Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Meet a remarkable alumna who lived to be almost 104

"She's lived through 18 presidents, five wars, and the invention of airplanes, antiobiotics, automobiles, computers, motion pictures, nuclear power and television," wrote Wisconsin State Journal feature writer Sunny Schubert, in a 1987 article about Emma Glenz, who'd recently celebrated or 102nd birthday.

Born in Madison in 1883, Emma Louise Glenz graduated from Madison [Central] High School in 1902. I've posted her obituary and copies of several newspaper articles about this remarkable woman, who died in 1987, a week short of her 104th birthday, in the pre-1990 obituary archives. Click HERE to read more about alumna Emma Glenz.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Gerri DiMaggio's Double Life

Gerri DiMaggio's "Double Life" -- as a jazz singer and a businesswoman -- is the cover story for the current (August 2006) edition of Wisconsin Woman magazine.

"Juggling a successful business with a burgeoning career as a jazz singer might seem daunting, but DiMaggio wouldn't have it any other way," writes freelancer Justine Kessler.

You may pick up a free copy of Wisconsin Woman magazine at many Madison-area grocery stories. If that's not practical, you may also access the story online by clicking HERE.

If you still haven't seen and heard this member of the Madison Central High School Class of 1965 perform, click HERE for a list of her upcoming appearances.

Update (10/30/2006) - Sorry, the original link to the online version of the Kessler's story about Gerri DiMaggio now reaches the current cover story for Wisconsin Woman Magazine. I'll try to find another link, if possible.

Walking tours of Madison -- on foot or from your armchair

Why pay $5 for a guided tour of Downtown Madison? You grew up here, you lived here for a long time (and maybe still do). You're an expert on Madison. Or not...

Even native Madisonians can learn a lot about their city if they participate in one of the four guided walking tours of Downtown Madison offered by Madison Trust for Historic Preservation. Each of the tours focuses on one relatively small area: King Street, State Street, Mansion Hill East [of Wisconsin Avenue] and Mansion Hill West [of Wisconsin Avenue]. The focus is on architecture, but you'll learn a lot about the women and men who lived in and designed the buildings on the tour, as well as about life in the capital city in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Mansion Hill West walking tour is new this year. I went on one of the first ones offered in April. I learned a lot about the history of the area, but there was were no "Central connections" mentioned anywhere along the two-hour tour -- even though many Madison Central High School students lived in the area at one time. Perhaps it's because the houses they lived in are not considered to be architecturally significant -- but then we all know about another building that was deemed to be so architecturally insignificant it was torn down so MATC administrators could have a few more parking spaces.

Here's a photograph of a house at 131 Langdon Street that's not on the tour, but was once home to six Madison [Central] High School students (one of whom was editor of the first Tychoberahn) during the early part of the 20th century:

Even if the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation walking tours aren't a treasure trove of Central associations, they're still worth $5 -- and besides, at the end of the tour, there's a "free" refreshment for all participants. Depending on the day and the tour, you could finish your walk with a drink at the Edgewater or the Plaza, or a junior ice cream cone at the Chocolate Shoppe. The 2006 walking tour schedule on runs through September, so you'll have to join one soon, or wait until next spring.

If your busy schedule makes it difficult to join one of the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation walking tours, there are some interesting alternatives -- and they even make armchair tours possible for those of you who only visit Madison for reunions.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the City of Madison funded the development and publication of a series of walking tour booklets such as the one for the Greenbush-Vilas Neighborhood shown on the left. These booklets are do-it-yourself tours, and I really prefer walking around with a knowledgeable guide to walking around with my nose buried in a guidebook. However, these booklets are full of photos, informative text, and maps of the neighborhoods they explore, which also include the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood and the University Heights Neighborhood. They're worth reading even if you don't plan to take a walk. Click HERE for a complete list of the areas covered.

A limited number of these booklets are available free of charge at the Downtown branch of the Madison Public Library on West Mifflin Street. Ask for a copy of one or more of them at the reference desk -- but don't be too disappointed if the supplies of the one you want are exhausted, because there is another option available.

