcelerators) in our bathrooms which rather than drying your hands actually force the water from your hands Chuck Norris style have cut down on tremendous amounts of paper waste. Our fancy warehouse lights (except one) are without a doubt super energy efficient and are all set on motion detector timers.
My mother was the driving force behind getting solar panels on our roof and Straight-up solar came through installing them. I, as the captain of the Barley Ship, realized rather quickly that the budget I was trying to live by had been blown out of the water. And not just blown out of the water but destroyed by a massive nuclear weapon and the few pieces left were then pulverized with a ray gun. In fact, we didn’t have money for solar panels and even had to put off a few things more things... like heat for the warehouse, tables for the upstairs rooms (both of which we are working on now).
But my mom, has for many years wanted Solar and she is a big proponent of it. She has been since I was a kid. I remember as a kid touring houses that were using solar energy in different capacities. I guess she channeled Thomas Edison, “I’d put my money on solar energy... I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” Well my dad and her leant me the money to install solar and it’s about time we really let people know that we are doing are best to limit our grid usage and to minimize waste in our brewery. Tapping into solar energy was the first step in our plan to minimize the carbon footprint of our little pub.
So we will eventually have a little chalk board underneath that proudly notes pounds of coal Ameren hasn’t had to fire for us to operate our brewery.
We also are attaching a link to the site and you can check it out whenever you would like. Let me know if you have any questions about our Solar energy and more importantly you can rest assured here that we are constantly monitoring our recycling, cutting our electrical usage and making decisions with the hope that we can minimize our environmental impact.
And to that I simply say, Cheers!
If you want to check out what we are producing click here.
My first stein.
So wikipedia history has it noted that possibly the stein was invented in the 14th century to prevent diseased fleas from getting into one’s beer during the black plague. Seems like a worthwhile invention to me as the last time I was drinking beer around diseased fleas, I completely realized that this was a sad time to have left my stein at home.
I wish there was some romantic story about how this stein came into my possession. Something like it was a parting gift from a lovely German lass who decided I was too old for her. Hence the, “A cheerful spirit and a fresh drink, Spice life and help staying young.” Or maybe, I won it after beating some Germans in a drinking competition. If you have a better translation please let me know.
But alas, tis not to be. Ebay brought this stein to me and there is no lovely story attached other than it will definitely keep the diseased fleas out of my drink and quite frankly this is good enough for me.
Our buddy Joe (Read Lo Go, Lo Go and Der Biergarten) also stores a stein here for that occasion. If you are a regular, I am sure we can find a spot for yours as well.
The Barter Shelf has arrived, may the ridiculousness ensue.
Oh little shelf, what will you bring. Our little shelf will act as a unique way for us to barter for things we can eventually hang on the wall of the bar or maybe things we could eat. This is wholly inspired by Kyle MacDonald who bartered a paper clip in 14 trades and ended up with a house.
We have no idea where this will end up... but like anything we do at the Civil Life it could succeed or fail miserably but at least we tried There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground here. So a trade has to be agreed upon by all of the bartenders on duty that night to prevent any one of us from trading for something totally ridiculous. Which in all actuality is probably more likely going to happen if we are meant to agree on something collectively as any one with a sane opinion will likely be overruled by the collective insanity of a group.
Let us know what you would like to barter.
Our first item is an empty growler. What say you? This will be an ongoing list as we may at times cease trading and consume or hang up an item only to start again. But we will always start with an empty growler and by always I mean not really. This is subject to change just as is everything else I do.
So here goes. Nov. 18~ Empty Growler (Owner Civil Life) bartered to (enter name here) on (enter day here) for (enter item here)
* Note this is now a tab on our home page so it will be easier to track! Cheers.
Our grand opening event on Sept. 24, began with a speech. Every night from here on we will ring our last call bell and I or someone else will speak in some fashion about something. This may or may not be riveting but it will be ours and it will continue.
