Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Political Question of the Day: "What is your favorite children's book or book series?"

Run for political office and you're likely to find yourself answering all sorts of questions intended to suss out the real person behind the political image -- or maybe just make you look goofy or lacking in taste and judgment.

This week's Isthmus "Take Home Test" asks Madison School Board candidates Tom Brew (Class of 1965) and Johnny Winston about how they would address the achievement gap. It also asks each man. "What is your favorite children's book or book series?" Tom's answer was "The Little Engine That Could."

How would you answer the question? Would your answer really reveal something important about you? Leave a comment (don't send an e-mail unless you want to wait a long time for a reply, since I'm coping with a large backlog + several writing deadlines).

I'm not running for anything, but I'll answer the "favorite children's book series" question:

One of my favorite children's book series was (and is) "My Book House" by Olive Beaupre Miller. My paternal grandparents had a complete set if the original six-volume edition. I inherited five volumes. No one in the family seems to know what happened to Volume I, "In the Nursery." I've been searching for a replacement, but can't afford to pay hundreds of dollars to recapture a bit of my childhood.

Now I need to step away from this diversion and return to work. Those deadlines are looming.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A new location for alumni photos

I'm going to start migrating alumni photos (such as the one shown here) to a special Flickr account, so it will become easier to locate and view them. The account name is "Madison, Wisconsin CHS Alumni" and you may access it by clicking HERE. There is also a Flickr badge for the account on the Central History Blog (near the bottom of the right hand column). This is in addition to (and separate from) the Class of 1966 Flickr account which also has a badge on the Central History Blog. If you click on any image on the badges, you will also be taken to that Flickr account.

Right now, the alumni Flickr account has 19 photos from the 2006 All-Central Reunion. I will keep you advised of my progress in posting photos to this account.

If you wish to leave comments on any public Flickr account, you must have your own Flickr account. A basic account is free -- and you're not even required to post any photos.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Waiting for the start of today's Badger basketball game and remembering Joe Franklin, the Central alumnus who was a Badger star 40 years ago

There are two things on the minds of many Madison-area residents today: snow and basketball. About seven inches of snow fell Friday night. I'm still waiting to hear how much snow fell last night -- and whether or not there's any more on the way.

I spent a good part of the day ensconced at home, doing research on this weekend's other big story. But my attention wasn't on Alando Tucker and the Badger basketball team that will meet the Buckeyes this afternoon. I was pulling together information about a Central alumnus who was a UW basketball star more than 40 years ago, even though he was about 40 pounds lighter and four inches shorter than Tucker: Joe Franklin (CHS Class of 1964, shown here in a photo probably taken for the Tychoberahn in 1963).

Just how good was Joe when he played for Central? Here's what Madison East High School basketball coach Verlyn Belisle told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2005 when it compiled a list of the 150 best high school basketball players in Wisconsin: "Maybe the best player we played against... Man alive! There was nobody who could play with that guy. If he would have played in a system where he had more freedom, he would have been unstoppable. You put him on the court with anybody we’ve named, he’d take them. He’d be too quick. Oh, could he jump!"

After high school, Joe went on to play for the Badgers, where he earned team Most Valuable Player honors in 1967 and 1968, and was a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection in 1968, when he scored a school-record 544 points (22.7 average). You can read more about his remarkable basketball career at the UW-Madison on the official Badger Athletics web site.

Back in 1997, when the Badgers were about to abandon the UW Field House for the new Kohl Center, Wisconsin State Journal columnist George Hesselberg shared some of his memories of attending basketball games at the Field House, including this one from the very first game he attended there:

I think Rick Mount played for Purdue the first time I went to a basketball game at the Field House. I sat in a parachute seat with the rest of the juniors and seniors on our high school basketball team.

Mount was the star, but my eyes were on Joe Franklin, the best basketball player ever to play for Wisconsin. Franklin and a teammate named Jimmy Johnson jumped higher than I had ever seen a basketball player jump. On rebounds, I could almost look him eye to eye, and I was sitting in the second balcony.

