Thursday, June 29, 2006

A holiday weekend homework assignment: Photo captions

Should you chose to accept it, here's a weekend homework project. Let's try to name the people in these uncaptioned Tychoberahn photos taken at the 1964 Midwinter Dance, "Fire and Ice." Many, but not all, of the people in these photos are members of the Madison Central High School Class of 1965.

To make things easier, I've inserted numbers on all but one of the photos in each of the two scans (and I'm just too tired to go back and fix it, so let's call it photo zero). This way, when you leave a comment identifying who's who, you can refer to a photo number. For example, the girl on the left in photo 5 of Part One is Terry Burrows.

Part One

Part Two

Reminder: You may double click on each image to enlarge it in your browser window.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Madison Labor History Murals, Part One: Preliminary Sketches

There are no labor murals in Madison, but there will be by the time Labor Day 2006 arrives.

Late Wednesday afternoon, I happened to see a notice for a public program at the Madison Labor Temple "Welcoming Madison's New Labor Mural." I decided to make a trip over to South Park Street to photograph the murals and hear what the scholars (one of whom has a Central connection by association) had to say about them.

It's been a long time since I visited the Labor Temple, but I remembered the front door was usually locked in the evening, and the only door likely to be open was the door leading to the smoke-filled bar. So I didn't bother trying to enter via the front door. That's why I missed a major clue about the status of the mural. It was a sign located at the top of the stairs leading to the second floor (which I photographed after the public program).

When I entered the meeting room where the program was being held, I saw a lot of familiar faces, including that of Madison Central alumna Sue Vilbrandt, managing editor of Union Labor News. There wasn't much time to chat with Sue because the program began soon after I arrived. That's when I learned the murals were a work in progress rather than a fait accompli.

According to Jim Cavanaugh, president of the South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL), the original impetus for the murals came from a series of photographs of labor murals in Chicago, published in the February 2005 issue of the Union Labor News. Inspired by the photographs, Marcus Nickel, "a stonecutter by trade and a muralist by avocation," called Cavanaugh to ask about labor murals in Madison. After some doing some research, Cavanaugh brought an idea for commissioning labor history murals for some large walls in the Labor Temple to the Madison Labor Temple Association. Its members were very enthusiastic about the idea, but they also wanted to solicit input from union members and the community at large about what should be depicted in the mural.

The SCFL website uses frames, so I can't provide links to a lot of the information on the site related to the labor history mural, but if you go to the SCFL's home page, you should be able to navigate to several interesting areas of information, including photos of Chicago labor murals and a series of labor history photographs from Madison that were posted to provide some inspiration and suggestions about what the murals might include.

Marcus Nickel is painting the labor history murals at the Madison Labor Temple. An unveiling ceremony -- featuring Mayor Dave and who knows what other local politicians and celebrities -- is scheduled for August 31, 2006, the Thursday before Labor Day.

Nickel has just started to outline the mural images on the walls of the Labor Temple. The one shown on the left, of a man wearing a hardhat, is on the left side of the interior wall that frames the front doors to the Labor Temple.

At Wednesday's program, there were large sketches of the three of the murals that will be painted in the Labor Temple. I photographed all three sketches, so you can have an idea of what the murals will look like when they're completed. The murals will be in color, but only small portions had been colored in on the sketches.

You can see the man in the hardhat in the lower left hand corner of the first sketch. The blank space in the center of the drawing represents the doors.

This mural has images from the early days of Madison labor history. The one in the bottom right hand corner, for instance, depicts Madison's first union of printers and typesetters. This image will, if I remember correctly, be on a first floor wall.

This mural has images from more recent events in Madison labor history, including the strike against Madison Newspapers, Inc. in the 1970s. Again, if I remember correctly, this will be on a wall on the second floor of the Labor Temple.

There's much more I'd like to report about Wednesday's program, but it will have to wait a bit. I don't want to lose your attention by writing a post that's too long -- and there are some photos I need to locate that will, I hope, make part two of this series more informative. I think you'll enjoy it once I pull all the pieces together, so come back soon.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Visiting Madison's Forest Hill Cemetery, Part Four: A map of the stars and some men whose graves you shouldn't ignore

It doesn't matter if it's an ancient aphorism or a New Age nugget of wisdom, anyone who tells you, "It's about the journey, not the destination," is being disingenuous -- or hasn't had to spend 10 hours strapped into a middle seat on economy class flight that's encountered turbulence at least once an hour. And they certainly haven't driven hundreds of miles with a couple of kids who repeatedly ask "Are we there yet?" when they're not begging you to stop at a root beer stand, or, subsequently, find the nearest public toilet or secluded wayside "right now because I can't wait any longer!"

