Barbara Pautz Interview




Barbara Pautz is a former German professor at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. She discusses her early life and the impact of her upbringing on her career and her work in the German department. Pautz also focuses on the founding of the Viennese Ball, including her inspiration for the event, the founding of the Ball and challenges associated with setting up the event, and how the Ball has changed into what it is today. Finally, Pautz shares her disposition towards how the Viennese Ball is handled today.


Interviewers Avery Bond and Alyse Anderson


April 15, 2019



AB: Hi my name is Avery Bond here with

AA: Alyse Anderson

AB: and we are here interviewing Barbara , I’m sorry how do you pronounce your last name

BP: Pautz

AB: Pautz

BP: Pautz yes

AB: Barbara Pautz for the Eau Claire..

AA: Eau Claire Oral History Sounds of Eau Claire Oral History Project

AB: Alright, so Barbara could you please just state your name and spell it for us quick?

BP: Yes, its Barbara Pautz, Barbara B-A-R-B-A-R-A Pautz P-A-U-T-Z.

AB: Alright, and where and what year were you born?

BP: ooh (Laughs) where and when?

AB: yes

BP: I was born in Rockford Illinois March the 25th 1926.

AB: Alright, could you tell us a little bit about your family of origin and life growing up?

BP: By my family of origin meaning?

AB: maiden, like your maiden name family.

BP: Alright well my maiden name was Garwig, G-A-R-W-I-G a very German name, coming from
South-West Germany, and a place I have visited a number of times.

AB: Is that why you got into teaching German?

BP: In a sense yes, in a sense yes. I guess maybe that was it.

AB: Yeah, helped lead ya to there. Was your family particularly musical growing up?

BP: No, not at all, except for my mother who did play the piano and violin.

AB: Oh, nice.

BP: My dad did also sing in a church choir, but I don't know that that's all that musical.

AB: You still grew up around it though, so

BP: Yes, yes I did.

AB: What kind of impact did your upbringing have on your adult life?

BP: Well because I was a Depression kid, and you’ve heard of the Great Depression?

AB and AA: yes

BP: It’s getting ever further away from you, [the Great Depression] had a great deal to do with
my life because we were very deprived. We did have enough to eat, but I think we probably
were only one step away from my parents going to what was called a poor farm and my sister
and I being put in orphanages. But my parents had such fierce pride, they did everything they
could to make it go, and that meant of course that I said we had enough to eat but beyond that I had to wear shoes with holes in them and cover them with cardboard, which wouldn’t last very
long and wouldn’t even last a day.

AB: Oh wow

BP: And um we would go out and my mother and I along the roadsides and we would cut wild
asparagus and pick wild plums. And um the other food that we didn’t gather in that way that they
would have enough money to buy would be like cornmeal which would be made into mush
which is not too tasty and dried hominy which you had to soak and then you cooked it whatever
way you wanted. Usually my mother fried it like fried potatoes. Uh, so living that life deprivation
had very hard and serious lessons for me. So I had to learn to be self reliant as I saw my
parents struggle to be and uh be proud that I was going to try to make it. And uh my high school
days were kind of tough because I did not have decent clothes to wear. And you know how high
school kids can be, treating one another. Fortunately my grade average was high enough so
that little Milton college down by Janesville would give me a free, second semester free tuition
for four years?

AB: Oh

BP: and help me find a job, which I worked sometimes a couple of them. One that was very
noteworthy was one that I ironed clothes for a dollar. I worked three hours to earn a dollar

AB: wow

BP: and so that I would apply to my food. And uh, so it was hard but and those were the lessons
that brought me to where I am

AB: Seems like it built a very tough lady

AA: Yeah!

BP: I don’t know

AB: How did you meet your spouse?

BP: At our first teaching job, which was at a little town south of Madison about twenty miles- its
really a village called Brooklyn, nothing like the one in New York. Was the uh the student
population was half from the village half from the countryside. I met him my first year of
teaching, and we married there and then we went on to other schools.


AB: Oh, nice. Did you guys have any children?

BP: No we did not.

AB: Did not, okay

BP: School kids

AB: That’s enough, huh?

BP: Yeah, my husband figured in his lifetime of teaching he taught 8,000 students

AA and AB: Oh wow

AB: How long did you teach for?

