Saturday, May 21, 2016

More Kids Selling Beer

In June 2011 on this blog I featured an article on “Kids Selling Beer” in the pre-Prohibition era.  In the almost five years hence it has been possible to collect more than enough other examples of American breweries and other beer distributors marketing their brews by using children in their advertising.  While today such practices would severely frowned on — and condemned on social media — at the time apparently only the prohibitionists would have been outraged by kids selling beer.

We begin by an image from the early 1900s that shows a baby apparently happily sucking on a bottle of Duesseldorf Beer.  This was a product of the Indianapolis Brewing Company, originally founded by Peter Lieber and two partners, one of them his brother, about 1868.  An ad slogan used by the company in  the early 1900s claimed “for family use a speciality.”  Whether this included tots as young as the one in the picture is open to conjecture, but images of infants and toddlers were commonly used by the brewery in its marketing.  Indianapolis Brewing survived until approximately 1948.

The Buckeye Brewing Company of Toledo was another beer-maker that regularly made use of the “cute and cuddly” pictures of children in its advertising pre-prohibition, including the captivating illustrations by Ellen Clapsaddle [See my post on her, March 2012].  Many Buckeye kiddies appeared on advertising greeting cards for Christmas, Easter and other holidays.  The one shown here of a child with a rabbit followed a familiar theme involving animals.  The Buckeye brewery survived 127 years before closing in the early 1970s.
Some child-plus-animal images came with an edge to them.  This ad from the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company of Cincinnati is a take-off of the verse, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”  In this case Mary the lamb has followed her to school where though the window the schoolgirl sees her teacher swigging a glass of Moerlein’s beer before class.  This brewery began production in 1853 in Cincinnati, Ohio, founded by German immigrant Christian Moerlein.  When forced by Prohibition to close its doors in 1920, it was among the ten largest in America by volume.  The brand was revived in 1981.

Sometimes the animals could be downright distressing to the children in brewery ads.  Here a young lady seems to be menaced by a gaggle of geese that seem intent on pulling on her garments, an activity that clearly is disturbing her.  This image was the handiwork of the Bartholomay Brewery of Rochester, New York.   Founded in 1852 by Philip Bartholomay, the facility grew to be a large beer manufacturer, with production of ably 189,000 barrels by 1888.  Although it operated successfully for almost seven decades, Bartholomay did not survive National Prohibition.

Another youngster with animal troubles was a lad dressed in a chef’s hat who is running with a delicious-looking confection on a plate trying to scramble away from some rapacious birds who also have their appetite whetted.  This illustration appeared on a trade card issued by John W. Hirt who was dealer in beer and liquor in Utica, New York.  The card particularly noted “Toledo Lager Beer,” as later Milwaukee Beer set the standard.  Hirt would have been referring to Buckeye beer among the Toledo producers of lagers.

Another familiar theme for kids selling beer was to juxtapose them with flowers.  One example came to the drinking public from Aurora Brewing of Aurora, Illinois.   Here we have a comely young lass who appears to be smelling an orchid or perhaps a snapdragon.  She graced the front of a greeting card issued by the brewery.  Dates seem to differ on this outfit, but it appears that it was founded in 1890 and closed in 1920, a run of some 30 years.  After Repeal in 1934 a brewery of the same name opened in Aurora but closed in 1939.
Maier & Zobelein Brewery of Los Angeles gave their little starlet Shirley Temple-like curls and seated her within a basket of roses as part of a holiday greeting to their customers.  Let us hope the thorns had been removed.  In 1882 two German immigrants named Joseph Maier and George Zobelein had purchased an existing brew house and renamed it for themselves.  They made a light, pilsener-style lager that was becoming increasingly popular with the public during the latter half of the nineteenth century.  

