Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI
December 15, 1999, Page 9
Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.
Index of "Oldies" Articles
In The Good Old Days
Compiled by Dee Zimmerman
Clark County News
If one wants to enjoy an evening replete with sociability, good cheer and friendly spirit, go to Christie and attend some function devised by the Ladies Aid Society. Last Saturday night, some of us who live in Neillsville attended the meeting held by the American Society of Equity in Wheeler & Martindale’s Hall. There was a good attendance at the meeting and the speakers were accorded a careful and thoughtful audience.
Jim Martindale supervised the program in an all right manner. The music by the Christie Choir was a pleasant relief from the vocal battles one is wont to hear. After the feast of reason, the good ladies of the Aid Society satisfied the hungry in a truly bountiful manner. There were salads of all kinds, rolls such as the cheerful farmers’ wives hold the secret of manufacture, cold meats of all denomination, baked beans that never saw the inside of a tin can, about 40 different kinds of cake, aromatic coffee, pie, and the ladies know what else. The average eater couldn’t sample it all.
Genial Sidney Morse stood at the door and asked for only 15 cents per person for such a delicious supper. Surely Christie is the place to go and come away from with a feeling of satisfaction in the stomach and a sense of having spent an evening with a community who live an ideal life, getting all the pleasure and happiness out of it that there is in it.
Last week, when the streets were a sea of mud, a defect in Neillsville’s sidewalk system was glaringly noticeable, and that was a lack of crosswalks. Along the paved streets, which were comparatively dry, but where there are no pretenses of cross-walks, the defect was especially aggravating. From the sidewalks to the curbs in most places there was about six inches of nice sticky mud, and when a lady attempted to cross the street, the men on the corner were blushing compelled to observe a display of rustling petticoats and shapely shoe tops. If it is not practicable to cross walks, at least the City Council should see that the sidewalks are extended to the curbs, and then provide either ferry boats or flying machines to carry the foot passengers across to dry land.
Tuesday, a deal was closed wherein Dwyer & Wolff sold their meat market in the Rabenstein building to Jacob Malter. Malter took possession this week. Wm Betz is working for him.
About 30 years ago, so the oldest inhabitants say, occurred a winter such as we are having this year. It was called and is yet known as the “Al Brown Winter.” If history repeats itself and we are to have a second Al Brown winter, there will be little, if any snow and very little cold weather. During the Al Brown winter, some farmers even plowed in January, probably a great deal for the novelty of the act. While there may be plowing this year it is not likely, if weather prophet Irl Hichs is correct in his prognostications. He claims that this week there will be violent winter storms along about Christmas Day, to be followed by colder weather. Perhaps Rev. Irl is right, and perhaps the oldest inhabitants are right, time will tell.
Chas. Deutsch has what he claims to be a never-failing weather sign. He kills a spring chicken and if its breast bone is white the winter will be a mild one. If the breast bone is dark there will be a long, cold winter. This year when he killed a spring chicken, there was just a small dark spot about the center of the breast bone. With this sign, Deutsch prophesies that the winter will be very mild with a short cold snap in about the center of it. We hope that this bone prediction is right and that there will be a second Al Brown winter, with just enough snow for sledding. Those wood haulers had better be ready to haul wood when the snow is on the ground.
The high school teachers have undertaken to sell Christmas seals. The town of 2,000 inhabitants selling the most seals (stamps) will receive a vacuum cleaner for use in schools, churches and public places. Our high school teachers will attempt to win the prize for Neillsville.
A new street light has been installed at the drug store corner in Granton. It works fine and is a great improvement to the town. Several more of these lights will be put up in the future. Be sure to attend the big basketball game at the opera house tomorrow night.
Ben Thoma, Nick Linster and Albert Wagner returned from logging camp on account of bad weather. Linster had bad luck as someone stole his grip that held all of his camp supplies, so he really did have to return home. But some of his friends think Linster gave the grip away so he would have an excuse to return, because his is not fond of the lumberjack trade.
Evidence collected recently by Tom Winters, Neillsville, indicates that the first Wisconsin rural mail route was begun at Neillsville. The struggle of men and horses against sleet, drifting snow, cold winds and spring mud, to bring the rural mail to residents, began Nov. 1898. Then the first rural carrier in the state of Wisconsin hitched up his team of horses and clattered southward out of the city of Neillsville.
The project had been set up by the late Ralph Bird, a post office inspector, and riding the mail wagon seat was Joe Janes, a town of Sherwood resident.
Janes’ route took him south as far as Day Corners. There he swung his team southeast and held the course until he hit a point one mile east of the present Shortville store. There, his load of mail was growing lighter; the carrier turned north and struck out for Kurth’s Corners. From there the route led west along the Ridge Road and into the city again.
The route covered 19 miles, approximately, and brought the mail to a territory that had been served by four post offices. One of these rural offices was located at Day Corners. (Day Corners was on the south side of the present Highway 73 & 95 split. D.Z.)
The second post office lay near the Levis and Washburn township line, a third was located at Shortville, and a fourth was the Pleasant Ridge office. The last had been moved from its original site on the Ernest Vine farm to a point at or near Kurth Corners.
Circulating the petition which brought Rural Route No. 1, to the Neillsville area were S. E. Hutching and Tom Winters. It was Tom Winters who recounted the early struggles of the mail carriers.
