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Burlington Historian

March 2010

Re-Installation and Creation of Museum Displays Not Yet Complete; Museum Re-opening Date Uncertain

When the Society's board of directors decided in late 2007 to renovate the interior of the Museum building, it hoped the project would be completed expeditiously. However, the process of re-installing some of the previous displays and creating new ones is moving along at a slow pace. We had hoped to get the Museum back into shape for visitors by this spring at the latest, but things have not worked out as expected. We will keep "plugging away" as time and volunteer help permits.

Below and to the right are some views of the work that has been done so far.











From left, displays featuring artifacts related to Catholic church and school;
Indian artifacts; and Burlington music history.






  Above:  Artifacts from Burlington businesses and industries,
 and examples of Burlington inventions.
  Below:  Toys and children's things at left, Liars' club artifacts
 (in first shadowbox) and Al-Vista panoramic camera display
(in shadowbox at right).






President’s Message

Remember how our grandparents said "My, how times have changed"?

Computers have made it easier for us to access a wealth of information and have all but rendered printed encyclopedias obsolete. Historical research is now at our fingertips. Our Society's web site (burlingtonhistory.org) is a vast online library of historic information of Burlington's past. As an example, you can find out what was happening in the Burlington area the year you were born. Click on: "EVENTS IN BURLINGTON AND VICINITY: 1835 - 2006." Click the "Search" button and just enter the year of your birth and you should find pages of interesting events that were gathered from local newspapers and other sources. We also have an extensive database of information on family history that could assist you in genealogy research. We always encourage our members to "Spread The Word" about the wealth of knowledge that is available to everyone.

With spring around the corner, I want to wish everyone another great year.

          Dennis Tully

Appreciative Audience Enjoys Christmas Program By Author Rochelle Pennington

A good-sized audience enjoyed a slide presentation by Wisconsin author Rochelle Pennington on her book, An Old-Fashioned Christmas: Tinsel, Gingerbread Men and Billie-the-Brownie, at the Historical Society's Christmas get-together at the Veterans Terrace on December 13, 2009.

Among the images Ms. Pennington showed and talked about during her program were authentic black-and-white photographs taken primarily in Wisconsin from 1930 through 1960 as well as Norman Rockwell paintings and vintage toy ads for such prized presents as Mr. Potato Head, Lionel Trains, Schwinn Bikes, and Howdy Doody puppets. She and the audience also recalled Chatty Cathy and Betsy Wetsy dolls and other toys that children wished for and asked for at Christmas time in bygone days.

An anticipated appearance by a Billie-the-Brownie mannequin did not occur because, as Ms. Pennington explained, the mannequin was in the "hospital" after accidentally falling out of a vehicle.

The program was so well-received that the Society is planning to have Ms. Pennington return in December 2010 to present a program on "The Christmas Tree Ship," another book she has authored. Further details on that program will be forthcoming.












         Rochelle Pennington, standing at right in both photos, presents
         Christmas program in Stars and Stripes Room of Veterans Terrace

Racine County Provides Welcome Support for Museum Renovation

Racine County Executive William McReynolds and Supervisor Thomas Pringle came to the Museum in December 2009 to present a check to the Society to help finance the recent renovation of the Museum building. The donation was an unexpected but very welcome assist in financing the project.

The Society appreciates the County's recognition of the importance of preserving the past and providing the public with a place where they can see artifacts that may have been used or seen by their parents, grandparents, and other ancestors.

Photo at right:  Racine County Executive William McReynolds (2nd from left) presents Society President Dennis Tully (2nd from right) with Racine County's contribution to help finance the renovation of the Museum building. County supervisor Thomas Pringle (left) and Society vice president Don Vande Sand (right) look on.


The 21-Hour Beer Dump
                - or -
The Day the Fox Ran Amber

Eighty-five years ago, the United States was in the midst of Prohibition. A temporary Wartime Prohibition Act, introduced in World War I to save grain for food, had gone into effect on the "Thirsty-First" of July in 1919. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution took effect on January 16, 1920, prohibiting the "manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes."

The National Prohibition Act of 1919, otherwise known as the Volstead Act, gave power to the "Commissioner of Internal Revenue, his assistants, agents, and inspectors" to enforce the 18th Amendment. And enforce it they did – until December 1933 when the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment. One of the many enforcement incidents that occurred in Burlington was recounted as follows in the Standard Democrat of March 20, 1925.

1,300 Barrels of Beer in River
Steady Stream of Amber Fluid Goes
Into Sewer at Local Brewery Monday
Closed for Year

Fish idled and swam lazily along down Fox river last Monday morning. No cares in the world, no excitement, no joys, except that of occasionally snapping up a good sized bug or perhaps one of its own kind, smaller than itself.

