Kevin Bacon is famous for, among other things, making connections. Do you remember those commercials he made a few years ago? This is one of those kind of moments. Humour me, please. I’ll get you there.
This is a portrait of Charles L. Fleischmann (November 3, 1835 – December 10, 1897). When he grew up he managed a distillery in Vienna. Part of his duties there were to supervise the production of yeast.
When he first came to the United States on a visit, he noticed that American bread was flavorless and heavy. It was not at all like the wonderful breads he had known back in Europe. He also noticed that there was hardly any yeast produced in the United States.
Later, Charles and his brother Maximilian immigrated to the Land of Opportunity. The brothers moved to Cincinnati to run a distillery and produce and sell compressed yeast. They began producing cakes of compressed yeast. The cakes were an instant hit with the foreign population which had been raised on European yeast.
They became another success story and became very wealthy. Charles and his wife Henriette had three children: Betty, Julius, and Maximilian Charles Fleischmann.
The Fleischmanns’ business kept growing. They were making yeast and operating bakeries, they were also produced vinegar and beer. They became the first producers of gin in the United States.
With their family fortune, Charles began building an estate in the Catskills. He collected artwork, became involved in yachting. He also became involved in race horses. As their son Max grew up, he became involved in the family business. He also played baseball, became a boxer, played polo and tennis. He joined the Army when the Spanish-American War broke out.
In 1902 Max and his associates bought the Cincinnati Reds. He married, travelled the world; he became a hot air ballooner. With his fortune and his wife he travelled the world. His travels and interests brought him to California where he settled in the Santa Barbara area. Here, he could practice and participate at the Santa Barbara Polo club.
Max’s family fortune continued to grow and as he enjoyed the benefits of his fortune he was also very generous as well. He became well-known for his philanthropy. There is a lengthy list of projects and buildings and causes that he funded.
One of his interests involved duck hunting. He bought an old building and saved it from being destroyed. He used it as a hunting lodge. One of my father’s boyhood school mates was the caretaker there. He lived in the little cabin in the back of the yard.
The duck hunting lodge is located between the cities of Oxnard and Ventura. Thanks to Fleischmann’s generosity the building still stands. It is off Highway 101. Take the Telegraph Road exit and follow the signs.
This is the back of the building, the house was built by Raimundo Olivas. He was the grandfather of Juan Maria Olivas, stepfather of Carlos Najera, my father.