Here's what the Wisconsin Alumnus magazine (Volume 69, Number 7) had to say about Joe in April 1968:

In 1988, Joe Franklin was inducted into the Madison Sports Hall of Fame.

What's this illustrious Madison Central High School and University of Wisconsin alumnus up to today? Intrepid researcher that I am, I think I know the answer to that question. But I want to be sure I'm correct before I bring you that update. So, like me, you'll have to wait until Joe replies to the e-mail I sent him this weekend.

112 photos, 545 views and counting...

There's a monthly limit on how many photos can be uploaded to Flickr, so you'll have to wait until March for some additional photos of the Class of 1966 reunion. In the meantime, there have been lots of people stopping by to see the 112 photos already posted on the Flickr account for the Class of 1966.

As I noted in an earlier post, Flickr tallies how many people have visited and what photos are the most popular (and no, it doesn't tally any information about who's visited, so don't worry, your secrets are safe).

A "view" is tallied if you click on an individual photo to enlarge it in your browser window. Based today's data, the members of the Class of 1966 people most want to see up close are still Angie Loniello & Monsine DiSalvo. But that photo of the dynamic duo is now tied with the one shown here, featuring Patty Fenner, Pernette Kjin, Monsine DiSalvo, Sandy Bennett, and Kathy Russell. Now you know.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Before the Brathaus

In my post about "The Case of the Missing Brathaus," I took note of a comment from "WormDr MCHS-64" who had provided some historical information about the Brathaus in response to a previous post. He wrote that the precursor to the original Brathaus was the Log Cabin. Here's an excerpt from his comment:

The Brathaus was built in 1953 on the corner of State and Lake. It replaced the Log Cabin which was a block up State Street more or less across the street from where the Pub is now.

If you're not old enough to have visited the Log Cabin, or didn't live in Madison back when the Log Cabin was still a fixture on State Street, never fear: I've discovered some photos of the exterior and interior of the Log Cabin, taken in 1931 by Angus McVicar, who also took many photographs for the Tychoberahn. Use the links to view the photos on the Wisconsin Historical Society's web site.

Thanks to the work of dedicated volunteers such as Ann Waidelich and Angus McVicar's daughter, Charlotte (Central High School Class of 1953), historical photos from the McVicar, as well as other photographers, are added to the WHS web site on a regular basis. Today, for instance I searched for photos using the key words "State Street" and found 228 photos. That's a lot more than I found a few months ago.

Click HERE to access the search engine for the photo collection. After you try "State Street," try "Rennebohm" (no need to use the quotation marks). If you remember the Rennebohm Drug Stores, you're in for a treat when you use this Wayback Machine.

Note: Thanks to Jerry Currie (who attended Central, but graduated from Madison East) for his support and encouragement, as well as the memories he shared with me today. Our conversation reminded me it was time to revisit the WHS web site to check out what photos had been added recently.

E-mail address restored

Moving this blog (and its siblings) to the "New Blogger" format has involved a bit of a learning curve. When I made the switch, the original e-mail contact address was changed. It showed another, incorrect address, so I temporarily switched off e-mail access until I could figure out how to replace it with the correct address. Then, I forgot about it. Today, someone(who graduated from East!) asked me why the e-mail address had disappeared. Oops.

I've figured out how to make the correct, original address available again and changed the access options. Now, if you want to e-mail the blog, you may do so by clicking on "View my complete profile" and using the E-mail link on the profile page (under Contact).

The "Madison Compromise" -- or why east is east and west is west in "the best city in the United States in which to live"

Two of the "must see" destinations on my [almost] daily stroll through the Internet are the lists of links to other blogs compiled by the staff at Isthmus (Madison Miscellany) and (Breakfast Links). Neither seeks to provide links to "all the news that's fit to print." Rather, they provide a solid list of links to recent news, reviews, and features about Madison published on blogs and print media. Occasionally, they provide links to other sources such as YouTube.

Last week, I clicked on a link labeled "Considering the east side versus west side rivalry here in Madison" and read Sara Ziemendorf's post titled "Direction Girl."