BP: Well that’s sort of difficult to answer because after I left, I taught High School for ten years
then I had part time jobs after that, so it’s sort of hard to make a calculation.

AB: Alright, how did you guys come to Eau Claire?

BP: In 1962 I was studying German at the University of Colorado Boulder and my colleges there
urged that I go to Germany and enter what was called a Goethe, an institute, Goethe was
Germany’s greatest writer, he lived in the 18th and part of the 19th centuries. So I elected to do
that. And I told my husband about it and he was then teaching at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb and so he said okay we’ll do that, I’ll get a job at the military dependent school which he
did, and he fortunately was chosen to go to Frankfurt Germany where he taught math and
science to the children of military people, counselor people and American business people and
uh in that space of time I attended this school in South Western Germany near Rosenheim
halfway between Munich and Salzburg, right on the Autobahn.

AB: Wow, thats so cool. Alright, how did you come to meet Ada Bors?

BP: Well of course she was a faculty wife and I was a faculty wife. I don’t remember the first
meeting I really don’t, well, I don’t remember the first meeting I’ll stay with that, but of course I
knew her husband Adam because when I had some part time teaching in the German
department he was there as well. But prior to his coming to the German Department Adam had,
I don’t know what this department was called, student services, anyway, like the dean of men or
the dean of women would be, I don’t know if you still have those titles or not but he worked
under the dean of men. So I think there was some counseling involved but I don’t know that. But
Adam always had a drive to teach German because he was qualified to do that. So somehow or
other, maybe it was socially with them that I met her, beyond that I can’t say

AB: Alright so last question we had before you want to go into your prepared statements, how
did you initially find out about the Viennese Ball.

BP: From Ada, and I will cover that.

AB: Sounds good, so did you want to go into that now?

BP: Okay, alright I will. So it was 45 years ago now that we launched the Viennese Ball. And,
um, since that time the ball has changed in many ways. The size, the quality and deliver and we
can talk about that later. However it was our desire to recreate the Kaiser ball, which is the most
significant ball in Vienna, usually held around New Year’s time, I think. And uh, we wanted to
recreate that because it was representative of Austria and Vienna at the height of it’s glory.


BP: Austria was a great European power at the end of the 19th and early 20th century. It had, it
was a very diversified country, we talk about diversification there, Austria and Vienna were
extremely diversified because in this great empire they controlled the areas of what became
Czechoslovakia or today the Czech Republic and Slovakia. They controlled all of Hungary, in
fact it was called the Austro Hungarian empire. They controlled all the territory south of Austria
down to Italy, which would be the present- well not the present day Yugoslavia, what we once
called Yugoslavia after World War I, and that would be the areas of Croatia, Bosnia,
Herzegovina, and um Serbia and I don’t know if they probably extended themselves in a bit into
Romania, the Balkans as well. But anyway this was a great power and when you’re a great
power you attract people from everywhere because they want to attend your schools, they want
to study music, and medicine and of course Vienna was noted for both of those things and uh
that’s where the culture is and even though those areas today are independent they still see
Vienna as a place to go and be educated, as well as here. Okay, so we wanted to recreate that
splendor, concentrate on the beautiful music of that era especially of Johann Strauss, his father
and his brother. The good foods and everything about that culture that we could do as best to
our ability and we wanted to be as authentic and of course when you talk about Vienna you
want elegance, good taste. So that's what we were striving for. It was in the fall of 1973 that Ada
approached me and said she had this idea for recreating this thing in Vienna and would I be
interested and she knows what I, what my tastes and so forth were and I of course was sympathetic because I like most things Germanic because of my background and my study.
And when I say Germanic what does that mean to you?

AB: Germanic?

BP: When I say the word Germanic as opposed to German what does that mean to you?

AB: I would say, just like emblematic of the culture of Germany, just like..

BP: Go ahead

AA: Im not sure

BP: There is a difference between Germanic and German, alright?