The next image is of a child, dressed in a sailor suit, of an undetermined gender, looking wistfully at a bunch of daisies.  The card also carries a bit of verse:  “Cool as an ice-berg and chemically clear, You never drank better than Lang’s Bottled Beer.”  Gerhard Lang got control of this Buffalo brewery, founded in 1842, by marrying the daughter of the founder Philip Born after his death.  Lang expanded production, building a huge and palatial brewery with a grand hall lined with marble.  His would go down in history as the largest single brewing plant in Buffalo, with an annual production of nine million gallons annually.

In the Tannhauser Beer trade card, the flower, a dandelion, has gone to seed and the tots are blowing the seeds around — hopefully to someone else’s yard.  Again we are in the realm of terminal cuteness.  This beer was a major brand of Bergner & Engle, a large brewery located in Philadelphia.  The firm touted its Grand Prize at the Philadelphia Exposition of 1876 and at the Paris Exposition of 1878 and gained a national customer base.  Although Gustavus Bergner had some political clout, he was unable to hold back the tide of the “dry” forces that eventually closed Bergner & Engle.
A few brewers found it useful to show their merchandising children in scenes of distress or delinquency.  Frederick A. Poth, another Philadelphia brewery owner, decorated a trade card with four boys and one girl, apparently siblings, who have eaten hot mustard and now regret it.  Poth had learn beer-making from the bottom up, shoveling mash out of the copper brewing vats and hefting massive bags of barley from delivery wagons.  Seeing an opportunity in the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition, Poth opened a beer garden and served his own beer, eventually erecting a facility, according to observers, “…that grew to mammoth proportions and employed hundreds of workers.”
Like Buckeye Brewing in Toledo, the Franz Falk Bavaria Brewery in Milwaukee issued many advertising items with children depicted.  Shown here are just two trade cards of Falk’s production.  Neither image is particularly edifying.  The one at left shows a juvenile who is smoking a cigarette while apparently wooing a young lady.  At right, lad appears to be splashing water on a girl who clearly is not enjoying the experience.  Franz Falk, after learning brewing in his native Germany, emigrated to Milwaukee in 1848.  He eventually owned a major plant, occupying five acres, operating eight ice houses and on-site malting production of 100,000 barrels annually.  He employed a hundred men, kept twelve teams of horses, made his own barrels and owned his own rail cars.
This journey through kids selling beer began with a baby sucking on a bottle.  It ends with a trade card of a group of boys working their way through a case of beer— Yuengling as it turns out — while an irate woman fruitlessly threatens them.  This trade card was issued by A. Liebler Bottling Company, a New York City, enterprise founded in 1887 that was a bottler of beer and other beverages, including Yuengling beer of Pottsville, Pennsylvania, that claims to be the oldest operating brewing company in America.  One wonders what Frederick Yuengling, son of the founder, thought of his bottling company seemingly encouraging youth drinking while the Prohibitionists were hot to exploit all such inferences.

Using the images of children to sell beer appears to have been another casualty of National Prohibition.  After Repeal fourteen years later, brewers decided that  such images were no longer appropriate.  Thereafter all the babes in beer ads have been fully grown, with curves.





















Saturday, May 7, 2016

Whiskey, Race, and “The Fight of the Century”

The advertising photo below is fascinating to me both for what it seems to say — and what it doesn’t.  The 20th Century really had only begun in 1910 when a boxing match between Jack Johnson, a black man and reigning heavyweight champion, and James Jeffries, the former champ and “Great White Hope” was being ballyhooed as “The Fight of the Century.”  The James E. Pepper Distillery that  had touted its lily white early American past and shown African-Americans in servile roles, changed course radically, sponsored the event, and seemed to be taking sides.
This prize fight had taken on highly symbolic meaning for millions of Americans, white and black.  Johnson had an uncanny ability to antagonize white people.  As one author has put it:  “He threatened the paradigm of white superiority with his prowess in the ring and he offended moralists with his lifestyle.”   That lifestyle included arrests for speeding and other infractions, drinking and carousing, and flaunted relationships with white women.  

