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Grandpa Hammer’s Beer Signs

By Joe Ruvel · August 27th, 2009 · No Comments

I grew up as a sort of bar brat. My maternal grandparents owned a bar in town–they lived in the back of the building while the bar was up front. This was in the days where that was standard and where kids regularly hung out in town bars (my grandpa kept a big jar of lollipops behind the counter). Underage drinking, in fact, is still legal in Wisconsin as long as you are with a parent or guardian. My grandparents have both passed away, but my mom and aunt finally just sold the bar, which had been sitting closed but not empty for three years now. On this last visit home, my mom brought Joe and I to the storage barn to sift through my grandpa’s stuff.

He had so many cool signs. Some of them are from breweries that aren’t even around anymore, like Andecker’s (which was really a Pabst brand), Olympia (which was eventually bought and then closed by Miller) and a Rhinelander beer (Rhinelander is the nearest big town to where I grew up and has the only hospital in the area–it’s where I was born). My grandpa bought dozens of those “beer mirrors” with deer or bears or other wildlife on them. They were supposedly collectors items, so he claimed they were going to be our inheritance. I wonder what he would think if he knew that the things we really wanted were the plastic freebie light-up signs from the 70′s that survived under those mirrors.

Most of these will get sold on eBay or at a local auction. Even with our love of beer, Joe and I wouldn’t have any place to PUT all those signs, not to mention the hassle of shipping them to California. I’m sure a lot of people will be thrilled to have them, and maybe Grandpa’s grandkids will get an inheritance after all.

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