Then – Burlington – the familiar rock under the Jefferson street bridge, school children laughing and talking overhead, the Basket Co. and Brass Works in the distance, on down until – What’s this? Beer? Can I be dreaming? No. Shades of Volstead, it’s the real stuff! You can taste the percentage, and they’re actually throwing it away. Must be crazy, but pretty nice for me. Um-m-m, swimming right in it, isn’t that great?"

While less fortunate humans stood on the banks of the river and murmured "Lucky fish."

Fifty thousand gallons of it, a steady amber stream, nearly enough to float the proverbial battleship, poured into the river from the sewers of Burlington, from 8 o’clock Monday morning all day and all night, until 5 o’clock the next morning.

The beer dumping was the result of an injunction issued in federal court in Milwaukee on March 11, closing the brewery here, which has been operated during the past year by the Burlington Cereal Products Co. The proprietor, Charles Dehn, of Chicago, was arrested some time ago on charges of manufacture and transportation of beer, and is now under $10,000 bond until the trial, which is scheduled to be held in federal court in Milwaukee on March 24.

The beer dumped was in storage vats in the brewery, some 1,000 barrels of it in the unfinishedstate and 300 barrels, the finished product. It was consigned to the sewer at the brewery.

The plant is ordered closed for one year from the date of the injunction, a copy of which was tacked on the door of the brewery Monday by Deputy United States Marshal Phillips, who had charge of the federal activities here.







The Finke-Uhen brewery on McHenry Street, shown here about 1910,
was sold to Charles Dehn of Chicago in January 1924, which was
during Prohibition. Dehn operated it as the Burlington Cereal Products
Co. In May 1926, the company was sold to Marcus C. Maegerlein.
Albert C. Ketler bought the company in 1933, renaming it the
Burlington Brewing Co.


Did You Know? - - -

Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played in Burlington in 1929. During a four-day engagement at Lake Geneva's Horticultural Hall in August 1929, Lombardo brought his orchestra to Burlington's Orpheum Theatre for two performances on August 31.


Spring . . . Beautiful Spring!!

Contributed by Priscilla Crowley

With the cold winter winds still blowing and the ground covered in snow, it's hard to believe that spring is almost upon us. Just think soon we will be thinking about things like sunny spring days, gentle and not so gentle spring rains, the first flowers poking their heads warily up through the soil, trees beginning to bud, birds chirping merrily in the early morning hours and that wonderful spring smell that tells you winter is loosening its tight grip on us for another year.

Our days are already getting longer and when I leave work at night I am not going home in the dark – a huge morale booster if there ever was one. March 20th might be the official date on the calendar for the start of spring but for me it was always Easter. Remember Easter as a kid? Easter meant new outfits to wear on Easter Sunday, right down to shoes, socks, underwear – the whole enchilada! It meant hair cuts for everyone and home permanents for the girls.

Remember home permanents? – you reeked for weeks – no one wanted to get too close to you. First they had to wrap your hair in little papers and wind them up onto the curlers. By the time that was done it felt like the hair was literally being twisted out of your scalp. Then came the stinky solution – you had to cover your eyes with a towel so it wouldn't run into your eyes and they daubed at each individual curler with the solution. After that you had to sit and sit and sit and then they applied a neutralizer that smelled marginally better but not much and you couldn't wash your hair for at least 3 days so you carried that smell with you wherever you went and everyone knew you had gotten a home permanent. There was no denying it. Ah spring, beautiful spring!

I remember one year when Mom went all out for Easter. She decided that rather than buy us new dresses she would make them. She spent hours on them, sometimes sewing long into the night to finish them all by Easter Sunday. They were beautiful – she did a great job – bright yellow Swiss polka dot dresses with matching yellow slips. She bought us white gloves and shoes and little hats – we were a sight to behold. She also decided that home permanents were the order of the day for my sister and me. My hair has always been a dark brown, almost black but when Jackie was small she had the most beautiful bright gold hair. I lived through my permanent and on Holy Saturday morning Mom started on Jackie's hair. When she was finished, Jackie's hair was perfect – just the right amount of curl – it looked like spun gold. Mom was so happy, what more could she ask for? – The dresses were beautiful, our hair was beautiful – we actually looked like the little ladies she had always wanted. She just knew that this Easter Sunday we would all look perfect when we went to church.

Well, as in most fairy tales, the reality doesn't live up to the dream. Mom should have known that things were going too perfectly. She should have remembered that with us when everything looked perfect lurking somewhere was a little devil perched on one of our shoulders who was more than willing to push us in the opposite direction of perfection.