A postcard of the time expressed the attitude of many.  It showed the white fighting cock (Jeffries) driving a right and a left to the head of the black rooster (Johnson) who appears to be knocked out.

What then motivated the James E. Pepper people to merchandise its whiskey through a man that was widely disliked and reviled, largely for being black?  The founder of the distillery, James Pepper, was a Kentucky Southerner who advertised his products by harking back to a time before the Civil War.  “Born with the Revolution” was the company slogan adorned by images of Lady Liberty and (all-white) Continental soldiers.   
Nor was Pepper above portraying African-Americans in servile occupations.  Like other whiskey purveyors at the time, the Lexington distiller advertising widely with a “Uncle Tom” figure — bald with a fringe of kinky white hair — serving Pepper whiskey and a glass. The ad emphasized “Not Just Age Alone, but Purity.”   A similar black figure, this one grinning, was on a postcard that featured a billboard advertising “Old Jas. E. Pepper Whisky.” (Pepper spelled it without the “e”.)
By the time of the Johnson-Jeffries fight, however, the management had changed at the distillery.  In May 1907 a group of Chicago investors, headed by Joseph Wolf had bought the distillery and brand names from Pepper’s widow.   For seven years before the purchase Wolf had managed the distribution of the Kentucky whiskey from his Chicago offices.  After re-incorporating the enterprise, he began making improvements to the distillery and bottling operations and expanding production.  He also stepped up the marketing effort for Pepper whiskey.  

In a bold move, Wolf and his colleagues apparently decided to buck two traditions in the liquor trade:  1) staying away from association with prize fighting because of its unpopularity with a large segment of the public and its illegality in many states and 2) avoiding marketing directly to blacks.   The Pepper distillery sought and got sponsorship of the “Fight of the Century” and thereby entre into the large population of color that idolized Jack Johnson.  

The venue for the match continued to be vexing for the promoters.  An agreement had been reached that the fight would take place in California, Utah or Nevada.  When officials in both San Francisco and Salt Lake City vowed to ban the contest, it gravitated to Reno, Nevada.  Reno, however, posed a particular problem for Jeffries.  Five years earlier, not long after retiring from the ring, Jeffries had frequented the roulette table at Reno’s Louvre saloon and gambling hall, shown above, and dropped $5,000 in a night.  Instead of paying up, the former World Heavyweight Champ gave his IOU, a note he failed to pay off during the ensuing years.   Now that he was headed back to Nevada, the Louvre management went to court and a sympathetic judge set a trial date.  Jeffries, or the fight promoter, Tex Richard, promptly paid the debt.

The fight date was set for the Fourth of July, 1910.  From the outset, as one observer has it:   “The upcoming fight would be relentless hyped as a titanic clash of races, leaving little room for objectivity…Most Americans believed that Johnson was mentally and physically inferior and conversely believed in Jeffries’ invincibility.”  In truth, Jeffries was several years away from his prime as a boxer, overweight and rusty from being on a vaudeville circuit rather than in the ring.  By contrast,  Johnson for all his boozing and racy lifestyle was at the peak of his form.  In reality it was a mismatch, but anointing Jeffries as “the Great White Hope,” gave the combat epic proportions, race against race, gaining national and even international attention.

The decision by Wolf and the Pepper Distillery to back the event seems a genius stroke.  As thousands of people from all over the U.S. and, indeed, the world, crowded into the streets of Reno, the banners that greeted them read “James E. Pepper Whisky “Born with the Republic.”   A photograph of the scene the day before the fight illustrates a banner that could be read for blocks.
On fight day, 17,000 people crowded into the stands erected in the natural basin caused by the Truckee River outside Reno.  Millions more around the world were glued to their radios for the round-by-round narrative.   “At 2:44 the “Battle of the Century” got underway.  By 2:48 it had become the “Beating of the Century.”   Scheduled to go 45 rounds, Johnson was in no hurry to finish off Jeffries.  The photo below shows them still boxing in the 14th Round.  Note the Pepper whiskey sign in the background.   In the very next round a vicious combination by Johnson had Jeffries helpless on the ropes.  Jeffries’ corner “threw in the towel,” acknowledging the defeat.
Although one newspaper opined that it was likely a boon that Johnson won, thus sparing the nation from black rioting, the “Fight of the Century” riots that did occur were white violence triggered by Johnson’s victory.  “Rather than rioting, most blacks tried to keep a low profile and avoided the white mobs until the storm blew over.”

