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Glarner Swiss German

Female speaker interviewed by Brian Lewis, July 1968, New Glarus, Green Co.

County: Green
State: WI

Thirty miles south of Madison, WI, is the community of New Glarus, known as "America's Little Switzerland." The original settlers arrived from Canton Glarus in Switzerland in 1845; many of their descendants still speak Glarnese Swiss German today. Though the language is no longer spoken among younger people, the Swiss heritage in New Glarus endures in a number of ways, including cuisine. In this interview, the speaker recalls the different kinds of bread baked in the community.
How did you use to bake bread?

We used to bake our own bread. I can still remember when Mother used to bake bread. At that time people used old baking ovens and fired them with wood. And then they prepared the yeast. I remember my mother saving the water left over from boiling potatoes and adding yeast to it. She prepared the yeast in the evening and covered it, then made the dough the next morning, let it rise, and then baked the bread. She usually baked bread twice a week.

And for Christmas people used to make pear bread [Birnenbrot]. All kinds of dried fruit, pears, apples, plums, and so on, and raisins, all that got kneaded into the dough. And that was to celebrate Christmas and New Year's. And the Glarner also made Butterweggen, and that's still made today. And to make that, you put butter, raisins, eggs, and sugar into the dough.

The speaker is a 74-year-old White man with a college education from Portage, Wisconsin; he was recorded in 1968.

County: Columbia
State: WI

In an agricultural area like Portage, Wisconsin, in the south-central part of the state, water is crucial to the success of the community. That is true not only for the farmers, but also for other agricultural concerns. The speaker in this recording was the owner of a pickle-making factory, which relied heavily on having good and accessible water. In this segment he describes having problems with his well running dry and deciding to turn to a water witcher to locate a new well. Initially a skeptic about the efficacy of the practice of witching, he was ultimately convinced that it works.
Inf: So, we decided we had to put in a new well, and somebody asked me why I didn't get it witched. And I didn't know what he was talking about, so they said, "There's an old fella out here that witches wells. And he'll get you water every time." So, I said, "OK, uh how much does he want?" "He wants ten bucks." I said, "Bring him on!" So, we brought this fella out and he went through his maneuvers with his peach stick, or I don't remember now it was a peach stick or a willow.
FW: Mm-hmm. You use both, though.
Inf: Yeah, either one. One works as good as the other. And uh he he uh s-strikes a point where uh um uh where he has uh where he hits water. Then he puts a stone down. Then he goes down uh in that same line and where he hits water again, put another stone down. Then he goes at right angles with this and gets a stone over here and a stone over here and where these two lines cross, that's the point.
FW: It'd kinda be uh the kind of a-
Inf: The veins the the he he said these water veins always run on an angle -- never due north and south or east and west. They're northwest/southeast.
FW: Mm-hmm.
Inf: Or the other way. But where they cross, he'll get a, he'll take a point over here and one over here in this line, and then over here and where wherever they cross, that's the point. Well he he got a point that was 8 feet from w- from an abandoned well we had in the back of the building. And 21 feet from the well we were pumping dry every night. And I asked this man how far down we have to go, and he said you'll get water inside of 75 feet. Now the first 8 feet was dirt. We had to (case that), but the rest of it was granite.
FW: Mm-hmm.
Inf: And I can't remember what he charged us that time, but it was around 9 or 10 dollars a foot, so it was a little expensive.
FW: Mm-hmm.
Inf: But we had to have water. So we drilled the well. And we went down 72 feet, and we hit water. And, at w- at the spot where we had determined that is the place, he determined it -- we had a 6-inch casing. We put an elec- we- the- we- could look in the top of this casing and see the water.
FW: Mm-hmm.
Inf: And we put an electric pump on there and we pumped that for 24 hours and never got the water out of sight from the top. You could always see the water in here. And we were pumping before that, within 21 feet of that, and we were pumping the well dry in 20 minutes, and waiting an hour before we could pump it again for 20 minutes. So, it only goes to show you what it'll do. (Well he) took samples of that stuff all the way down. I hadda- every once in a while he'd pull up a sample from uh- and we put those in saltcellars and I had 'em for a long time 'til we closed the office there and I threw 'em away, but uh uh this thing actually uh w-worked beautifully. And I asked this man: I said well, will this work for me? Well, he said, I don't know, but, he said, if it don't work for you, he said I can make it work for you by walking, coming up behind you and putting my arms around you and grabbing your wrists. And you can hold the stick and I'll hold your wrists, and then it'll work for ya. But, he said, maybe you don't need that. So, I took the stick myself and tried to do just what he did. By-
FW: And how- how do you hold- how do you hold the stick?
Inf: You hold you're your forearms parallel with the ground.
FW: Mm-hmm.
Inf: And the the this is the end of the fork.
FW: Alright. It goes out-
Inf: It comes up like-
FW: 'Cause you hold your your you're holding your palms face-up. And as the the end of the stick goes out to the outside-
Inf: The end of the stick-
FW: Through your thumb, right?
Inf: And out here on on this side. Well, there's nothing particular- I mean it just it just you just grab the end of it.
FW: Uh-huh.
Inf: And you hold it with your with your forearms parallel to the ground. And you walk very slowly. And your- the stick is (balanced up) you know. Stands up about this high. And you walk just like this. Not any faster. And when you get over water, that stick will go down. 'n' you can't stop it. It'll come down so hard that it'll twist the bark off in your hand.
FW: You can hold it as tight as-
Inf: If you hold it just as tight as you can.
FW: Yep.
Inf: And just move very slowly, and when that comes down. So, I thought, well, there's no use in me going out and trying to go through the maneuvers he went. I wanted to go over this spot that he said there's the spot. And I went over that spot from every direction and I'd get right to that spot and that stick'd go down like that and you couldn't hold (it) up to save your soul. So, I said, well, this darn thing works.

