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 we were kids, we used to walk to South Shore Park and go swimming at the beach. The water had a lot of small stones to walk on and very little sand. Unless you were a good swimmer, you never went out too deep in the water. The beach was sandy, unlike the the water, but it was hot. We used to take a blanket and lie down in the shade on the hill.
Sometimes in Summer, my dad would take us to a small lake to go swimming. Beaver Lake, Wabbasee Beach, Muskego Beach, Wind Lake and other such places to swim at. Most of the highways going to the lakes were two lane with little passing room while driving. Sometimes we took along inner tubes to swim with. Sometimes you would find a crab nipping on your toes or you would step on a clam in the water. If you were in some waters, blood suckers would nail you.
All of the time that we were in the water, somebody was there to watch us and protect us from drowning. We were warned of deep holes and swift undertows that could pull you deeper into the water. When we went swimming at Grant Park Beach, we would sometimes have a person take a log and explore the water for any secret holes or drop offs that we could enter. When the water was declared safe, we would swim in the area checked out. Without breakwater rocks, more of a sandy beach was possible.
When we went to Manitowoc and Two Rivers to visit relatives, we would sometime go into the water and swim. There were always large waves coming to the shore. People in Wisconsin don't know how lucky we are to have so many lakes and areas to swim at. Fresh water is not always available in some states. Now if only we could make our lakes safe to swim in without worry of bacteria contamination. There are not enough outdoor pools for everyone to be able to use. Next time you go swimming with your family and/or friends, think how lucky you are to live in Wisconsin where we have a lot of lakes to enjoy.