East Side History Madison’s Blog

By and for the East Side History Club, a project of the Goodman Community Center

February 20 Meeting: History of “Hess’s 
Corners” (Fair Oaks Ave. & Atwood Ave.)

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on January 25, 2016

Aerial photo over Madison's east side...

Aerial view of “Hess’s Corners” taken in summer 2010, courtesy of David Hull and Diane King

Ann Waidelich will present a slide show on the businesses at the east end of Atwood Ave. from St. Bernards Church to Olbrich Gardens, and Fair Oaks Avenue to Starkweather Creek.  Featured will be the businesses that have occupied the Fair Oaks Hotel site, now Birrenkott’s Appliance store. Bring your memories/memorabilia to share.

Saturday February 20,

2:30–4pm in the Evjue Room

Goodman Community Center

149 Waubesa St.

$2 suggested donation

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NORAD’s Annual Tracking of Santa Claus has roots in Madison

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on December 24, 2015

For 60 years, The U.S. Military has used radar to follow Santa’s flight around the world on Christmas Eve. You can check his progress here.

According to a New York Times article, “the practice began in 1955, when an advertisement in Colorado encouraging children to call Santa misprinted the telephone number, instead giving the number for an air defense command operations center. The director had members of his staff give updates on Santa’s location to children who called.”

But there’s a story behind this story! That director who had his staff tell callers Santa’s progress? He was Col. Harry W. Shoup, and before becoming chief of the combat operations center near the height of the Cold War, he had been commander of Truax Field on Madison’s East Side.

Decommissioned after World War II ended, the base was reactivated in 1951 to guard the skies over parts of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. Col. Shoup became based commander in February 1953. In February 1954 moved to Colorado to serve as  chief of the combat operations center of the Continental Air Defense Command, or Conad, where he unwittingly started the Christmas tradition.

Per the New York Times article, “The photogenic 38-year-old had already been trotted out for major news media to help give America’s defense establishment a more human face. As commander of Truax Field in Madison, Wis., Colonel Shoup had done interviews with Time magazine and with Edward R. Murrow on his CBS program ‘See It Now,’ describing his success in building warmer relations with the local community.”

At the time U.S. citizens were becoming increasingly nervous about military bases  located in or near their cities.  During the height of the Cold War, Truax had 150 Air Force jet pilots stationed here, flying F89C Scorpion jets. Jet crashes were frequent enough to cause alarm, as this article from the Wisconsin State Journal dated Nov. 25, 1953 attests.

The first headline is “Two More Truax Fliers Lost” after their jet crashed in Lake Superior just five hours subsequent to another F-89C crash which killed two Truax officers here.  “… The exact cause of the crash on the Lake Wingra shore probably will not be determined because salvage crews are not able to retrieve parts of the plane that were blasted deep into the lake bed and marsh by the plane’s explosion.”

The second headline is “Pilots Here Avoid Public Risks, Chief Says.” …”Pilots here conscientiously maneuver their planes away from Madison and suburbs to avoid endangering the lives of residents.”

truax1

An article in the Racine Journal dated February 3, 1956 sheds more light on the New York Time’s article’s mention of Col. Shoup’s work in “building warmer relations with the local community.” A movie narrated by Jack Webb titled “24-Hour Alert” was based on material supplied by Col. Harry Shoup about his experience as base commander at Truax Field.The article said, “Shoup won over the people of Madison in 1951 to the necessity of the air base.

The man who knew how to soothe a city’s fears about its local air base recognized a PR opportunity in the mistaken call of a little girl to a civil defense base, but he was also a family man who didn’t want to disappoint a child.

As the recent New York Times article relates, “The good-hearted Colonel Shoup had three daughters and an infant son. As he later told the tale, he quickly realized that the newspaper’s misprint meant that Conad would soon be deluged by many other such calls. …the colonel ordered Conad’s telephone operators to share Santa’s location with ‘every child who phoned in that night.'”

That first impromptu effort to trace Santa Claus’s journey to the United States has evolved into a much followed annual ritual that might never have come about without Col. Shoup’s PR experience at Madison’s Truax Field.

