Today is my grandpa’s 26th birthday! I know, that sounds odd, considering he was born in 1908! My maternal grandfather, Raymond Christian Hau, was born on February 29th, 1908. So, if he were still with us today, he would be celebrating his February 29th birthday for only the 26th time.
I have a newspaper article from 1996, when his hometown newspaper, the Fond du Lac Reporter, did a story on his 22nd Leap Year birthday. The subhead of the article reads, “He looks older than most 22 year olds”.
My Grandpa Hau had a great sense of humor, and he always enjoyed the uniqueness of his special day!
I’m fortunate to have inherited this radio from my Grandpa and Grandma Hau. I can just imagine them listening to it in their Fond du Lac, Wisconsin home – whether it was music, Packers football or Milwaukee Braves baseball games. The radio still works, and the reception is better than in most modern AM radios!
On this day, 136 years ago, my great grandfather, John Hau, was born in St. Joe, Marshfield Twp., Fond du Lac Co., Wisconsin. He was the son of Wilhelm and Kathrine (Tuepper) Hau. He married Elizabeth Fuhrman on June 12, 1900.
John ran the Cozy Tavern at 102 North Main St. in Fond du Lac, but after prohibition began, he when into the restaurant business. In 1919, he founded the H & H Cafeteria, with Edward Halverson, at 105 S. Main Street. The restaurant moved to the former Commercial Bank Building, located at First and Main, which they purchased in 1923. In its first year of operation, the cafeteria employed seven persons, but over the years it expanded to employ 21. He bought out Halverson and renamed the restaurant the Lion Cafeteria.
Following 50 years in the business, John retired in 1959, selling the business to his sons Clarence and Raymond (my grandfather).
Much more about John Hau and the Lion Cafeteria can be found here.
When my Grandpa and Grandpa Hau passed away several years ago, I was lucky enough to receive many of their things. Among them was my grandpa’s high school yearbook. Raymond Christian Hau was raised in Fond du lac, WI. His father, John, was in the restaurant business, a business that Ray would eventually join. Ray graduated from Fond du Lac Senior High School in 1926.
The 1920’s in America was an era distinguished by several inventions and discoveries of far-reaching importance, unprecedented industrial growth, accelerated consumer demand and aspirations, and significant changes in lifestyle. The city of Fond du Lac was no exception. It was a classic American mid-western small town, highlighted by its bustling main street. After his graduation, Ray attended Lawrence college in Appleton, his being the first generation of the Hau family to attend college.
Yearbooks from this era are far different from the color photo laden, current events filled books of today. They contain pages full of poetry and song; pages detailing highlights of the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes; and in-depth descriptions of the accomplishments of the Service Club, Glee Club, Commercial Club, Peptimist Club, etc. The class motto for the Senior Class of 1926 was “Character is All!”
The class president described their senior year as follows: “…it was our senior year that we must look to appreciate truly our high school life. The hopes of years were at last realized. Early in November the school addition, containing the new combined gymnasium and auditorium, was finally completed. What senior has not experience a sincere thrill of pride and of satisfaction as he has entered the gymnasium for programs, pep meetings, parties, and basketball games? We are equally proud of our cafeteria where we have enjoyed hot dinners on cold winter days and appetizing lunches after organization parties. Our school life has been further rounded by the new courses of home economics, manual training, auto mechanics, and physical education….”
It’s hard to imagine our ancestors as high school kids. My only memory of my grandpa is as…a grandpa. I’m grateful to have these treasures. They really help me to know him better.