The speaker is a 42-year-old White woman with a college education from Jefferson, Wisconsin; she was recorded in 1968.

County: Jefferson
State: WI

Jefferson, Wisconsin, the county seat of Jefferson County, lies at the confluence of the Crawfish and Rock Rivers. A productive agricultural area, it was heavily settled by immigrants from Germany, and German heritage is still celebrated with an annual "Gem??tlichkeit Days" festival. The celebration of Christmas in the community and her own family is the topic of the following excerpt.
Inf: Christmas Eve around here was usually the time when you opened the gifts. Uh my mother always had the idea, she was very strict, too, she she stuck to the folklore very strictly. If he's coming on Christmas Eve and coming down the chimney, how you, how can you open your presents on Christmas Eve? You have to open them on Christmas morning. Yeah.

But uh most everyone here would go to church uh on Christmas Eve. If they were Protestant the church service would be early and then they'd come home at about 11 o'clock. They'd open their gifts. But um, consequently the children would be so over-excited and over-tired. It was a big day, you know, and then they'd have a program at church. And they'd fall asleep and they'd get upset and everybody'd get into a big hassle, you know, and go to bed exhausted. So, my mother contended it was much better to stay in bed. And uh to go to bed and get up the next morning.

And we had to dress completely, make our beds, eat um breakfast, and it was always oatmeal. I don't know why, I, 'cause we hated oatmeal, and she made us eat oatmeal on Christmas. Think we could get away with it then or something.

And before we could go in -- then we'd, she'd take us in and she'd blindfold us. Oh, she made a great ceremony of it. And she she she'd turn on the tree. And then the gifts all around. And then we could open our eyes and we'd see the spectacle.

Of course it was very thrilling. I, I can see her idea. I would do it too if I had the opportunity.

The speaker is a 76-year-old White woman with a college education from Janesville, Wisconsin; she was recorded in 1968.

County: Rock
State: WI

The city of Janesville, Wisconsin was not named, as one might speculate, for a woman named Jane, but for a man named Henry Janes, who came to the area following the Black Hawk War of 1832. Located along the Rock River, Janesville has six historic districts that reflect various aspects of its past. River industries, railroading, rock quarries, and of course agriculture all contributed to the growth of the city which, in 2005, was Wisconsin's eleventh largest. The speaker tells a story about her grandmother.
Inf: Well, she went to one of our uh, neighbor's, on up the road, up beyond the farm there. And she went to um, one of the younger men who was farming there. He was a chap about father's age, I guess, or a little younger, and said, "I don't need any advice on buying a cow, but I don't know much about horses." And she said, "Do you have any you want to sell?" An' he said, "Well now I have one that I'll let you take for two or three days an' you can try it out an' see whether you'd like it or not, an' if so, it'll cost so much." Well, he came around, uh, two or three days later and asked her how she liked it, an' she said well, she liked the way it performed, that she could see that it was pulling all right, by using her binoculars an' watching in the field. And, uh, so they agreed on the price again.

Aux Inf: He was plowing too deep.

Inf: Oh, yes, she also noted that uh, the man was um, plowing too deep by the way the horses were pulling. Well, how would they uh, how would they pay for it? Well, she had her money from her milk routes: nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars and so forth, uh counted out for him when he should come. And what'd they put it in? Well she had to think. She had some ticking. And she cut out a piece big enough to put this hundred and fifty dollars, was it? We

FW: In nickels, dimes, and quarters?

Inf: Something uh,

Aux Inf: Silver dollars.

Inf: Silver dollars and nickels and dimes and so forth. And so he went home carrying a hundred and fifty dollars in coins.

The speaker is an 80-year-old White man with a grade school education, from Milton, Wisconsin; he was recorded in 1968.