Johnson’s fans would have taken pride in the photo of the heavyweight champ that opens this post, reputedly drinking James E. Pepper whiskey the day before the fight, while surrounded by a crowd of both blacks and whites.   I cannot help but wonder if a similar photograph was taken of Jim Jeffries with Pepper whiskey — just in case. 

Note:   Much of the information for this post was gleaned from a book entitled “The Last Great Prizefight:  Johnson vs. Jeffries,” by Steven Frederick.  Frederick has been a licensed Nevada bookmaker, not a historian or writer, but he has master the art of the narrative and it is truly a well-written, interesting and informative book, well worth the read.  All of the direct quotes above are from Frederick’s work.  

















Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Marvelous Bottles of Bulkley, Fiske & Co.

          From time to time this blog has featured fancy liquor jugs, but those were issued by distillers, whiskey “rectifiers” (blenders) and wholesale dealers, almost always over a period years.  Not so with the highly valued ceramics shown here.  Bulkley-Fiske & Co. broke the mode. The New York City grocery company produced them and did so over a period of four years (1858-1862).

The pair of cruet-like jugs shown above are in a “Rockingham” glaze, both a tan and a darker brown.  That attractive marbled look was highly popular in the United States during the early 1800s, copied from British glazes with a similar look.  A pottery in Bennington, Vermont, was particularly famous for the glaze but other U.S. firms also could replicate it.  Those ceramics normally was used for tableware and candle sticks — not to hold liquor.  

These pint-sized jugs were held gin when they were sold.  A shield on the front of each container says:  “Schiedam Gin Imported by Bulkley, Fiske & Co.”  The name of the firm and the address also was impressed into their shoulders.  There was no mistaking by whom these vessels were issued.
Even more impressive is a whiskey jug with a similar handle and top and also in a Rockingham glaze.   Entitled by the company “Game Bag,” each side has a bas relief picture.  One side is the game bag with four dead quarry hanging from it, from left, pheasant, duck, rabbit and dove.  The other side is another hunting scene featuring two dogs and a standing shotgun.  A British “hunting jug” influence is evident. There is a variant on this jug that marks it with an embossed “B.F. & Co.” on one side and an incised “Bulkley. Fiske & Co., New York” on the other.
From 1820 to 1856 figural “spirits” flasks were a popular ceramic item in England. Made in the shape of important personages often they were in the shape of personages of royalty or important political figures.  Often the latter were involved in reform movements and such items sometimes are called “Reform flasks.”  William F. Bulkley and Frederick B. Fiske brought these bottles to America to hold liquor, likely whiskey.  

Shown here, front and back  is a jug made in the likeness of military man.  From the shoulder epaulets and tunic we may infer he is an officer, perhaps a high-ranking officer.  His belt reads “Morning Salute,” a reference that would have been widely understood.  Many men would take a snort of whiskey every morning before going off to work, believing that it was beneficial both to health and mental wellbeing.  H. L. Mencken wrote of his father in this tradition taking a shot of Maryland rye daily before heading to his office.  The grocers only provide initials of their name and address on this vessel.

“Morning Salute” come in two styles, a second version being toned, brown glaze on top and tan below.  When this jug went up for auction the catalogue listed it at: “Extremely rare, the only example we have ever seen…”  and put the estimate of value at $4,500.  If received it certainly would mark a record for an American whiskey jug.

