East Side History Madison’s Blog

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

Archive for August, 2009

The incredible edible egg-cooker

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on August 29, 2009

DSCN4049

Hankscraft Egg Cooker, donated by Gretta Wing Miller, approx. 70 years old

Salesman shows a Hankscraft egg cooker to a customer at Harloff-Loprich Electric Company, 506 State Street. December 1928. Angus McVicar photo Whi-21460  courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society.

Salesman shows a Hankscraft egg cooker to a customer at Harloff-Loprich Electric Company, 506 State Street. December 1928. Angus McVicar photo Whi-21460 courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society.

Beginning with the invention of a new heating concept for a simple egg cooker, a company with deep Madison roots produced a line of domestic appliances that took it to multi-million-dollar success. The company’s products can still be found in many a Madison home.

The company’s name? Hankscraft.

The occasion for musing on it? The donation of a Hankscraft Egg Cooker ca. 1933, by Gretta Wing-Miller, documentary filmmaker and Eastsider. Thanks, Gretta!

The first egg cookers were heated by an alcohol lamp, but that was far from efficient. Inventor Marshall Hanks, working for Westinghouse at the time, developed a unit which used water as a conductor of electrical current. The water touching two electrodes closed the circuit and heated the water. When the water boiled away the circuit was broken and the unit shut off automatically. The amount of water used governed the cooking time.

Hankscraft egg cooker

Patent application for Liquid Conductor Heater, Nov. 24 1936, M.W. Hanks et al

Other products soon followed, and Hankscraft became a trusted household brand selling a wide variety of baby products such as bottle warmers, vaporizers, and humidifiers. (They also created small motors for display animation and industrial use.)

The company’s first office spaces were rented from the French Battery Co. on Winnebago Street in 1920. (Later Ray-O-Vac, this site is now the vacant Union Corners lot). The company built a factory at 1007 E. Washington Ave. in 1938. In 1949,unable to  find space to grow in Madison, the company made its final move to its present location in Reedsburg. Acquisitions and diversification have kept the company as strong as an incredible, edible egg…

If you have memories or memorabilia related to Hankscraft, please comment on this post or contact the Club!

-Sarah White

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Have You Seen “The Face of a Place”?

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on August 28, 2009

If you’ve walked up to Cafe Zoma from the bike path, as I have, you’ve seen a number of faces looking at you–from placards placed in the landscaping. It’s an arresting site–even had my puppy barking like mad, excited by all the faces in unusual places. These are the work of Madison artist Angela Richardson, and the work is title’d The Face of a Place — an art project that talks to the neighbors.

Read more on Madison Guy’s blog, here:

http://letterfromhere.blogspot.com/2009/08/madison-artist-angela-richardsons-face.html

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Chuck Steele follows up to Bob Finley about Hudson Park Beach (see blog post 6/16/09).

Posted by eastsidehistorymadison on August 3, 2009

First little-known fact was the city called it Lakefront Beach at Hudson Park.  We used to have city swim meets at a all city beaches, because no Madison schools had pools. Tenney Park would swim against B.B. Clarke or Lakefront would swim against Vilas, etc. In addition to the main pier and diving board we had “racing piers,” a short pier with boards that reached the water for racing turns.

If you look toward the water up the hill to the right was a concrete bathhouse. It was exposed on the lake side with the roof at grass level. One could walk up on the roof, which had a chain link fence around three sides. In 1948 and ’49 it was already in disrepair and not used.

If you go down the wooden steps to the left of the rocks, you’ll notice what appears to be a culvert. A door lowered on hinges to access the “tunnel.” It was approximately 12’ deep and was used to store our rowboat. During busy times we had one guard in the boat patrolling the swim area. It was also a great place to sit on rainy, cold days. The funny part about the culvert, it was at sand level. Not anymore.

I guarded there in the summers of ’48 and ’49. The beach went downhill after Olbrich Park beach opened.

– Charles “Chuck” or “Chully” Steele.

The enclosed picture was taken at the top of the park near the curve of Lakeland Ave. near wher the “bubbler” was, in the spring of 1955. My wife Margie is expecting our first child. My mother Horta Steele is in the picture as is my father Bob Steele, walking toward the bathhouse.

The enclosed picture was taken at the top of the park near the curve of Lakeland Ave. near wher the “bubbler” was, in the spring of 1955. My wife Margie is expecting our first child. My mother Horta Steele is in the picture as is my father Bob Steele, walking toward the bathhouse.

Chuck Steele's sketch of Lakefront Park at Hudson Beach ca. 1948-49

Chuck Steele's sketch of Lakefront Park at Hudson Beach ca. 1948-49

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