AA: okay

BP: Germanic would refer to all those countries who are German speaking

AB: okay

BP: Okay, so its more than German, it would be Austria, Switzerland, little Lichtenstein, and
Germany of course, so anything as I said, I was sympathetic to anything Germanic, and already
as I said studied in Germany so, and I like the music of Johann Strauss, I like most Viennese
music. And so uh we thought well gee not only we’ll recreate, try to recreate something from this
great culture but also will be a chance to showcase our musicians. And uh of course you know
were pretty well known for our music department. Alright so what's the first hurdle? The first
hurdle was to go to see the Chancellor, and I should say we also jumped another little hurdle
before hand and that was to go to the Director of the Symphony Rupert Hohmann because if he
wasn’t on board, we wouldn’t have an event. So yes he was in agreement so we went to see the
Chancellor and he was not difficult to convince.


BP:And uh, alright, we’ve made those hurdles. The next hurdle, got to have alcoholic
beverages. At that time of Wisconsin Campus history no Wisconsin campus was serving
alcoholic beverages except Madison at the Rathskeller, and that was only beer.

AB: Wow, was that like a bar on campus, or was that like an event that Madison would hold?

BP: No, the uh Rathskeller is part of the student union, just like Davies Center here

AB: Oh, alright

BP: There they, beer had been served for, well I don’t know how long but a long time. That was
the only campus. Ok, what to do about that. Well, we’ve got to take it to the faculty senate to get
their approval. Fortunately my husband was chair of that senate, so he was of course on board,
we didn’t have to convince him. Anyway under his leadership the faculty senate did agree that
we could have alcoholic beverages, alright. Next, we have to go to the board of regions, that's a
little tougher. But they gave their okay, and ever since then, alcoholic beverages have been
served on Wisconsin campuses so, you’re looking at one of those who helped to bring that

AB: Oh my gosh thats crazy

AA: Yeah I know

BP: So I don't know, I don't know if I should take a claim to that

AA: I know!

AB: That’s a pretty cool legacy, its Wisconsin

BP: It’s a story

AB: WowBP: Next hurdle, we’ve got to have a committee. And uh alright, so we found
some more
sympathetic souls, they happened to be all women, and we had a committee of eleven people
who consisted of some faculty some students and some community members and then faculty
wives such as Ada and myself. I would say that since those people for a large part were
employed, they did have the time to devote to it that she [meaning Ada] and I did. For instance,
we decided that we wanted to get the word out in the community as much as possible, so we
formulated a list of names we thought would be interested in this. And she I think had came to
two hundred and she and I hand addressed all of the envelopes.

AB: Oh wow

AA: That must have taken you a long time!

BP: Yes, yes it did. Okay, so next big hurdle. If you’re going to have a Viennese event you must
have tortes and cakes. How to get those. We’ll we thought about it for awhile and we came up
with the University Women’s Association, that’s the faculty wives, just now no longer meets. All
those people who were in a foreign foods interest group, the music department, people in the
foreign language department and even went after the parents of the kids who were studying
suzuki violin. We were very successful, because we wanted this long table filled with tortes, and
then of course refills for when they would sell out. Okay, have I got everybody? Have all the
hurdles we had to get over? I think so. As the word got out that this event was being planned, it
wasn’t all roses. There were those who would say “It’ll never sell in Eau Claire, you’re going to
lose your shirts!”


BP: ...Wow. And then there was another even smaller group of Jewish people who because of
the history of the Hitler period, and remember Adolf Hitler is an Austrian. Adolf Hitler is not a
German, he's an Austrian, so. And as this one Jewish lady said, she was actually a professor in
the foreign language department, she said “Well I’m telling you something, I can remember
when blood was running in the streets of Vienna” and she was right. It was only 35 years since
the start of after the world war had ended, only one generation. Anyway, so that’s how we
entered this project. The ball took place, now I can’t remember if it was a Friday or Saturday
evening, I think it was Friday though. Yes it was, because I was teaching right across the hall
from it, was April the 26th, 1974. And remember, this was in the old student center, the old
Davies center, which had two floors, and all of this was to take place on the second floor, this
first ball. We limited the tickets to six hundred, because we thought that was all the space we
had, but we did allow sixty eight more people to come so we had 668. Still, the demand was
coming but we couldn’t fill the demand. Tickets were three dollars for an adult, two dollars for a
student. And by 1937 the tickets were 37.50.

AA: wow, quite a jump

BP: Yes, I’m not sure what the tickets are today.

AB: I believe they’re around forty dollars

BP: Around forty okay.

