Newsletter - September 2011


Burlington Historian

September 2011

Ice Cream Social Held at End of July

The Society’s annual Ice Cream Social was held on the last Saturday in July in conjunction with the Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce’s Sidewalk Sales Days. Although not as busy as in recent years, we still served many satisfied customers. The event was held near our Pioneer Log Cabin in Wehmhoff Square. The Cabin was open for viewing by visitors.

Some photos taken at the event are shown at right and below.









Above:  A couple of  family groups enjoy their cones and sundaes at the Society’s 2011 Ice Cream Social.

Right:  Society board members Marilee Hoffman, Priscilla Crowley, and Dennis Tully with customer John Zwiebel.

President’s Message

While traveling to my family’s getaway in the Wisconsin North Woods, I often try to take an extra turn or two and drive through some of the older downtown areas in other communities to find and enjoy any interesting historic buildings. Our own Burlington downtown has a great assortment of business structures of the middle and late 1800s and we are fortunate to have an architectural preservation district to aid in keeping some of the past alive.

Back in the early days of our downtown, the original buildings were mainly wooden one-story structures, with a scattering of residences with sheds or barns to the rear. With many early downtowns in other cities being wiped out by fire, that did much to influence the switch of building materials from wood to stone and brick. A few of my favorite historic buildings are on the block in the northeasterly side of the Chestnut Street "Loop" that included the Hoch building which housed the Post Office from 1891 to 1909. (See photo at right.) Our web site "" has many photos of the downtown buildings as they were at the turn of the century. Most have not changed much since then.

With the growth of most cities being on the outer areas, which not long ago were farming fields, it’s refreshing to take a break and look around the older areas of the community to get a feeling of the less hectic pace that past generations experienced.

I wish all a fun and relaxing late summer and fall season.

          Dennis Tully

100 Years Ago . . .

In August 1911, Ernest and Alvin Burmeister of Lyons opened a grocery store and meat market in their new building adjoining Joseph Schiller’s tavern on Main Street on the east side of the Fox river. While the store was being built, the roof was blown off in a wind storm on June 10 and wrecked (one Burlington paper called the storm "a young cyclone").
Subsequent businesses in the building included Theodore and William Willich’s meat market, William Rossmiller and Alfred J. Wieners’ meat market, Harry W. Bloomberg’s grocery store, Louis Long’s grocery and meat market, Albert H. Hause’s meat market, George Cooper’s meat market, William Hofner’s grocery store, Harvey Johnson’s grocery store, Fred Cable’s paint store, and Oliver "Jiggs" Phelps’ Wall and Floor Covering store.

A fire on January 17 and 18, 1965, destroyed the Phelps business as well as the upstairs apartment of Mr. & Mrs. Donald H. Burmeister, the building’s owners.

Today, the property is a parking lot.

- - - - -

Also 100 years ago, Burlington High School, then located on Conkey Street, bought six typewriters and started a commercial course.

Memories of Baseball Past

With the Milwaukee Brewers making a run at the National League baseball playoffs this year, some of us think back to the late 1950s when the Milwaukee Braves played in two consecutive World Series in 1957 and 1958 against the New York Yankees. During those years, the Yankees of Casey Stengel, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Don Larsen, Elston Howard, and other well-known baseball names, stayed at the Brown’s Lake Resort when they came to Wisconsin to play the Braves.

Burlington photographer Emmett Raettig took several pictures each of the two years, capturing the Yankees in some of their more leisurely moments, including interactions with local residents.











Left:  Harry "Suitcase" Simpson steps off bus at Brown’s Lake Resort. Burlington’s Wilfred Hopkins at right. (1957)  Right:  Bob Steele (center) of Burlington, a former major leaguer, gives the "Key to the City" to Yankee manager Casey Stengel, as Hank Bauer, Enos Slaughter, Gil McDougald, Bob Turley, Tom Sturdivant, Moose Skowron, Elston Howard, and other Yankees (back) and Elmer Boll (left front) and Mayor Ralph Larson (right front) of Burlington look on. (1957)











 Left:  Yogi Berra (left) poses with Burlington’s Bill Liggett. (1957)    Right:  Mike Smetana of Burlington (left) gets an autograph from the Yankees’ Elston Howard. (1958)












Left:  Casey Stengel (left) and Elston Howard watch as Mickey Mantle lines up a pool shot at Brown's Lake Resort. (1958)  Right:  Don Larsen (left) draws a winning number in a contest at Pieters’ Mens Wear store in downtown Burlington. (1957)

"A Gallon of Milk, a Stick of Butter, and a Loaf of Bread . . ."

                               Contributed by Priscilla Crowley

Life in the little town of Lyons was much different from life in Burlington. Both are considered to be small towns but Lyons is much smaller than Burlington. Lyons had more of a rural flavor and was not so "big city". Life moved at a slower pace, everyone in town knew who your parents were and where you belonged. We had a great deal of freedom as far as where we could go and what we could do. It was a safe and secure environment where you could explore, share adventures with your friends and always know that home was never more than 5 blocks away.

