Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

November 19, 1992, Page

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days  


By Dee Zimmerman




Do you remember the Vets Village in Neillsville?  It was located on Hill Street during the late 40’s and early 50’s.  The name was derived by those who lived there – the returning World War II veterans with wives or families.


During the war years, building of homes was mostly at a standstill as resources went in to the war effort.  At the wars end, the many returning veterans weren’t able to find housing.  As one woman said, “there just wasn’t anyplace to rent-no apartments, no houses!” 


In researching the files of City Council proceedings, the following information was found:


(1)   October 17, 1945 – City Council requested that the city be allotted 20 Badger housing units from the Badger ordinance site at Baraboo-Housing units to be used as homes for returning veterans’ families.


(2)   December 15, 1945 – Schultz Bros. construction were given the contract for hauling the units from the Baraboo Housing Village. 


Rental rates were set at $18.00 and $22.00 per month.  Apparently some were one or two bedroom units which accounted for the two rental rates.


(3)   May 1955 – City moved a motion to sell the Veteran’s Housing units.


The units resembled mobile homes being built of 12 ½ ft width and of two lengths (38 ft. or 28 ½ ft.), one or two bedroom.  They were of plywood construction; heating was coal or oil heaters.  The city had to obtain the land then install city water and sewer for the housing site.


Many residents of the units planted gardens in the back yard of their homes.  They fenced in areas for the children’s playground.  The west side was all open-field.


The units were sold to various individuals or anyone who wanted to purchase one for their needs.  One or two were moved to Camp Higichari Scout Camp near Lake Arbutus and may still be there on the site.


So, during the crisis period of no housing for the influx of returning veterans, those units solved the problem for twelve families.  Twenty units were requested, but only twelve were available as other cities had made requests for units, such as Eau Claire.


The housing shortage in Neillsville lasted through the 50’s, as new homes were being built and rentals became available the demand diminished. 

Summer scene of Vet’s Village:  Clothes can be viewed blowing in a westerly breeze.  Also note a TV antennae which had to have been in 1953-1954 when the first central Wisconsin television stations came into being.


A winter setting as the photo was taken of a housing unit in Vet’s Village on Hill Street.



(Thanks to Ruth Ebert, for gathering the information and Wilmer Kroll for the photos.  Wilmer and his wife lived in the only house on that street.  Photos were taken as he stood in front of his house.)




Compiled by Terry Johnson




“An estimated 550 children took part in the Halloween theatre party at the Neillsville Theatre on the eve of All-Saints day.  The party was sponsored by The Modern Woodmen.”  Four prizes were awarded for the top costumes and other prizes were awarded to children who were phoned and found at home a half hour after the party.


During an open house at the Masonic Temple, held in observance of the lodge’s 100th anniversary, a fashion show was held.  The show featured old fashioned gowns modeled by members of the Eastern-Star – and an old bathing suit, modeled by Wayne Grap, who was master of the Blue Lodge at the time.  Grap later served as master of ceremonies for the banquet held at the high school.  Over 200 members and guests attended the banquet.


“Congressman Melvin R. Laird will hold regular office hours at the courthouse in Neillsville, Friday, November 3, from 2 to 3 p.m., his office has announced.  During this time he will be available to talk with constituents concerning personal problems they may be having with the federal government.”




In Wells Harvey’s front page column, “Our Times,” current news of the war was given.  Included; “800,000 Abroad – That the American forces abroad now number 800,000 was revealed in a communication of General George C. Marshall, army chief of staff.  In the last two months 300,000 have been sent across the seas.” 


“The Junior class of Neillsville High School will present a three-act comedy-drama, entitled ‘Old Doc,’ at the Armory, Friday, November 13.  The plot centers ‘round the self sacrifices of Old Doc for the little rural community in which he lives, and the wish of his son to become a rich but useless city doctor.”


The cast of the Junior class play included: Jacob Stucki, James Scott, Caroline Korgness, Norbert Kluhsman, Evelyn Markwardt, Theo Jonkel, Heron Van Gorden, Janet Kunze, Don Cummings, Miriam Lindow, Jean Kintzele, Carol Peterson, Cleo Jane Reindel, Janet May and Art Harding.”


Scrap drives for the war were continually making news. A two-day effort by one person yielded over one ton of scrap.  This drive was conducted by rural mail carrier, Ole Aspen, who hitched a trailer to his car and picked up every piece of scrap he found along the roadsides of route two.  Monday the effort yield 1,000 pounds, and Tuesday the load was even larger.


Only two county offices were contested in the election.  Ray Kutsche beat William Klessig in the race for sheriff, and James H. Fradette was re-elected as county treasurer over challenger Mike Krultz, Jr.  County officers not facing contests were; county clerk Calvin Mills, coroner Herbert L. Brown, clerk of court Ben Frantz, district attorney Bruce F. Beilfuss, register of deeds Henry E. Rahn, and surveyor Clarence L. Mathewson.


The Veefkind School conducted a scrap drive, setting 1,605 pounds as its goal.  This goal represented the combined weight of the students and their teacher.  Their goal was far surpassed.  The 5,231 pounds collected amounted to 250 pounds of scrap per participant.


“At a pretty military wedding on October 17, 1942 in the post chapel at Camp Clairborne, La., the former Miss Elizabeth McCorry was united in marriage with Lieut. Carroll N. Schield, son of the Joseph Schields of Neillsville.”  C. N. Schield had graduated from Marquette University Dental School the previous spring.  He was assigned to serve at the station hospital at Camp Claiborne, La.  The couple honeymooned in New Orleans.




“There will be a goose shoot at Harold Begley’s farm 2 ½ miles east of Christie corners next Sunday.”


“This newspaper is a member of the Wisconsin Patriotic Press Association and pledges its uncompromising loyalty to our government in this war.”


“Eighty-seven per cent out of every 100 American boys going to war will return if the soldiers take care of their own health.  This is the message of Col. William J. Cronyn, well known army surgeon, to Milwaukee soldiers and their relatives.”


You can help to win the war by conserving food.”  Citizens were urged to follow these measures; “Eat no meat on Tuesday.  Eat no wheat on Wednesday.  Save on sugar by eating less.  Eat fish twice a week.  Use up perishable food first.  Use more milk and less meat.  Use more fruit and vegetables.  Cut thinner slices of bread.  Save the butter by using less.  These are small things to ask but great things to do.”


A cartooned ad carried a “celebrity endorsement.”  The ad was for “Gravely’s celebrated chewing plug,” produced by P. B. Gravely Tobacco Co. of Danville, VA.  One gentleman in the ad pointed to a billboard for Gravely’s and said, “Why, that was President Andrew Jackson’s favorite chew.”  The man next to him said, “Old Hickory was mighty particular about his tobacco.” [75 years later, we have celebrity un-endorsements – baseball players urging kids not to use chewing tobacco.]




“Jim Taylor, the contractor, will have the new Armory Opera house up and enclosed, with roof completed, by February 1, 1893.”


“The Monday blizzard threatened bad weather for Election Day but Tuesday was bright and cloudless, an ideal election day.”


“It is a sad fact that none of us are as handsome as we think we look in a uniform – Elmira Gazette.”


“Rev. J. O. Buswell preached a sermon last Sunday in which he advocated the establishment of a reading room, gymnasium, etc, by the church and under church auspices, thus in a measure offsetting the attractions which are now in small towns mainly in saloons….”


“Now watch the new Hewett Street bridge rise to its stately piers, while workmen hustle down the weak and wobbly old wooden affair that it supplants.”


“The new Black River Bridge will be an imposing structure, and the completed abutment on the west side looms up like the works of giants.”


“Frank Maxwell put in a furnace at Ross Eddy this week that shows, as all his work shows that he is one of the most skillful masons that ever worked in Neillsville.  Frank has the contract to put on the plaster in the beautiful new Unitarian Church.  It is to be the new rough finish work to be seen in the metropolitan church buildings.”


“Parents of daughters given to entertaining their masculine friends until late hours will be pleased to learn that Edison is perfecting a phonograph clock which may be set for any hour desired, and when that hour arrives the visitors will be informed in stentorian tones that it is bed time and invited to go home.”


“L.M. Sturdevant is investigating the subject of steam heat, with a view to finding out what sort of heating apparatus to put into his new home on Clay Street.”


“The TIMES wants wood.  Haul it at once.”

Photo taken on Hewett Street when the watering troughs were available for the horses.  The riding horses and carriage horses needs had to be met during those days, too.  This young lady was Ruth Whitcomb, who stopped long enough for her horse to quench its thirst.  Ruth’s father was the Neillsville depot agent during that era.  (Photo courtesy of Clark County Historical Society.)



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