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Random Rochesterite: Drew Moessner

One resident, numerous anecdotes

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Name: Drew Moessner
Age: 66
Occupation: Woodworker
Where we found him: Tap House block party

Are you originally from Rochester?

I’m not. I’m originally from the Amana Colonies down in Iowa. When I was a kid growing up in Amana, tourists would always stop and ask us, “Where are the Amish?” Well, they’re 30 miles away in Kalona.

What are the Amana Colonies?

A group from an off-shoot of the German Lutheran church left Germany in the late 1800s to escape religious persecution. First, they went to New York, and then they came to Iowa. They founded seven little villages on 25,000 acres where there was communal-type living until 1932. It was a fantastic place to grow up.

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What was unique about growing up there?

Most people could speak German. My father could speak German and I took German in school, but my mother was from Indiana, so she couldn’t. There was a lot of pride in Amana and what it meant. Amana refrigerators were started there by an Amana boy. There was a lot of farming and woodworking. Before I grew up there, everyone ate in communal kitchens, and the house I grew up in had one of the communal kitchens. It’s very touristy now, and the tourism in Amana is a byproduct of what the people of Amana created with their own hands. There was a seven-mile canal that was dug by hand there, and it powered some of the woolen mill at first, and then actually turned into hydro, producing electricity.

It sounds like your love of woodworking comes naturally.

It does. In Amana, most of the men had a woodshop. My father always had a woodshop, and I’ll always have a woodshop. My first job out of school was working in Amana Refrigeration. Then I changed jobs and went to work in the Amana furniture shop. And that job was unforgettable—it was so important for me to learn that trade. It’s what I still do today.

What kind of woodwork do you do?

Cabinets and furniture. I’ve also worked in construction, building homes. Amy and I built our house together, and I did all the cabinetry in my shop. We had to build the shop first so we could build the cabinets!

Amy is your wife?

She is. We have two girls—Meredith is Amy’s daughter and Hayley is mine. And then we have two boys—Ty is my son, and Geoffrey is her son—and they take credit for bringing us together. They must’ve been about 10 years old, and they were buddies. They were at Amy’s house and I came over to pick them up to bring them to my house to watch a movie and stay overnight. When I came up to the door to get them, Amy and I stood there and talked for a while. I had just started dating again, and I thought: “I wonder if I could ask her out?” We started dating, and the boys went to their teacher and said, “We’re going to be brothers!”

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What are you most proud of building?

A friend who is Korean asked me to build a cabinet for her. It was to hold her CD collection, a high-powered amplifier and her CD player. I built it with an Asian flare. Her speakers had a red mahogany stain, so I built this very simple cabinet with red mahogany legs that came down the side and swooped out the bottom, and a red mahogany top and then the rest of the cabinet is black. I really like how it turned out.

Describe your perfect Saturday?

Certainly I would be up at the lake. I’d have coffee on the dock, and then a nice breakfast. I’d go for a bike ride with Amy, and then I’d take a nap until lunchtime. In the afternoon, I’d go fishing off the boat. And then, of course, come back and get Amy to go out for a happy hour boat cruise. Then we’d have dinner and watch a gorgeous sunset. I get those perfect Saturdays most Saturdays when I’m at the cabin.

Where’s the cabin?

Near Cable, Wisconsin. Cable is a great, woodsy area and a “silent sports” area with skiing, kayaking, hiking and fishing, and that’s what we love about it.

Are you a big traveler?

I never really traveled other than in the States by car until I met Amy. And she, because of her job as a physician, would go to some meetings, and I was lucky enough to go along. I like to say I carry her suitcase. The first place she took me was Palm Desert, which was weird for me because I’m not a big city guy. The next place was Santiago, Chile. That city is huge, and I couldn’t believe I was going to go there. Since then, I’ve been to a lot of big cities and become more comfortable with it.

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Do you have a favorite destination?

Switzerland. It’s just beautiful, and the hikes we’ve been on there have been wonderful. My favorite was a hut to hut, or hut to hotel, hiking trip.

What’s your specialty in the kitchen?

I didn’t create it, but if I had to pull something out of my hat to make, I have a wild turkey recipe that’d be the one. It’s a pan-seared turkey breast in a cast iron pan, of course, and then it’s served on a bed of sauteed spinach with a mango salsa. It’s unbelievably tender and moist. It would either be that or my cast-iron pineapple upside down cake. Anything in cast iron is good.

What haven’t you done that you want to do?

I’m not really a bucket list kind of guy. I’ve done so many things. I feel so fortunate. I’ve been able to go to so many places and I’ve seen so many things. I don’t feel like I’m lacking anything.

Advice you live by?

Be honest. I think that’s such an important piece of being a human. And I think if more people did that, we’d have less trouble because being honest flows into everything.

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