AA: for non students, I believe for students its thirty and non students are forty I believe

BP: So around the Davies center second floor, and I know you’ve never seen the place but I
remember it so well. On the one end of the second floor was this large well they really could be
made into three different rooms because they had moving partitions and all that, so those were
of course taken out so we had this huge ballroom. And uh, that’s where the University symphonies were playing the waltz’s and the polkas and that sort of thing, the Strauss polkas
especially. At the other end there was a dining area, we had tables set up there, because we
offered the tortes, and of course as I said the alcoholic beverages, we had largely wine and
beer, we did not serve mixed drinks at that time. Okay. Wine sold for about sixty cents a glass.
The tortes sold for seventy five cents a slice, and with that we serve what is called Viennese
coffee for twenty five cents a cup. You know what Viennese coffee is?

AB: No, im not sure


BP: Okay, coffee topped with whipped cream. It can be this high or this high. I went to a
restaurant in Bolder that had Viennese coffee and the whipped cream was piled up this high off
the glass, with a sprinkle of nutmeg, that is Viennese coffee.

AA: Sounds good

BP: And beer of course, I don’t remember what we charged for that. So those people could
enjoy that at the other end of the ballroom and it was all open space. Then we decided that we
were going to have a more informal area that we would call the beer hall which was at the far
end of the Davies center that would’ve been the east side of Davies next to Schneider and the
science hall, that end of the building. And I don’t remember the polka band we had there but it
was of course a big sell out the first night and it’s been a big sell out ever since, the polka band
and the beer hall. That room was the council fire room, that was the most perfect room for that
event. It was large, we had no trouble setting up long tables, and we had candel abra on their
that were kind of in wooden vases and we had big chimneys in the beer hall with red checkered
tablecloths. And as I said it was a sellout from the beginning (that room). Beyond that, I don’t
think we had any other ensembles or anything because you know it was quite the struggle for us
to put this together since it was the first time. We did have one bad incident. I was teaching from
across that one ballroom as I had said and the university at that time owned six silver
candelabra that they said we could use. So, we set them up on tables and sometime between
the time we set them up and when the ball began, somebody stole them and they have never
been found.

AA: To this day they have never been found?

BP: Nope, never.

AB: They were stolen before the ball even began?

BP: In between the time, like you know late afternoon I was still teaching and when the ball
began. We came you know to organize and somebody stole it. We were heartbroken.

AB: Were there any reprocussions from the University?

BP: No. They didn’t condemn us.

AA: Good!

BP: Anyway, so did we lose our shirts? No. We had proceeds of $1,500. Think of that compared
to now. With the 40th ball we had a million dollars in proceeds.

AB: Oh wow!

BP: And as I said we were most desirest to showcase our musicians and we did that that
evening and have ever since. And you might ask well what did our expenses come too? Well
our expenses came to $811. Pretty modest right?

AB: That’s awesome!

BP: We wanted to go for it, we had four bartenders, four waitresses, because we insisted on
waitresses. And that is one of the saddest changes for me. I have attended balls up until the
40th which was 2009 I think and they did away with waitresses so now you can walk around
getting your tasters platter and your vorced and your torte and whatever like you’re at a potluck.
This is not elegant. Elegance has taken a big hit. Not only in that regard but in other regards. So
we have waitresses, bartenders, custodians, we had to buy candles, and I can’t remember the
others but anyhow it was $811. Well we had finished feeling pretty good. So, how has it
changed? It was one night, it’s now two nights. Its the only ball in the Viennese ball world that’s
two nights. It’s the second largest because Vienna’s is still the largest. Over the years they have
added all of these other sorts of ensembles and that was still true in the old Davies before it was
torn down. We opened up the entertainment to the ground floor of Davies and down there we
would have student groups that would perform what is called the “Innocent Men” or “Girls Night
Out” was the name of another group and several others. I think there was also some jazz
ensembles down there. So that took over the bottom floor. We also opened the ball by having
tuba players at the east entrance and harp ensemble at the south entrance which I think maybe
in the new Davies still goes on, I’m not sure. Then we added an American bar with a piano
player, we added well one time we had a professor who was really excellent at Dixieland Jazz,
and she had a little ensemble she gathered and they had a room and we had in what you call
the Blue Danoo room which was right next to the beer hall, a nice room, nice sized it worked just
right, we would have faculty professors who were vocalists who would present music on Braam
and so forth. In addition to the non-musical things that were added we had a photographers
corner, you could get your picture taken. We had a Blumenstand, which is flower stand in
German, people could come buy their flowers there and it was nice because the ladies wouldn’t
have to, if they had a corsage or a wrist corsage they wouldn’t crush it with their coat and the
men would crush the boutonniere. We had what was called a tradition room, I’m trying to say it
in German, in which as the years went by we had all these photos and programs and other
memorabilia that would accumulate so you know that was put in that room. Then again at the
west end of Davies near the ballroom we had the Davies Theater which was a set up to show
films. We would show ones from Vienna and Austria.


