While renovating our building on West Main Street in Belleville, we discovered a sealed bottle in the rafters. The contents have crystallized, but the label is in good condition. It says, "White Bear Crystallized Rock & Rye Cordial, A. Buesch Wine & Liquor Co. Distributors, Belleville, Ill." What do you know about the company? -- D. Rogge
Wouldn't you love to know the story behind the original purchaser and how he or she left it unopened in your rafters? Unfortunately, you'll have to settle for buying some new bubbly and toasting a business that disappeared from Belleville nearly a century ago.
Born in 1884, August Buesch is probably best remembered for starting Buesch Nurseries and Landscape Co. in 1928 at what is now Orchard Drive and North Belt East near Belleville East High School.
But before he began selling flowers and shrubs, he was much more into the grapes and grains that became the beer, wine and whiskey he sold. So, after working for several years at A.W. Herr's liquor shop, Buesch opened his own wholesale store in downtown Belleville in 1910.
"Mr. Buesch is a hustling young businessman, and we wish him success in his undertaking," the Belleville Daily Advocate said on July 20, 1910, of the grand opening.
Old city directories put the address at 11 Public Square on the northwest quadrant. Old-timers will remember the quadrant running from Stiehl Drug at 7 Public Square to First National Bank at 19 Public Square. Buesch's liquor store would have been somewhere in the middle in what some called the Gintz Building.
With the arrival of Prohibition, Buesch sold his last bottle in 1919 so he wouldn't have to plead the fifth in court. But even during the Depression, nothing seemed to keep the plucky Buesch down. In 1925, he established the Belleville Finance Co. and also joined four partners to start the nine-hole Belleville Golf Club on Carlyle Road, a half-mile east of the L&N railroad tracks.
"(It) is a beauty spot besides an ideal location for a golf course," the Advocate gushed on Sept. 23, 1925. "This place is easily accessible, yet far enough removed from the city."
Just a year later, Buesch and friends were teeing off with plans for a tournament while upping the club dues from $10 to $20 a year and starting an initiation fee of $25. Then, in 1928, he opened his nursery nearby, a perfect complement to the golf course.
The course did not reopen after World War II, but Buesch still scored several more aces. Before he died in 1961, he opened a floral shop at 8700 W. Main, became a charter board member of St. Clair National Bank, sold land to Bishop Henry Althoff that the diocese turned into the Blessed Sacrament parish, and gave land to his son that would turn into the former Westhaven Golf Course and Bath and Tennis Club.
Now that's a life worth toasting.
Just curious: Do they still sell canned hams -- you know, those pound or two hunks of meat surrounded by gelatin? -- P.L., of Cahokia
After a quick check at Schnucks, I get the feeling people aren't pigging out on them as much these days, but at the Swansea store, you'll still find the Plumrose variety on the shelves along with the canned salmons and tunas.
They're also easily found on the Internet with brands ranging from DAK and Celebrity to Hormel and Goya. Smaller 5-ounce cans also are available. Or, go whole hog and have a Monty Python breakfast special: Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans, Spam, Spam and Spam.
Two more questions about your paper's new configuration: Why do you seem to have so many single pages now? When I hold the paper up to read, they tend to fall out. And why are the ads now between sections rather than in the middle of the paper? It's very inconvenient. -- M.R., of Belleville
I think your first question can be easily explained, although you probably won't like the answer.
To make us a reasonable profit, each paper has to have, in general, a certain percentage of advertising and a certain percentage of news copy. Sometimes, we think we only have enough ads to support, say, a 6- or a 10-page section rather than an 8- or 12-pager. As a result, you'll find what we call a two-page "dinky" in those sections rather than the four-page broadsheet. For our bottom line, that practice likely will continue
Your second question is a bit more complex. In simple terms, when we used to run four sections a day, they'd all run at the same time. Then, all of those advertising sections were stuffed into the middle at the very end of the pressroom process. That's why I think you still find those inserts "in the middle" of our Sunday paper along with the classified section.
However, since we've dropped our daily paper down to three sections, I'm told we print the C section -- either Classified/Comics or Lifestyle -- before the other two sections. In doing so, it becomes one of the inserts along with the ads for JCPenney and Lowe's that are stuffed into the other two sections. As a result, you may find an occasional oddly placed ad, although most of the papers I checked still have most ads tucked into the C section as you like.
What are people with peccatophobia afraid of?
Answer to Wednesday's trivia: So what did you think was the oldest surviving pro baseball park? Fenway (1912)? Wrigley (1914)? Wrong on both counts. It's Rickwood Park in Birmingham, Ala., which opened Aug. 18, 1910, and was home to the Birmingham Barons and the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro League. Allen Harvey "Rick" Woodward bought a majority interest in the Barons in 1909 and then named the new park for himself. Although the Barons moved to the 'burbs in 1987, the field is now being turned into a museum and was used in filming scenes for "Cobb," "Soul of the Game" and, most recently, "42."
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or email@example.com or call 618-239-2465.