 

Happy Holidays from the East Side History Club!  — Ann Waidelich and Sarah White

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Did You Roller Skate under the Big Top?

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on November 28, 2015

roller skating ad

Wisc. State Journal and Capital Times, June 1, 1940

In the “good old summertime,” East Siders could enjoy roller skating under the Big Top where Burr Jones Park is today at East Washington Avenue and the Yahara. Admission was 35 cents at 7pm, and only 25 cents after 9pm, until closing.

Patti Jacobsen found a blurry snapshot of skating girls taken by her father Orwin Jacobsen in his family photo album.
roller skating girls Jacobsen blurry

Were you one of the boys and girls who enjoyed this summer activity? Do you have memories or photographs? To share them with the East Side History Club, call Sarah White at 608-347-7329 or email sarah.white@firstpersonprod.com.

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November 14 Meeting: History of the Township of Blooming Grove

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on October 31, 2015

The The East Side History Club meets on the SECOND Tuesday this month, to stay out of the way of the very busy Thanksgiving Baskets activity on the 21st at the Goodman Community Center.

In House, 4718 Monona Drive

Dean House in summer, 4718 Monona Drive

Come on Saturday, November 14th, to hear about the History of the Township of Blooming Grove. Ann Waidelich will present a program on the history of the Township of Blooming Grove, including the 1856 Nathaniel & Harriet Dean house and the early development of Monona.

We will meet from 1–3 pm in the Evjue Room of the Goodman Center, 149 Waubesa St.

$2 suggested donation.

_deanhouse_winter

Dean House in winter

 

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History Plat by Plat: Miller, Hudson, Elmside and More

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on October 20, 2015

On Saturday October 17, the East Side History Club learned about three early residential developments south of Atwood Avenue: the Samuel Miller Subdivision, Elmside, and Plat of Hudson Park.

Each plat promoted itself as the best place to build a home.

Plats 1976

Samuel Miller Plat: In 1863 Simeon Mills built a large sandstone mansion at 2709 Sommers Ave. Ann gave a brief history of its ownership.  In 1905, when the Miller family owned the property Samuel Miller had the property surrounding the house subdivided into 64 lots. “A large portion of these lots give as fine a view of Lake Monona as any in the city.”

SimeonMillsHouse

Elmside: “Fair Oaks, her rival on the other side of the St. Paul RR tracks has been advertised and boomed for years, say the people of Elmside, yet they look down upon their fair rival and claim to be the choicest suburb of the two.”

Hudson Park:  “Of the many beautiful residential sections of the east side none surpasses Hudson Park as a place in which to make a home.  This plat originally comprised a tract of land consisting of 18 acres with frontage on Lake Monona.  This frontage now composes the park strip still bearing the name of Hudson Park.”

The program concluded with an overview of the park along Lake Monona known as Hudson Park, including the Harry Whitehorse sculpture “Let the Great Spirit Soar”, the marker honoring Lt. Gerald Stull who died “landing” his disabled plane in the lake rather than have it plow into homes along Elmside Blvd., and the efforts that the Friends of Hudson Park have made in conjunction with the City of Madison to improve the beach and eliminate invasive plants along the shoreline.

 

Upcoming meetings of interest:
Thursday Oct 22, 2 PM  Warner Park Community Center: History of the North Side
Sunday Oct. 25, 2 PM Monona Public Library: Monona History Club meets. Topic: history of early Wisconsin railroads.
The next East Side History Club meeting will be Saturday Nov. 14 at 1 pm Goodman Community Center. Our topic will be the history of Blooming Grove, Monona & Dean House.

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“Picturing the Past” presentation featured in Wisconsin State Journal “Around Town” Column!

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on September 23, 2015

Around Town: East Side History Club raising money to reprint popular album

Reporter Matthew DeFour stopped by planning to stay a few minutes but found East Side History fascinating enough to stay for the full presentation, and interviewed attendees and presenters during our social time following Ann Waidelich’s slide show about the Schenk-Atwood Neighborhood.

The following morning, East Side History Club fans were delighted to find our activities the focus of a feature in the “Around Town” column. Read the article here!

Over 100 people turned out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon for"Picturing the Past" presented by Ann Waidelich.

