Sunday, March 05, 2006

Tap Dance Lessons, Urban Renewal, and the Progressive Party: The Central Connections

The new issue of Historic Madison: A Journal of the Four Lake Region (Volume XX) arrived in the mail this week and it's full of articles with strong Madison Central High School connections.

The cover photo of the Joe Licari Tire Company, once located on the corner of West Main Street and West Washington Avenue, was taken on July 2, 1936 by Angus McVicar. It's one of many photographs and drawings used to illustrate "Leaving Greenbush," an article by Florence Zmudzinski, the relocation supervisor for The Triangle Project, "a well-meaning but ill-conceived federal program called urban renewal" that erased Madison's Greenbush neighborhood in the 1960s.

The Greenbush neighborhood was home to several generations of Centralites, including Gordon Sinykin, who was born on June 18, 1910 "on the second floor of a very small house at 522 South Park Street." Sinykin, a Madison Central High School graduate, was interviewed in 1985 as part of Historic Madion's oral history project. The transcript of the interview is included in this issue of Historic Madison: A Journal of the Four Lake Region. Sinykin, told interviewer Ruth Doyle that, "I particularly enjoyed Central High School. I enjoyed the teachers there very much." Sinykin, who died in 1991, was one of the founders of the Progressive Party in Wisconsin.

Leo Kehl (born March 10, 1900) and his brothers and sisters attended Madison High School. Leo was the second generation of a family that has for five generations been "Madison's first family of dance." I won't name names, but I know many Centralites studied at the Kehl School of Dance, which is still going strong today. Mark Gajewski's article about Kehl's (accompanied by lots of photographs) will bring back many memories.

So how do you obtain a copy of this journal? The best way is to join Historic Madison, Inc. Annual membership is only $15 and members receive copies of Historic Madison: A Journal of the Four Lake Region, plus newsletters. For the cost of a couple lattes (or beers or gourmet chocolates) you can support a worthy organization. Click HERE for a membership application form. Do it now. Print the application, fill it out, then write a check, address an envelope, find a stamp, and put it all in the mail.

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