Fond memories of the Sketch

Weekend reunion pays tribute to former bar that was eclectic gathering place

PERUSING NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS and photographs with a crowd of family members and former Sketch Bar patrons behind them were (sitting, from left) Christine Pochert Ringle, Tonia Pochert Kountz and Terry Pochert Urban, whose parents owned and operated the tavern, and Glenn Stroessner, who organized the reunion at the Patio Bar and Grill in Port on Sunday. The sisters wore shirts emblazoned with a painting of the tavern done by Urban in the 1980s. Their parents Marge and Tony ran the Sketch Bar at the corner of Grand Avenue and Moore Road in the 1960s and ’70s.
Ozaukee Press staff

The Sketch Bar in Port Washington was the place to be in the mid-1960s, where workers from Simplicity and Bolens would gather for lunch and young people would visit at night.

It was such a unique gathering spot that people today still recall those days with a sense of nostalgia. Last Sunday, at least some of the crowd that hung out at the Sketch reconvened at the Patio Bar and Grill in Port for a reunion.

“I still have a smile from ear to ear,” said Tonia Pochert Kountz, whose parents Anthony and Margaret owned the Sketch Bar at the corner of Grand Avenue and Moore Road.

“People reconnected, and it was fun. We had 30 to 40 people, and I got to talk to everybody.”

Those attending brought photos and  newspaper clippings about the bar and the art shows that were staged there — many of them from Ozaukee Press — Kountz said.

One couple talked about how they met at the Sketch and later married, she said. One man came in memory of his late brother to talk to people who may have remembered him.

The Sketch Bar was etched into the memory of many people because of the mix of people who spent time there and the atmosphere.  

“It was very eclectic,” Kountz’s sister Chris Pochert Ringle said. “The day crowd didn’t look like the night crowd. It was everyone from a conservative group during the day to left-leaning radicals at night.”

Glenn Stroessner, who frequented the bar during the early 1970s, said it was “a place for the hippies to hang out.”

“It was always a well-kept crowd,” he said. “There was a great ambience. I like to think of it as our Cheers in Port Washington, where everyone knew your name.”

But it was more than just a bar, he said. The Pocherts, better known as Tony and Marge, were immersed in the art scene, and they brought that passion to the tavern at the corner of Grand Avenue and Moore Road.

Marge would organize art shows at the bar virtually every month, while Tony would do charcoal sketches of the patrons and hang them on the walls, Kountz said.

Also on display was a sculpture of a centaur named Cecil made by the couple’s son Tom.

“I used to come in there to have a beer and look at the artwork,” Stroessner said.  “It was just a little hole in the wall, but the artwork made it seem a little more special. It was a great place to go.”

Remembering that artwork, Stroessner put out a note on the I Grew Up In Port Washington Facebook page earlier this year, asking if anyone had any of those pieces.

The response, he said, was astounding — even more so when someone suggested there should be a reunion for those who had hung out and worked at the bar.

“I figured that all it would take is someone naming a time and place to meet,” Stroessner said.

So he set the date for Sunday, July 22, because so many people return to Port for Fish Day on the third Saturday in July.

“At least eight people said they would come,” Stroessner said with a laugh before the reunion. “I’m just shocked at how it grew from a simple question to this.”

Marge and Tony, who owned the bar from 1966 to 1977, would be pleased, their daughters said.

The couple had owned a Milwaukee tavern called the Sketch Bar for years, then ran a custom framing business in a transitional area of the city, Ringle said, but when things got bad they moved to Port.

Marge and Tony would tend the bar during the day. During those early years, Marge would make meals for the workers from Simplicity who would stop by for lunch and 25-cent beers, she said.

Tony used his artistic skills to create portraits of the bar’s customers, but that wasn’t the only skill he used at the tavern, Kountz said.

“My dad could also write upside down and backwards,” she said. “Someone would come in with a long Polish name and he’d have a paper facing you and, starting with the last letter, write it out so you could read it. People couldn’t believe it.”

While their parents often tended bar during the day, Ringle said she and her siblings often handled those duties at night, when the crowd was much younger.

“It was a very fun place,” she said. “We had an excellent, lively group of young people who would hang out there. It was the end of the Vietnam era, and we had soldiers, Vietnam vets against the war. It was a real mix of people.”

Stroessner said the crowd at the reunion, which included a number of Pochert family members, wasn’t as large as he had hoped, but those who attended enjoyed themselves.

A number of people have said they were sad they missed the reunion, Kountz said. Will that will lead to another reunion?

“We’ll have to see,” she said.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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