Downtown 1958

Downtown 1958

Friday, October 2, 2015


The Ahnaip Street plant of the George Banta Company, ca. 1958
From 1910 until its purchase by R.R. Donnelley & Sons in 2006, the George Banta Company was resident in this location on Doty Island.  Donnelley closed this facility in 2011, though work continues at what was formerly known as the "Midway plant" at 800 Midway Road.  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

It Requires No Prophet to Foretell...

June 28, 1871 Janesville Gazette
Good information is provided here about the state of the Twin Cities in mid-1871, especially industry facts and figures.  While some of this most likely should be taken with a grain of salt (considering the ulterior motives of the Wisconsin Central to get more visitors and businesses to the area, and therefore more business for it), it is still a fascinating look at an up-and-coming area of Wisconsin.  And this is dated years before the two cities were incorporated in 1873 (Neenah) and 1874 (Menasha.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Corner Institution

A 1906 postcard with a drawing of the Hotel Menasha, at its familar corner of Main and Mill Streets.  Surprising that there aren't any carriages or streetcars in the illustration, as so many we've seen in the past include those details.  In later years, photographs of the hotel at this angle will be de rigueur for its postcard line.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New and Elegant Sleepers!

February 11, 1885, Oshkosh Northwestern
This ad is another in our series commemorating the golden age of railroad travel in the Fox Cities, this time for the Wisconsin Central.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Bathing at Waverly Beach

A colorized postcard ca. 1909 attributing Waverly Beach to Appleton
As we end this week, the first Friday of the fall season, let's hearken back to those lazy, crazy days of the fleeting summers of the early 20th century.  It was a time when bathing at the beach involved more clothes than many of us wear walking around the mall today!   

I'll be away from the blog next Monday but expect me to start it up again on Tuesday. Happy Weekend! 

Thursday, September 24, 2015


June 4, 1965, Neenah-Menasha Northwestern
 June 17, 1965, Neenah-Menasha Northwestern
In the sense that growth" means getting bigger, comes this demonstration of vitriolic name calling between two neighbors.  Being an 8 year old kid when this was going on and with more interest in Batman, naturally, than in civic affairs, I'm sorry I missed out on this. 
But reading this now, when I can appreciate the nuances of a good insult, my fondness for the City's arrogance that they were going to "save" the Town of Menasha from the "colossus giant," Appleton, is only surpassed by the Town of Menasha's response that the City of Menasha is nothing more than a city of gas stations and taverns.  Ouch!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Taste Delight

June 4, 1965, Neenah-Menasha Northwestern
While technically just across the "border" in Neenah, I think few of us would quibble about including this establishment in a blog about Menasha.   Robby's was a chain of hamburger restaurants based in Wisconsin and quite popular for its time.  What fascinated me most as a kid was that Green Bay Packer fullback Jim Grabowski was a Vice President of the chain.  He appeared in many of their advertisements, as evidenced below. At their peak, there were at least 13 Wisconsin locations as well as five in Minnesota and two more in Michigan. But they went out of business in the '70s.  It was around this time that I heard rumors that their product was, shall we say, of an equine nature?  Was this the main reason they closed shop, or was it generally due to the beef shortages that plagued the food industry in the early '70s?  One theory is that the meat crisis was caused by, of all things, a massive reduction in the population of anchovies living off the coast of South America. As these tiny fish migrated elsewhere, farmers who relied on them for animal feed had to pay ever-increasing prices, driving up the cost of beef. This, in turn, led to black market butchers, runs on beef supplies, and the rise of pasta as a main dish for many families. Others blame a lag in grain production which was a vital component of animal feed at the same time as demands mounted for more beef.  In time, of course, meat supplies stabilized and prices dropped, but the damage had been done.  And when the smoke cleared, smaller restaurant chains, like Robby's, were the victims.

December 6, 1969, Appleton Post-Crescent