Below: Toto from Wizard of Oz
Also Below: Toto - toilet at the Civil Life
So owning a brewery is really great. But there are a few things I do on a daily basis that makes me think I should have paid attention in school and maybe I would have ended up as a poet laureate, surgeon or maybe even a Belgian Monk.
Instead though, I today am a proud owner of a brewery start-up and quite frankly it is as honorable to me as any of the previous mentioned professions.
I believe the smallest most insignificant tasks and the smallest details are actually the most important to our success. We are still working hard here to get the place into perfect shape as a full year of construction still has some straggling issues especially since our focus is now on running the place. But it will always be the details that make a place work for me and most of these entries are just that, details.
I have always done our best to keep our bathrooms clean and when we were designing the Civil Life thrones we put care into making sure we made the right decisions to cut down on waste and thus allow them to remain cleaner throughout a busy night. We use hand dryers rather than paper towels (more economical and way less waste) and our toilets are superbly designed and use very little water. But every time, I look at them I think toto is the dog from the Wizard of Oz not a toilet.
But I digress, the reason behind this post (if you somehow made it through the dribble) is that today when I was cleaning the toilets. Which I do in a very specific way, Spray all the toilets with disinfectant, then come back and scrub with a cloth then come back with a clean wet cloth and wipe down one more time. I get down and reach into those areas that no one really wants to look and I would really be worried about you if you inspected anyone but your own bathroom in this manner. Regardless, I clean the bathrooms, it’s not my favorite job (that is pouring a pint) but it is mostly my job as I am head of the cleaning department.
This is going somewhere. Wait for it.
So today, about an hour a go I was cleaning the toilet and it came to me. All of my great ideas seem to come when I am partaking in a mundane task. Except of course, opening the brewery. The “Last Call” bell was missing something. Last night I rang it for the first time and then I said, “Last Call”. Sure that was it’s intended purpose but everyone was looking at me and I really felt inside I could have said something a little more than the obvious. I felt a little underwhelmed by the whole experience. I rang the bell and then basically read what was on the bell. Lame, I say. Lame. So the process of “Last Call” must be improved and I have found a way.
So tonight and heretoforth and from henceforth so on the bell will be rung every night we are open (T - Sa). We will ring the bell if there is one customer or a thousand. At the moment the silence settles upon the congregation as the bell resonates throughout the bar I will or someone appointed by me (Customers welcome in a few weeks) will recite, read, say something and then verbally finish with a second announced Last Call by the head bartender which will 99.8% of the time be me. When we ask someone to come up with a reading or partake in the “Last Call” ritual it will be considered the highest honor we could possibly bestow upon a cherished Civil Lifer.
So for whom the bell tolls will be me tonight and me most of the time, but it may toll for you. In a few weeks we may allow customers to partake. Just let me know down the road if you want your chance at 20 to 30 seconds of fame. Obviously your message will be monitored by the Chinese government in me but don’t let that stop you. Most messages will be just fine.
So tonight it begins and tomorrow it will continue. And yet another reason has come to make the Civil Life part of your life.
Now I must scurry away and find the quote I read on the window of a Dublin bar to read tonight during that 10 to 10:15 slot when the bell rings for it’s second time.
Don’t look now but it looks like a fight is about ready to go down. (also pictured: scrabble and dominoes watching.)
Great pubs to me are simply public living rooms. They are places that offer shelter from the storm, a chance to meet up with an old friend and a place that sometimes just fills the time between the points in your life. Sometimes, you need things that fill that time in your life when you ventured into a pub. And let’s face it, surely you don’t come here to just see me, at least I hope not.
We have some very special things heading your way over the next couple weeks that will add to our experience and give you yet another reason to put on your coat and jump in your car or scooter or put one foot in front of the other and head our way.
