Quirky Des Moines #12 Ask for the well balanced beer

As time marches on, attitudes towards what a crime is exactly changes.  What was looked at as a crime in past generations is sometimes in the present day looked upon with a kinder eye.   We will look today at a case that fits this description, but in an odd way.

Ruthie Fontanini was a 26 year old tavern owner (located at 1311 Locust Ave approximately where the restaurant Americana is now) in the early fifties known for her unique way of serving a beer.  She would place an empty glass on her ahem…chest and pour the beer from a bottle  into the glass without actually touching the glass.  As you can imagine this was very popular with the gentlemen of the time.  Her reputation grew along with business which ended up getting her into a little trouble.  A few complaints were filed with the Des Moines police department and an investigation was deemed worthy.  Two police officers investigated the claims and Miss Fontanini was charged.

In 1953 Miss Fontanini was charged twice with staging an indecent show.  Each time she successfully defended herself against the allegations.  The unusual cases drew interest as far away as Australia (article here).   She even gained a fan in Cecil B. DeMille (early Hollywood movie titan) who showed up several times to watch her.

This was however the end of Ruthie’s fame and she faded into obscurity getting married and living a quiet domestic life.  The local Des Moines brewery Exile, however named one of their flagship beers after Ruthie (the Ruthie Gold Lager) thus cementing her legacy.


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