Like many of you, I've been hesitant about leaving comments on other people's blogs, in part because I wanted to embed links in my comments and I'd been having trouble doing this properly. Recently, however, a fellow blogger e-mailed me some very helpful hints for writing and posting comments with links. Emboldened by my new technical skills, I left a comment on Sara's post.

If you click on the links in this post (and you should), you'll find your way to Sara's blog and my comment. But since I know some of you don't bother to click on anything, and since the subject is one that is of interest to many of you who read this blog regularly, I'm going to post my comment here, too, so you'll have an opportunity to learn a bit more about why Madison's East Side and West Side continue to be very different places.

So, without further ado, here's a brief explanation of why east is east and west is west:

Call it rivalry, enmity, or ridiculous, the relationship between Madison's East Side and West Side has a long and well-documented history that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. David V. Mollenhoff does an excellent job of explaining it in his book, Madison: A History of the Formative Years (Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1982). Here's an excerpt from the book, explaining what Mollenhoff refers to as the "Madison compromise," effected, in part, to make certain that industrial growth would not destroy Madison's beauty:

And so, based upon these tacit agreements between industrialists and anti-industrialists, the "Madison compromise" was framed. Only "high grade" factories employing highly skilled and highly paid workers would be encouraged to come to Madison and the factories were to be located "over there" -- in the East Side factory district. The capital city would have both factories and faculty, lunch buckets and brief cases. East Side and West Side. It was a comfortable world of cozy compartments separated by a socio-economic fault line that even today sends tremors through discussions of municipal problems.

Mollenhoff recently revised his 1982 book, but although I haven't had time to do a compare and contrast between the two editions, I'm certain the above paragraph appears in both (along with a great deal of additional material about the "Madison compromise").

There's more information about Mollenhoff's book, as well a many other local history resources, on the Madison Area History page of the Madison Public Library's web site. One of the other history resources listed there is a link to my blog about the history of Madison Central High School. Skip the reunion notices and head for the history posts such as the lists of the members of the Class of 1900 (surnames A-H and surnames J-W), where you'll find the names of many of Madison's earliest families. Or read about some of the school's famous alumni, including cartoonist Don Trachte, who last year was the subject of a page one story in the New York Times.

Note: The reference in this post's title is to the 1948 article in Life Magazine titled "The Good Life in Madison."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Low cholesterol, low fat, and family friendly -- but still not a total escape from politics

When at all possible, road trips should include enough flexibility to permit side trips that allow you to enjoy roadside attractions such as the World's Largest Muskie, Dr. Evermore's Forevertron, or the Mount Horeb Trollway, featuring the carved creations of CHS alumnus Mike Feeney.

Keeping that in mind, during yesterday's road trip I took a brief detour to Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin to take a tour of the Jelly Belly Warehouse and try some free samples of Bertie Bott's flavors, which like their less-disgustingly named cousins, each have only four calories.

President Ronald Reagan
helped boost the popularity of "the world's most famous jelly bean" so there's a collection of Reagan memorabilia in the store on Jelly Belly Lane. My road trip may have taken me away from the robo-callers, but it didn't offer a complete escape from politics.

Lots of fun links in this post if you need some diversions. I need to get back to work.

Monday, February 19, 2007

More Smut n' Eggs

Bloggers addicted to Sitemeter (and try as we may to go cold turkey and shake this nasty habit, most of us are), do tend to check their stats before they go back to work (as I vowed to do a couple of posts ago). And when they discover a huge surge in visits, they check a little further to find out why this is happening.

So there was a surge this afternoon -- and since it has a "Central connection" of sorts, I feel justified in writing one more post while the water is heating for my next pot of Lapsang Souchong.

The "New Girl in Town" at Isthmus, whose cryptic moniker is E$, added her story, "Sin... and the sinfully delicious at Bennett's Smut and Eggs" to the Daily Page Scenes section a little after the clock struck noon today, and it included a link to my earlier post about the demise of Central alumnus Rich Bennett's Madison institution. My post, in addition to featuring a photo of Rich, contains a number of links to various sources of information about Smut n' Eggs, including a photo of the menu.