All of these booklets are available on line, most as PDF files that are easy to download (although some are more than 3,000 KB, so allow a bit of time and computer memory for these each download).

The days are already getting shorter, so now's the time to think about taking a walk around Madison. It won't be long before construction season is over and we have to start thinking about the S-Word. And if you pay $5 for a walking tour of State Street in August or September, at least you'll qualify for a treat at the end of the tour. In October, Mayor Dave wants to charge you $5 just to be on State Street. The man who should still be mayor is praying for rain.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Looks as though you may be able to satisfy your hunger for Paisan's pizza before Labor Day (a.k.a the end of summer)

There's been a lot of buzz in certain quarters lately about the opening of Sardine, the new restaurant from the same wonderful folks who brought us the absolutely scrumptious Marigold Kitchen. Sardine is now open for business, but the restaurant almost everybody (and their brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, and former roommates) has been buzzing about for many months still isn't ready to welcome us back yet: That would be Paisan's.

Back in June 2005, The Capital Times' Samara Kalk Derby reported Paisan's would be moving to 131 W. Wilson Street, a move forced by the impending destruction of University Square. At that time, the owners hoped to move in January 2006 and re-open a month later. Didn't happen. Paisan's stayed in its University Avenue location until shortly before the wrecking crew arrived to demolish it. We heard reports Paisan's would open at the 131 W. Wilson Street location in mid-May. Didn't happen. Mid-June? Didn't happen. Mid-July? Still hasn't happened. When is it going to happen? Here's the latest word, taped to the front door:

Why is it taking so long for Paisan's to re-open? While I haven't interviewed the owners, I did stop by Tuesday evening to have a look at what was happening and based on what I saw, I suspect a large part of the delay has to do with one factor: Build-out.

Paisan's is not only moving into the building on 131 W. Wilson Street, it's changing the shape of the building. I worked in a office located at 131 W. Wilson Street about a decade ago and it definitely did not have a bump back then.

The whole front section of the building with the rounded contour and the Paisan's sign is new. Ask anyone who's ever had to move people and equipment from one location to another location that requires build-out (and I count myself a member of that group), and they'll tell you there always seem to be delays. Work never seems to be finished quite on schedule (unless, perhaps, you have really deep pockets).

The window glass is dark and it's difficult to see what's inside, but right now this section seems to be filled with build-out equipment, not cozy booths and round tables. Further outside evidence that work is still in progress can be seen in the photo below:

What's striking about the way the restaurant is shaping up, however, is it apparent size. Paisan's is going to be using much more space than previous restaurant occupants of 131 W. Wilson Street. If you walk along the west side of the building (past the bump), towards Lake Monona, it seems evident that the restaurant is going to occupy a substantial portion of that side of the building, from front to back. When you reach the terrace overlooking the lake, you'll notice the restaurant seems to occupy most of the the rear portion of the building, and there may have been some build-out here, too. Plus Paisan's clearly plans to take advantage of the terrace in the warm months: The familiar outdoor furniture from the University Square location is already stacked outside on the terrace. Here are a few shots of the exterior of the rear section of the restuarant.

Part of the rear section resembles the front build-out. It's been a long time since I visited this area, but I suspect at least some parts of the section with the rounded contour is build-out.

Same section of the rear exterior, photographed from a slightly different angle.

The chairs and tables awaiting our return. The view is looking east (in the direction of 1 W. Wilson Street and Monona Terrace). The red brick building with the white balconies used to be apartments. Like almost every other piece of private property in Downtown Madison, it may now be condominiums.

A view of Lake Monona from the terrace.

Squelch your vertigo and peek over the terrace rails and you'll see railroad tracks.

Mary was sitting in front of 131 W. Wilson Street waiting for a ride and she told me she didn't mind being in my photograph. I asked if if she knew when Paisan's was opening. She'd read the sign on the door, so she told me late July or early August. Let's hope it's soon. Paisan's fans not only want to see the new space, they want to sink their teeth into its legendary thin-crust pizzas and Garibaldi sandwiches.

UPDATE (9/6/2006): Paisan's has finally opened!! Click HERE for recent news and links.