Hutching took the petition down the line from Neillsville to Shortville along the proposed route. Winters then took over and returned the petition to Neillsville. When enough names were enrolled, he filed the document at the Neillsville post office, located on the present site of the Benson hardware.
L. B. Ring, postmaster, inquired if Winters cared to take the carrier job. Winters inquired about the salary and Ring replied that the carrier would earn $425 per year. Winters thanked Ring kindly for the offer but said he didn’t think he could support a wife and two children on $425, besides furnishing the three horses and rigs necessary to carry the mail. Drifted snow and spring mud made a daily change of horses necessary.
The first carrier on the route was J. J. Green, who lived at the Levis and Washburn township line. He was followed by Robert Eunson, operator of a livery stable in Neillsville, located on the present site of the Stelloh Implement building. Carrier number three was George Gregory, owner of a farm north of Neillsville.
These men, who held the job an aggregate of seven years, were followed in 1905 by Hans Walk. Walk carried mail along historic Rural Route No. 1 until June 1, 1933, when he unloaded his mail bags for the last time.
During those 28 years, Walk carried mail by horse cart, buggy, cutter, then went on motorcycle, and automobile, but the mail always went through. The route had gradually been extended over the period of Walk’s career until it included 29 miles of roads that might be almost impassable with snow, glass-slick ice or thick mud.
In the winter of 1916, Walk recalls, drifted roads obliged him to cut through 36 fields. He kept a horse near Shortville store as a fresh replacement, and changed there every noon, if the road conditions allowed him to arrive at that hour. It was a local proverb – that if Walk couldn’t get through with the mail, then no man could travel the roads.
In the last eight years and eleven months on Rural Route No. 1, Walk failed only on ten days to reach the farthest point on his route, the John Galbreath corner.
About 1933, the west part of Rural Route No. 1 was relocated to serve patrons of northeast Pine Valley, southwest of Grant, and west Washburn. It then passed along Levis as far as Dells Dam School and back along the River Road to Neillsville.
The east half of Rural Route No. 1 was then attached to Route No. 4, which served Pine Valley, West York, Grant and Washburn, passing near the original path of old Historic Rural Route No. 1. The work of the old route and its carriers lives on in the work of rural mail routes through the state Wisconsin today. Carriers and planners across the state owe much of the lessons learned when unflinching carriers pushed the mail through on Rural Route No. 1.
There will be free movies on Saturday afternoon at the Adler Theatre. All children up to and including 14 years of age will be admitted as Santa’s guests, without charge. The showing will be at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. The feature will be “Father was a Fullback” and the “Roy Rogers Riders” will be shown also.
St. Mary’s Catholic parishioners are enjoying the benefits of a renovated and newly repaired church building. At a cost of $6,700 the building has been gone over from top to bottom by masons, carpenters, and steeple jacks.
The work included tuck-pointing the entire church; replacing cracked bricks; sandblasting soiled spots on the brick; replacing six large cement window sills, and slabs along the entrance steps. The cement trim was painted for appearance and protection.
Several windows were replaced; window and door frames were re-caulked. The smoke stack, ventilator stack and tower received a fresh coat of waterproofing. Roof work included the copper coverings for the cement coping and the tower roof. Sides of the roof parapet were also given a copper sheathing, where needed, and the roof was given new tiles. Though one of the contractors on the job was a steeple jack, local carpenter Henry Stucki took on the job of putting a new roof on the church tower.
Anyone wanting Lefse for the holiday season can call Blue 108. Place your order which can be picked up two doors south of the hospital on State Street, or south of the Fourth and State Street intersection. With a whoop and a stomp, the Forty Club will open its fourth square dance of the season at the Neillsville Legion Hall on Dec. 12. The club’s forty members will whirl to the accordion and guitar music of Louis and Arthur Nemitz. George Beeckler, who learned the art so long ago that he’s forgotten where, will call the dances. The annual Grade School Christmas program will be presented Wednesday, Dec. 21, 1:30 p.m. at the Neillsville Armory. The program will include all grade school children from both the North and South Grade Schools, kindergarten through grade 8.
The kindergartners, under the direction of Miss Tess Rybicki, will participate in their rhythm band, songs and dances. Grades 1 through 8 will present an assembly play entitled “Christmas at Home” with the direction of Miss Anna Rae Harris. The setting is a family gathering on Christmas Eve. Done in pantomime and song, some parts are taken by: Forest Larsen, Mary Cummings, Melvin Ayers, Bobbie Russell, Thomas Gall, Herbert Olsen, Elaine Maeder, Jacelyn Jake, Shirley Holt, John Hanson, John Stucki, Billy Holt, Velma Marden and Karen Hendrickson.
The Christmas Carolers are: Mary Manz, Nellie Van Gorden, Donald Horswill, Skipper Lee, Sharon Gall, Rodney Turner, Sarah Albrecht, Betty Ylvisaker, Kay Overman and Terry Burton.
Main Street Granton, circa 1940: Notice the parking arrangements. Apparently there weren’t any set rules on how the cars were to park on Main Street as long as there were spaces left for additional customers with vehicles coming to shop. (Photo courtesy of the Webster Family Collection)
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