Downtown 1958

Downtown 1958

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Otto Kloepfel

Many of Menasha's "characters" from its past come to my awareness just by chance.  This calling card, for example, was for sale some weeks ago on eBay.  So of course, being a curious guy, I took it as a challenge to learn more about this Otto Kloepfel.  Yes, he was a piano tuner.  That much was in evidence, as well as on the reverse of his business card where Otto displayed that he had completed a special course in repairing and tuning player pianos.
Standard Player Monthly, February 1916
Player pianos were more than just a novelty at the turn of the century, so much so that a whole journal was devoted to the industry.  Looking up his piano tuning school resulted in this find. Could Otto be in this photograph?
January 22, 1937, Oshkosh Northwestern
But then a scan of local newspapers from his lifetime merited this gem.  Otto also had an interest in ice skating, as evidenced by many newspaper articles I came across about his prowess at an advanced age, which must have made him quite the popular topic around town.  In this particular case, the match was eventually cancelled because unseasonably warm weather that winter had made the rink conditions intolerable for the match, but it was obvious that Otto had a reputation as a skater, which by this time, most likely outshone his musical past.
September 22, 1939,  Appleton Post-Crescent
It was evident that Otto Kloepfel had a varied life- a harpist, conductor, piano tuner, baseball player, and skater in Menasha.  He lived in a period where he saw the dirt streets of horse and buggy Menasha and player pianos in parlors evolve into the paved avenues of sleek automobiles and radio shows.  My maternal grandfather lived in such an era as well; I wonder if he knew Otto Kloepfel?  I would love to know.

1 comment:

  1. A fascinating anecdote about one of the town's real characters. His marketing approaches are noteworthy! Thanks for the excellent job of detailed research!!