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.
One night in summer of 1953, we had a major cyclone hit southeast Wisconsin. When my mother took us for a ride to see the damage, it was extensive in the southeast communities. Big trees were pulled out of the ground. Many power lines were down. On the street where we lived, live power lines lay in the street for several days. We were warned not to approach them. My dad had a two-man hand saw and we went to cut some of the tree branches for our coal furnace. This was before chain saws existed. It was difficult to use a regular hand saw on some of the large branches, but the two-man saw worked just fine. A sharp axe would work for smaller branches. In one case, the house next to Lewis Field (Pryor Playground) on E. Pryor Ave., the owner just got out of his new car, when a tree fell and crushed it. Some trees fell into houses. The small local stores had a problem without power to preserve their groceries and meat. One day, about two weeks after the storm, an old family friend drove down by us to visit and show off his new squad car. When he found out about the live electrical power lines lying down across the street, he called the fire department and the electic power company to fix the problem. The funny part about the big storm that hit us was that I slept through the entire thing. They said that this storm was not a tornado, but was a reverse cyclone that hit us. A tornado would not have done so much damage to that many local communities and would have had a much narrower path. Check in the Milwaukee Public Library and read up about this big storm.