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.
During the the 1940's and early 1950's, we used to make frequent to my dad's home in North Milwaukee, in the Town of Granville, on N. Teutonia Ave., north of W. Florist Ave. We were going to visit my Grandmother Clara and my Uncle Bill and Aunt Edith. We had many visits there on Sundays. We were also going to visit the Manke Greenhouses. Next door to my grandmother, was my grandfather, William Manke,'s brother, Fred Manke. Fred, Augie, Clem, Rudy and Fritz were all part of the current greenhouses. My grandfather's greenhouses were razed a long time ago. My Uncle Bill always had a dog. On the land across from their garage, we used to play softball while the older folks sat and talked and prepared our meal. My uncles Alvin and Ralph also would bring their families. As it got dark and we had finished our meal, sometimes someone would play the player piano. The men would play Schafskopf while the kids played or talked to each other. The women would clean up the kitchen and do the dishes.The house used to be a road house or hotel at one time. There was a large kitchen, dining room and frontroom and parlor there. Outside, there was a large veranda type of porch. The entrance to the land had a Butternut Bread sign with their name on it.
N. Teutonia Ave was only a two lane road then. In the old days it was called Cedarburg Road, then the souther portion was named Teutonia Ave. We didn't have television then, and radios were in short supply. Many of us had radios in large cabinets where nowadays we have a television set. We had to travel all the way across town through the inner city to get there. There was no air-conditioning in cars then. Heaters were small and blankets were always advisable when it got cold outside. Snow plows were scarce then and if a snow storm was predicted, we left early as to not get stuck in the snow in a bad area of town. Driving in the snow was not an easy job because the car tended to slide in the icey snow.
When we went next door by Uncle Fred's house and visited the greenhouses, it was quite an adventure. The cats there were feral and if you picked them up, you got a very wet lap. The smell of the greenhouse was dreamy. The smell was like a floral display. It was almost like you were at a funeral. Uncle Fred told us that even though the green houses meant a lot of work, it was up to the Lord as to what was the result of their labor. They used to pollinate the flowers by hand to create special carnations to sell. The competition from Florida, was making it hard on them. Their competition limited them to special flowers and plants to make any profit. They won awards for the best carnations in Milwaukee. At the end of the greenhouses, there were outhouse seats. There were always spiders, wasps, hornets and bees there.
When they decided to rebuild N. Teutonia Ave. into a four lane road, the taxes overwhelmed my familiy's lands. In due time all of them were forced to move into different places. Uncle Fred and his family moved out to Sussex, Wisconsin and purchased some family land. My grandmother and Uncle Bill moved over to N. 37th St. and W. Silver Spring. Fritz and his wife, Ella lived near N. 35th St. & W. Florist Ave. Part of my family had lived in Sussex for many years. Margie and Beverly now live in the Sussex area.
There was another Manke family living in the Sussex area. It was claimed that the oldest one was a half-brother to my great-grandfather August Manke, but the two families did not acknowlege each other.