East Side History Madison’s Blog

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

Tasty tidbits from the April club meeting on “Scouts and Scouting”

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on April 21, 2016

Ann Waidelich spoke first about Boy Scouts, then continued with Girl Scout history, during our  April meeting.

A BoyScout Trek Wagon was one of the items that spurred discussion of hikes and camp-outs among attendees. The Club is hoping to find a better photo of this one, shown in a newspaper clipping. The wagon was loaded with emergency equipment, camp kitchen, and foodstuffs.

BS Trek wagon cropped

It may have been made by the scouts, or purchased from a firm like the Buffalo Sled Company, which advertised in “Boys Life,” the magazine of boy scouting, in 1912-1915.

1915_06 Boys Life trek wagon

Either way, it must have been a chore for six boys to pull its 2,000 pounds when fully loaded!

Ken DePrey shared this: “One special memory I had was when our troop (32, East Side Business Men’s Association) would hike up to Little Green Lake each year. We would haul all of our supplies and camping equipment by wagon and hike the entire distance (70 miles) by foot.”

Lots of scout memorabilia was on display at the meeting, including an impressive patch jacket (modeled here by Joe Rossmeisl, leader of Boy Scout Troop 34) represents 40 years of scouting by Gene Eagan.

scout memorabilia-Joe Corry

Former Scoutmaster Joe Corry examines memorabilia at the April 2016 meeting.

scout jacket Joe Rossmeisel-front

Joe Rossmeisl models Gene Eagan’s patch jacket.

scout jacket Joe Rossmeisel

Joe Rossmeisl models Gene Eagan’s patch jacket.

Homemade Girl Scout cookies baked from the recipe used by the Strand Bakery back when the cookies were made locally (ca. 1929-1951) were enjoyed by the several dozen attendees. Near the meeting’s close, Girl Scouts from a local troop showed up with today’s very delicious varieties for sale. girl scouts with cookies


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April 16 meeting: Scouts and Scouting on Madison’s East Side

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on April 4, 2016

Girl Scouts deliver cookies, circa 1945: Elaine Tripalin in the center, with twins Janet, left, and Janice Irvin, right, in front of Lowell School. Photo courtesy of Catherine Tripalin Murray.

Girl Scouts deliver cookies, circa 1945: Elaine Tripalin in the center, with twins Janet, left, and Janice Irvin, right, in front of Lowell School. Photo courtesy of Catherine Tripalin Murray.


Ann Waidelich will lead a discussion about Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops in the Atwood area, past and present, with special guests from local troops. Scouting memorabilia will be on display. Were you a scout? Bring your memories and memorabilia to share, too!

Saturday April 16

1-3 pm in Bolz A

Goodman Center, 149 Waubesa St.

$2 suggested donation

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Got photos of city summer program activities in the parks?

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on March 29, 2016

Once upon a time, summer in Madison was a fairytale setting for children. Summer programs in many city parks employed older youth to organize sports, art projects, and theatrics for the younger children. Hawthorne Park (between Division St. and Rusk St.) was one such location.  Recently Jackie (Jaclyn Gerth) Shivers shared this photo of a rehearsal for a production of “Cinderella” to take place in Hawthorne Park with the East Side History Club.

Jacquie Shivers Cinderella Elsa Splett

Jackie told us that Elsa Splett (daughter of Zion Lutheran church’s Reverend Splett) was the recreation director at the Hawthorne Park playground in the 1940s and would organize the children to “make a play” every summer. This performance of Cinderella featured Jerry Waller (left) playing the ‘Fairy Godfather’ and Jackie as the princess (right). Elsa created the set. “She was in the park five days a week in the summer,” Jackie recalled. The photo was taken next to the Splett’s house, which was adjacent to the church on Linden Avenue. Other children in that production were Paul Ives (as Prince Charming),  Blanche Genske, Judy Borquist, and Mary Jane Sachs.

Do you have photographs of activities in Madison’s East Side parks? The History Club would love to hear from you! Email Sarah at sarah.white@firstpersonprod.com.


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March 19 Meeting: “New Stories of the Old East Side”

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on March 7, 2016


Neighbor boy “Perkins,” 2700 block Center Street circa 1938. Photo courtesy of Patricia Jacobsen.