That said, I do sometimes like to wander because it's often a way from Here to There that provides pleasant surprises along the way. I'm the kind of traveler who's ridden London's No. 9 bus from one end of the line to the other, just to see where it went (and glad I did so while the old double-decker Routemasters were still in use). And I'm the kind of walker who likes to take different routes if I'm traveling between two places more than once.

Sure, sometimes I take a guided walking tour, or stumble about with a map. But when it comes to cemeteries and museums and zoos, I'd rather stroll around and enjoy whatever surprises I may encounter, than keep my nose poked in a map as I search for some object or sight that may not live up to all the hype nameless experts have bestowed upon it.

That said, I'm going to introduce you to a self-guided 1.4 mile walking tour of Madison's Forest Hill Cemetery. Published by Historic Madison, Inc., it's featured in a free brochure (shown above) available at the cemetery office on Speedway Road. It has facts and photos and a map highlighting the locations of graves of notable Madisonians -- only a few of whom may have Central connections, notably members of the Jackson family.

If your time is limited, using this map of the stars may be the way to see the graves of a lot of white males -- and some of their family members, most of whose names are not mentioned in the brochure. The only women mentioned are Gertrude Elizabeth Taylor Slaughter, wife of Moses Stephen Slaughter; Belle Case La Follette, wife of Robert Marion La Follette; and "a Louisiana-born widow" named Alice Waterman. A husband seems to be a mandatory asset for inclusion.

Two of the most interesting graves in Forest Hill Cemetery are not featured on the walking tour. But they're the subject of the rest of this post because I think you'll find them as interesting as I do.

"Snowball is like an icon," says Kathy Lange, the friendly, helpful woman who works in the office at Forest Hill Cemetery. She says people are always coming in to ask for directions to his grave -- and she's glad to oblige.

John Riley, a window washer known to several generations of Madison residents as "Snowball" is buried in Section 9 of the cemetery. If you don't know Snowball's story, click HERE to read Doug Moe's column about him.

Snowball's gravestone was designed and donated by the craftsmen at Pechmann Memorials, a locally owned and operated business with a long history of making generous contributions to the community without a lot of fanfare and self-congratulation. My first encounter with Pechmann Memorials came while I was writing a story about a student production of "Fortinbras" at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Pechmann Memorials had loaned the director a dozen genuine gravestones for use as props in this modern take on "Hamlet."

As you can see from the photo below, taken about week before Memorial Day, there are people who still care enough about "Snowball" to honor his memory with flowers.

Another grave of particular interest is that of a man whose name still provokes controversy in some circles: Eston Hemings Jefferson (1808-1856). His grave is located in Section 3 of Forest Hill Cemetery, in the Pearson Jefferson plots, as is the grave of his wife, Julia Anne, and several other relatives.

In 1999, DNA evidence confirmed that Eston and his children were direct descendants of President Thomas Jefferson and one of his slaves, Sally Hemings. However, some of Jefferson's descendants still do not accept the validity of this evidence.

Eston Hemings Jefferson and his wife and three children moved to Madison in 1852. According to Historic Madison's "A Biographical Guide to Forest Hill Cemetery," the family was listed as mulatto in the 1850 census, and as white 10 years later.

Eston Hemings Jefferson's gravestone is flat, embedded in the ground, not upright. It is also worn and deteriorated, as you can see both from the photograph below and the close-up photograph of a portion of the stone that follows it. Resist the urge to touch it, clean it, or pull up any of the plants that are growing in and around it. Doing so may cause harm to the already fragile marker.

I hope I've piqued your curiosity, and that, if you have the time, you'll stop to visit the final resting places of these two men, even though they're not on the walking tour map. Kathy Lange will be glad to give you directions to these two graves if you stop by the cemetery office when it's open on weekdays. If this is not an option, you can copy the outline map of the cemetery from my first post on "Visiting Madison's Forest Hill Cemetery" and refer to the section numbers I've listed in the text of this post to find them.

And while you're visiting Forest Hill, do take time to just wander around a bit. You're likely to be pleasantly surprised by what you may discover.

Monday, June 19, 2006

What's the Kingburger connection?

There were once many restaurants in town with Central connections, but like Madison Central High School alumni, their numbers are dwindling. In fact, when I think about it, it's difficult to come up with any names. Surely there are a few -- and some of you will surely be good enough to leave a comment or send me an email, so I can post the names.

