Sunday, August 27, 2006

A new dormitory in the old Greenbush neighborhood -- and a meandering journey through some memories it sparked

Back in April, I walked up and down Regent Street and took photos of the few remaining houses in this part of the former Greenbush neighborhood, as well as some familiar old commerical buildings and some unfamiliar new ones. One of these days, I'll have the time to do a bit of research about what Central alumni lived in the extant houses and I'll post my results here. Really.

In the meantime, I recently discovered the function of the building with all the windows that appears on the left side of the photo at the top of this post: it's a UW dormitory.

I took the photo to show what the intersection of Regent Street and South Park Street (once known as "spaghetti corners") looked like these days. It was snapped just after I took the one on the left of Josie's Spaghetti House, the last of the Italian restaurants in the area. The building has been vacant since the summer of 2004, when it was damaged by fire. Josie's co-owners, Madison Central High School alumna Joanne Schuepbach Jensen (Class of 1956) and her brother, Frank Schuepbach decided not to reopen the restaurant. In late 2004, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that the owners had signed a tentative agreement to sell the property to a developer who planned to tear down the building and erect -- you guessed it! -- condominiums.

But I've wandered away from my original subject: UW dormitories.

Students will start moving into the new Newell J. Smith Hall on August 30th. The dormitory rooms have central air conditioning and walk-in closets. Students can control the temperatures in their rooms. There are kitchens on each floor. The rate for a double room in Smith Hall for the 2006-2007 academic year is $5,886 -- and that's without meals!

Smith Hall is the first new dormitory to be built on campus since 1965. That's when Ogg Hall was built. I spent my freshman year at the UW in Chadbourne Hall, a relatively new dormitory at the time. It was built in 1959 to replace the old Chadbourne Hall, that, until it was razed, was "the oldest women's dormatory [sic] at any educational school in the United States," according to the UW-Madison Division of Housing's "History of the University Residence Halls." Somewhere in my basement archives is a receipt for my stay in 730 Chadbourne Hall -- and I doubt that I paid more than several hundred dollars, including 20 meals a week (we had to fend for ourselves on Sunday night).

Of course my roommate and I didn't have a walk-in closet. There was no air conditioning. There were no individual thermostats. There were no kitchens -- in fact you weren't allowed to have most electrical appliances in your room: no televisions, no heating coils, no percolators.

What we did have was in loco parentis. Freshman girls who lived on campus had to live in a dormitory. All girls who lived in dormitories had to be in the dormitory by 11 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday nights and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays-- and there were bed checks to make certain you were obeying the rules. Boys, of course, had no curfews.

And yes, there were panty raids -- but woe unto any girl who was caught tossing her undies out the window to a mob of boys yelling, "Silk! Silk!" The dorm went into a lockdown mode during panty raids -- no one was let in or out until the crowd outside dispersed.

Of course even if we weren't in a lockdown mode, no boys could enter Chadbourne Hall above the ground floor. No men either, including your father. There was one "fathers' day" a year when your dad could visit your room -- and see how miserable you were and why you really needed to move into an apartment next year.

Interestingly, even though we couldn't be out late at night, we could drink beer. Back then, you could drink beer at 18 (but had to wait until you were 21 for the hard stuff). So you could go to the [old] Kollege Klub on State Street, The Pub (but only with a guy; unescorted women were not permitted), or buy a "near beer" in the Rathskellar. Or you could drink beer at a fraternity party. College girls tended not to hang out at Chesty's or Mr. Giblin's.

Things changed rapidly in the late 1960s. The voting age was lowered and the drinking age was raised. Madison Central High School was closed forever. More and more dormitories became co-ed. Panty raids became history. And so did the Greenbush. The Friends of the Historic Third Lake Ridge recently posted a link to download a copy of "Triangle Redevelopment and You." It's a huge 3MB PDF file, but if you're interested in the City of Madison's ill-conceived destruction of the Greenbush neighborhood, it's worth the download time to look at this condescending pamphlet sent to its residents

Update: 9/11/2006: The Third Lake Ridge web site seems to be unavailable, so the link to the PDF for the Triangle Redevelopment pamphlet isn't working. I'll try to find out if/when the site will again be live and/or find an alternate source for the pamphlet.