BP: And then of course we set up a special place we could sit at the one long table, like the first
ball we had the tortes. We had two different cafes one was called Damles and the other was
Sacher and those are two of the most famous cafes in Vienna. And one is named after, or I
should say their famous torte which is called Sachertorte. And I did forget this when I was
talking about going to people to make tortes, the food service did make two tortes and they were
the Linzer torte and the Sacher tortes. And we had to pay for those, that was another part of our
expenses. Another thing that was added that I thought was really really good which no longer
exists is what we called the “Adle Vice market” and that was near the beer hall. Nice sized
room. And when a fella by the name of Bob Popellka was in charge in charge of that he did a
magnificent job. They had for sale Austrian crystal, German christmas ornaments, German
Easter ornaments, glassware, dirndl’s which are an Austrian folk costume for women. The
(unsure what is exactly said here) came down from Bloomer and brought their European style
breads which you could buy. Jewelry, Austrian jewelry. Then at the end of evening, the science
department brought edelwiess, do you know what edelweiss is? Alright well I’ll finish this. Edelweiss in plants for you to take home and plant if you wanted too. Edelweiss is a beautiful,
kind of star like flower that grows in the highest part of the alps.

AB: Oh okay.

BP: So that, I thought that market was really quite the attraction. The last time I attended the
ball, the market consisted of one thing and that was sweatshirts made in China.

AB: Very different.

AA: What do you think about that?

BP: No longer authentic. Is it?

AA: No.

BP: Alright. Okay so all those things have been added over the years. I’m probably
prejudice to
this regard but the old Davies was better suited for this event because you started at one end of
the building and you just walked through and you went through venue after venue and to the
other end. And now its fragmented being on what is it 3 floors?

AA: Yes there are 3 floors to Davies.

BP: At least I know since the last time I was there it was on at least 2 floors.

AB: I believe it’s still on two floors

BP: Okay so it’s fragmented then.

AB: Right

BP: And the beer hall, the last time I was there there was white table clothes in the beer hall.

AB: What color should the table cloths have been?

BP: Red checkered. That’s an informal thing.

AB: Is that symbolic of something in Vienna?

BP: No. I’ll be very blunt, it’s ignorance.

AB: Okay, how so?

BP: The people who are in charge are ignorant. I hate to say that but you don’t put white table
cloths in any beer hall.

AB: Because of spillage?

BP: A white table cloth is formal, right?

AA: Right.

BP: A beer hall is informal.

AB: Right, okay.

BP: I don’t know if I should ask this personal question but are you familiar with a beer hall?

AB: I’m not 21

BP: But you’re 18?

AB: You can’t drink anything until you’re 21.

BP: Even in Wisconsin? Isn’t it still 18?

AB: When you’re 16 you can go into a bar with your parents. So if your parents are there you
can drink but no not until 21.

BP: I didn’t realize, I thought 18 year olds could at least have a beer.

AB: Nope, not anymore.

BP: Is that Wisconsin or Minnesota?

AB: It’s all of them. It’s all of the states.

BP: Oh, I’m sorry. AB: No, it’s okay.

BP: *laughing* I just assumed you could do that!

AA: We’re still learning though

AB: Yes you’re giving us valuable information. Now we know when we do enter a beer hall.

BP: Alright well alright yes a beer hall is a very informal place, I mean it can be down right

AB: Okay.

BP: You know?

AB: Right.

BP: You’ll find that out when you become of age and you go there. A white table cloth
goes with
formality and elegance.

AB: Right.

BP: So you see that is part of my reasoning for saying that the elegance has really declined. In
fact, and I really hate to say this but I did not stay through the last ball, I couldn’t stomach it. It
was an American bash.

