Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

 August 3, 1994, Page 24

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days    


Good Old Summertime!


By Dee Zimmerman


Summertime in Wisconsin represents a variety of outdoor activities.  Could that be why it goes by so fast?  Most of us, who live here, think of many things to do, anything that requires the need to be in the parks, picnicking, boating on the lakes or rivers, on the golf courses, tennis courts, softball diamonds, gardening, plus more events related to the outdoors.


The generations preceding us also took time from their work, to spend some time relaxing in the elements of nature.  Their modes of transportation limited going to a Sunday’s outing.  It had to be within the immediate community for the sake of distance.


Every generation has had one common enjoyment, a “picnic” or as we often refer to it today as “potluck or barbecuing” we enjoy eating.  Years ago, a special treat at a picnic was to have homemade ice cream for dessert.  During the time when most households didn’t have refrigeration, ice cream wasn’t as accessible as it is today.  Each town usually had a source of stored ice, ice cut from lakes in the winter, stored in a cave or dugout and packed with sawdust as insulation to keep it frozen during the summer months.  The rich farm-separated cream, as main ingredient made the ice cream delightful to the palate (back then, we didn’t know what calories were and least of all, we didn’t worry about them).  Each lady was known for her “specialty dish” and was expected to provide the same for every picnic she and the family were to attend.


When the picnics were held on the shores of a lake or river, men and children spent some time fishing from shore, using the long bamboo cane poles that a good, well-aimed, side-winder throw could get bait and line out over a good fishing- hole.  Often, good catches of pan fish were prepared and fried in a pan over a bonfire to be shared and eaten with the other picnic goodies.  The finale was marshmallows toasted on a stick over the fire.


Children, who attended the rural schools, looked forward to the annual school picnic, held at the end of the term, in the month of May.  The families and everyone who lived in that school district at that time were invited, whether they had children attending the school or not.  It was a community picnic in celebration of another school year’s end with youngsters happily saying, “I passed,” to their friends, making the occasion a happy time for them.  The school yard was usually the picnic site.  Games such as “Red Rover, Red Rover…” were played, various races with prizes given to the winners and often a softball game, (then named Kittenball), open to Moms’ and dads’ participation, too.  That picnic was the one and only picnic of the year for some families – for one reason or another, they did very little socializing.


Picnicking now is usually referred to as “Backyard Cook-out,” using the convenience of a barbecue grill in a setting of more comfort. 


Common ground is that, now as then, we enjoy “outdoor living” in the summertime.

The School picnic of District No. 1 9or the Lincoln School as it was referred to) in June, 1913.  The school building was located on the northeast corner of County highways “H” and “K” intersection in the Town of York.  Some of the families who attended that picnic were the Meddaughs, Bowmans, Uhlmans, Zickerts, Kronbergers, Dahls, Garbischs, Mills, and Rondorfs.  The teacher in 1912-13, was Claude Mills, the tall man standing between the two trees, at the left of the photo, back row.  Mill’s wife, is standing in back row, on the right next to the tree and holding their youngest son, Lee.  Some of the students that year were Mollie and Carrie Kronberger (sitting in second row on left, by the tree and wearing gingham dresses.  Next to them at the right, are Elnora (Uhlman) Mills and her sister Erline, then Sadie and Margaret Garbisch.  Other students were Calvin Mills, Fern Rogers, Martin and George Zickert and Frank Kronberger.  The picnic was held in a grove of trees across the road from the school house, where the Gary Aga residence is located.  (Photo courtesy of Elnora Mills)

Fishing Cawley Creek in c.1915, north of Neillsville; Left to right: Lewis Kaude, Ted Schlinkert, myself (whoever that was taking the photo), Fred Lavin, Ed Kroll, Henry Kroll, Alvin Jacob and Bill Bohnsack.  That is an impressive photo, everyone with a fish on their line giving us the opinion that Cawley creek was a “hot spot” for a good “catch” or there was some “trickery” with the photograph.


A late 1800’s scene of five Neillsville area men on an outing along Black River;

Front row left is a Neverman; back row, Bill Bradford and Bill Huntley.

The other two aren’t identified.


Everyone was dressed in their “Sunday’s Best” for this Ice Cream Social gathering at the Statz farm which was located 2 miles southwest of Alma Center in 1908.  The famous Alma Center Band entertained for the event and members are visible in the background, left.  One of the Statz’s sons, Max, moved to Clark County, purchasing a farm at Neillsville.  Ed Statz, Max’s son, lived on the farm northeast of the city.  (Photo courtesy of Ed Statz)



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