Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A bit of Christmas nostalgia: A visit to see Santa Claus at Manchester's on the Capitol Square

Photograph by Arthur M. Vinge, probably taken during the late 1940s; Wisconsin Historical Image ID:WHi-34497

Did you go to see Santa at Manchester's? Leave a comment and share a Christmas season memory.

From the archives: "Things my father shared with me: a bit of Christmas magic on Madison's East Side"

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from Doug Strand, asking if the house on Upham Street was decorated for Christmas this year. Between a busy schedule and way too much snowfall in the past several weeks (more than 35" in December and there's still a week left in the month), I haven't had time to drive over to the East Side and have a look (and take a new photo). In the meantime, here's a reprint of my post from Christmas 2006 about the House on Upham Street (pictured above).

Most Christmas magic can't be captured on film or a computer chip, but sometimes an image can help to evoke a memory, or send someone else on a quest to experience the magic in person.

The above photo is of a house on the 2500 block of Upham Street on Madison's East Side. My father introduced me to this glowing work of art, so I know it's been a part of my Christmas celebration for more than a decade. The first time I saw this house, my father was my guide, the man behind the wheel who wanted to share his discovery. When he could no longer drive, I drove and we continued to enjoy this extravaganza together every year. After he died, driving past the house on Upham Street became an annual ritual, a way to remember my father, a way to be with him in spirit during the Christmas season.

Some years I've been able to introduce friends to the house on Upham Street, sharing a bit of one of my Christmas traditions with them. But even when everyone else was too busy to go for a ride, I've made a trip across town to make certain the Christmas lights were still aglow.

And as often as possible, I try to park a block or so away from the house on Upham Street, and take a walk to see what can't be shown in a single photo. What really makes the decorations on this house special is that the lights cover and illuminate the entire house: front, back, sides, and backyard. I've peeked around corners and craned my neck to catch a glimpse of as many lights as possible, but ever the obedient daughter, I follow my father's instructions and stay on the sidewalk: I don't go too close, I don't trespass, I don't ring the doorbell. I don't want to break the spell. I want the magic to endure year after year after year.

Note: You may also find fellow alumnus Madison Guy's blog post, "Helping the University Avenue Holiday Lights become a permanent institution," worth a visit. And while you're there, check out his extraordinarily beautiful photograph looking down State Street from the steps of the State Capitol.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

All six Madison Central High School blog templates have been updated; plus how you can contribute to this ongoing project


This blog was only intended to involve a short-term commitment of time – from the summer of 2005 until the Class of 1965's 40th reunion in October 2005. Instead, it's become a long term project and has acquired five siblings: one for the history of Madison Central High School, one for obituaries of alumni who died after 1990, one for obituaries of alumni who died prior to 1990, one for faculty and administrator obituaries, and one for alumni news and reunion announcements.

Unless you've used some of the links post texts or in the sidebar, you may not have even been aware that there were other Central blogs – especially since most Class of 1965 obituaries are posted on this blog, as are many teacher obituaries.

In the past several weeks, I've upgraded and customized the templates for all six CHS blogs in order to make them easier to navigate, as well as encourage people to take a look at their contents. In the sidebar to the right of this post, you'll find a list of the other blogs that includes a brief excerpt from the latest post. I hope you'll be curious enough to visit some of them. Among recent posts on some of the other blogs are the following: an obituary for an obituary for James Dalbec, Class of 1966; an obituary for Dr. Frederic E. Mohs, Class of 1927, renowned for his work in cancer surgery (post-dated to reflect the original publication date); an obituary for Alfred Patek, Class of 1876, a newspaperman who staked his reputation on a hunch about the Titanic disaster – and won.

On the history blog there two recent posts listing the names (and occasional biographic information) of the members of the Class of 1907, a class that included Gladys Owen, who married legendary University of Wisconsin economics professor "Wild Bill" Kiekhofer; Alfred Buser, captain of the undefeated 1912 UW football team,; and former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Timothy Brown. The alumni and reunion blog features information about the upcoming Class of 1964 reunion.

Other new features include links on the history blog to complete editions of the 1935 and 1937 Orange & Black yearbooks (the name for the Tychoberahn during the 1930s), as well as to the complete archives for The Madison Mirror. Several of the blogs also feature highlights from (and links to) the CHS Alumni Flickr account.

Contributions welcome (and encouraged)

And speaking of that Flickr account, if you enjoy reading these blogs and checking out the photographs, perhaps you'll consider making a donation to the cause. The Alumni Flickr account is at capacity (200 images) right now. A donation of $25 would allow me to upgrade that account to "Pro" status for a year; this allows unlimited images to be uploaded and visible. Donations also help support expenses such as the server space I'm beginning to use to upload and make available PDF files, and the cost of making copies of obituaries, graduation lists, and other CHS-related stories on microfilm.

In addition to cash donations, I'm always eager to accept donations of Madison Central High School yearbooks from 1900-1969. Most are called Tychoberahn, but during the 1930s and 1940s, the yearbooks were also called Orange & Black and The Mirror. I'm also interested in paper ephemera (graduation programs, photographs, reunion lists). Eventually, all of this material will be archived in a local library.

If you have copies of alumni obituaries that do not yet appear in the more than 600 I've posted thus far, I'd appreciate copies. I'm also interested in any tips about alumni in the news. And if you want to be a guest blogger, I'm certainly interested in that, too.

If you're willing to contribute in any way – cash, yearbooks, paper ephemera, photographs, blog posts, send me an e-mail. If you want to talk, include a telephone number and I'll get back to you in a timely manner.