Shopping in Lyons was much different than shopping in Burlington. Lyons only had two places you could go to buy anything – Apple’s General Store (right - Apple’s Store at Lyons, circa 1940, when owned by Hazen Foster) and McCann’s General Store. Of the two, Apple’s did the most business but McCann’s (below - McCann Store at Lyons, circa 1940) was a special because it had the best penny candy around. If you had a dime in your pocket, you were wealthy; if you had a quarter, you were rich beyond your wildest dreams. I can remember going into McCann’s and leaning up against the penny candy case with my nose pressed up against the glass just looking at all the wonderful things displayed there. Decisions were so hard to make – remember all the delectable treats you could buy for a penny? – Wax Bottles and Sticks and Tootsie Rolls, Red Hots, Necco Wafers, Mary Janes, Bazooka Bubble Gum, Slo Pokes, Sour Balls, Jaw Breakers, Smarties, Red Raspberry Dollars, Licorice, Cracker Jacks – the list is endless and enough to give you a stomach ache for days but it was so worth it!!

I wonder how many times a day they had to clean the glass on that case to wipe off all the little nose and finger prints put there by the children of Lyons? That store is gone now but sometimes when I drive through the village, I think I can still see children entering the store with money clutched tightly in their little hands and exiting the store with a huge smile and a bag full of treats – all for only a quarter.

One of my biggest adventures was being sent to the store all by myself to pick up a few things that Mom needed. She tried the memory thing first: "All you need to do is get a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, and a ½ pound of bologna." Now that doesn’t seem like much to remember, but when you are 8 years old and have never gone to the store all by yourself before and you have to "not lose the money" and "don’t forget anything on the list" and "no dawdling, go and come right back" and "don’t buy anything extra" and "look both ways before crossing the street" and "stop at the Post Office to see if we have any mail," and "remember to bring back the change", that’s a lot of directions for someone who could be easily distracted and had a memory that leaked like a sieve.

I started out OK, but by the time I had reached the end of the block, panic had started to set in. "Was I supposed to go to the Post Office on the way to the store or on the way home from the store?" "Did she say get a ½ gallon of milk or a whole gallon – chocolate or white – did she even mention what kind?" "Was I supposed to get bologna or was it liver sausage?" I was concentrating so hard and trying to sort out what I was supposed to do that I managed to trip over my own feet and went splat – flat on the ground and there went the carefully counted out money – nickels and dimes and quarters rolling merrily all over the place. Now I not only had a memory problem, I had a money problem as well – I couldn’t remember how much money she gave me so when I started to frantically gather up the coins, I didn’t know if I had them all or not and remember she expected change!

As I sat there on the sidewalk, counting up the money, looking at my scraped knees and trying to remember again, "What was I supposed to buy? Let’s see – a stick of butter – no, that’s not right - milk, yes milk, that’s right – I needed to buy milk and…… some kind of meat – what kind of meat – how much meat?" The best I could hope for was that I would be inspired when I looked into the meat case – maybe it would come to me – but there was one more thing – what else was there? – three things and I only could sort of remember two.

I picked myself up off of the ground, tried to brush the dirt off my pants and wiped the blood off my knees on to what had been a clean pair of shorts and trudged off down the street. I hadn’t even made it to the store and I was already running behind schedule. I did remember to look both ways when I crossed the street; fortunately there weren’t any cars coming from any direction. I finally made it to the store and as I walked through the door – it came to me BOLOGNA, that’s what it was BOLOGNA and MILK and what was that other thing??? There was only one choice – I would have to wander up and down the aisles until inspiration struck and something jogged my memory. I at least was smart enough not to pick up the gallon of milk before I was ready to leave the store – in those days gallons came in glass jars with a wire handle that cut into your hand when you carried it. Slowly I wandered up and down the aisles trying frantically to remember what that third item was – cookies – maybe it was cookies – I was sure we needed some of those – some self preservation instinct sent alarm bells off in my head and I decided against cookies – somehow I just knew that couldn’t be right – ketchup, maybe it was ketchup for the bologna – no, that didn’t seem right either, pickles? no – whatever it was I was sure it wasn’t something green. Maybe it was butter?? …… no that didn’t sound right either. By this time I had been wandering for about 15 minutes, up one aisle and down the next – nothing seemed to be right so I reluctantly decided to get the bologna and the milk and make my way home – a failure! I took the items to the check out counter and Mr. Apple said to me – "looks like lunch to me – where’s the bread?" BREAD – BREAD – that was it! I ran back and got a loaf of bread. What a relief!! – I even had enough money to pay for everything with a dime left over. Life was good!

As I trudged home – I was so proud of the fact that I had remembered everything – that I had overcome all the obstacles that fate had thrown my way and I had successfully completed my mission. I could see Mom smiling proudly at me and telling me what a wonderful job I had done. I could see many more solo trips to the store for me and I just knew that I would be trusted to buy more and more items and would be entrusted with larger sums of money. I came bounding into the house with my groceries and there was Mom – not smiling and proud but looking anything but happy. "Where have you been? – You have been gone for over an hour. You should have been home at least 45 minutes ago. Didn’t I tell you to come straight home? Just look at your pants, how did you manage to get them so dirty? And look at your knees – honestly how could you manage to do that much damage to yourself in a five-minute walk to the store? Did you stop at the Post Office – didn’t we have any mail?" Guess what I forgot? Stopping at the Post Office had gone completely out of my head. I was crushed – how could I have forgotten the Post Office? I thought for sure this would be the end of my errand running for Mom – but of course it wasn’t – this was just the first of many adventures I had going to the store AND the Post Office for Mom. It got to be even more interesting when she started sending the twins with me. Who says you can’t have fun in a small town?

The Mugwump

Slade’s Corners once had its own newspaper. It was published by the Sauer family, which operated a store there. The 4-page weekly was printed for 53 years until 1946, when the U.S. Post Office Department ruled that it could not be mailed as 2nd class matter. Shown are the front and back pages of the February 28, 1924, issue.