Update: 3/15/2007: The Third Lake Ridge web site is now up and running. Here's the link to the download.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Aw, shucks! The dregs of August

April may (or may not) be the cruellest month, but the dregs of August are surely the most lethargy-inducing days of the year. Summer's waning, but the temperatures and humidity remain oppressive. We've had thunderstorms and wailing tornado sirens for the past two days -- and there's more bad weather looming.

The soft fruit season is nearing its end and only the nectarines have been worth eating this summer. Chin drippin' peaches and plums that have no flavor won't be missed.

Lethargy seems to have engulfed much of the blogosphere. I'm not the only person who hasn't been posting very often lately. Most of my favorite bloggers -- and that includes fellow alumnus Madison Guy (whoever he is, he spent last weekend in Door County) -- have been less productive lately. Of course that means those of us who blog can't wile away our time reading each other's blogs as we contemplate the significance of our plunging Sitemeter statistics (is everyone on vacation?) and wonder if we'll ever again have the energy to write something meaningful.

Even some of the food bloggers, who seem to always be enjoying great meals and cooking up tasty treats have been sluggish. Santos has taken a vacation. The normally cheerful Clotilde vacationed in Barcelona and writes that one should never vacation in Barcelona in August because of the throngs of tourists (unless, of course, one is there because one had a not-to-be-missed opportunity to dine at El Bulli). Plus she had to contend with pickpockets and restaurants that overcharged.

Of course Clotilde lives in Paris, so she didn't need to fly to Spain. Right now, even though I can't afford to jump on a airplane and visit some faraway city, I don't even feel up to fantasizing about a trip that involves flying. Too much hassle.

The good news is that I found the missing 128MB photocard for my digital camera. The watch and book of poems are still missing. And now I'm also searching for a box of slides I took of The Wall of Respect at 43rd and Langley in Chicago during the late 1960s.

Labor Day is less than two weeks away right now. Somehow that unofficial end to summer seems to promise an end to lethargy. New seasons are just around the corner, whether you're a football fan, a theater-goer, or admit to a mild form of television addiction. Maybe Paisan's will even be open again by then.

Until then, even if I'm not writing very much, I'm getting ready to write -- doing research, organizing files, clearing my desktop, answering emails -- and erasing recorded messages left on my answering machine by whiny-voiced politicians worried about the September primaries (good way to lose my vote, honey!). So check back every so often --I suspect most of my fellow bloggers and I are just treading water, not drowning in lethargy.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Madison West High School Class of 1970 looking for Central alumni

Oh, let them shout and cheer for Memorial High
And talk of East High's royal hue,
And let Wisconsin's preps their banners fly;
We know they're staunch and brave and true.
But out of all the schools that fight for fame
There's only one that will remain
And that is West High, West High - - here's to you!
We will not fail thee, Maize and Blue.

Their school song manages to avoid Central altogether, while acknowledging Wisconsin High School, which closed in 1964, several years before Central closed in 1969, but that doesn't mean the Regents aren't looking for some Central students. The Madison West High School Class of 1970 has asked for assistance in locating students who attended Madison Central High School but were unable to graduate from the school because it closed in 1969. According to the information on the West High School Class of 1970 website:

"We are pleased to announce that several classmates have teamed up to form a committee to launch a reunion in June of 2007 and another in 2010. We know that 2007 is an "odd" year, but we aren't getting any younger, and several of us are anxious to renew our friendships from West Senior High School."

The email I received from one of the reunion organizers notes that:

"We have about 600 names in our classmate roster, but not every student had their picture in the yearbook, and not every student had their name in the yearbook. Glaringly absent are the students from Central and East who transferred in for their senior year, but were not very happy about it, and blew off the yearbook thing. We checked with West High, but we have a better classmates list than they do! They say they don't keep records of graduating classes, and, in fact, they did a 75th year celebration of West and reached out to reunion committees to get their reunion lists so West could mail to graduates."

