Whalebone merchant, kindergarten founder, railroad executive, man with funnest name to say on the east coast.
These are just some of the wonderful qualities that define Conrad Poppenhusen, now notable for having founded the United States’ first free kindergarten, among other things.
Poppenhusen was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1818, which I believe qualifies him as a born Hamburger. It was no surprise then that Americans met him with great enthusiasm when he arrived to these shores in the early 1840s. We can only be happy he wasn’t instantly devoured with a giant pickle and a drowning of mayo.
In Germany, Mr. Poppenhusen was employed, naturally, as a whalebone purchaser. His skills in this booming field were clearly in demand in the New World, and he founded his own whalebone processing company in Brooklyn when he immigrated. Whalebone was at the time used to make important items that keep societies running, such as backscratchers, collar stiffeners, and buggy whips. I think we all have a few of those around.
Eventually Poppenhusen shifted his factory towards manufacturing rubber goods, and moved it to rural Queens. There he ended up merging the two neighborhoods of Flammersburg and Strattonport together to form the town of College Point. It’s a shame he wasn’t more of an egotist, as Poppenhusenville has a nice ring to it.
Gladly, his name does still adorn street signs, libraries, and train station plaques around Queens.
The now wealthy industrialist, not content with rubber products and town founding, quickly created the Poppenhusen Institute. This contained within it the free to attend kindergarten that he’s still known for. He also later led a railroad, built a church, and founded the National Football League.
OK, just pulling your leg on the last one. He didn’t create the NFL. But I think we can all see his influence in the league today. Perhaps in the shape of Berliner linebacker Bjoern Werner.
Unfortunately, Conrad’s three children squandered most of his fortune after his retirement, proving once and for all that them darn kids just can’t be trusted.
What you can trust is a man named Conrad Poppenhusen being a guarantee for greatness.