Our first entry are a few classic games you can play with a friend in our pub. Scrabble, chess, checkers and dominoes are our first entries into this category and we will over time add a few more as people request. I wouldn’t expect to see any of those new games here. The ones where people have to draw funny pictures and blurt out crazy words and everyone gets all riled up playing trying to win. You can do that in your own living room.
Our games will be the ones I used to play over the holidays with my siblings growing up to pass the time at my grandma’s house. Though looking back at it, I wish I would have spent that time visiting with her but as a young lad I still thought people lived forever.
Cheers and thanks for reading!
*NOTE: Just in case you haven’t noticed but I am sure most of you have. This was originally intended to be a daily blog encompassing the first 100 days with a new item added each day. Unfortunately, I combined a few days into one rather than have single entries for each ( ex. 5 flags into 1 and 4 games into one day) and then I realized it is quite expensive to add something that isn’t junk every day to the pub and sure we are doing alright for a new place but money still doesn’t grow on trees.
Last Call. A nice back bar addition. To be rung at last call every night.
You will love it and hate it.
This may be the hardest blog post to write because quite frankly, I have never been a fan of last call. It generally means the party is over and I am usually one of the last one’s at the party, I inherited this from my Grandparents (Grandpa and Grandma Basler) who would never leave a party early. They closed down every wedding they ever attended and I always keep them in mind when I think about leaving early. I ask myself, “WWGBD?” I have spent a considerable portion of my life in bars. Whether I have been working in a bar or drinking in a bar, I have logged some incredible hours. If it wasn’t for Last Call, I would have spent a lot more time in bars but honestly Last Call has been more of a friend to me than I give Last Call credit. Quite honestly, I take advantage of the Last Call only when I am not driving. But at a place like the Civil Life, Last call comes early enough that it may even be your First Call of the evening. Thus drinking at the Civil Life gives you the opportunity to enjoy your evening and even make it home early enough to have a productive following day. In some cases, drinking at the Civil Life gives you the opportunity to enjoy the Civil Life for a while and then head to some of South City’s neighborhood establishments for their Last Call. Places like the Royale, the Bleeding Deacon, Amsterdam Tavern, Tower Pub and Mangia. Or maybe you live a bit further away and can hit a Last Call in your neighborhood pub and tickle your liver one more time before calling it a day. Which means you could have two last calls in one evening and if you stay out even later you could head to another bar and have a third last Call.
It is definitely true that our last call is considerably earlier than a very large majority of bars (99.9%)and that when the bell rings at 10 pm or shortly thereafter many people think the Civil Life is closing too early. There are many reasons for the early closing time. First of all, the Civil Life is in a great neighborhood and getting to operate within this great neighborhood was like winning the neighbor lottery. They have all been so kind and I honestly already pushed back the closing time as originally I had informed them I would be closing at 9:00 pm. Fortunately, after the first few weeks I asked them if they had been hearing anything and everyone had said there were no noise issues when people were leaving. So I quietly moved the last call back a bit and as long as all of our very Civil Civil Life customers continue in their obvious Civil manner we should be able to continue. We also do not rush people out right at 10 and allow people to mingle and finish their drinks in a fair amount of time. I wouldn’t expect someone to order a drink at 10 and be out at 10:15.
So here is to our Last Call bell... which will be put into service tonight.
Left: Found in a bar in Derry, Ireland 2009.
Below: Found at the Civil Life.
In 2009, as I wandered Europe on my drinkabout, I would spend countless hours sitting in pubs thinking about how to build the pub now known as the Civil LIfe. It was very time consuming and during the process, I racked up a good 10,000 pictures... which I edited down to 9,999 when I returned back to the States.
I am a big believer in pub culture as evidenced in my “Daylight Savings Time Ushers in Pub Season” post. In Ireland, time and time again I found myself sitting in a pub and looking around at collections of all sorts of items. This collection of old deep sea diving helmets caught my eye. Transporting myself to a deep sea diver in the late 1800’s, walking on the ocean floor and then returning to land to tell people of all my experiences. People are naturally skeptical of things but in the 1800‘s they seemed to buy into a lot more. But I am sure they had little frame of reference for someone telling them they had seen schools of fish, barracudas and jelly fish.