Apparently most people who clicked through on the link in E$'s story were expecting smut, not eggs -- and not a photo of Rich Bennett -- because they didn't seem to be hanging around for very long. If they want nude or naked, perhaps they should search Flickr. A few minutes ago, I conducted some full text Flickr searches with interesting results. Nude = 67, 623 photos. Naked = 69,055 photos. And then to satisfy my curiosity, I tried "eggs" and the results were very surprising indeed. Eggs = 145,279. By the time you click on these links, the numbers will probably be even higher.

My tea kettle is whistling and I have work to do. But for those of you who have too much time on your hands, enjoy the links -- and remember what I mentioned on my previous post: Flickr doesn't keep track of who visits what photo.

Note: The eggs photo at the top of this post is from Unreal Reality's Flickr photostream.

112 photos, 359 views and counting...

One more post, since I know you're probably not all that excited about my robo-caller rants and don't even plan to vote tomorrow because you're no longer in Madison. The Flickr account for the Class of 1966 tallies how many people have visited and what photos are the most popular (and no, it doesn't tally any information about who's visited, so don't worry, your secrets are safe).

A "view" is tallied if you click on an individual photo to enlarge it in your browser window. Based today's data, the members of the Class of 1966 people most want to see up close are Al Verdin and Angie Loniello & Monsine DiSalvo. Fast on their heels are Coach John Olson and his wife, Marlene. Now you know.

Don't bother to call because my telephone is unplugged

There's still too much to do and too little time to do it. Plus, I'm coping with some unpleasant symptoms of something distinctly flu-like. I'm cranky, crabby, living on tea and toast -- and somewhat incommunicado because I've been forced to unplug my telephone. The robo-callers have swelled in number and made it difficult for me to work. So until tomorrow's primary election is concluded, don't call me because you won't even hear the strange-sounding voice on my answering machine.

Even if I didn't detest being called by politicians (and pollsters and fund-raisers and sales personnel of any sort), this last-minute flurry of robo-calls won't affect my vote. There's a road trip on my schedule tomorrow, so I cast an absentee ballot last week.

Last week, I also started to write a post about a member of the Class of 1965 who was running for office. It turned into a screed about robo-callers, so I didn't post it (but saved it in draft form in case I changed my mind). Cranky, crabby, and fueled by Fortnum & Mason Lapsang Souchong, I've decided to throw caution to the wind and publish that post-in-waiting, as well as this rant.

Now, I'm going to try to get some work done, try to stay up late enough to watch "Heroes," and then hit the sack, so I can hit the road tomorrow morning.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

On hiatus

Too much to do. Too little time to do it all.

More Class of 1966 reunion photos posted

There are now 80 additional photos on the Class of 1966 Flickr site. Most, but not all, have labels. However, the reunion committee (or whoever is accepting responsibility for organizing the photos), still needs to edit labels and add tags. The photos are organized into three sets: Friday night at the Pub and Saturday night at the Knights of Columbus (2 sets, each taken with a different camera, so perhaps by a different photographer, too).

Note: If you want to leave a comment on any of the photos, you need to log on to your Yahoo account, which if you have a Yahoo email address, is your address plus your password.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

E-mail, string cheese, and other contemporary tales of Valentine's Day

Way back then, I would have spent the day hovering near the mailbox, waiting to discover whether he'd spent ten cents to send the card airmail. Now, all these years later, I can open my e-mail first thing in the morning and discover his animated Valentine, complete with music! And no, he didn't go to Central.

Times change. Not always for the better. The little Valentine shown here is from my collection of grade school Valentines -- the kind that required no postage at all. We just delivered them at school. And then we had Valentine's Day treats. As the always delightful Susan Lampert Smith noted in a column in the Wisconsin State Journal a few weeks ago, some "wellness" zealots have decided to ban cookies and cupcakes and other sweet treats in schools on Valentine's Day. Instead, school officials recommended low-fat, "healthy" treats such as string cheese and pretzels. Yuck. Clearly, no one was thinking about low-salt diets when they made those suggestions.