Over 100 people turned out on a beautiful Sunday afternoon for”Picturing the Past” presented by Ann Waidelich.

 

Kathleen Scott and Katherine Christenson, daughters of William Ashley, brought memorabilia from when he worked at Gisholt Foundry, among other East Side businesses.

Kathleen Scott and Katherine Christenson, daughters of William Ashley, brought memorabilia from when their father worked at Gisholt Foundry, among other East Side businesses.

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Picturing the Past: Schenk-Atwood Neighborhood slide show

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on September 2, 2015

Join us for a virtual stroll through time with historical consultant Ann Waidelich. You’ll see memorable images of our neighborhood changing over time, like the ones below showing 2302 Atwood Avenue.
Note, this month we meet on SUNDAY September 20, 1–3 pm in Evjue Room, $2 donation requested.
Goodman Community  Center, 149 Waubesa St.
This meeting is a fundraiser for revising An East Side Album, so bring your checkbook.
1948: JoAnn Hoveland in front of Edgars Shoe Repair (by Alice Dill- man.)

1948: JoAnn Hoveland in front of Edgars Shoe Repair (by Alice Dillman.)

1975: Dog Shop (by James Potter, whi-37259)

1975: Dog Shop (by James Potter, whi-37259)

 

2015: Chocolate Shoppe (by Sarah White)

2015: Chocolate Shoppe (by Sarah White)

 

 

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Elmer and George Beale, firefighters, remembered

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on August 17, 2015

Brothers Elmer and George Beale, fire fighters  in front of fire station at 18 S. Webster Street, ca. 1910.

Brothers Elmer and George Beale, fire fighters in front of fire station at 18 S. Webster Street, ca. 1910.

Dawn Christenson recently shared this photo of her great grandfather Elmer Beale and his brother George as fire fighters ca. 1910, when horses were used to pull the fire fighting equipment.  They are standing in front of the downtown station at 18 S. Webster Street.

By 1925 Fire Station No. 5 had been built at 2137 Atwood Ave. and the fire trucks were motor driven.  The station served the east side until 1964 when a new station was built on Cottage Grove Road.  The building was used for a short time by the Boy Scouts Drum & Bugle Corp. and then it was torn down for the Eastwood Drive By-pass in 1973.

Fire Station #5, 2137 Atwood Avenue, ca. 1940. Photo courtesy of Joe Hermolin.

Fire Station #5, 2137 Atwood Avenue, ca. 1940. Photo courtesy of Joe Hermolin.

The September 20th meeting of the East Side History Club (1 PM at the Goodman Community Center, Evjue Room) will feature a slide show on the history of many of the businesses that were/are located along Atwood Avenue.  It will also be the kick-off of our fundraising/info collection efforts to produce a second edition of the East Side Album.

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April 18 meeting: Monks in our Midst!

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on March 30, 2015

The Frank J. Allis house, known as San Damiano, in 1996

The Frank J. Allis house, known as San Damiano, in 1996

For our April meeting, the East Side History Club presents:

Monks in our Midst! History & Future of Frank Allis House/San Damiano

Saturday April 18, note: 2–4 pm

Meet at Pinney Branch Library, 204 Cottage Grove Road

$2 suggested donation

Ann Waidelich will discuss the Frank W. Allis House, now known as San Damiano, on Monona Drive. Constructed in 1888, it was given to the Norbertine Fathers in 1928 for use as a novitiate. The fate of the property is uncertain.

aerial view of the property

aerial view of the property

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Contribute your story to local history! Here’s how.

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on March 21, 2015

Submit your stories and images to be considered for inclusion in a revised, expanded second edition of An East Side Album!

esa-cover-final

The East Side History Club focuses on collecting “home-made” history—the informal photographs and domestic anecdotes that reveal a side of history rarely preserved in “official” city history.

We produced An East Side Album for the Grand Opening of the Goodman Community Center in September 2008. In just a few years the entire print run sold out. Due to popular demand, we are now hard at work on a revised, expanded edition. If it happened on the piece of land bounded by the Yahara River, Lake Monona, Highway 30, and Packers’ Avenue, we’re interested in it.

YOU have this history in your closets and attics. Share it! See guidelines here.

 

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