William faeth



Keywords: william faeth
Description: There are places to go where you can drink adult beverages and watch three sporting events on multiple large, flat-screen televisions. There are places to go where you can drink adult beverages

There are places to go where you can drink adult beverages and watch three sporting events on multiple large, flat-screen televisions.

There are places to go where you can drink adult beverages and listen to local bands and do karaoke throughout the night.

No, at the bar at 832 Ave. G, the lone television set at William Faeth III’s establishment may be tuned to the 700 Club or Dr. Phil or any other low-key program.

You don’t want to disturb the low-key conversation of patrons, who come in and out throughout the afternoon and have done so at the downtown bar for the last 90 years. That’s a lot of generations of conversations.

“This is a relaxing place,” said patron Wayne Chesnut who stops in every couple of weeks ago. “You don’t have to listen to music or loudness. There’s no loud jukebox. Any time I bring someone here for the first time, they love it.”

Bill (“Billy” to some of the regulars) Faeth gets help from his children, Rob, Randy (and Randy’s wife, Tina) and Rhonda in running both the bar and the wholesale portion of the business.

Faeth’s sold cigarettes until the state of Iowa jacked up the cigarette tax, sending many customers to Missouri and Illnois. You can also buy candy and guns and ammunition there.

In fact, Bill Faeth said that’s one of the attractions to the place. Visitors from other countries who are visiting one of the local factories, come to Faeth’s and have their picture taken.

“They want to see what’s different and strange,” Faeth said. “They don’t believe it, where you can see beer and guns in the same place.”

Also, “They get to handle guns,” Faeth said, noting that the visitors’ home countries don’t allow possession or easy access to a person’s own guns.

Despite all the concerns over guns and the latest shootings, Chesnut said he feels safe at a place where there’s plenty of ammunition.

Except, “We have to have terrorist insurance,” Faeth said, “but we can’t collect unless the president declares it (the attack) is an act of terrorism.”

Chesnut said, “I have a couple of beers and talk to ‘Billy’ and Rob and others and get a lot of history out of them.”

“I spent four years in the service in the Far East,” said Billy. He went to a military school in Newport, R.I. but this was not a wartime situation. His only risk of injury came “mostly from hellish storms out at sea.”

Bill’s grandfather, William Robert Faeth I, started a business in 1910, when it was on 16th Street, behind where Beck Oil is now. He was a grandmaster tinner, working with sheet metal. “He built it with the intent of starting a hardware store,” Faeth said.

William Robert Faeth II was born in 1910 but before he graduated from Fort Madison High School in 1928, his father began a different business instead, at its present location.

“A restaurant was here before it became a pool hall,” Billy Faeth said. William I took over the place in 1924 and opened the Royal Cigar Store. In later years, there was a bar on the other side of the store, Billy Faeth said.

But the cigar store opened in the early days of Prohibition. From 1920-1933, the 18th amendment to the Constitution forbid the sale, production, importation and transportation of alcoholic beverages.

In 1932, the business was named Faeth’s, when William I bought out a partner he had been working with.

Billy’s father had been a traffic manager in Chicago with the Chase and Sanborn Coffee Co. and saw a bar table at the World’s Fair in the Windy City. “This was in a blue ribbon booth,” Billy said.

Next store was Russell’s Appliance Store at the time in the 1950s and 60s. Tom Davis started a sporting goods store in the 1960s and that was there until the 1980s.

When Davis closed the store, Billy bought it from the bank and used the space to store wholesale merchandise, such as restaurant supplies, cigarettes, candy and paper goods.

When the cigarette portion of the business went up in smoke, thanks to the Iowa legislature, the Faeths went into the gun business. “We were trying to pick up the loss in the wholesale business,” Billy said.

If you have time, Billy will gladly tell you what he thinks of the government in general and the cigarette tax in particular. It will be a lengthy tirade, but at least the surroundings will be nice and quiet.






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