Friday, August 24, 2012

So Sad

Pioneer Inn Oshkosh, WI
The current heat wave has caused me to be sad. So sad. No, it’s not because of the scorching temperatures or the oppressive dew points. It’s not even the 105° heat index we experienced today. While I personally do not enjoy any of those things, they are not the reason for my present state of unhappiness. But rest assure that the current heat wave has definitely caused me to be sad. So sad.

This hot spell that we are mired in brought about this sense of melancholy a couple of nights ago. As can be expected, the local TV news reports have been jam-packed with stories about air conditioners, beaches and ice cubes.

All I wanted to see was the forecast. I wanted to know how long this was supposed to last. Where was Brian Gotter when you needed him?

Finally my favorite weatherman was on and magically all of his fancy visuals appeared. At one point Gotter was standing in front of a map of Wisconsin while he mentioned the current temperature in Oshkosh.

That’s when it all started.

Oshkosh! I love Oshkosh! After all, the Pioneer Inn was in Oshkosh! One of the most memorable weeks of my entire life took place at the Pioneer Inn. Those were undoubtedly five of the happiest days of my life.

You are probably wondering why I’m so sad if Oshkosh brings back such pleasant memories. I shall get to that, but first a little background is required.

Prior to that glorious week in Oshkosh, I had been promoted to the newly created position of Human Resource Director at Koos Inc. That’s right; Koos, Inc. never had anyone in that position before 1990. I know, I know, but keep in mind that we are talking about Koos Inc.

Since I was new to the position, the company felt that it would be beneficial for me to attend a seminar concerning the intricacies of Human Resources. That is where Oshkosh and the Pioneer Inn entered into the equation because that is where the seminar took place.

So, on a lovely Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1990, I aimed my Dodge Ramcharger north on Highway 41, not really knowing what to expect. 2½ hours and 120 miles later I arrived at the Pioneer Inn resort located on sparkling Lake Winnebago.

The time between Sunday evening when I arrived and Friday afternoon when I left were chock-full of wonderful memories. I believe that I was smiling the entire time I was there. Just thinking about it, I am smiling right now.

Then why am I also so sad?

On that fateful night, when I was reminded of Oshkosh, I immediately did a search on my computer for the Pioneer Inn. I needed another glimpse, a reminder of that splendid week. It would be like looking up an old friend.

Unfortunately, what I found is the reason that I am downhearted. The Pioneer Inn is no longer with us. That enchanting 180-room resort located on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, Wisconsin no longer exists. It is gone.

When I searched “Pioneer Inn Oshkosh”, I got a response from titled, “Why is the Pioneer Inn closed?” What I saw next caused my heart to drop.

There were 29 replies, a few explanations mixed in with many notes of disbelief. This comment summed things up the best:
“Unbelievable: I cannot believe this beautiful property is not being used. At the very least they should open up the restaurant. This is a crime and the guy that bought this property should be put in jail.
Long story short. The owners and the DNR got into a big disagreement and a lot of legal red tape regarding public as opposed to private land usage on the proposed site of the hotel/condo.

The resort was open in the summer of 2005, sans hotel. Just the restaurant and banquet facilities. Since then, everything has been closed except for the marina, which, quite frankly, is going straight down the crapper.

As a former employee, I am extremely saddened by the constant push and shove match the owners and DNR cannot seem to get over. Call it what you want to call it, back it up with mounds of paperwork and land agreements, but it is what it is...

A bunch of 4 year olds fighting the old “I will not”, “you will too"” game on the school playground.

Shame on you all.”

It took Brian Gotter’s weather map to make me aware that this once-magnificent institution is no longer around. This resort that was the hub for what was the most outstanding 5-day period of my life now ceases to be.

I am sad. So sad.

That is enough mourning for my old friend, the Pioneer Inn. In an upcoming blog I promise to let you know why my stay there was so unforgettable. After all this gloominess, it’s the least I can do. Besides, it will be a joy reliving those glorious moments.

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This blog was originally posted July 20, 2011. Part two will be posted on Sunday.

Until next time…from the booth.

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