Bio: Straub, Wilmer “Toby” (Feb - 1974)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
----Source: Tribune Record Gleaner (Loyal, Clark Co., WI) 2/07/1974
Straub, Wilmer, “Toby” (7 February 1974)
Mingling with Mary (By Mary Woods)
When Wilmer “Toby” Straub retired in 1972, it would seem his life would have become more scheduled and less hectic. But two years later it seems that his life is just as busy, but perhaps it is because his interests are more diversified.
Born in St. Killian, Wisconsin, Straub was raised in the Edgar area. He attended and graduated from Edgar High School and went on to receive his degree in Milwaukee from the School of Electrical Engineering. Upon graduation, he returned to the Edgar area and worked in the Berg Electric and Machine Shop, and in 1934 he moved to the Spencer area and started his own electrical business. The shop was located where the present IGA store is, with half of the store being a tavern, with a partition in between.
In 1941, Straub purchased the Spencer Amusement Co. And began traveling from Spencer to Greenwood, Edgar, Marathon City, Unity, and Dorchester showing two hour movies. According to Straub, “we started out charging nine cents for the children and later the price went up to 15¢ and 25¢ for adults. Popcorn was sold for a nickel, and the show was also accompanied with a comedy and news. But, as with all things, something came in and the traveling movies went out. It was the 1953 invention of the television.” Still working at the electrical business, he dropped the movies and continued with the shop until 1953. At that time, he began working at Northland Homes, Inc., now Pathfinder, as plant superintendent. Later he became purchasing agent for them until 1970. In 1970, he became purchasing agent for Dickman Homes, Inc. and remained with them until his retirement.
In 1954, Straub and his wife Rosina started the root beer stand in Spencer and ran it until 1958. Recalling those days, he stated that a root beer was sold for a nickel and hamburgers were sold for ten cents.
While he enjoys his retirement, Straub serves on the Marathon County Board of Supervisors, serving the Village of Spencer, Town of Spencer, part of the Town of Eau Plaine, and the first and second alderman wards of the City of Marshfield. While on the board, he is secretary for the Agriculture, Extension, Education, and Resource Committee, and Soil and Water Conservation Committee.
Commenting on the supervisor positions, Straub stated, “I just wanted to help get District 30 back into Marathon County, and let the rest of the people know that Spencer and the other places I serve are still around.” One may think that the county board only meets a few times a year, but after looking at my calendar for a few months and the schedule I have to keep, you realize that it’s not a job that doesn’t demand much, but a job that requires a lot of meetings and getting out with the people, listening to their complaint or comments, and doing what you think is best for them.”
Reflecting on the changes that he has seen take place in the Spencer area, Straub recalls that the Catholic Church, Christ the King, was built in 1938. Prior to the building of the church, the Catholics attended church in Marshfield. At the time of the construction of the church, he was treasurer and today he still holds that office.
Straub has also been recognized for organizing the second rural fire department in the state. The department was organized in 1948, and is still in operation today, serving the townships of Brighton, Unity, Spencer, and Sherman. He had been a member of the firemen’s organization for 26 years and served as chief for 20 years. Straub also served as supervisor of the Spencer water and sewage disposal plant during World War II.
Straub recalls the school that used to be in Spencer. The grade school was downstairs and the high school was upstairs with two grades per room.
As for population growth in the Spencer area, he remembers when the population was 700 and today it is marked as close to 1,300. “When we built our home that we now live in on Clark Street, we were one of the first to live on the west side of town, and today many houses are built farther west than we are. In order for us to build our home, we had to get permission from the Office of Price Administration stating that we had lumber to build the home. We got the basic lumber from an old house in Greenwood.
Besides enjoying the county board business, Straub presently is serving on the Spencer Village Board. He had served on the board from 1942 – 48 and was re-elected to the board this past spring. He also enjoys sailing on the Eau Plaine Flowage and restoring antiques and working with mechanical devices. Two of the devices that may be of importance to visitors to the Straub home are an original stereo concert roller organ from 1894 and another making that Straub enjoys showing visitors is a money-making machine that must be seen before it can be described! He has the music machine in fine working order. He also has the only Ecology Machine that really works, and a working circus built in 1945.
For Toby Straub of Spencer retiring may not be like the books say it is, or taking life as it comes. But for him, it is doing something that he enjoys doing, when he wants to, but sometimes he doesn’t have control over that phase either.
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