Thursday, December 15, 2011

Salem Beer for Christmas Cheer - Saloon Loon Anderson - Xmas Dinner at Hotel Willamette

Here are some snapshots from Christmas in the years a little before and a little after 1900.

In 1903 the imagined role of bright beer for holiday cheer is especially winning! We also like the idea of toning the system with beer. A beer tonic anyone?
Our Beer Promotes Christmas Cheer
Families who like to have a case of bright, sparkling, beer at home, which will give a zest to their food and tone to their system, will have a case of ours now. It is a fine beer. Call up phone 2131.
Salem Brewery Association
You might think of SantaCon as a distinctly modern and naughty take on Christmas. But even a century ago, there were Congresses of Santas!

Gilgamesh is hosting a more sedate form of it on Saturday:
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Gilgamesh's Winter Ale House, #106 in the Reed Opera House
Cost: Free, but everyone is encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots, in which case they will get half-price draft beers

Bill Anderson was Salem's near-sociopathic saloon-keeper. We hope to have a longer story for you sometime. You may recall his prank with a cadaver's skull at a "free lunch" promotion. Here he is in 1898 trying to scare the bejesus out of his Christmas customers! Well, it looks like Someone may had his patrons' backs instead...
Hand Badly Injured.
W. R. Anderson, the proprietor of the Elk Head saloon, met with an accident Saturday evening which may cost him his right hand. While at his place of business he thought to startle his customers a little for a Christmas joke, and procured a large Chinese bomb, which he intended to explode in the middle of the floor, but scarcely had he applied the match to the fuse when it went off in his right hand, shattering that member In a ghastly manner. The hand was torn asunder between the third and fourth finger from the base of the fingers almost to the wrist. The palm of the hand and the Inside of the lingers were badly lacerated. Mr. Anderson was taken to a doctor's office and the injury dressed it requiring 20 stitches to close the wound. It is thought that the hand can be saved.
Finally, here's the menu from the Hotel Willamette for Christmas dinner, just a decade earlier than the Thanksgiving menu we saw. There's no "Chateaubriand of Moose" or "Saddle of Alaska Antelope" this time. The menu is much more conservative and straight-forward. Oranges and bananas are the exotica. Oysters have to come from the east - or at least say they do. The Sauterne and Claret are almost certainly from California rather than France.
Big Christmas Dinner.
Following is the bill of fare at Hotel Willamette for Christmas day. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., price 50 cents:
Fresh Eastern Oysters Raw
Fried Salmon, Julian Potatoes
Chicken Salads
French Olives
Sweet Cucumbers and Dill Pickles
Sugar Corn French Peas Cauliflower
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Mashed and Steamed Potatoes
Roast Turkey Dressing Cranberry Sauce
Roast Duck Roast Chicken and Dressing
Boiled Ham Cold Tongue
Oyster Patties
Banana Fritters with Wine Sauce
Apple Mince Strawberry Pies
English Plum Pudding with Hard Sauce
Fruit Marble and Sponge Cakes
Star Kisses Crescents Chocolate Eclairs
Lady Fingers
Naval Oranges Apples Bananas
Fancy French Mixed Candy
Assorted Nuts and Raisins
Sauterne and Claret Wine Vintage 1891
The Hotel Willamette, aka Hotel Marion and Hotel Chemeketa, was located on the corner of Ferry and Commercial, where the Conference Center is today, just next door and north of the Capital Brewery, located where the sculpture garden is at Commercial and Trade. The photo here, from the Salem Public Library Historic Photograph Collections, is from around 1870 and is an old Cronise image. If you click through the link it will enlarge to show tremendous detail!


  1. Our Beer

    It's a nice little abbreviated quatrain unconventionally rhyming ABCA. I like how the last word "Cheer" sloshes together the "Ch" from "Christmas" and the "eer" from "Beer." Of course, perhaps an evangelical Christian reader might take offense, as the linguistic sleight of hand deftly displaces Christ as the center of the holiday and replaces him with a commercial good. Happy holidaze!

  2. We found a funny note about a "temperance beverage" that'll probably make its way here in not too long. And the relation of Christ and Commerce is always fascinating as you point out! Perhaps we'll locate a WCTU screed against Salem Beer some time!

    (Readers with an interest in type and letter should visit Mike's note on Robert Frost and Joseph Blumenthal. The typography just flat-out gorgeous. Unlike the accidental poetry of a headline shoehorned into tight space, these cards and broadsides are composed!)