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.
When I was a kid, I used to walk to Humboldt Park using the sidewalk from the hill at Bay View High School and walking south behind the school to get inside of the park. I used to go inside of the park pavilion (now razed) and sometimes buy popcorn or candy at the concession stand. We would go downstairs in order to rent a rowboat to ride on the park lagoon. There used to be a large amount of ducks on the lagoon. When very few people were inside of the pavilion, some of the ducks would come inside to beg for popcorn from the concession stand workers. Humboldt Park used to be very beautiful in those days. There were many flowers mixed in with the trees. There was no wading pool back then. The park staff would keep the park in excellent condition. On Independence Day, we would go to the park to see what activities were going on. At night we used to go the west side of Bay View High school and watch the fireworks. It was very easy to walk there. It is hard to believe that the Humboldt Park 4th of July Association had a full day of activities since 1910. The old band shell was still there for activities. (now that band shell basement is still there but a new chalet replaced the upper portion of the building.) Sometimes we would go sled riding at Humboldt Park. Ice skating was also fun at the park.
Now, when I go to the park, I miss seeing some of the flowers in the park. Because of staff shortages, the park is now in need of much improvement. I know how hard the park staff works, and realize that the poor condition of the park grounds is not their fault. Vandals have had their way with the park equipment and buildings. If only Milwaukee County could hire more park staff to improve the conditions of the park. My complements to Cliff Hale and his park staff for doing the best job that they can do.