John Manke is an active former Bay View resident who is involved in numerous neighborhood organizations, including the Bay View Historical Society, the Humboldt Park Fourth of July Association and the Shore Shore Farmers Market. He believes Bay View has a fine tradition in its past that we do not want to lose in the future.
At this time of the year I think of the children who have life threatening diseases. Leukemia, lymphoma,
bone cancer, anemia, other forms of cancer, cystic fibrosis, polio, Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) and other forms of illnesses that could be fatal are examples.
These children due to no fault of their own must stay in or visit hospitals. Much of their childhood is left behind while they fight their disease. It might be nice to pay a visit to Children's Hospital and bring along some teddy bears for the children. Clowns and other characters from various business location could help amuse the children. Sometimes you can bring coloring books and crayons for them to play with. Books to read and puzzles are also nice to receive. Old greeting cards can be used by the children to create their own new cards or to make pictures with.
When the pioneers came to Bay View, there was only hard manual labor to use as technology. As the years went on, more and more labor saving devices were created and brought to Bay View. When plays were held at the Puddlers Hall, no sound system was available. People had to be quiet to hear the actors as they presented their plays. No electricity existed in the village, so all things were done in the dark with a oil lamp or gas lights to allow them to hear. When heat came from the furnace, everybody tried to fight to get as close as possible to the heat source. In the kitchen, the coal stove became a food making device, a heating device, a place to dry clothes in a hurry and a place to relax in family activities such as reading, sewing, washing clothes, giving the family baths, and a place to eat the family food.
In summer, when the heat got unbearable, summer kitchens were used for cooking the food. This way the house did not get all of the heat from the stove. Most of the family clothes were made by the mother during the day time. If
special dress clothes were needed, the family went to the neighborhood general store to buy them or barter for them. Weddings, funerals, baptisms, church going and other formal occasions required special clothes. Old flour sacks were turned into beautiful dresses for the girls and ladies. Men's clothing was made in a similar fashion. Worn out clothing was turned into quilts and blankets for the family. Grease from cooking was made into soap for washing clothes and people. Very little was wasted in those years.
Did you know that when Bay View merged into Milwaukee, that Milwaukee gained a huge industrial base?
It seems that the Bay View Rolling Mill, Reliance Works( later E.P. Allis Company, then Allis-Chalmers Company), Nordberg Manufactoring Company, Vilter Company, Badger Die Company, Kearney-Trecker Company, Milwaukee Valve Company, Meyer Organ Company, Perfex Company, Heil Company, Milwaukee Drop Forge Company, American Motors Parts Division, Wrought Washer, Northern Glass Works, Louis Allis and other companies all had plants in Bay View. Some companies came earlier and some came later in time.
When the German settlers came to Milwaukee, they brought with them one of their favorite pastimes. The "Kegler" was what the Germans called a bowler. Many of the German churches installed bowling alleys in their basements or in their school basements. St. Lucas Evangelical Lutheran Church had a bowling alley in their school basement. The Major Seminary had a bowling alley inside of one of their buildings. St. Martini's Lutheran Church on S. 16th St. still has a bowling alley there.
In recent times, most of these places have dropped their bowling alleys for lack of use and needed space in the buildings. The German triangle of Cincinnati, Ohio, St. Louis, Missouri and Milwaukee, Wisconsin all had large German populations with many of their churches having bowling alleys in them. This is why bowling has always been so popular in this area and why Milwaukee is the bowling capitol of the United States and has the Bowling Hall of Fame here.
When we were kids, the Milwaukee Health Department used to hang a quarantine sign on the door of a house when we had measles, mumps, chicken pox, scarlet fever and polio. At that time the doctors were unsure as to what these diseases were caused by and what caused them to spread. Parents used to hope that if one child caught measles, mumps or chicken pox, then maybe all of the kids in the family would get them and become immune to later attacks of the same diseases. Once over the disease, children were not expected to get any further attacks of it. We learned later that chicken pox comes back as shingles and that polio can come back in adult form. At one time they thought that multiple sclerosis was the older comeback of measles, but now that is in doubt. When adults caught these childhood diseases, the results could be fatal. Thought of as a child's disease, the adult version was ignored by person who got it, and their neglect of the illness would cause their deaths.
Now that we know more about these diseases, the health department no longer hangs a quarantine sign on any house. There still are diseases that need a quarantine sign like TB , meningitis and bacterial forms that are immune to antibiotics. Most of these diseases are taken care of in a hospital. Be happy that you no longer have to have a sign posted on your door advising people to avoid contact with you or your family. When the sign was up, none of your friends could come over, unless they had the disease before and were therefore thought to be immune to its effects. Back then, we had no television to watch while sick. We could only read books or listen to the radio. We could hear all of our friends playing outside and want to join them at play. But no, we were confined to the house during quarantine time.
Fred Schumacher was born in an area close to Stettin, Germany. He came to America and settled and raised a family in Janesville, Wisconsin. His first wife died. He then went to St. Louis, Missouri to join the U. S. Army to fight in the American Civil War. After the Civil War, he came to Bay View and married a widow named Johanna. She had several children and together they had more children. He worked in the blast furnace of the Bay View Rolling Mill. When the Village of Bay View was incorporated in 1879, he was one of the people to sign the incorporation papers.
