In these pages over our twelve 125th-Anniversary months, I have shared some wonderful examples of “Hands-On-Heritage:"
- How I was approached at a Beer Steward presentation in North Carolina by a descendent of the 1885 Germania-Wetterer Brewery, eager to share his family brewery’s memorabilia.
- How I descended under the streets in Cincinnati’s historic Over-The-Rhine District into the newly discovered, century-old fermentation cellars and connecting tunnels of the Gerke Brewery.
- How, with another committee member, I discovered...and brewed...an archived, 95-year-old pre-Prohibition pils recipe from the Huebner-Toledo Brewery, a casualty of Prohibition.
Already I have learned that sometimes you travel from place to place, intensely focused on a mission to “uncover and discover”. Other times, those “discoveries” literally come to you, and in the most serendipitous ways. That is exactly what happened to me just two weeks ago when one very special individual recognized a potential slice of MBAA history and went way above and beyond the call of duty to preserve it.
On Monday, January 7, 2013, I received an e-mail from Dawn Vukson at MBAA Headquarters. Someone had e-mailed the contact form at MBAA and, as Dawn said, “...it looks like
something the Heritage Chair might be interested in!” The contact e-mail was from Floridian Jennifer Valdivia. It read:
“Hi, I was recently cleaning out my bookshelves when I found a book I bought at a flea market years ago. It is The Life of Pasteur by Radot that was given at the 33rd Annual convention of the Master Brewers Association of America in Philadelphia. It was signed by someone with (what looks like) the last name Burton of the Pennsylvania State Brewers Association.
I was wondering if your organization would like it? I am relocating to another state and would hate for a book this old and possibly a piece of history to end up at my local Goodwill. I have no problem sending you the book if you would like it. It is in otherwise perfect condition.”
Would we like it!!?! Wow!! I responded to Jennifer that our organization would love the volume.
She carefully bubble-wrapped the book and sent it to me priority mail just a few days later.
As it turns out, MBAA’s 33rd Annual Convention was indeed hosted by District Philadelphia and held in that city October 4–7, 1936, at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel. The convention was entirely dedicated to Louis Pasteur. The dedication was complete with a “...fitting ceremony developed commemorating Louis Pasteur.” On a humorous note, the MBAA president in 1936 was Herman Rosenbusch. Mr. Rosenbusch had a reputation of being a “stickler for proper procedure”. According to Phil Berkes, then president of District Philadelphia, Mr. Rosenbusch turned “thumbs down” the very idea of in-room entertainment, believing it to be improper. In response, District Philadelphia “inaugurated a plan” to have a separate entertainment center where all delegates could gather.
The volume that Jennifer sent to us is titled The Life of Pasteur. It was written by René Vallery-Radot, a French writer. I have since discovered that he was born in Paris on October 1, 1853, and died in Paris on January 24, 1933. René was also the son-in-law of Louis Pasteur, whose first biography he wrote. The volume was translated from the French by Mrs. R. L. Devonshire and was published by Garden City Publishing Co. specifically for that 33rd MBAA Annual Convention, complete with an MBAA cover, emblem, and title page. I have included a photograph of the signature that Jennifer alluded to, which, as she said, appears to be “W. Burton.” Maybe someone with District Philadelphia would be able to shed a bit more light.
Jennifer has since written to me:
“I bought this book when I was in the 3rd grade at a flea market in Orlando during a family vacation. For years I was interested in Pasteur, which is why I chose this book. There was a series of children’s books called “The Value of Learning”. One book in the series featured Pasteur’s discovery of the rabies vaccination. My parents read that book to me frequently and became the force that prompted me to read all I could about Pasteur. I am glad you and your organization can enjoy the book.”
There it is, yet another example of someone who recognizes the value in preserving heritage, even when that heritage belongs to someone else. Maybe it is also time for MBAA to recognize, in some small way, forward-thinking folks like Jennifer, who take the time from their busy lives and make the gallant effort to preserve such items. For MBAA, our 125-year heritage is just a bit stronger because of Jennifer Valdivia.