The Once and Future Tale of Frederic’s Last Man Standing Bottle

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Once upon a time there was a group of mostly guys (women were welcome) who would meet for coffee and donuts at the Frederic Library.  Someone nicknamed the group, the “Cucumber Guys.”  I was a member of this group.  Covid killed the group or at least our abode at the library.  We would meet from about 10-11:30 AM each day, Monday through Saturday.  The group sat around drinking coffee and discussing everything from the significant to the trivial.  Cars, guns, books, politics, religion were all subjects that might come up.  Sometimes the discussions were funny, sometimes thought provoking and sometimes even anger provoking.

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One fall day in 2012,  it was suggested that as the unofficial membership of this group was continuing to get older and older (most of us were already retired) that we create a “Last Man Standing Bottle.”  A bottle of whiskey would be purchased, and we would all sign up to be on a last man alive list.  Seven men agreed to do this with the understanding that the last survivor would someday inherit the bottle and drink a toast to each of the six men that he had outlived.

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Most of the men were either long-term residents of Frederic or spouses of long-term residents who had decided to come back to their roots.  My wife’s maiden name was Blomgren.  The Polk County Historical Society listed her family as one of the founding families of Frederic.  Her great-grandfather Gustaf Blomgren emigrated to West Sweden in 1860 from Smaland, Sweden. All of the other members of this “club” had similar ties to the Polk County area.

20220823_124000The seven men who would take part in this little effort included:

  • Ken Java (1934) — Deceased
  • Dick Doyscher (1939)
  • Tony Rolloff (1941)
  • Tom Searing (1945)
  • John Persico (1946)
  • Brian G. Rogers (1947) — Deceased
  • Jerry Beckman (1948) — Deceased

Ken being quite a good wood maker agreed to make a case for the bottle.  Jerry went to a store to have a metal plaque made which listed all of our names and birthdates.  The plaque is placed on the side of the case holding the bottle.  In a touch of whimsey, I purchased a bottle in Bardstown, Kentucky of 114 Proof Old Grand-Dad.

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At first the bottle was kept in the historic Beans restaurant.  The bottle has now been moved to a new home in the Frederic Depot Museum.  This is a museum built in the old train depot where once upon a time you could ride a train from Minneapolis St. Paul to Superior Wisconsin and stop in a number of small towns along the Wisconsin side.  Frederic was one of these towns.  As of this writing, three of the men have passed away. This story is exhibited along with the bottle in the original case that Ken made. Someday, only one man will be left standing.  Whoever follows this story, please see that this bottle gets to the “last man standing.”

Date of this Story:  August 28, 2022

Author:  John Persico Jr.

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