From the archives of the New York Historical Society comes another example of a Bulkley-Fiske figural flask.  This one is called “Man with a Fiddle.”  This bottle is the standing form of a man sticking his tongue out, in perhaps a smile.  His battered hat is the spout.  He is wearing an overcoat and holding a violin and a bow against his chest.  Might he be an itinerant fiddler?  Unlike the soldier figurals, Bulkley, Fiske & Co., etc., is impressed in the base.

While the last of the grocery firm’s ceramic offerings is lessarticulated than the others shown here, it is still interesting.  It is a barrel or keg — some have called it “a rundlet.”  It features a sizable “bung hole” aperture from which the beer, wine or whiskey could be accessed.  Note the well-developed four sets of three bands each that hold the barrel staves.  This ceramic bottle obviously held a quantity of spirits, but it is not clear what kind.  

I wonder at the imagination that fostered these items during the mid-1800s as the Civil War was beginning.  Obviously the individuals responsible — Bulkley, Fiske or someone else — were influenced by British models.  After Bulkley’s death in 1859 the firm stayed in business only until 1862, a four-year run.  Nonetheless in that short period, this New York City grocery left a legacy of liquor containers unmatched in their rarity and collector interest.













Saturday, April 9, 2016

Shakespeare’s Falstaff: An Icon for the Drinking Public


 
Just as Charles Dickens gave us Mr. Pickwick, and the movies, W. C. Fields, Shakespeare created one of the world’s most famous topers in Sir John Falstaff and featured him in three plays —  Henry IV, Part One, Henry IV, Part Two, and upon command of Queen Elizabeth I,  “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”  Falstaff subsequently has been treated in many forms, among them prominently in American beer advertising.  

Although Englishmen in Shakespeare’s time usually drank ale, Falstaff is best identified with a kind of brandy-fortified wine called “sack,” a drink the old rogue claimed gave him “excellent wit” and contributed to “the warming of the blood.”  Heedless of Sir John’s drinking habits, the Lemp brewery of St. Louis embraced him in an effort to sell beer.

Lemp was an immigrant from Germany who opened a brewery about 1840 and upon his death his son, William, took over and enlarged the complex, adopting Falstaff as the name of the brewery’s flagship brand and eventually the name of the brewery.   As shown right, Sir John usually was depicted as a jolly grandfatherly figure, belying the picture that Shakespeare draws of him:   “What a devil hast thou to do with the time of day?  Unless hours were cups of sack and minutes capons and clocks the tongues of bawds…and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench….”

The Lemps issued a lithographed tray to saloons and restaurants carrying their beer entitled:  “The Home of Falstaff.”  It shows a “fair hot wench” filling up Falstaff’s tankard, presumably with his own beer, as onlookers seem enthralled with his presence.   Over the mantle is written:  “Choicest Product of the Brewer’s Art.”  There is nothing in Shakespeare about Falstaff having a cozy home such as depicted here.  The old rogue has been domesticated for an American audience.

That was not the only misperception that Lemp foisted on Falstaff and, in effect, on the American people.  Look at the illustration on the front of a book of toasts that the Wm. J. Lemp Brewing Company provided to retail customers.   Falstaff is shown holding a water glass of beer.  Not a mental tankard, not a wooden schooner, not a ceramic stein, but a receptacle that would not be invented until centuries after Shakespeare died.  

Simlarly , a 1904  Lemp trade card illustration of Falstaff features another clear anomaly as Falstaff is “drinking his brew” from a kind of glass bottle that would wait a long time to be invented.  A so-called “mechanical card,” it once held a white granular substance that trickled down to a bottle on the flip side of the card, one being filled by a young boy.  Lemp obviously did not care about historical verisimilitude so long as Falstaff was shown downing the company brew.  

