Oltmann's Wyoming Pastry Shop
According to the current Wyoming Pastry Shop website (CLICK HERE to view), there has been a bakery at 505 Wyoming Avenue since 1934. "Phillip and Kimberly Reschke are the fifth owners" which made me wonder about the history of this delicious-memory hotspot of my teenage years. I recall visiting the bakery often when my friends, Marcia, Deb and I would hang out with Vicky and Sue, newly-met high school friends who both lived in Wyoming. Vicky lived at one end and Sue at other along Springfield Pike. We would begin walking, riding bikes or, later driving, from Reading, on Benson St, through Lockland, until we hit Wyoming Avenue, heading right on the Pike to Sue's house, left to Vicky's. Either going or coming we always made a stop at the bakery. So who, I wonder, who were the owners at the time? Sending an email to friends it turns out that it had been Ed Ottmann. Through my friend, Deb, whose brother-in-law, Jim, married an Ottmann, we have a good start on the history of Wyoming Pastry Shop. JimG shares the following...
I will give you the history of the Wyoming Bakery that I remember from being the owner's son-in-law.
Edward J. Oltmann came alone to the U.S. ca 1930 from Eastern Germany* where he had trained in farming. His first job in America was at the Sinton Hotel on 4th St. in Cincinnati. He probably scrubbed pots and pans in the bakery to start and learned baking as he moved up. The German baking community was quite large back then and Ed met and married Josephine Fuhr whose father owned the German bakery in Findley market. In the late 1930's Ed worked in Wyoming for the founder of the Wyoming Bakery. During the middle of WW-II that owner decided to retire and offered the bakery and the three store front building to Ed for zero down and reasonable payments. He was off and running, following those German recipes strictly and using only the best ingredients. As the business grew he never compromised that quality. I remember that he fired his head baker several times for scrimping on butter during production. He always hired him back when Otto (chief baker) promised to follow the recipes.
In the 1960's Ed's son Edward, Jr. decided not to follow dad into the baking business and instead expanded his love of computers. Ed. Jr.'s education and dedication took him to Washington, D.C. where he finished his career as director of purchasing for the Internal Revenue Service.
Ed Sr. was still getting up each morning at 0300 as he approached his early sixties. When none of his employees were candidates to buy the business he sold it in the early 1970's to a Wyoming resident, a fine lady who maintained the German quality. Sorry...I cannot remember her name.
Ed Oltmann died suddenly in Florida during the winter of 1977.
Jim's letter is a beautiful tribute to the second owner of Wyoming Bakery. So excited to have a lead, I spent a few days researching trying to discover the original owner, and the two owners after Ed Otlmann and before the Reschkes. From Jim's write up I knew that Ed had sold the bakery when his son, Ed Jr., decides on a career in IT, but I am surprised to learn that when Ed Jr is in high school at Roger Bacon, that he fully intended to follow in his father's footsteps (See Enquirer article May 21, 1960 below). While in college, as Jim alludes to, Ed Jr. realizes that a careers in computers may be more interesting than running a bakery.
Above: Article in the Cincinnati Enquirer, September 20, 1962. I wonder if Ed Sr. knew by this time that Ed Jr no longer had an interest in the bakery business. *Note that in this article it states that Ed Sr. immigrated from Oldenburg (now Western Germany). Oldenburg makes sense as so many Germans immigrated from that area to Cincinnati-NKY.
Right: Article in the Cincinnati Enquirer, May 21, 1960. Obviously as a senior in high school Ed Jr. is ready to become a baker in his father's footsteps. I just have to wonder how the conversation unfolded when Ed Jr. tells his father that a career in computers would be more to his liking. These are conversations many immigrant families had, and likely, still have in our country today.
Ed Jrs' story is certainly a familiar one in immigrant families. I know in my family there were businesses opened and later closed as 1st and 2nd generations began to realize that a college education could be the ticket to an easier, less stressful, more interesting life, and, in many cases, more lucrative. In another example, according to an article in the NY Times ... "Across the country, owners of Chinese-American restaurants like Eng’s are ready to retire but have no one to pass the business to. Their children, educated and raised in America, are pursuing professional careers that do not demand the same grueling labor as food service." Unlike many small bakeries and restaurants established with immigrant initiative, a bakery at 505 Wyoming Avenue continues to this day, as do other German-American bakeries, Buskins and Klostermann's being two other Cincinnati operations surviving the test of time. Somehow their founders engaged the interest of younger generations.
With little time to research the history of the German-flavored bakeries of interest, I am sharing my discoveries to date. Please share my finding with family and friends. Who knows, many more delicious memories may arise. Please describe your delicious bakery memories at [email protected] Thanks to again to JimG for helping with my research. Hopefully, there are more stories to come in the future.