Friday, July 07, 2006

A tranquil space to avoid the cranes and watch the ducks

Downtown Madison isn't the only location teeming with construction sites, detours, and huge tower cranes. The west end of the University of Wisconsin campus is also clogged with cranes and construction sites - and the inevitable traffic detours.

But there's a tranquil space in the midst of all this hubbub, sheltered from the threat of certain demise by its landmark status, and open to anyone who cares to visit from dawn until dusk. It's the Allen Centennial Gardens, located not far from Babcock Hall on the agricultural campus. And the Mallards in the photos I posted earlier this week live here.

Allen Centennial Gardens is "centered around a stately Victorian gothic house" that served as the home of the College of Agriculture's first four deans. In 1984, the house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, thereby ensuring its protection from bouts of rampant construction fever.

A horticultural teaching garden, maintained by volunteers and members of the UW-Madison Department of Horticulture, the Allen Centennial Gardens are named in honor of Ethel Kullman Allen, a Madison resident who, for over 40 years, "conducted important research on leguminous plants and in collaborations with her late husband [Dr. Oscar Nelson Allen], compiled and published authoritative work on their research in the field of legumes," and her husband. She died May 7, 2006 at the age of 98.

Here's an interior view of the garden, showing the bridge that spans part of the water garden.

A waterfall in the rock garden

From May 15 through the first weekend in October, couples may reserve the Allen Gardens for a wedding -- but they have to hold their reception elsewhere.

A view of the water garden and the bridge that passes over it. The Mallards swim in the water garden and live nearby.

A closeup of a lily pad in the water garden

There are many different kinds of gardens within the 2.5 acres of Allen Centennial Gardens. This rock marks the entrance to the orchard garden.

Some of the trees in the orchard garden were already weighed down with fruit last week.

There are several areas within the Allen Centennial Gardens to sit down, relax, and maybe eat your lunch. This seating area features a authentic Terrace chairs in "Winter Terrace White."

This is one of my favorite spots to sit and read a book. It's peaceful and quiet and offers a bit of protection from the summer sun.

And if you're more interested in impressing your friends with your horticultural knowledge than relaxing with a book, you'll discover that many of the plants have name tags, so you'll know what to call them.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Tomorrow! Tomorrow!

My cartoon role model has always been Brenda Starr, but tonight I'm behaving a bit like the Broadway incarnation of another funny paper redhead: Little Orphan Annie. I'm singing "Tomorrow" because that's when my DSL service is supposed to begin.

Forget about sipping pudding through a straw, my dial-up connect speed slowed down even more in the past few days. Now it's like trying to sip library paste through a straw. You remember library paste, don't you? Decades ago, it was the only stuff you were allowed to use to stick things together. You had to age a bit and learn to be responsible before you were permitted use Elmer's Glue or rubber cement. Admit it, like many an adventurous elementry school student you took a taste of the gloopy white stuff -- either because you were curious or because someone dared you to do it.

I hauled out my laptop to write this post, because for some reason it manages to connect at a higher speed. But I don't type well on the smaller keyboard and I miss my mouse, so using the laptop is not conducive to writing long posts.

So since I couldn't blog with ease, I decided to spend the long holiday weekend+ frolicking with friends and pondering weighty questions like these:

Just what kind of sliced fruit should one toss into the Sangria? Oranges? Lemons? Limes? All of the above?

Should I erase all the messages on my answering machine so it will again be functional? After all, when the DSL is all connected, my phone can ring while I'm online (no more busy signals if I'm blogging!).

Which of the many local 4th of July fireworks displays should I attend?