AA: And when you say that, that was the one you went to on the 40th?

BP: On the 40th (anniversary) yes. I haven’t been there since.

AA: And then is that your main reason? Or what other reasons have made you not want to

BP: Because of the decline.

AB: What would you say made it an American bash as you say?

BP: Well serving- going around to get your own food and not having a waitress bring it to your
table. And to know that a white table cloth doesn’t go in a beer hall. I saw in the ballroom with
waltz’s, this young man taking his partner and throwing her over his head.

AA: Oh my goodness.

BP: That’s crude. I’m an American and I understand that exuberance that we have. We’re not as
circumspect as the Europeans are, you can see that in the way we carry our bodies and how
they carry their bodies. We are much looser. As I said they are tighter. And of course it’s in part
we have a lot of space and they don’t. But it’s also part of culture. Anyway, I was...I couldn’t
believe this young man was throwing his partner over his head at an elegant event.

AB: Right.


BP: Well anyway those are some of the things that I have seen. But one other thing I should
cover to and I might back out of what I’m saying here but as the years progressed, the food,
extensive amount of food was added to the evening. First as something I said, that was
something we couldn’t handle and I don’t even know if we thought about it but we you know you
could buy food at the beer hall and at the other end of the ballroom where I said this dining area
was, then I even think they had us in fact I know they did, they had a place between those two
areas where they sold sausages and you know bread and that sort of thing. And, then too I don’t
believe we did this the first year, I’d rather think not, we decided that we would conclude the ball
with what in German is called a Katerfrühstück. What is that? It’s a tom cat breakfast. That’s what the Viennese call it. The Viennese and other European cities, when they have a big event it lasts for a long time. And so they would be taking the streetcar home. Maybe at 4 or 5 o’clock but before we do that why don’t we have breakfast before we go home and that was the idea.

AB: Oh wow!

BP: So that’s the time tom cats are prowling about, so that’s where the name comes from.

AA: Oh cool.

BP: Tom cat breakfast. Which I believe is still served.

AB: Yes because at the end of the night there’s that second meal or so that’s the tom cat

BP: Yes that’s the tom cat breakfast.

AB: That’s cool.

AA: Would you be willing to go back to another ball or do you have no interest in ever going

BP: Well I have been offered by I can’t think of her last name. She works in the student center,
said if you can’t get tickets I will see that you do but no it hurts to much, because I know what
we had in mind and to some of the people who are in charge now it’s a job, it’s not a passion.
But if I may back up again as another thought is occurring to me I’m sorry I’m jumping around
here. As the years progressed, they added the opening ceremony. And let me interject have
both of you attended the ball?

AB: I have not.

BP: Okay well we added the opening ceremony in which were greeted in both English and
German, and the chancellor usually had a few remarks. To as the ball progressed, Ada reached
out to Vienna and told them about it and they were very proud about it and with their
encouragement and her encouragement we then had guests coming from Chicago who were
the Austrian trade commissioner and other officials, Austrian officials from Chicago and
sometimes we had some coming from Minneapolis because by the way the university of
Minnesota you know has a wonderful program called Austrian study center and we had been
there many times to attend some of their events so those people knew about it. Those guests
would also make remarks. And then we had the woman’s corral present a program and the
singing statesmen presented a program so that was added to begin the ball. And I should say
this also, when word spread about this ball at the Eau Claire campus, Milwaukee decided they
will have one too. So we’ve attended their ball.


BP: And it was also very glamorous. And whenever Chancellor Haas would go to regional
meetings and all that and the other Chancellors were there, he found that the other campuses
were a little jealous.

AA: Really?

BP: Mhmm.

AA: That’s pretty cool.

BP: Questions?

AB: Yeah. You kind of already answered that one. How did you guys decide to make the cake
and the tortes a fundraiser?

BP: How did we decide to make that a fundraiser? Well the whole thing was a fundraiser. I
mean the tickets to the ball and all the food that was served any profits from the food like the
food of today went to the tom cat breakfast and then the tortes and the coffee it was all
considered as the years went on you know to be part of the profits and directed towards student


LAST 50 minutes are not transcribed, and need to be timecode indexed.

Item sets

Site pages

grey background MIC.tif

New Tags

I agree with terms of use and I accept to free my contribution under the licence CC BY-SA.