I can almost hear the questions, “Schools of fish, what kind of school? What are they possibly learning?” “Jelly fish, how can I spread that on bread.” and “I bet Baraccuda would make a good song?"
And with that, I enter our one deep sea helmet replica into the pub. I couldn’t afford a collection of them but it is always good to start somewhere and one is really the only beginning I know.
Signs, signs, everywhere there are signs. Not really, but there are now two.
Our friend Graham made this along with the “A Civil Life” sign now hanging inside. Graham came to us a few months back and had a few things he was willing to part with and we are thankful for this nice addition.
I have found it humorous lately that our pub business keeps growing and we still don’t have an exterior sign or a phone number. My previous business had existed for around 7 years by the time I sold it without an exterior sign and from our first two months in business all signs (notice word choice) point to not actually needing one. But one is in the works (sort of) because honestly a brewery needs a sign..just like a human needs a theme song. Dylan has been working fervently on an ongoing smoke signal and as soon as we have it perfected and approved by the St. Louis Fire Department we will install it on the roof. In all honesty, Chris our resident painter is going to paint it on the front of the building.
If you have been reading this blog, you have realized that I have been unable to keep up with a blog post on each of the first 100 days. This is because we are a new business and we do not have a money tree. I hadn’t realized how expensive it was going to be to decorate. I have been spending most of the money coming in on purchasing items to put on the walls and the rest of it has been invested in other city bars.
Let me digress for a bit. In my mind and the odd world in which I exist, I quite often believe the best way to order a beer is to state, “I would like to invest my money in a (enter name here~ extra kudos if you enter Civil Life.)” And the most Civil way to ask someone for a drink is to state, “I would like to invite you for a drink.” Thanks to Marek the peregrino for that line.
Meanwhile back at the brewery. So with great honor, Dylan installed our “BEER” sign over our serving window on the main walkway. So just in case you didn’t know. We make the beer we serve in the pub we built.
Cheers and happy drinking!
Now hanging in the bar.
A few days ago, I announced the most Civil of Snow men as our entry on the 20th day. Please read it if you have the time.
Jonas Salk did the most Civil of things when he decided not to profit from his discovery of a polio vaccine. And he went one step further by testing it on himself and his family as a transparent show of its safety. For these things, I hold him in the highest regard.
We have 4 spots above the A Civil Life in which we are going to put 4 nicely framed photographs of individuals who have contributed to society in the most civilized way. These individuals have lived exemplary lives and fought for the public while putting aside their own monetary gain. I have a few ideas about who the other 3 framed photographs should be but would rather get some feedback from any of you who are reading this blog.
So I put it to you. Whoever you are. To reach out to me and let me know who you think should be honored with one of the next three spots. I will acknowledge you in this blog and buy you a beer if we use your idea.
But you must be willing to accept fame into your life if your suggestion is taken. Primarily because there are at least 100 people that read this blog. But these great 100 people are unbeknownst to them some of the most influential people in the St. Louis...even the world. If we take your suggestion and write about it there is a major chance you at some point in your near future may wake up with 1000’s of reporters outside your house, need to have armed escorts and have to hire a Public Relations team to answer your mail and plan your schedule. Worse for you this isn’t the sort of 15 minutes of fame you would so want. Instead this notoriety has the incredible chance to go on and on for something like 16 and a half minutes.
But don’t worry, it will be the best 16 and a half minutes of your life.
So let me know by way of an email or carrier pigeon if you have someone you would like to nominate.
Cheers and I look forward to hearing from you.
Hello earthlings. I have been sent here to open a brewery. I hope you have time over the next year to check in from time to time and see our progress (or lack there of at times).
Morning beer delivery at Tynan’s Bridge House Bar in Kilkenny, Ireland.