Fortunately, for those of you who want something more substantial until I have time to finish up some of my promised posts (which may be Wednesday evening), fellow alumnus Madison Guy (whoever he is) has been doing some serious blogging over the past several days. Although I read everything he writes, some of you may be more interested in his posts on the local scene than his commentary on language, art, and politics. If so, here's a selection of links to his recent posts with Madison connections (all of which are accompanied by photos)

The Vilas Park deathtrap (accompanied by a plea for your help)

Downtown Madison priorities and the Madison Public Library

A bicycle ride through Madison that includes photos of B.B. Clarke Beach and the partially finished sign for the new Paisan's location on 131 W. Wilson Street

A Midwestern logrolling competiton that has nothing to do with politicians (you do remember what you learned about logrolling in civics class, don't you?)
And while you're visiting Madison Guy, leave a comment or two. It's easy -- and it doesn't require trying to identify people who attended a Midwinter Dance at Madison Central High School more than 40 years ago.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Traveling to Allen Gardens by bus, bike, and Shank's mare

So perhaps my previous post convinced you to visit Allen Gardens. You know its address is 620 Babcock Drive and you think perhaps you know how to find it. If your thoughts involve an automobile, think again. Construction work in the area makes navigation difficult and parking is usually another obstacle.

The best modes of transportation for reaching Allen Gardens are (1) riding the campus bus, (2) riding your bicycle, and (3) walking.

The route 80 campus bus runs from the Memorial Union to Eagle Heights with stops along the way at many locations, including the UW Hospitals and Clinics and Union South. Get off the bus at the stop near the intersection of Babcock Drive and Observatory Drive, right by Schlicter Hall,

If you're a bicyclist -- and you can manage to navigate through the construction obstacles, you'll find a bicycle rack located just across the street from Allen Gardens.

If you're traveling on foot, the route you take will depend upon your starting point. What follows is the route I took when I visited Allen Gardens on the Sunday before the Fourth of July. Let's call it the chicken to ice cream walking route, because it started by a restaurant that serves up some of the best chicken in town and passed by the Babcock Hall Dairy Store, where, during the month of July, you can buy a Badger Blast or Lumberjack ice cream cone, or opt for an old favorite like strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, or Blue Moon. The store, alas, is closed on Sundays. But if you visit during the week, you can not only enjoy some of the best ice cream in town, you can feel smug about not having to pay the high prices charged to out-of-town fans with deep pockets who can't live without it.

I drove from the far west side of Madison to the intersection of Breese Terrace and Monroe Street, where I was fairly confident I could find a parking place on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

I parked in front of Kipp's Down Home Cookin', formerly known as North American Rotisserie. Same great chicken and sides as before. They just haven't gotten around to changing the sign yet.

Kipp's is just about cater-corner (or kitty-corner, if you prefer) from Nail's Tales, the intriguing and controversial sculpture in front of Camp Randall, at the intersection of Breese Terrace and Regent Street.

I walked along Breese Terrace, heading north toward Old University Avenue. When I reached the end of Breese Terrace (by the First Congregational Church), I crossed the street, turned left, and walked west on Old University Avenue. After I passed the Institute for Enzyme Research, the building shown above (The Church of of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Institute of Religion) was on my left on the opposite side of the street.

The entrance to the walkway that spans Campus Drive was on my right. I headed right. This photograph was taken from the opposite side, looking back.

I suffered just a touch of vertigo when I took this phograph of the traffic headed east on Campus Drive towards the intersection with West Johnson Street.

Once I descended on the other side, I walked past the University Stock Pavillion (a.k.a. the Cow Barn), where, back in the days before computers ruled, students lined up every semester to pick up their registration materials, then ran all over campus to secure the necessary stamps and signatures to enroll in classes; and where Allen Ginsberg and The Fugs performed in the 1960s.

When I reached Linden Drive, I turned right and walked past the Babcock Hall Dairy Store to the intersection of Linden and Babcock Drive. I crossed Linden, and headed toward the Steenbock Library (shown on the left in the photograph above). I had to navigate some construction to arrive there, but once I did, I was almost at my destination.

The red roof peeking out from amongst the trees in the photo of the Steenbock Library sits atop this houseVictorian gothic house inside Allen Gardens.

When my sojourn in Allen Gardens was over, I retraced my steps and headed back to Kipps, Nail's Tales, and my car. Interestingly, a few days later, on the Fourth of July, Madison's most popular blogger (5.1 million visitors and counting as of today), apparently took a walk that began near my starting point and passed by Allen Gardens. But she walked farther than I did, even though her shoes look less sensible than the ones I was wearing two days earlier.