For our company and for many others in the U.S., 1930 was a tough year. The stock market crash of 1929 that had occurred just one year earlier marked the beginning of the Great Depression. By 1930, the U.S. economy was in a freefall.
Adding to the misery for many, Prohibition which began in 1920, was still in full effect. As I have written before, my grandfather, William Zehnder and his friend Herman Fischer who ran Fischer’s Hotel across the street (now the Bavarian Inn) were caught serving alcohol in 1930. Their trial resulted in the largest fines handed out during Prohibition, Herman’s $10,000 fine was the largest levied and William received a fine of $5,000. Needless to say they were both stunned.
Well that wasn’t quite it. They could each receive a $1,200 credit against the fine if they agreed to have their beautiful oak bars destroyed. They both agreed. That portion of the sentence was carried out, and both their bars were smashed to bits by federal agents on Saturday November 15th, 1930. Thanksgiving came just twelve days later. Thanksgiving 1930 had to be a tough one. I just wonder what the family discussion was around the table back then. Do we continue? Is this worth it? How do we pay this fine?
We have carried on a bit of a tradition in our family where we go around the table on Thanksgiving and tell each other what we are thankful for. I am thankful that those before us resolved to continue in the face of hardship.
This year our family welcomes Thanksgiving guests for the 85th year in a row. I am thankful for each of you that have supported our company through the years.
If you need a place to gather your family around the table on Thanksgiving, we have one for you. From our family to yours, have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Al Zehnder, CEO of Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth