Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Way We Were: Ninth Grade Student Council Delegates 1961-62

Note: You may double click on the photo to enlarge the image in your browser window

"Our Town" Cast Includes Our Classmate

We'll definitely have an opportunity to see Mickey Crocker (a.k.a. Mickey Gartland) live and on stage next year. She has a role in the Madison Repertory Theatre's upcoming production of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town." Opening February 15, 2006, "Our Town" will be The Rep's first production in its new permanent home: The Playhouse at the Overture Center for the Arts.

Many other local actors have also been cast in "Our Town." Leading the cast will be an actor with a special "Madison Connection:" Broadway star Andre De Shields (photo at right), will play Stage Manager. In addition to playing the lead in The Rep's 1966 production of "The Man Who Came to Dinner," De Shields, who began his acting career while he was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, originated the role of Horse in the Broadway production of "The Full Monty" and has appeared in many other Broadway shows. He's also been featured on many television shows, including "Sex in the City." Last year, UW-Madison awarded him an honorary degree.

There is another interesting "Madison connection" to this play. Playwright Thornton Wilder was born in Madison on April 17, 1897. If his family had stayed in Madison, instead of moving to Hong Kong in 1906, Wilder would no doubt have attended Madison High School, the precursor to Madison Central High School.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"Break a Leg"

Stage actors are a suspicious lot. There’s a Shakespearean tragedy they call "The Scottish Play" in order to ward off the curse supposedly associated with it. It’s the one that opens with a scene featuring three witches. Actors also ward off bad luck by wishing their colleagues the opposite of good luck: They tell them to "break a leg."

However, should the actress playing the lead in Madison Repertory Theatre's current production really break her leg, audiences would have an opportunity to see a Madison Central High School graduate fill the role in her stead. Mickey Crocker (a.k.a Mickey Gartland) is the leading lady’s understudy for "Rembrandt’s Gift," a new play by award-winning playwright Tina Howe (who, interestingly, lived in Madison from 1964 to 1976 and taught English at Monona Grove High School while her husband attended graduate school at the UW-Madison).

Here’s what Mickey’s entry in the "footlights" playbill has to say about her (notice that Central has a prominent role in this mini-biography):

Since moving back to Madison from Los Angeles several years ago, Mickey has also performed with a number of local theater companies, including Stage Q’s productions of "Dodo for President" and "Why We Have a Body," and the Mercury Players production of "Stop Kiss."

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Gerri DiMaggio and All That Jazz

I turned on the television about 6:15 p.m tonight to catch the weather report and neglected to turn it off immediately thereafter. As a result, I caught the first part of the monthly Madison Magazine show and was reminded that there was another classmate who probably had her own web site.

Gerri DiMaggio has had a long and successful career as a jazz singer -- and she does indeed have her own web site. This year she released a new CD: "Comes Love," a mix of Brazilian music and jazz standards. You can find the link to her web site in the right column under "links to classmate web pages." The web site also has a link to CD Baby -- a great source for independent music -- where you can purchase a copy of "Comes Love."

Gerri will be performing live on October 14, 2005 (the night before the reunion) at The Madison Concourse Hotel, located just across the street from where Madison Central High School used to stand.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

And Now Let's Have a Look at the People Who Organized the 25th Reunion at the Madison Civic Center

Back Row (left to right): Jane, Linda, Janet, Larry
Front Row (left to right): Craig, Ralph

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Madison Central High School Connections to This Year's "Talking Spirits" Tour at Forest Hill Cemetery

Two men with ties to Madison Central High School are represented in this year’s seventh annual “Talking Spirits” tour of Forest Hill Cemetery, sponsored by the Wisconsin Veterans Museum.

Scheduled for October 2, 2005, the two-hour tour features living history vignettes featuring local actors portraying people who are buried in Forest Hill Cemetery. This year, the vignettes are written and directed by John Sable, a veteran of the Persian Gulf conflict, who has written and directed many plays for Madison’s Broom Street Theater.

Private Joseph Meek, who enlisted in the Marines after his sophomore year at Madison Central High School is one of the veterans featured in this year’s “Talking Spirits” tour. Meek was killed during the American occupation of Haiti in 1920. Thus far, the museum has been unable to located a photograph of Meek.

When I read that Private Joseph Meek would not be featured on Sunday’s tour, but would be portrayed only during a series of special school group tours on Friday, I was very disappointed -- especially since, in an email, Sable told me, “The situation in Haiti in the early 20th century parallels our current situation in Iraq on so many levels, it's a shame Meek's story isn't going to play on Sunday.”

I contacted the Wisconsin Veterans Museum’s curator of programs, Jeff Kollath, for some additional information about this situation. Kollath says anyone from Madison Central High School who wants to attend one of the group tours on Friday, which run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., should contact him at (608) 261-0541 and he will make special arrangements for them to participate in a tour so they can hear Meek’s story.

There are many photos of Arthur Thomas, who is perhaps better known to many Madisonians as “Sailor” Art Thomas, a professional wrestler from 1961-1978. Thomas, who served in the Merchant Marine during World War II, was the father of seven children, one of whom, Raven Thomas, married a member of the class of 1965: Bob Fox.

When I read in “The Bugle,” the newsletter of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Foundation, that Art Thomas was going to featured in this year’s “Talking Spirits” tour, I asked Sable who was going to portray Thomas. There was only one local actor I thought might be able to fill the role: Craig Hudson, a former UW-Madison football player who made his local acting debut in 1998 in "Rope of Sand," playing Joshua Glover, the escaped slave whose capture in Milwaukee in 1854 led to Wisconsin’s challenge to the Fugitive Slave Law. Sable confirmed that he had cast Hudson in the role, saying, “I couldn't imagine anyone else playing Art.”

Among the other people portrayed in this year’s “Talking Spirits” tour are Civil War nurse Emily Quiner and Governor Philip Fox La Follette. People attending the “Talking Spirits” will also hear what it was like to be a POW at Camp Randall during the Civil War because this year, for the first time, a soldier buried in Forest Hill’s Confederate Rest section will be included among the vignettes.

The public “Talking Spirits” tours on Sunday, October 2 will run from noon until 4 p.m. Adult admission is $6 and tickets may be purchased at the cemetery gate. Free parking is available along Speedway Road and at West High School.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Lost & Found -- and lost again

The United States Postal Service is not accepting mail to many of the areas affected by Hurrican Katrina. That's why, even though recently we found one of our "lost" classmates, we won't be able to mail her an invitation to this year's reunion. Linda Littel (her 1965 yearbook photo accompanies this post) was living in New Orleans before Katrina struck. Based on the news reports from that region, it may be a long time before she returns to her home. We have one other classmate living in the Gulf region -- Sarah Groves lives in Baton Rouge.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Remembering Rennebohm's

The Wisconsin Historical Society's web site has a regularly updated feature called "Odd Wisconsin." Recently, they added an item about a series of photos of Rennebohm drugstores taken in 1970 by photographer Chuck Patch and his friend Steven Kimbrough. According to the site, the two men "embarked on a gustatorial odyssey: to eat breakfast and take a photograph in every Rennebohn's in the Madison area, bring back the ambiance, evoke the smells, detail the formica tabletops and the plastic trays, and preserve customers and staff for posterity."

But apparently many of the photos weren't labeled. Have a look at them and see if you recognize any of the locations and people.

I think the Rennebohm's on 204 State Street near Madison Central High School was closed by then, but I'm not certain. Anyone remember when that store was closed?

Although there doesn't seem to be a photo in the Historical Society collection of our neighborhood Rennebohm's from around the time we were in school, there is an interesting one from 1949 showing a window full of school supplies. Click HERE to have a look.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Remembering Howard Houston

A classmate sent an email saying he didn't remember Howard Houston. I checked back through the yearbooks and discovered that Howard had managed to elude the photographers in 1965 and 1964. I did find I sophomore photo of him in the 1963 Tychoberahn. That photo is posted on the left.

Some of us also knew Howard from Bethel Lutheran Church. Every so often my copy of the Bethel confirmation class photo merges from one of my stacks of "good intentions" (so many photos, so little time to organize them). If I see that photo again any time soon, I'll scan it and post it because there are quite a few members of the Madison Central High School Class of 1965 in the photo.

And speaking of photos, please get in touch if you have some photos you'd like to share. You may email digital photos. Or, you may send hard copies and I'll scan them and return the originals to you.

Yet Another Photo from the 25th Reunion Held at the Madison Civic Center

R. Bennett and K. Buechner

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

History on the Auction Block -- Or, Whatever Happened to the Central Trophies?

Ask a Madison Central High School alumnus or alumna what happened to the trophies when the school was closed in 1969 and they'll probably say, "I don't know." A few may suggest that they were transferred to West High School. Some people will even tell you that Mr. Colucci took them with him to West. NOT TRUE.

The Capital Times reported on May 1, 1969 that 110 of the 139 Madison Central High School athletic trophies were to be sold to the highest bidder. Sealed bids were due at the school office by May 21, 1969.

I'm posting a copy of the article so you can read it for yourself. In order to fit it on the blog, I had to reduce it in size. You should be able to double click on it to make it appear larger in your browser window. You'll notice there's nothing in the article that indicates where the money from the sale of the trophies was going to go.

We Still Need Your Help Finding "Lost" Classmates

Some of our "lost" classmates have been found -- Paul Capadona, for instance is selling Silver Age comic books in Hawaii (check out his store's web site by clicking HERE and Doug Strand helped us locate Harold Ellington in Texas -- but we still need your help to find many others. Please take a few minutes to check out the list of missing classmates. Click HERE to go to the list.

Even if you don't know exactly where someone is these days, you may know something that would help us to find them. Maybe you know a sibling, a friend, or a neighbor who might know how to locate one of these people. Make a telephone call or send someone an email -- or send an email with the clues to the class reunion email address. Let's try our best to whittle down that list of the lost.

Thursday, September 01, 2005