Looking through the back of the 1963 Tychoberhan, I found several advertisements from restaurants with strong Central connections:

Weber's at 218 State Street (Mary McGuire Byrne)
Badger Candy Kitchen at 7 West Main Street (Nicholas Galanos)
Coney Island Restaurant at 314 State Street (Thomas Notes Class of 1942)

And then there was the half-page ad for a place I'd completely forgotten about -- and am still not sure I remember: Big "K" Recreation Center - Kingburger Central. As you can see from the copy of the ad reproduced below, there appear to have been two locations: 323 Lake Streets [sic] and 665 University Avenue. However, after a bit of research, I'm beginning to wonder if it wasn't a single location at the intersection of University Avenue and North Lake Street. The odd-numbered side of University Avenue is on your left as you're driving out towards Middleton.

In any case, Mr. Herreid and/or the 1963 Tychoberahn's ad staff (Barbara Brockett and Steve Webster, both Class of 1964) convinced three potential members of the Class of 1965 ("potential" because two of these three Shorewood girls transferred to West the next year) to pose for a photograph to accompany the Kingburger ad. And although there is not caption on the photo, I can identify the smiling girls who probably are thinking about something other than the 79¢ perch plate. From left to right are: Barbara Brockett, Nancy Washburn, Sue Seifert, and Virginia Steeper.

In attempting to locate more information about Big "K" Recreation Center, I stumbled across a Doug Moe article about the 50th anniversary of the Kollege Klub, which opened on State Street in 1953. The article mentions that Jack Meier, father of John Meier (Madison East Class of 1947), the original owner of the KK, owned three drive-in restaurants known as "Kingburger." There's also mention of Campus Soda Grill and The Three Bells and a sight line that doesn't quite make sense to me. In any case, I can't figure out the Central connection to Big "K" Recreation Center. So I await your help in solving this mystery.

In the meantime, it's time for me to stop indulging my insomnia and get back to bed. There are many things on my plate Monday -- and none of them are Kingburgers or perch.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tuesday's remains will probably be gone by the weekend

Driving home early Tuesday evening, I passed University Square and decided to document the demolition progress, paying particular interest to the location that had housed Paisan’s for more than 30 years. I knew if I didn’t stop then, there might not be much to see in a day or so.

The entire odd-number side of the 700 block of University Avenue is surround by high fences with “sidewalk closed” signs. The fencing on the west side extends to the walkway near Vilas Hall, which used to be Murray Street way back when. Fortunately, the much-maligned bus lane (now only used by bicylces) on that side of University Avenue allows one to get fairly close to the action, making it easier to photograph.

Here are some images of what was left of the Paisan’s space at about 5:30 p.m on Tuesday, June 13, 2006:

Note: I posted an update on the new Paisan's location at 131 W. Wilson Street on July 19, 2006. Click HERE to go to that post.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Peripatetic Paisan's

I'd finished taking photographs. Now, as I waited for the light to change so I could cross the street, I noticed man and woman standing on opposite corner of University Avenue and Lake Street. They stared across the busy avenue a bit, then walked towards the Chazen Museum. They stopped mid-block and stared again. They looked astonished, then perturbed, and finally, disappointed. They’d made plans to eat dinner at Paisan’s -- and Paisan’s wasn’t where they'd expected to find it.

They were dressed up for the occasion: He wore a nice sports jacket and she wore tailored slacks and a silk blouse. They said they’d been UW students in the Sixties. If the only Paisan’s they remembered was the one that was now a few walls, a door, and a pile of rubble, they were probably students in the late Sixties.

Paisan’s, as Doug Moe recently reminded his readers, has had several locations since it opened for business in 1950. The first location was on the 300 block of N. Park Street, between W. Johnson Street and University Avenue. Then Paisan’s moved around the corner to the 800 block of University Avenue, by Choles Floral and Lorenzo’s.

The second location is probably the one where most members of the Madison Central High School Class of 1965 first tasted Paisan’s signature thin crust pizza or a Garibaldi sandwich -- after they left high school. I remember trying to convince someone at Paisan’s to advertise in The Madison Mirror, but, like the Farinos at nearby Lorenzo’s, they weren’t interested in having high school students frequent their restaurant -- probably because they served alcohol.