Neighbor boy “Perkins,” 2700 block Center Avenue circa 1938. Photo courtesy of Patricia Jacobsen.

Sarah White shares history “finds” discovered while collecting material for the second edition of our local history book, An East Side Album.

Now is the time to bring your photos, mementos and stories! Let’s hear your memories of  the area bounded by the Yahara River, Lake Monona, US 30, and Packers Ave.

Saturday March 19

1-3 pm in Evjue

Goodman Center, 149 Waubesa St.

$2 suggested donation


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Images from “Hess’ Corners” Presentation, February 2016

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on February 29, 2016

About 80 people turned out to hear Ann Waidelich describe the businesses along Atwood Ave. from Ohio Street to Fair Oaks Ave.

The intersection of Atwood and Fair Oaks was originally called Hess’ Corners for Louis Hess and his general store/ice cream parlor at 2901 Atwood,  but today we know it as the Birrenkott’s – Lowell School intersection.

Hess' Corners, circa 1945

Hess’ Corners, circa 1945

Some of the businesses that Ann talked about were:

next door brewing

2437-39 Atwood
Appliance Service Center/Next Door Brewing
Melvill (Bud) Johnston started in the small appliance repair business when he got out of the Army after World War II.  He was in business at this address from 1956 – 1980.  Then his longtime employee Dan Belanger took over. A 1974 Wisconsin State Journal article reported that he had 13 employees each specializing in a particular appliance and together they repaired between 50 and 75 appliances each day.  The appliance business was renamed ASC1, now specializing in commercial food service equipment repair, and has moved to Femrite Drive.  Next Door Brewing remodeled the building and opened in 2013.

Mel Grocery-Victory

2710 Atwood
Grocery Store / Victory Cafe
Built in 1911, this building has been a grocery store since at least 1923. First it was run by John Ludwig, then Art Elsby until he moved across the street, then Henry Struckmeyer, then Aline Kurth, then Ignatius Schey, then Bob Cunningham. Finally Mel Amborn bought out Bob Cunningham in 1963. Kids from St. Bernard’s school were frequent “shoppers”.  The grocery closed when Mel died in 1991.  In 2007 the storefront housed the St. John the Baptist Gallery & Bookstore and the painting studio of Drazen Dupor, who specialized in painting Byzantine religious icons.  Since 2010 it has been the Victory Café coffee Shop.

Cecile Burke, Cecil's Sandals

Cecile Burke, Cecil’s Sandals

2730 Atwood
Barber Shop / Cecil’s Sandals 
Opened as a barbershop in 1910 owned by Bernard Funsett for 50 years until 1960. Then the barbershop was owned by LeRoy Flansburgh until he moved to the Buckeye Barber Shop.  Cecil Burke started making sandals in Madison in 1952 at 536 University Ave.  The shop was thought to be the third oldest custom maker of sandals in the U.S. at the time. Cecil opened his repair-only shop on Atwood Ave. ca. 1969 and operated until 2000.  He worked there along with his mother, Isabelle, his sister Judy Pellett, and Vincent Castagna, who began repairing shoes in Italy in 1920. The repair business continued as Jim Maierhofer’s Atwood Shoe Repair from 2001-2004. Various businesses occupied the little shop until the building was torn down in about 2013.

Schroeder vet clinic

2733 Atwood

Indian Mound ? Service Station/Community Care Vet Clinic
Vincent Esser recalled that “the lot at the corner of Atwood and Miller Avenues was maybe five or six feet higher than the sidewalk and there were large trees.  As we went back and forth to Lowell school we would run up onto the top and along the length and then down at the other end.  There was a path on top made by all the footsteps going by.”  Was this a linear Indian Effigy Mound?

A Shell gas station was built on the location in 1949. From 1968 – 73 it was Tom Brinker’s Auto Upholstery ,which moved to E. Washington Ave. The Brownberry Oven Thrift Store operated here from 1976-1992, then a video repair service, followed by Bongo Video Rental, then Spiritual Vibes 2008-2010 .  (They now call themselves Cosmic Delights and are located at 2334 Atwood Ave.)  After a major remodeling the building reopened in February 2015 and is now Dr. Deb Schroeder’s Community Care Veterinary Clinic.

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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.”


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.


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.”


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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