When the U.S. Census of 1880 came out, he was listed as not being able to read or write English. During the Civil War, he was said to have personally delivered some papers to President Abraham Lincoln. He lived well into his 80's before he passed away. He used to walk in the neighborhood with his white beard and cane and talk with neighbors. His garden was well kept up and he enjoyed working with plants. He most likely had many good stories to tell about his past. Most of the people that knew him are now also deceased. He lived a good life and worked hard at the Rolling Mill when he was younger. It must have been horrible to work in a blast furnace during the summer months.
I have noticed that in snowy or icy conditions, many drivers do not know how to control their cars. It takes a lot more braking time and distance to bring your car to a stop under these conditions. Do not drive any faster than you can stop your car. Allow extra distance between you and the next driver. If you hit your brakes too hard, you could go into a ditch or hit something as you stop. Allow enough distance and speed to allow a pedestrian to safely cross a street without you hitting that person. A child could run out into the street and you might be unable to stop in time. By slowing down, you will allow enough time to safely permit the child to enter the street.
The car horn is useless in snow. If you honk your horn, you could cause a person ahead or behind you to panic. Strong powers of observation are needed in stormy weather.
Back in the 1950's at the YWCA Building at 610 N. Jackson St., Henry W. Altstadt held dance classes and
founded a club known as the YWCA Terpsichorean Club.
The YWCA held a dance every Thursday night for all interested people to do ballroom dancing in the auditorium. People from all walks of life came there to dance and to meet people. There were college students, high school students, ballroom dance class students and people of all ages at the dance. Don Martin was one of the band directors at the dance. It was a chance to show off your ballroom dancing skills and to meet other people.
When I was growing up in Bay View, we had almost every nationality on our block. We had German, Irish, French, English, Danish, Polish, and Italian. It always amazed me to see so many nationalities live together in harmony without fighting or yelling at each other. As kids, we all played together without discussing our various nationalities or faiths.
Bay View has always been unique in that neighbors got to know each other. People helped out other people in need without question. If someone was on vacation or old, then we would mow their lawn or shovel their snow for them. If somebody got stuck in the snow, there was always somebody nearby to help out. If somebody was sick, friends and neighbors would bring food and offer to do some housework for the family. The neighborhood was like one big family. It was common for your neighbor to cut your grass while he was doing his own. If you were slow at shoveling your snow, a neighbor would frequently do it for you. Most of these neighbors became friends for life.
In Germany many years ago, a card game was developed by the peasants there. It was called Sheepshead. It is a game that can be played for hours at time with no concept of time passing involved. It reminds us of playing chess. This card game is a game of chance, luck and card playing skills. If you play against a deaf man, you could lose heavily. Concentration is a strong element of this card game. The cards have playing value and point value. You must use playing value to obtain enough points to win. If you lose and pick, you could pay out double what you would have paid out if you did not pick the blinds.
The key to this card game is to communicate with and trust your partner without using words. How you play the hand will tell your opponent what kind of hand you have. Observation is very critical in this game. This is one card game you can get lost in while playing it. Everything problem you have seems to disappear while you are playing the game. Some day when you see a game of sheepshead being played, watch and see how much fun you can have while playing or watching the game.
My favorite Christmas Hymn is "Silent Night" or "Stille Nacht":
"Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht, Alles Schlaeft, einsam wacht, nur das traute, hoch heilige Paar, holder Knabe im lokhigen Haar : schlaf in Himmlischer Ruh! schlaf in Himmlischer Ruh! "
When I was making a delivery at the U.S. Army Building at 2372 S. Logan Avenue one day, I met a young captain who served with the Special Forces over in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He was short and had a squeaky high pitched voice. He reminded me of the squeaky lieutenant in the Beetle Bailey cartoon strip.
He had an unusual story to tell me. While he was serving in the Vietnam War, he had taken some time off on R & R and was visiting a place to eat. While there, he met this man with blond hair who said that he was from Georgia. He had a strong southern accent and seemed very friendly. While they were talking together, the captain noticed that this man referred to the North Vietnamese Army as the NVA rather than "Charlie" as most American soldiers would say. He had a hunch and kept all conversation away from war talk and listened to the man talk. When he reported back from R & R, he went to his intelligence unit and made inquiries about this man from "Georgia". They told him that this man was from Georgia, USSR, and that he was a Russian spy seeking out information from unaware American soldiers. His accent was so good that you would believe that he was from Georgia in the United States.
When we were kids, we used to go to Humboldt Park to go ice skating on the lagoon. We used to go into the park building and get our skates on. It was always crowded when we skated, but we always had fun. We were able to meet old friends and new friends and generally all of us had a delightful time.
On some days we went to South Shore Park where they had a frozen area near the park pavilion. They had an old
jukebox that played all of the early rock and roll music to skate to. There were a lot of couples at this park. Sometimes the city would create a frozen area to skate on in some of the playgrounds in the area. When it snowed outside we used to go sled riding.