"So we're trying to get a list of the students from Central and East who transferred over for their senior year, but so far no one seems to have one for either group that had to transfer over. No one actually knows how many were in the Class of 1970, so we're trying to improve the list so no one gets left out. We're not just looking for one or two people, but the whole bunch from Central and the whole bunch from East, which previous reunion committees didn't do."

Central alumni know the Madison Board of Education has graduation records, and I suggested the West High School Class of 1970 check with them for a complete list of graduates. But even if they get the list, they may not be able to find the Central alumni on that list. If you want further information about this reunion, please send me an email and I'll forward it to the committee. Or, you may register on their website.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The scoop on the Chocolate Shoppe's "Central connection"

Armed with a notebook or camera, I'm pretty fearless. That's why earlier today, when I noticed a Chocolate Shoppe outpost being set up on the square in front of Cafe Soleil, I stopped to check out reports of a "Central connection" suggested in a comment Doug Strand left on a previous post.

There were lots of folks at work setting up equipment so they'd be ready to sell ice cream cones to people attending the final event of the 2006 Concerts on the Square, but Chuck Deadman, who founded the Chocolate Shoppe in 1962, was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time to set the record straight on the "Central connection"

Chuck is an alumnus of Madison Central High School, but he's not a graduate. Blame (or credit) belongs to a girl. Here's the scoop.

Chuck grew up on Helena Street and attended Marquette Elementary School (my alma mater). His family moved to Green Bay for two years and then returned to Madison, where they lived on Baldwin Street, which meant he was in "the neutral zone" (he could choose to attend either Central or East). He chose to attend Central for two years from 1948-1950 (8th and 9th grade). Then he chose to transfer to East, where he graduated with the Madison East High School Class of 1953.

Here's a photo of Chuck Deadman and his wife, Nancy (the reason he chose to transfer to East)

Chuck told me his brother, Mike Deadman, did graduate from Central in 1963. Chuck also had fond memories of some of his former Central classmates who graduated in 1953, including Joe "Buffo" Cerniglia. I told him I'd email him some URLs from the Central History blog, so he could see some recent photos from the All-Central Reunion and Festa Italia.

I asked Chuck about the connection between the Chocolate Shoppe and the Ice Cream Shop that used to be located at the corner of Fourth Street and East Washington Avenue (across from East High School) and he said that there wasn't one. However, he told me that members of the Cnare family (owners of the Ice Cream Shop and among the founders of Badger Cab Company), the Thomsen family (which has owned Schoep's Ice Cream since 1937), and the Deadman family have been friends for decades.

While I can't remember ever buying an ice cream cone from Doug when he worked at the Chocolate Shoppe (but I do remember a really cute guy from La Follette who worked at the Chocolate Shoppe near C&P on Cottage Grove Road), I do know that when it comes to the best ice cream cones, sundaes, and malts in Madison, I don't even think about those guys from Vermont: I head right to the closest Chocolate Shoppe location.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Becoming "the best citizen possible" -- a junior high school student handbook from the 1950s presented as a serial

In April, I wrote about the importance of preserving paper ephemera, but I have not been overwhelmed with documents yet.

However, thanks to Janet Stevens' mother, you're all going to have an opportunity to view an important bit of paper ephemera: The Central Junior High School Handbook. Janet has given me the copy of this little booklet her mother saved for decades, and I'm going to reproduce it here on a blog, a few pages at a time.

The date on the book cover is 1957, but this probably represents the date when it was published. Janet presumably would have received her copy in the fall of 1959. I suspect all incoming 7th graders were given a copy, but this is the only one I know of that still exists -- unless someone else comes forward with a copy.

The booklet is approximately 7.25" high and 4.5" wide and has 35 pages. I'll be scanning all the pages and publishing copies on the blog over the next few weeks, so you all can be reminded about what kinds of behavior were necessary for a student at Madison Central Junior High School who wished to develop "scholastically, emotionally, morally, physically, and socially into the best citizen possible."

Title Page

It's called the index, but it's in the front of the booklet. There is no table of contents.

Reminder: You may double click on the images of the pages to enlarge them in your browser window.