I celebrated my 18th birthday at that Paisan’s on the 800 block of University Avenue with a group of friends. Back in 1965, you could drink beer if you were 18: The hard stuff wasn’t legal until you were 21. I’d been scrupulous about avoiding alcohol until I was 18 (communion wine didn’t count), and I was eager to finally have my first grown-up drink. I couldn’t legally celebrate with champagne, so I opted for what I thought was the next best thing: Champale. It turned out to be a vile-tasting malt liquor that made me wonder why I’d ever thought it would be cool to drink.

In the last half of the Sixties, the University of Wisconsin went on a building spree: tearing down lots of old houses and buildings and erecting ugly, utilitarian ones in their stead: Sellery, Witte, and Ogg Halls; and the Brutalist Humanties Building and Vilas Hall. Some people still insist the former was designed to thwart student activists by limiting ingress and egress. In any case, everything on the odd-numbered side of the 700 and 800 blocks of University Avenue was demolished.

Paisan’s took up temporary residence in the basement of Porta Bella on N. Francis Street. Then it moved to the new (and ugly) University Square Mall. The pizzas and Garibaldis were still tasty in the new location, but the space was not as intimate as it had been in its previous incarnation.

Now the University of Wisconsin is expanding, demolishing, and building more high-rise buildings. University Square is almost history. Paisan’s is moving off campus to W. Wilson Street, where, perhaps, it will become a hangout for office workers, condo dwellers, politicans, and lobbyists whose expense accounts won’t permit them to dine at Johnny Delmonico’s and the Capitol Chophouse every night.

The next time my friend Cheryl (East 1965), who left Madison in the late 1960s, comes back for a visit, we'll probably dine at Paisan's in its new location for old time's sake, hoping the pizza and the Garibaldi sandwiches still taste as good as always. After all, there aren't many restaurants left in Madison with such a long history. The other place Cheryl always visited when she came to Madison was the Badger Candy Kitchen on the Square -- a family business opened in 1924 and run for as long as both of us can remember by Madison Central High School alumnus Nick Galanos -- and it's been closed for many years.

Note: I posted an update on the new Paisan's location at 131 W. Wilson Street on July 19, 2006. Click HERE to go to that post.

Lost and Found

I can't find my wristwatch -- and while it's not driving me to distraction yet, its absence is becoming increasingly bothersome. The last time I recall seeing it was a few days ago. I was sitting at my computer and I removed the watch because it was interfering with my ability to type. Then, fearing it might become lost in a pile of paper, I remember picking it up and moving it to a safe place -- a place where it belonged, a place where I could find it easily when I again wanted to wear it.

Can't find the wristwatch. Checked all the usual safe places, as well as a number of places where, perhaps, it might have ended up by accident. It's disappeared.

The wristwatch joins a list that includes a 128MB photocard (in a small plastic container) that I removed from my camera bag and put somewhere safe, so it wouldn't get lost while I was dumping out the bag in search of spare batteries. There's also a beautifully illustrated book of poetry I bought in England that was, I'm quite certain, put in yet another safe place, where it wouldn't be scuffed and scratched -- and where, you guessed it! I could find it easily. Haven't seen it in many months.

Of course, in the process of hunting for lost and misplaced items, I often discover things I'd forgotten about entirely. Not dust bunnies and dirty socks, but objects of greater historical interest. The photo below emerged from a recent search for something else. I present it here for your delight and edification -- and to use the writing of this post a temporary respite from searching for things I need now, that will only appear when I'm looking for something else.

So reproduced here is a photo of the Madison Central High School Class of 1965 Sophomore Basketball Team. It's the original, purchased from one of Mr. Herried's end of the year sales of Tychoberahn raw material. If you still have a 1963 yearbook (the one with all the wonderful John Schmelzer art), the photo is on page 112. That's why I can tell you who's in the photo instead of igniting another discussion of who's who.

Front row: Dave Beckett (manager), Steve Holmgren, Jim Bakken, Doug Edmunds (yes, it says "Skip" in the yearbook), Don Fiscus, and Bill Buffo.
Back row: Charles Tortorice, Bob Fox, Jim Strand, Bob Stalder, Doug Strand, Dan Shapiro, and Danny Fix.

Looking cool on a hot Sunday afternoon

Perhaps there were other members of the Class of 1965 at Festa Italia, but I only saw two the day I visited. And only one of the two consented to be photographed. The other was camera-shy. She offered me a bribe not to point the camera in her direction -- and I accepted that dish of spumoni.

The one who consented to be photographed heeded my order to pose "up against the wall," but insisted I include his Italian sausage in the photo. So here we have Larry Studesville and his late afternoon lunch.