Pearl Harbor Day Bottle Memorial

Looking glass: Old whiskey bottle offers a rare snap shot of World War II St. Paul

A bottle of whiskey bought the day after Pearl Harbor but unopened until war's end offers a rare snapshot of World War II St. Paul and the fellowship of that era.

Gerald Baden of Roseville shows off the bottle of Old Sunny Brook that his late father, Hank, kept unopened for more than 3½ years until the end of World War II. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

This bottle of Old Sunny Brook whiskey bears the signatures of dozens of friends of late St. Paul service station owner Hank Baden, who bought it the day after Pearl Harbor and didn t open and drink it until World War II had ended. (PIONEER PRESS: SCOTT TAKUSHI)
The day after Pearl Harbor, Gerald Baden's father, Hank, went out and bought the bottle of 86-proof whiskey and brought it to his Pure Oil service station in downtown St. Paul.
Hank Baden and 25 longtime friends and customers signed the bottle and promised they would gather again to drink it once "the war had ended and peace was proclaimed," Gerald Baden said.
The bottle sat on a shelf in the back room of the station at Ninth and Minnesota streets for more than 3 1/2 years — until Aug. 15, 1945 — when Japan surrendered, Baden said.
"When President (Truman) proclaimed Victory in 1945, would you believe they all returned?" Gerald Baden wrote in a note to the Pioneer Press' Bulletin Board page. "Some policemen, businessmen, men in sales, truck drivers, servicemen and friends celebrated together emptying the bottle. I have saved this bottle ever since, and I am 82 and served in the U.S. Navy."
Baden included a list of the names on the bottle and said he hoped readers might "recognize a name of their relative. God Bless America and our heroes now fighting for our country."

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