Oscar is a cheerful, enthusiastic, modest man and a key ingredient that makes The Pearl a success. He has been recognized as “one of the nation’s authentic, old-time soda jerks” and named Wisconsin’s Outstanding Older Worker.
His son, TJ, and daughter-in-law, Michelle, opened The Pearl in 1993. In The Pearl’s second year, Oscar stopped by on a winter day and asked his son why The Pearl was closed. TJ told him,”Because it’s February, and this is Wisconsin.” Oscar replied, “You can’t make money if you are not open. Show me how to make a malt, and I will be in The Pearl just in case someone comes in.” It wasn’t long before he became the driving force behind the Pearl.
As sales increased, and a local shop could no longer supply enough ice cream, TJ started buying ice cream from a wholesaler. Oscar did not agree with that decision. Either they start making ice cream themselves or take down the sign in the front window that said, “Homemade Ice Cream.” So Oscar took a course on making ice cream at the University of Wisconsin and became a member of the National Yogurt and Ice Cream Association. After his success with making ice cream, Oscar knew it wouldn’t be difficult to make candy and now the shop makes 95 percent of its ice cream and most of its chocolate candies.
Born in 1921, Oscar has enjoyed a great life. He has four children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He managed the A&P grocery store in La Crosse for 21 years. Then, he sold real estate for 17 years.
Oscar enjoys gardening, biking, and woodworking. He has made many items from wood for The Pearl including shelves, long-handled spoons, wood bases for glass jars, and a rack to hold ice cream cones.
Oscar enjoys the people that come into The Pearl as much as they enjoy him. Oscar observes, “Ice cream makes you smile. So everyone who comes in here leaves smiling.”