The only other American brewer overtly to draw on Falstaff in its advertising was the Gund brewery.   Founded in 1854 by John Gund, a German immigrant who started making beer in a log cabin in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. The brewery by 1897 had grown into a complex that covered five acres and produced 60,000 barrels of beer annually.  Trade cards spoofing operas and plays had become popular with Midwest brewers like Anheuser Busch and Schlitz, impelling Gund to issue a set of Shakespearean cards. One showed a scene from the last act of “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” in which Sir John is depicted calling for Gund’s Extra Pale LaCrosse Bottle Beer.
The success of the Lemp’s in marketing the Falstaff image clearly impacted others in the trade.  Shown here is a label from Tru-Age Beer, a product of the Standard Brewing Company of Scranton, Pennsylvania.  This brand was founded by Otto J. Robinson and Patrick Cusick in 1904 and was the prime seller in the local beer market until National Prohibition.  It reopened in 1933 but closed for good in 1953.  Note that the Falstaff wannabe is wearing hat almost identical to a Lemp characterization. 

Similarly the gent shown on the serving tray shown here is a dead ringer for Falstaff from any angle.  He was advertising the Bohemian Beer of the Providence Brewing Company, a Rhode Island brewery founded in 1896 by James Hanley and John Good.   This facility was known for producing beers, ales and porters of a high quality.  With the coming of Prohibition the company attempted to survive on “near beer” and other products, failed, and closed in 1925.

Well, hello again, Falstaff!  Here the look-alike is hefting a foaming tankard of beer from the Commonwealth Brewing Company of Philadelphia.  This brewery is something of an enigma since it is recorded as having opened in 1898 and closed the same year.  Apparently it had just time enough to design and issue this serving tray.  At the time Philadelphia is said to have been home to 455 breweries, giving rise to speculation that Commonwealth’s demise was due to cut-throat competition.

Across the Keystone State, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company was enjoying a better fate.  It was one of a number of brewery “trusts” that formed in the late 1800s.  This one initially encompassed twelve local breweries, soon growing to 21, many of them eventually shut down.  Pittsburgh Brewing thus became the largest brewing operation in Pennsylvania and the third largest in the U.S.  It was able to survive even during Prohibition by marketing other products.  Its pre-Prohibition advertising booklet featuring on the cover a swaggering gent with a beer stein in his hand that easily might be mistaken for Shakespeare’s man.
We also might take the figure above as Falstaff that graced a serving tray for the Star Brewery Company of Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington.  Founded about 1859, with several owners and names through the years, the business became the Star Brewery about 1894.  The company made national news in September 1898 when it sent 330 cases of its beer to the Philippines upon the news that Admiral Dewey had destroyed the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay.  

The final Falstaff image here did not advertise beer but Autocrat Whiskey, a product of the Edwin Schiele Company of St. Louis.  Looking closely at the picture on the serving tray, however, it is the same image as the Star Brewery tray above.  The image clearly is meant to advertise the barley brew.  Two beer steins grace each side of the item, one ceramic, the other metal.  More important, the Sir John look-alike is drinking from a foaming glass. Beer foams, Mr. Schiele, not whiskey.   Nor does one drink whiskey in the copious quantity indicated here without falling into a stupor — except perhaps a tippler like Falstaff.

“Let a cup of sack be my poison,” cries Sir John in Henry IV, Part One.   Shakespeare’s might have wanted to poison his tosspot creation if he had known that American brewers would transmute Falstaff from the boozy, bawdy braggart of his plays to a kind of Medieval Santa Claus, a cuddly elderly bearded gent albeit one with a taste for alcohol.   
















Saturday, March 26, 2016

Vintage U.S. Hotels Through the Hallways of Memory

       
As a result of a professional life of travel both inside and outside the United States, it has been my privilege to have stayed at some of the most storied hotels in America.  Recognizing the hold that classic hotels have had on the national psyche, I am embolden to feature five, with a few souvenirs, that hold particular memories.

The Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. has been the scene of many notable events, including Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural ball.   A paperweight above shows the early look of that hostelry, including the horse-drawn carriages on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Upon first coming to the Nation’s Capitol in 1962 I spent my first and only night there, as a nervous chaperon to a group of visiting high school students.  At that time the Willard had been allowed to run down and my room was a dreary place, located at the entrance to the fire escape with a glass panel in the door that could be broken to let fleeing guests enter.  I spent a restless night.
About that time a proposal was floated to tear down the historic structure and build something “modern.”  I was among those who wrote letters opposing the move.  Luckily that idea never prevailed and instead the Willard was refurbished — looking like the magnificent “Beaux Arts building as it does today, shown above.  

Finding souvenirs from this hotel is difficult.   In the mid-1930s, Willard management decided that putting its logo on an object was tantamount to having it stolen and stopped doing it.  Shown here is a much earlier flowered vase,  dated from the 1890s to the early 1900s.  The base indicates it was made for “The New Willard.”

The original Parker House Hotel, shown below, opened in Boston in 1855, making it the longest continuously operated hotel in the United States.  (For 18 years from 1868 to 1986 the Willard was shut down.). Some of America’s most distinguished thinkers and writers made it a meeting place. The notoriously finicky Charles Dickens resided in the Parker House for six months in 1867-1868.  The hostelry also became famous for its “Parker House rolls,” a soft bun that my mother was expert at recreating.  
During the 1976 Bicentennial I took my family to stay there while visiting historical sites in Boston.  At that time owned by the Dunfey family (1968-1996), the Parker House was going though a “down” period and was just this side of shabby.  Still, it was close to many attractions and the positive memory later caused me to buy the ashtray here.  Now the Omni Parker House, the hotel has been refurbished and is on the “Historic Hotels of America” roster.
Shown here on a postcard, the Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City first opened its doors in May 1915.  This hostelry is forever linked with another President, Harry S Truman.  It was there that the Missouri politician repaired for low-stakes poker games with his cronies and, it is alleged, to have a shot of whiskey during National Prohibition.  Charged in 1984 with bringing an business delegation of South Koreans to five cities in the United States, in Kansas City I chose the Muehlebach on the basis that Truman was the Commander-in-Chief who ordered U.S. troops to oppose the invasion from the Communist North, thus saving the South.

The choice proved inspired.  Not only did the delegation like their accommodations, the large Korean community in Kansas City took the delegation under its care and treated them to a home style banquet.  The visitors had quickly tired of American style fare.  Unlike the Willard, the Muehlebach Hotel believed in putting its logo — a chandelier — on many objects, including ashtrays and glasses.
One of the most expensive hotels in America is the Fairmont in San Francisco.  Sitting atop Nob Hill at 950 Mason Street, the Fairmont since opening in 1907 has been a renowned luxury destination.  Luckily for me, the management also was interested in being known as a site for international meetings.  When the U.S. and Federated States of Micronesia sat down there in 1995 to negotiate an agreement, I was in the FSM delegation and received a “bargain basement” rate on my room.  Breakfast, however, cost $24 regardless of  what was eaten.  As a result I took a trip daily down Nob Hill to a McDonald’s —and a weary trudge back.
The final hotel in this nostalgia walk through hotel hallways is the Pfister in Milwaukee.  Opened in 1893 at a cost of more than a million, this place is known for the two lions at its entry and massive statue light fixtures in the lobby. My initial stay there about 1981 was not impressive.  The place looked shabby in those days and at 2 A.M. a overly-zealous hotel employee decided to vacuum the hall carpet in front of my room.  

Subsequently all that has changed.  The Pfister was refurbished into one of America’s most attractive hotels, as evidenced by my later visits there.  Moreover, the art collection that has graced its public spaces for years, out of critical favor in the 1980s, has become fashionable and very valuable.  The Pfister is said to have the largest assemblage of Victorian art of any hotel in the world and many stop there to enjoy the paintings and sculptures.  Its gift shop features coffee cups that allow one to reminisce repeatedly about a stay there.