East Side History Madison’s Blog

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

“Greenbush Connections” meeting 2/21/09 a success

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on February 23, 2009

Despite 5″ of new-fallen snow, over 25 East Side history enthusiasts turned out to hear Catherine Tripalin Murray and share reminiscences about connections between Madison’s first suburb–the Schenks-Atwood area–and Madison’s first ethnic enclave, the old Greenbush neighborhood.

Catherine’s presentation gave us a good sense of how those connections first evolved. While the Greenbush area provided the housing and social life the early Italian immigrants needed, the jobs they needed were developing in the factory district on Madison’s East Side.  According to Catherine, Italian laborers built the Ghisholt factory building in 1910, and it was one of the first factories willing to employ Italians. Others were the French Battery Company and later, Oscar Mayer. 

It’s easy to picture those early immigrant Madisonians boarding trolleys on Regent Street for the ride to the East Side, or walking if the nickel fare were too much for the budget. 

It’s also easy to picture the next wave of connection–the restaurants and bars that Italians opened on the East Side to serve the workers who came for the factory jobs. Meanwhile, soldiers stationed at Truax made forays to the Greenbush to dine at popular “Spaghetti Corners” restaurants like the original Bunky’s and Josie’s. And so the connections flowed both ways. 

The Italians formed clubs to keep their culture and traditions alive, including the Italian Workingmans’ Club and its Women’s Auxiliary. These clubs are one of the reasons the Greenbush community still thrives, in spite of losing its geographic center when the Triangle Redevelopment Project took place in the 1960s. 

Following Catherine’s talk, attendees shared memories of their own.


Photos: Vito “Bunky” and Ninfa Capadona, founders of Bunky’s at “Spaghetti Corners”;

Photos: Vito “Bunky” and Ninfa Capadona, founders of Bunky’s at “Spaghetti Corners”; Atwood Avenue’s current home of Bunky’s Cafe, operated by Vito and Ninfa’s great grandaughter Teresa Pullara and her husband, Rachid Ouabel; Catherine Tripalin Murray, chronicler of the Greenbush.


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