Retirees restore 1940′s soda fountain in Dodgeville shop
The soda fountain was in great shape, but the challenge was finding someone who knew how to fix it.
DODGEVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - Finding the right handyman can be tough -- especially when the piece of equipment you need fixed is around eighty years old.
Thanks to a stroke of luck and the hard work of some retirees, residents in a south-central Wisconsin town can now get a taste of their past.
Nestled in the middle of downtown Dodgeville, friends can grab a coffee or a small bite at the newly opened Cathryn’s Market. Those who’ve been around this block a while know the space used to be the Corner Drug Store.
“More recently it was the Hometown Pharmacy, but it really hadn’t changed its motif since the 1970′s,” said Cliff Gonyer, owner of Cathryn’s Market.
Cliff and his wife Cari bought the storefront in 2019 and remodeled it. They gave it a fresh face and a new purpose but took care to keep in nods to its history.
“There was a lot of work to do. What you see right now is original ceiling from when this was originally built in the mid 1800′s and then the floor is original as well,” explained Gonyer.
However, there was one piece that came with the store that presented quite the challenge – a soda fountain from the 1940′s, in great condition, but no longer working.
“From the moment we purchased this building and started working on it, everybody in this town would say, are you going to bring back the soda fountain? Because everybody remembers it,” expressed Gonyer.
Gonyer said the problem was, all the initial handymen he had come take a look at the fountain, didn’t know how to fix it. “It’s kind of like finding an old 1940′s truck in your barn. You can’t take it to your local dealership and ask them to fix it, because they’re like look that’s not something we do,” said Gonyer.
That is, until he contacted Kevin Macke, a retired Madison refrigeration consultant. “He came in and kinda looked at it and he goes, I’m up for a challenge. Let me call a guy I know,” explained Gonyer,
Macke reached out to a steamfitter he’d worked with in Madison for 45 years, Jim Gryzynger. Gryzynger came and took one look at the fountain, and knew he was the man for the job.
“Didn’t think I’d ever see one again to be honest with you. Just lucky enough to have the skills that we need through being a steamfitter, that I could possibly do some good for him,” said Gryzynger.
“It takes 30 seconds to realize this guy really knows what he’s talking about,” added Gonyer.
The men loaded the soda fountain on to a trailer and hauled it off to Gryzynger’s personal shop. “It sat there for 8 or 9 months while we were picking along at it, trying to figure out which components we needed. There was no wiring diagram with it. There was no print with it of any kind,” explained Gryzynger.
During those weeks of tinkering and scouring for bygone parts, Gryzynger found himself reminiscing on the past.
“It kind of brought me back to my days when I was 7, 8 years old and my dad or mom would give me a quarter and send me down to the dime store and I’d get a soda,” told Gryzynger.
Finally, they were able to reinstall it and by mid-October Gonyer was making egg creams and lemon lime sodas for the public to enjoy.
“I’ve got people who tell me about how they came here and now they have their grandkids coming in here and they’ve got pictures of them sitting at the counter. It’s pretty cool stuff,” said Gonyer.
Lifetime Dodgeville resident and retired police officer Paul Julson couldn’t wait to have a taste. “It’s really good to have a phosphate and a soda like we used to have them years back,” told Julson.
With just one sip, Julson said his memories of grabbing a soda at this very shop came bubbling back up. “When I was in high school, we used to come down here the whole team would come in and we’d get all our drinks from here,” reminisced Julson.
Julson also expressed his gratitude that the Goyner’s gave the historic space a new life, without giving up on the soda fountain.
“The downtown Dodgeville has lost its’ business and by folks like Cari and Cliff bringing it all back again, it just enhances the downtown, attracts more people, makes it better than it was,” added Julson.
Gonyer said they plan to have a grand re-opening celebration soon at Cathryn’s Market, now that the soda fountain is finally working.
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