I did mention that this took place on a Saturday didn't I? Well you all remember what Saturday night was for, don't you? Saturday night was bath night. It was a given – the tin tub was placed in the middle of the kitchen floor – water was heated and we took turns in the bathtub. Cleanest to dirtiest and as the oldest, I of course, set a good example by being the cleanest so I got to go first. My brother, as the only boy, usually was scheduled last although he and Jackie sometimes fought for the honor of this position in the tub rotation. This particular Saturday Jackie got to go second. Her bath went well; she came out sparkling clean without getting her hair wet. Remember I told you earlier that after a home permanent you couldn't wash your hair for at least 3 days? Please tuck that little fact away for future reference.

After much grumbling and protesting Jon had his turn in the tub and came out shiny and squeaky-clean. We were all told to behave, not get dirty and no fighting. Now remember that tiny little devil that would take turns appearing on one of our shoulders encouraging one or all of us to turn from the path of perfection to the path of destruction? Who would have thought that on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday that this little devil would be brave enough to make an appearance?

All appeared peaceful, no fights, no yelling, bedtime was approaching – all was well. To this day I don't know what started the fight. I just know that all of a sudden the peace and tranquility was shattered, it was like "All Star Wrestling" right there in the kitchen. We had it all – there was yelling, and screaming and pushing and shoving and crying and carrying on. The peaceful evening had turned into a night of riot and mayhem. For a change I wasn't somewhere in between the twins – I didn't do anything – I was just a witness. Mom and Dad came running from opposite ends of the house to see what was up but they got there a little too late – they were just in time to see the unthinkable happen. Jon turned to Jackie and gave her one mighty shove; Jackie lost her balance and landed kerspulsh! right in the tin tub full of water. Water sloshed everywhere, mostly straight up on Jackie's beautiful new hairdo. Instantly the hair went from a riot of gorgeous golden curls to wet, straight hair and the hours Mom spent on the home permanent were lost in something under a minute. The silence was deafening – for a change we had nothing to say. Even Dad didn't know what to say. Poor Mom, her mouth opened and closed several times but nothing came out. We were happy to go to bed that night, no questions, no arguments, just three kids scampering off to bed before Mom's mouth began to work again. Bed was a whole lot safer than being in the kitchen right now. We figured by morning she might have calmed down and we might all live to see Easter Monday.

In the morning Mom spent long minutes brushing Jackie's hair and looking in vain for some of the beautiful curls from the day before. She brushed and combed and muttered to herself but nothing she did could bring back those curls. All through church she would look at the three of us and sigh a long mournful sigh. No one looking at us that Sunday morning would have guessed what havoc we had caused the night before. That was pretty much the end of home permanents in our house – after that if we needed a permanent she took us to a beauty shop. That whole spring every once in a while I would catch Mom looking at Jackie and she would give this tremendous sigh and shake her head. Needless to say we kept a low profile for quite a while after this incident. Even though I didn't physically get involved in this particular shoving match, Mom figured you were involved just by being in the vicinity. Guilt by association!

This Easter stands out in my mind as one of the most eventful ones we ever had. I can still see Jackie being hauled out of the tub by Dad and standing there with her hair dripping wet and oh so straight. What a difference! In spite of everything it was a beautiful Easter and the start of a gorgeous spring season. Like all families we had our ups and downs but all the ups and downs are what make up those wonderful memories we hold so dear as we get older. It helps to remind us that kids are indeed kids and anything can and does happen. Remember some of these interesting times when your children or grandchildren pull some stunt that is calculated to drive adults crazy. Memories are a way to bridge the past with the present. When you think back to some of the things you did when you were a child don't they bring a smile to your face? A smile is like bottled sunshine – keep those memories alive and share, share, share.


































Death From Over Excitement

Over excitement caused by his first view of a street car is thought to have brought on a stroke which caused the death of John Fick, aged 80 years, last Saturday evening in front of Frank Huebner's saloon on Pine street (now site of Fred's Parkview). The deceased had been making his home for several years past at the home of Fred Walburg southwest of this city a few miles, in the town of Lyons. On the evening in question Mr. Walburg and mother, with Mr. Fick, came to the city to see the street car come in and while seated on a keg in front of Huebner's, the old gentleman sustained a stroke and fell over on the sidewalk lifeless. His body was taken to Roesing & Haas undertaking establishment and from there to Mr. Walburg's home, where the funeral was held on Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 o'clock, Rev. H. Lindeman of this city conducting the services. Mr. Fick was originally from Sac City, Iowa, and so far as is known has no living relatives in this part of the country.

-- Free Press, November 3, 1909










Interurban electric car at corner of Chestnut and Geneva
(now Milwaukee ave.) streets in October 1909.

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