The story of Leon Moustache the first backpacker.
Leon Wąsacz was born in 1882 at Wilda in Poznan.
His childhood was full of worries and unhappiness. After his father’s death his mother took care of him. Being still a young woman she got ill. Since then Leon had to look after her. Having no friends he felt lonely and unhappy.
When he was 17 he left school and started to work in Old Brewery to earn money for the medicine for his ill mother. And it was the place he finally found his passion, aim of his life and could escape from the sadness of his every day life. It was the beginning of his future life – POLISH BEER. But from the very first…
At the beginning every working day was the same- sweeping and cleaning huge floors at the Brewery, loading the carts, etc.
All that time he admired one person – Mr Nowak the owner of the brewery. Leon dreamed that one day he would take over all Mr Nowak’s responsibilities which were very pleasant, by the way. Mr Nowak dressed in his tail coat often strolled in the brewery sipping beer and filling in his glass each time form a different barrel. Leon thought that this job was very important and responsible. He was absolutely sure that moustache played an important role in the whole tasting process. Mr Nowak was an elderly man with bushy moustache, which was always wet with beer. His face was florid and always smiled.
Leon was fed up with his sad and boring life. He decided to grow moustache and carefully take care of them. When it was long enough, Leon took one beer from the brewery hiding it in his coat and went home. He was about to drink his first beer. He opened the bottle and poured the beer into the glass. Then he soaked his moustache… and he experienced something that he had never experienced before, both in his mouth and head. So he drank the beer up…
Now his life seemed more pleasant and his face was much happier. Now he knew what he loved and how to spend the rest of his life.
For the next five years he was working in the brewery and he became the manager of the warehouse. The golden liquid gave his life sense.
One day something really bad happened- prohibition was introduced. It was like a bolt from the blue, like a brick falling on your head from a roof… Leon couldn’t understand it, and he didn’t want to live anymore. Without beer nothing had sense…
It was 1905 when Leon decided to steal one of the barrels with beer from the warehouse in the brewery. He had the keys, and the beer would be wasted anyway. Anyway he had no choice. He didn’t want to lose his true love. The same evening he met his old friend from the brewery. It was Mr Bronek who also loved beer and could smell hop at once. He begged Leon Moustache to sell him some beer. Leon understood the suffering of poor Mr Bronek and agreed to sell him some beer.
The news of Leon and his beer stock spread quickly, and the warehouse in the brewery was huge and full of beer…
After a month Leon bought a special cart for carrying the beer. In a year he became one of the richest city dwellers in Poznan. And here is the point when Leon starts the story of our hostel.
Leon found out that the whole beer stock in the brewery was supposed to be destroyed, and the police started to ask questions about Leon. He couldn’t let down all his clients and friends at the same time. He was the last spring that was about to dry. He couldn’t part with his beer so he decided to build a tenant-house in the heart of Poznan, near the brewery, at Flower Street. In the huge basement he decided to collect as many beer barrels as the basement could hold. However, nobody could know who was the owner of the tenant-house. Everyone admired the beautiful building and was wondering who the owner was.
Leon didn’t know what to do with the rest of the building. It would be suspicious if it wasn’t used at all. Finally, he came up with an idea- he opened a hostel for tourists and travelers coming to Poznan. This is how the first hostel in Poznan appeared. It was situated in a beautiful building and excellently equipped. It didn’t come across anyone’s mind that in a huge basement Leon had his own beer warehouse.
The police chased after Leon. He knew that he was in a great danger and couldn’t sell beer anymore. He loved beer so much that he decided to hide close to his precious- in his own tenant-house. He knew that nobody would look for him there. He shaved his bushy moustache and brick them up in the walls on the third floor of his tenant-house. It was a dramatic experience to him. He believed that thanks to his moustache he was able to taste his beloved beer with two senses. He couldn’t imagine the taste of beer without soaking moustache in it.
Now he tried to be very careful and he only drank beer at night. He could drink great amounts of beer but the taste without his moustache wasn’t the same anymore. The brewery was closed and the warehouse destroyed. His own beer stock was getting smaller and smaller day after day.
Leon used to spend his evenings sitting with the travelers listening to their stories for hours. Every day he met new and interesting people who talked about the views he had never seen, the people he had never met, the dishes he had never tried, the flowers he had never smelled. The stories occupied his thought all the time.
At last he understood that there are so many places to be seen, and that beer is not everything in life as he had thought before. It was really hard to say goodbye to his beloved liquid but he knew that he had to give up his bad habit. He didn’t want to hide anymore. Leon wrote his will in which he asked his inheritors to let the travelers stay in his tenant-house. Then he took his backpack and set out on a journey…
Is it a true story- judge it by yourself. One thing is for sure- Leon’s moustache has a magic power. Thanks to it each guest of our hostel sleeps well, their problems disappear, and they remember and recall for years the time spent in our hostel with sentiment and a smile on their faces. Sometimes, late at night, when all the lights in the hostel are out, some lucky ones can see the ghost of Leon’s moustache on the wall…