So how are you celebrating Valentine's Day? Or are you ignoring it? If you're still pining for that lost love from decades ago, have heart. Maybe it's not too late. Last month, the New York Times published a feature story about a couple who met in high school at a National Science Foundation summer camp, separated after they started college, and reconnected three decades later. And yes, dear reader, she married him.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

News about the class of 1966 reunion photos on the Central history blog

If you have (or had) friends or relatives in the Madison Central High School Class of 1966, you may want to take a look at some of the reunion photos posted on their new Flickr account. Click HERE to read my post about it (which includes a link to the account) on the Central history blog.

Right now, the Class of 1966 Flickr account only includes 40 photos from their Friday night get-together at the Pub. The photos are also not labeled. More photos and better labeling will undoubtedly be available within the next several weeks, so you may want to check the account periodically.

Monday, February 12, 2007

How I spent the Sunday before Valentine's Day -- Or, why I didn't attend the All-Central reunion yesterday

The way I see the world (or at least the part of it that's gone digital) underwent some profound changes yesterday. Thanks to some people who've made financial donations to support the blog, as well as the nudging and counsel of a fellow alumnus who knows more about photography than I ever will, I've purchased (on sale) a new monitor for my computer. Gone is the 10" CRT from long ago. In its place is a new 17" LCD monitor.

What was dark and difficult to see is now visible. Now I know, for instance, that those photos from the Class of 1966 reunion (some of which are posted on the Flickr acccount) aren't too dark -- it was just the way they looked on my feeble, out of date monitor. The same goes for my photos from the Class of 1965's 40th reunion. I've been castigating myself for taking such poor photos -- sometimes blaming my camera, but most of the time my own ineptitude. Yesterday, when I finally installed the new monitor (after finding the slip UPS had left a few days earlier, telling me they'd left it with a neighbor), I discovered I wasn't so bad after all.

One of the consequences of this monitor problem has been too many "bleached out" photos on this blog -- the result of my efforts to correct what I thought were lighting problems. Assuming that most of you are using monitors that are much better than the one I was using until yesterday, here's an example of the difference between the photo I actually took (which I thought was too dark, based on the way it appeared on my old monitor) and the photo I posted after I "lightened" it up a bit:

Original photo that looked way too dark on my old monitor

Edited version, lightened to make it look better (at least on my old monitor)

You should be able to see the difference quite clearly (if not, you probably need a new monitor). Needless to say, once I finished crawling around on the floor to install the new monitor, so could I.

So, if I don't write very many posts for a while, it will be because I'm reposting photos (taking down the pale, edited photos and replacing them with the not so bad after all originals.

Note: This only applies to original photos. Eventually, I may find time to make some adjustments to the scanned photos, too. Be patient.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A trio of photographs from the 35th reunion at the Argus

Tom Sorenson and Terry Burrows

From left to right: Shirley Hierlmeier, Jim Kinder, Bonnie Hawke

From left to right: Bonnie Hawke, Tom Sorenson, Larry Studesville, Rachel Hefty

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ripped from the headlines: The demise of Bennett's smut n' eggs (no yolk)

Well maybe it's not headline news, but Rich Bennett's decision to close his bar at 416 S. Park Street was the focus of a recent Doug Moe column in The Capital Times.

Bennett blames Madison's smoking ban for the demise of his bar, known far and wide as the home of Smut n' Eggs. And far and wide is no exaggeration: The walls of the bar were covered with newspaper stories and national magazine articles about the bar's breakfast menu which offered items such as Smut Muffins and Eggs Bennett-dick, served against a backdrop of adult movies.

Bennett, told Moe that after the bar closed for good on February 25th, he planned to leave Madison. Asked where he was going, Bennett replied, "Portage, probably."

The good news for Madison Central High School alumni who enjoy attending the annual "All-Central Reunion" Rich sponsors at the VFW on Lakeside Street is that his plans to relocate to Portage won't affect this year's event, scheduled to begin at noon on February 11th.

