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Somewhere around mid-March, many of us were experiencing our last public outing for a while, even though we had no idea at the time. Maybe it was dinner at a restaurant, maybe it was a live concert or maybe it was a casual gathering of friends, but it’s strange to think about it now. What if we knew it at the time? We certainly would have acknowledged it. Maybe a toast to the uncertainty of the future? Most likely a hug.
We were on the cusp of what would later become dark history and we didn’t know it. With little warning, we would find ourselves shocked and shut-in our homes with a new vocabulary featuring words like "shelter-in-place" and "social distancing."
Unbeknownst to me, my final group affair was a distillery tour at Great Lakes Distillery. My partner / photographer and I were there to cover the tour because it won "Best Local Tour" in OnMilwaukee’s Best Of Bars contest and we wanted to check it out as it had been a few years since we experienced it firsthand.
Plus, our friend Danielle Strampp-Moon worked there now and it's always fun to see the professional side of someone you know personally.
The tour took place at 3 p.m. on a Wednesday, and there were about a dozen people in tow. Danielle quickly established herself as a fun, entertaining tour guide who provided information and stories – including a particularly good one about the origin of the name of Roaring Dan’s Rum that involved a Great Lakes pirate.
The distillery is small and packed with wooden barrels, shiny equipment and bottles both empty and full. There’s a clock on the wall always set to 5 o’clock, we learned the technical term "bunghole" and then, when we were filled to the gills with information, we returned to the tasting room to sit shoulder-to-shoulder, belly-up to the bar to sample spirits.
I interviewed Danielle while she served from behind the bar and poured drinks while answering patrons' questions. Today, I finally listened to our interview recorded more than a month ago, but couldn’t bring myself to listen to until now, knowing it would remind me of a life that had been quickly corked.
"What do I love about my job?" Danielle said, repeating my question, smiling, pouring a sample of Still & Oak Straight Bourbon whiskey into my glass. "I get to meet people, lots of people from all over the world, and our only objective is to have a really good time together while enjoying a little sip of something."
Listening to her recorded response reminded me that even though we would go home and not leave again for a very long time and our lives would undoubtedly change, what we miss the most is exactly what we already had and what we'll have again.
Surprisingly, listening to this interview from my last public event made me feel better, not worse, because I knew in the not-so-distant future – although my life would be forever different in some ways – I would still be able to, in Danielle's words, "meet people ... and our only objective (will be) to have a really good time together while enjoying a little sip of something."
So where was your last public event, Milwaukee?
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.