Blue Moon in the Milk Bar

Famous Brühler pub is rebuilt in the open-air museum

Part 1 of the Milk Bar History

Part 2: Removal by centimetres and Part 3: Milk bar celebrates 65 in the Museum.Birthday

Interior photo and exterior view Archive Fritz Neff with friendly permission by Hans J. Rothkamp

"I'm coming to Kommern" long proclaimed a large poster on the outer wall where the trip might lead the former restaurant of Mike Smith in Carl-Schurz-Straße. The pub was known to its customers as a "milk bar" until the very end.

And this despite the fact that at the end of 2017 neither the curved lettering in white neon above the entrance door, nor the original blue-and-white livery of the old bar counter nor the former milk bar from the 1950s were reminiscent of the former milk bar. Instead, beige, dark red and the cover art of numerous long-playing records such as the Rolling Stones, Santana, Jimi Hendrix and many others dominated the walls of the pub.

Market Square Rhineland

The single-storey building is to move to the Open Air Museum Kommern this summer. There it will be rebuilt as part of an ensemble of buildings called "Marktplatz Rheinland", which reflect the period between 1945 and 1990. A spring prefabricated house from the 1960s, a typical flat roof bungalow from the 1950s, as well as an Eifel restaurant in the facilities around 1974 or an asylum home from the 1990s can already be visited there.

The historians of the National Museum of Folklore want to make two time cuts visible again in the milk bar after appropriate restoration.On the one hand, the view into the mid-1950s with the originally intended use as a milk bar. Another is supposed to show the change to a music pub in the 1970s.

"The music was good and the pub was full of people."

Marie Trimborn, Mike Smith's good friend

An era that host Mike Smith celebrated with concerts until the very end. His last birthday was with a rock band on December 29, 2017. "The music was good and the pub was full of people," recalls a good friend, Marie Trimborn, who still maintains the garden next door, all the more surprising for her was his sudden death.Just a few days later, Mike Smith died at the age of 64. The heiress, his sister Ellen decides to sell the property.The lawyer Herbert Poetes, who advises her, is not only a school friend of the deceased landlord, but also his long-time guest and, as chairman of the Brühler Museum Society, has a sense of historic buildings. He drew the attention of the historians of the Rhineland Landscape Association to the "Milkbar".

"A normal restaurant and meeting place for many more or less prominent brewers."

Herbert Poetes, , school friend of the landlord

Poetes remembers the milk bar, which in 1960s was the stronghold of the Brühler motorcycle rockers, who parked their large machines in the parking lot next door. In addition to drinks, food was served in the milk bar and guests danced to rock 'n' 'roll from the music box. Later, the milk bar "became a normal restaurant and meeting place for many more or less prominent brewers," says Poetes.

Party atmosphere (photo from the archive of Herbert Poetes)

The 87-year-old Elisabeth Beils still remembers the origins of the milk bar, which her parents Josef and Gertrud Eich built in the back of the garden of their house in Mühlenstraße in the mid-1950s. "Like a bomb," the milk bar was smashed after milk bars in Cologne were already "big in fashion," she says. With her sister and the cousin Marlene Vogel she stood behind the counter, quite chic in white servier aprons. "The women liked to sip milk mixed drinks in a chic dress, the men in the suit a Becks from the bottle. From the jukebox, the Valente sang the Casanova," Beils recalls.

"The women liked to sip milk mixed drinks in a chic dress, the men in the suit a Becks from the bottle. From the jukebox, the Valente sang the Casanova."

Elisabeth Beils

The centre of the restaurant was the large, white-blue refrigerated counter of the caracciola company. There she initially served ice cream from the baker Paul Scheel next door, vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, the ball to ten pfennigs.They mixed ingredients such as mocha milk with orange for flip, vanilla ice cream and white curacao the "White Dream" or the "Blue Moon", with blue liqueur and sugar edge. The sister Gertrud continued to run the milk bar with her husband, the Englishman William Smith.

Intimate relationship

The brewers experienced how intimate the Brühler's relationship with their milk bar was in the last year, whenever they whispered the roller shutters of the restaurant to see the stock in the pub.Many curious people would have stood on the threshold in order to be able to take another look into the familiar walls or get a souvenir, described Carsten Vorwig in charge of house and building research and Sabine Thomas-Ziegler from the collection and exhibition department.

For the director of the museum, Josef Mangold, this is a sign that he had the right smell. Such behaviour underpins the thesis that the milk bar was an important meeting place in Brühl and thus the value of maintaining the premises. Historians have long since brought the interior of the former milk bar, the historically relevant pieces from the dining room, the subsequent billiard room and the kiosk window to the street into the archives of the Landesmuseum and made a documentation of the current state.

Authentic representation

Now the building is still waiting for dismantling. Wall by wall, the milk bar is to be transported to the open-air museum. Vorwig hopes to gain further insights into the colour scheme and the materials used from bygone times from the examination of the walls once saved from the demolition excavator.In addition to historical photos, it is one of the foundations for the authentic representation of the rooms in their early phase. 

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