Welcome to the Kromer Kap Kulture Klub. Well, sort of.

Although they’re a welcoming bunch of guys and there’s no secret handshake or anything, this isn’t a club—excuse me, klub—you can join. You see, you’ve got to be part of the Opatik family (or a very close friend) and you’ve got to be a Stormy Kromer fanatic.

Frank Opatik is both. His first Kromer Original Wool Cap was handed down to him by his father in 1960. (“I was the oldest, so I was first in line,” he said.) It’s the black one, he still wears it, and it’s still in its original shape. His son, Steve, wears his maternal grandfather’s cap, also black, and also over 50 years old. Visitors to the cabin wear red.

The caps are well preserved and worn with pride every year at the family’s hunting compound, a no-power, no-plumbing log cabin north of Gleason, Wisconsin, that Frank built in 1978 after being inspired—literally—by the label on Log Cabin syrup.

The cabin is where the idea for the Kulture Klub was first formed.

“Well, we were all up there at deer camp one year sitting under the gas lamps and playing cards. We were wearing our Kromers, and we realized we were part of a pretty special club,” said Frank, a retired engineer and marketing executive. “We decided to call it the Kromer Kap Kulture Klub because there’s a quite a bit of culture up there,” he added with a  laugh.

Original members of the Klub include Frank and his son, Steve; Frank’s brother-in-law, Gary Martin; Gary’s son, Bryan; and Frank’s brother, John, who’s since passed away.

Membership has now swelled to seven, and each inductee holds a official Certificate of Membership, plus honorary, non-voting stock in—yes—Kromer Kap Kulture Klub, LLC. Or is that LLK?

“My wife, Joyce, and I created the LLC as part of our estate plan, leaving the land and cabin to our kids,” added Frank. “And the ‘K’ thing? Well, that just sort of came naturally.”

Naturally. Like “bakon” on the camp menu, which also states “This menu was prepared on a Kromer Komputer, and we use a Kromer Spellchecker.”

Frank is fiercely proud of his caps (he has three, including a specially designed 25th Anniversary cap for the Klub) and of the authentic, down-to-earth culture that’s developed at the cabin.

“Our motto is: ‘Where the work ends and the fun begins.’”

And when you see them bringing in their trophy bucks or watching a Packers game (it’s the only thing they use the generator for because they don’t want to “get too civilized”), you’ll know that’s the kind of kulture you want to be part of.

Do you have any Stormy Kromer traditions that you’d like to share?

8 thoughts on “Welcome to the Kromer Kap Kulture Klub. Well, sort of.

  1. It’s great to be a member of the the Kromer Kap Kulture Klub Hunting Kamp, It’s Dad’s, son’s, brother’s , son in law’s and brother-in laws. Going to Kamp is a true escape from the everyday grind of it all. Great article about hunting and the fun you can have.

    • Gary
      I heard one of you met Chuck Kolesar in the Central WI Airport last week. How cool is that. Two great Stormy Kromer families meeting…this is so darn fun!
      Best wishes to both of your families,
      Bob Jacquart

      • Bob, it was actually Gary’s son, Bryan (me!) that met up with Chuck at the CWA airport.

        I’ve even got a great shot of Chuck sporting the kustom-made Kromer in the O’Hare airport! Just buzz me if you want a copy of that awfully fine photo! *grin*

        /bryan/

  2. I have been wearing Kromer Kaps since I hired out on the railroad in “76 in Minnesota. Its what all the railroaders wore! They had summer polka dot kaps and black wool winter one’s. Mine were black, and the first one I mistakenly washed and put in a dryer only to bring it out in shreds. Lesson learned!! I still have one original Kromer in black but its pretty well worn and one black post original Kromer in black plus a red plaid one. I’m going to pick out another one or two for this coming winter. I have been an Engineer on the railroad for 32 years now and you will still see me wearing my Kromer kap and keeping up the tradition. They’re still very popular on the railroads as not only tradition but so practical too!

  3. In 1977 10 of us from Minneapolis started renting an apartment above Georges Liquor in Hurley for ski season. The first year I was there I bought a Kromer Kap and have worn it every since.

    Later a friend and I bought a house in Norrie Location in Ironwood for skiing and spending time in a place we loved. Then I lived in Ironwood for 2 years before moving to Upstate NY. It would be a disaster for me to loose that hat. Every time I put it on I am reminded of the wonderful people the UP and Northern Wisconsin. No better place on earth.

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