Downtown 1958

Downtown 1958

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fritse Park Mounds

 photo from the Twin City News-Record, purported to be circa 1960
courtesy, A Brief Histiory of the Town of Menasha

The photo above and the accompanying article raise doubts in my mind regarding these Indian mounds.  Current references about Fritse Park state that there was a "reconstruction" effort to replicate the mound or mounds that were lost in 1863 when the railroad bridge was built, to include specific markers about this reconstruction effort.  See the link below:
However, this 1960-ish photo above states that the mounds were always there and were not destroyed. Not to mention that there were 20 to 25 of them?!  Other current literature I've reviewed does not even mention the mounds shown in this photo.  What happened?  And what is meant by "Centennial Discovery" in the photo caption? The centennial of the bridge being built in 1863? The centennial of the Village of Menasha being founded in 1856?    That article about the founding of Fritse Park doesn't mention 20 to 25 mounds either. 
I appeal to you, dear readers, what IS the right answer?  Do you know what the real story is here?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

1893 Advertisements

from the 1893 Menasha City Directory
These advertisements, in that matter-of-fact Victorian style of the day, kept the city directory in the black, as well as adhering to long standing advertising principles that still resound today. In the ad game, the bigger the ad, the more prosperous the business is generally seen as by the target audience.  Since the primary users of the city directory were business people to begin with, this might have made such considerations unnecessary.  Whereas a general newspaper or magazine might feature an ad for the general populace for Woodbury's Facial Soap, for example, there nothing quite sexy about a dealer in lime and cement products, large sized text or not.  However, it is right at home in a directory of merchants and craftsmen for consumption by the business community. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

News Items

April 25, 1890 Oshkosh Northwestern
News filler, to be sure here.  But then the St. Mary's story....  I had just assumed that when St. Mary's was built in 1883, the tall spire was built at the same time and that the church looked then as it does now.  Now I read this, that it wasn't built until 7 years later?  I've never come across a photo of those in-between years.  Did the original church have a spire?  And if so, was the existing one damaged?  Or was the cost so prohibitive that more fundraising had to be conducted at a later date? Sounds like a call for more research.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Green River Ordinance

September 18, 1963 Appleton Post-Crescent
As a boy, my grandparents lived out on Airport Road and on the way back home returning from visits to them, I was always greeted by the city limits sign which stated at the bottom that the Green River Ordinance was in effect.  I never knew what that meant.  Until now.  The ordinance is named for the city of Green River, Wyoming, which in 1931 was the first city to enact it.  However, I recall quite a number of door-to-door salesmen coming to my parents' door as a boy, to include vacuum cleaner salesmen and the Fuller Brush man.  I suspect the signs were intended as more of a deterrent than an enforceable law, as there had to be more pressing matters at police headquarters than chasing down peddlers.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

H. C. Prange

While not a part of Menasha, everyone still knew Prange's in Appleton. And notice how this ad was taken from the Neenah-Menasha City Directory's classified business section; they counted on the Twin Cities' business. 
Prange's was probably most kids' first experience of a large, multi-story department store, usually reserved for the "big" cities like Milwaukee and Chicago.  Except for the occasional trip to Milwaukee, the more frequent excursions to Prange's were, to me, quite special.  I think my first elevator ride was in Prange's and, call me naive, but to a little kid, that was so cool. 
Outside of that, my consciousness of large department stores was due to the mentions of Macy's every year during the Thanksgiving parade or the references to Macy's and Gimbel's in movies like Miracle On 34th Street and other TV shows.  Shows like I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners were set in New York and Lucy liked to shop in Macy's.  Didn't she even disguise herself as Santa there in one of the episodes?  And speaking of Christmas, who can forget those magical Christmas displays in their front windows each season, with the moving animatronic figures?    Whenever I think of Christmas, memories like these are always some of the first that come to mind.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stoebe Island Vice

February 4, 1902 Eau Claire Leader

Although we discussed Stroebe Island last week in the blog, here's a leftover item I ran across as I researched that blog post.  Cockfighting was outlawed in Wisconsin in 1889, but apparently in 1902, that law wasn't necessarily enforced.  By the sound of this news item, it was still a viable means to lose your paycheck and the existence of such contests must have been an open secret to the area's wagering class. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"...A Favored Child of Nature..."

from The History of Northern Wisconsin (1881), The Western Historical Company, Chicago
The above illustration is from yet another old history which gives the story of northeastern Wisconsin in quite some detail up to 1881.  As befitting the originators of this town, their focus was initially largely upon a certain island and indeed, the portion of the quote titling this post is taken from the author's recollection of Doty island in its early days.