For those of you who've never had the opportunity (or inclination) to sample Smut 'n Eggs at Bennett's bar, here is a list of links to some commentary and photos about this local institution:

Kendra at Dane101 writes about her first visit to "Bennett's infamous Smut-N-Eggs:

In an article about "Breakfast Hotspots" published in the February 2007 issue of Madison Magazine, freelance writer Kristine Hansen notes that, "Our waiter wore a plastic hat shaped like an, ahem, anatomy that only men have and donned a white T-shirt displaying cows in various positions."

cfarivar's Flickr photos features a collection tagged "smutneggs" including this photo of the menu

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Focus on the Class of 1934

I've been busy tracking down alumni from other classes. You may read about some of my recent results on the Central history blog, which features two new posts about the Class of 1934.

Among the members of the Madison Central High School Class of 1934 are Jay Ashbrook, who was stage manager for a production of Noel Coward's "Private Lives" that garnered praise from the playwright; Violet Jane Bagley, the niece of William T. Evjue, founder and editor of The Capital Times; Harvey Burr, a billboard advertising salesman whose story-telling skills merited a splendid staff-written obituary in The Seattle Times; E. Bowden Curtiss, publisher of the Darlington Republican Journal; and Dr. James L. Dean, one of the founders of the Dean Clinic in Madison. You may read about them (and find links to additional information) by clicking HERE to acccess my post on the members of the June graduating class whose surnames begin with the letters A-D.

Not everyone graduates with her or his class. Two members of the Class of 1934 -- Freddie Lee Banks and Christopher Canepa -- died a shortly before graduation. You may read about them and see their photographs in a special a special tribute published in the 1934 Orange and Black yearbook by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Discovering "The People's Stories of South Madison"

In my previous post, I noted that when comparing Madison's South Side and West Side, "There was a pronounced difference between the two neighborhoods in 1923."

In a wonderfully-timed bit of serendipity, while searching for links for a post on the Central History blog about the 1954 Madison Central High School football team co-captains, I discovered an online copy of "The People's Stories of South Madison," a collection of 20 first-person reminiscences about life in South Madison, based on oral interviews conducted by David Giffey. I linked to one reminiscence by Richard Harris, but there are also other stories in this book with definite "Central connections."

Read some of these stories if you want to gain a better understanding of what the "pronounced difference" meant in 1923 -- and remains in 2007.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Is anyone writing a history of Franklin School on Lakeside Street?

It's been almost a year since I took these photos of the Franklin School building, but I haven't been able to locate very much information about the school and its history. According to a brief history of school buildings in Madison that I discovered at the Madison Public Library, Franklin opened in 1923 at 305 West Lakeside Street. There have been at least two additions to the original building: one in 1930 and one in 1956.

In 1984, Franklin was paired with Randall School on Regent Street as a result of the Madison school district's efforts to desegregate several schools. The combined paired schools are now collectively referred to as Franklin-Randall Elementary.

Last year, the Randall School building celebrated its 100th anniversary and received a lot of media coverage. Will anyone make a fuss about Franklin when its 100th anniversary arrives -- even though it's located on Madison's South Side, rather than the West Side? There was a pronounced difference between the two neighborhoods in 1923. The Franklin building certainly isn't an "elegant prairie-style school" and it probably wasn't designed by a prominent local architectural firm.

Is anyone writing a history of Franklin. Does anyone care about its legacy?

More than a few Madison Central High School alumni attended Franklin School. Perhaps they'll leave some comments.

Photos of Franklin School taken on February 8, 2006

Friday, February 02, 2007

Don't Miss Mickey Crocker in the Madison Repertory Theatre's production of Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie"

Read this week's Isthmus feature story about the Madison Repertory Theatre's production of Eugene O'Neill's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, "Anna Christie," and you might think it has a cast of three: a leading lady from Ohio and two actors from Chicago. You'd be wrong.

Missing from the story, written by the newspaper's features editor, Kenneth Burns, is Madison actress Mickey Crocker (a.k.a Mickey Gartland), a member of the Madison Central High School Class of 1965. Lively, lovely, and talented, Mickey is a marvelous performer with an impressive resume. If you're in the Madison area between now and February 25, 2007, make plans to see Mickey in "Anna Christie." I already have my ticket.