The little building at the intersection of Old Green Lake Road and state Highway 23-73 on Princeton’s southeast side has been Hair Trends Styling Salon for nearly 30 years, but I will always remember it as the drive-in where my Aunt Elaine – Elaine (Novak) Ronspies – worked as a car hop in the 1950s.
The sounds of hammers and saws echoed throughout Princeton during the spring of 1950, the Princeton Times-Republic reported that April. The Handcraft Company’s new factory building bounded by Main, Washington and Water streets was nearing completion. Reinhold Eickleman was remodeling the building at 433 West Water Street and planned to open a dairy bar with game room, later known as Reinie’s grocery store. New houses were being built by John Hotmar, Luke Buchen, Morris Swed, Ed Krystofiak, Phil Lehner Jr., Lloyd Marquardt, Dr. A.G. Giese, Leo Knaack and Carl Lichtenberg.
Ernest and Evelyn McQueen, of Beaver Dam, meanwhile, erected a small, one-story building on the east edge of town for a root-beer stand billed as the McQueen Drive In. In addition to the well-known Richardson Root Beer with its signature logo, McQueen’s drive-in sold barbecue and steak sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, malted milks, floats, sundaes and more, with free root beer for the tots. It opened in June.
Princeton Times-Republic, June 8, 1950 – “How many of you have visited McQueen’s drive-in since it opened early this week? If you have youngsters, I know the answer must be often, at least at our house when we’re out for a ride, we can’t get within blocks of the drive-in without one of the three asking for root beer.” (Seen & Heard Around Town, Philip Norman, editor)
The McQueens’ drive-in was usually open from June-September. McQueen sold to Elmer Fehrer, also from Beaver Dam, who operated the drive-in for several years before selling to Carl and Eva Keesling in April 1962. (I’ve been told but have not confirmed the Fehrer drive-in for a time was called Cloudy’s.)
Princeton Times-Republic, April 12, 1962 – “Mr. and Mrs. Carl Keesling are in the process of completing arrangements to purchase the Village Drive-In at the edge of the city limits on Highway 23 from Elmer Fehrer, who has operated the restaurant for the past several years. Keesling operated the Shell Service Station here and for the past year has been out west, where he recuperated from an operation. … Work has already begun on the drive-in which will include a 12-foot by 26-foot extension on the east side which will be an enclosed dining room. Curb service will also be provided as in the past. Another bathroom will be added as well as other remodeling.”
Princeton’s second drive-in arrived in May 1958 when Art Dreblow opened Dreblow’s at 631 South Fulton Street, about one block west of the Village Drive-In. Dreblow bought the competition in 1963.
Princeton Times-Republic, Sept. 12, 1963 – “Art Dreblow, owner of Dreblow’s Drive-In, Gas Station and Laundromat here, announced this week that he had purchased the Village Drive-In owned by Carl Keesling. The sale was effective as of Monday, September 9th. Dreblow’s present drive-in is located on County Highway D within the city limits and the Village Drive-In is just a short way away, but on Highway 23-73. Both locations will remain the same as before. Mr. and Mrs. Keesling are going to return to Prineville, Oregon.”
Dreblow kept both locations open, but a fire at the Fulton Street building in December 1963 changed his plans. The fire caused an estimated $10,000 in damages and closed the Dreblow laundromat (north room) and drive-in restaurant there. He reopened the former Keesling drive-in in spring 1964.
Princeton Times-Republic, April 9, 1964 – “It was over a year ago that Arthur Dreblow purchased the Village Drive-In from Carl Keesling. His plans at the time were to operate that business as well as his own Diner Drive-In and then merge the two operations. However, a disastrous fire this winter which gutted the diner, the office, storage rooms and laundry facilities changed most of his plans. So, this week, he announced a new project for the coming year. Having completely remodeled the former Village Drive-In, Dreblow will operate it throughout the summer. … The fire-swept diner will not be reopened. The salvageable equipment has been moved to the other drive-in on Highway 23-73.”
The newly remodeled Dreblow’s Drive-In opened on April 30. It remained open for about two years. By then Dreblow had rebuilt the Fulton Street building. He reopened the laundromat and Arturo’s Drive-In in May 1966. The features included window service, tables and booths, pool table and juke box.
The Dreblows turned the former McQueen-Fehrer-Keesling drive-in into a youth center in 1967.
Princeton Times-Republic, April 27, 1967 – “Arthur Dreblow plans on opening the drive-in formerly owned by Carl Keesling as a club for teen-agers. It will be known as the “Never on Monday Club” and will be managed by teenagers and will be open Tuesday through Sunday each week from 5 till 11 o’clock. It will be their responsibility to manage an orderly place. There will be games and pool, plus hamburgers, French fries and root beer. Mr. Dreblow hopes to open at the end of May and if the club proves to be a success, he will remodel next fall.”
I don’t know how long the “Never on Monday Club” existed, but it was gone by 1971 when the Dreblows closed the laundromat on South Fulton Street and replaced it with a game room for teenagers. The juke box, pool table and games were moved from the drive-in to the new youth center next door. Vandalism forced the game room to close in a short time.
(Art Dreblow died in July 1976.)
Jim and Pam Hallett bought the former Highway 23-73 drive-in building, which had fallen into disrepair, in 1979. According to Pam’s post on a local Facebook page where I asked for help on the building’s history, Jim remodeled it and he and Pam’s father, Harry Miller, used it for a real estate office for a year before leasing it to the Army Corp of Engineers as a recruiting office for eight years.
Princeton Times-Republic, July 18, 1985 – “As some of you well know, Princeton has a new Army recruiter. Sgt. 1st Class Pete Rosa has been recruiting in Princeton and throughout Green Lake and Marquette counties since May 13 of this year. Sergeant Pete drives every morning from Wisconsin Rapids to Princeton. … Anyone interested in talking to SFC Rosa can either call him at the recruiting station, (414) 295-6538, or they could stop by the recruiting station across from Princeton High School.”
The Halletts sold to Howard Bartol, who had operated an insurance agency on Water Street for several years. He sold the property to Randy Sondalle. George Hollings moved part of his Advanced Controls Inc. business into the building in 1990.
Princeton Times-Republic, June 14, 1990 – “George Holling works with small motor controllers, both DC and brushless. These boards control the output of the motors, the speed and the power and are used in robotics, missile actuators, military aerospace equipment. They are being tested on turbine aircraft and machine tools. … For some years, Holling has coordinated most of this from his home. … However, business has picked up, and his home has become crowded with various pieces of computerized equipment. In an attempt to pull all the aspects of this together, Holling felt one, larger location was necessary. So he moved last Monday to the former Army Recruiting building. Space in the building will not be adequate for a long-term plan, and Hollings will reassess his needs in autumn.”
Holling moved to 518 West Water Street in March 1991, and Hair Trends Styling Salon, owned by Cheri Giese, moved into the building on Highway 23-73 in 1993.
Giese, a 1975 graduate of Princeton High School, had worked for Dorothy Banner at the Princeton Beauty Salon at 444 West Water Street for eight years before buying the business from Banner, who had been in the Hiestand building since November 1970, in 1986.
Giese moved Hair Trends from Water Street to Highway 23-73, “between M&M Family Restaurant and FS Coop,” in May 1993 and held a grand opening in October. The beauticians were Giese, Banner and Pam Parker.
Giese told the newspaper she liked her new digs: “It’s brighter, cheerier, and easier to find. Parking is easier, too.”
The building remains home to Hair Trends Styling Salon today.
Please let me know if you have any corrections or can fill in any gaps. As always, thank you for reading and caring about local history.