County: Rock
State: WI

Located in Rock County in southern Wisconsin, Milton was significant both as a railroad town serving the surrounding agricultural area and as a stop on the "Underground Railroad." The speaker's grandfather and great uncle were among the first settlers in Rock County, coming in November of 1835 as homesteaders. Prior to that, his grandfather had spent his adolescence as a "bound boy," and then had gone on three river drives on the Susquehanna River. Those experiences are the subject of the following excerpt.
Inf: Well, at nine years of age when his father died, he was bound out to a man by the name of Mr. _____. And he stayed there for eleven years until he was twenty years old.

FW: In Binghamton.

Inf: At uh, well, it was near Binghamton. So, when uh, he beca-, he was supposed to stay there till he was 21. Well, uh he said that uh, that this man had some sons and they was away to college and they took all the money that their father had or could scrape up to keep 'em in school. And they used to kind of uh misuse my grandfather, some, and he said that he stood it as long as he could, and when he couldn't stand it any longer, he said to Mr. _____ one day, he said, "Now, if you've got anything that you wanna give me for my eleven years that I been here working for you, I'm ready to accept." And so he said, "Well, uh I have no money. It takes all of my money keep the, my boys in, in college. But," he said, "I've got a team of colts out here, that if you uh want them, you're welcome to 'em."

So, he said well, he didn't know what else to do, he was gonna leave anyway. So he said that he told Mr. _____ that he would uh accept his offer. So he took the colts and sold 'em and he got 62 dollars and a half for the team of young horses. Colts, in other words. And uh with the 62 dollars and a half, he gave that to his widowed mother.

So uh then, after uh, he had gotten a job of runnin' rafts of logs that were lashed together down the Susquehanna River from Binghamton, New York to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Which was a distance of about 300 miles. And there was rapids in the river at one place. And I, not quite sure whether it was two and a half miles through these rapids, and it was real rapid. And it took them, I think it was, three minutes to go through 'em with the raft of logs. And uh so it was a sort of a dangerous uh thing to do because they was swirls where the water was going that fast, and they had to keep the logs that were lashed together, they had to keep 'em from hittin' the shoreline where there was rocks and the like, and to keep the back end from goin' like uh the little kids would on the end of playin' crack the whip, see.

So what happened that uh he, the first time he went down, there was a another man with him, which I don't know as I ever knew who he was, or heard of him. So uh he, he, died; this, this um rudder that was fastened to the back end of the raft of the logs uh had a twelve, a two by twelve by twelve foot plank that was used as a rudder, fastened to the end of a pole. And this pole uh this rudder, when this water swirl hit it, why he said that uh the the fella that was handling the rudder, the first time he went down through, that he dodged it three times. And then he found out that they had been others that didn't dodge it that was knocked into the water. And that was the last of 'em. So he said that uh when they went, they had to walk back then, after they got the logs down where the sawmill was at Harrisburg.

FW: Yeah. Yeah. How far was that?

Inf: Three hundred. Three hundred miles one way. So they walked back and uh he got ten dollars a, a trip. Well, the next trip, when they started out, he said to the man that uh had gone down and used the rudder the day, the time before, he said, "Now, let me get ahold of that thing and I'll see what I can do." He, and uh, it'd gotten away from the other fella three times on his first trip. Well, he'd had enough of that. So he said, "Well, I'll try it." So, the fella said, "OK, go ahead." And he said that when he hit them swirls, the pressure was so great and he had to hold the uh, the pole with the rudder on the end of it, bolted on. And he said there was so much pressure and weight on it, he said that it felt as though that it was driving his feet in right through the, where his, where he stood when he had to handle this. As though that it was gonna shove him right through the raft of logs, feet and all. But he said he went down through and uh it didn't get away from him.

The speaker is a 63-year-old White woman with a high school education from Belmont, Wisconsin; she was recorded in 1968.

County: Lafayette
State: WI

Southwestern Wisconsin, historically a lead-mining area as well as an agricultural region (which also boasted the state's first capitol building in Old Belmont), is situated on broad, upland plateaus. The location is wide open to strong western winds as they cross the Mississippi River and surge across Wisconsin. The speaker recounts her experience with a tornado that came from the west and flattened much of her community.
Inf: And uh, we didn't know at that time that there was tornado warnings out. But afterwards we found out there was. And, we had some chickens. Only about nine, ten. And those chickens wouldn't go to roost. And it made me so cross. I's just scoldin' 'em. And my, husband, he was building a small building in the back yard, and we could see that the sky got real orange in the west. We had a tree in the, our yard, that we knew it was gonna blow down sometime, and we had a car parked there and my husband says, "Will you help me push this car out in the road?" And my aunt and uncle, cousin lived next door. They wanted us to go with them up to the school basement, and I said, "No, we haven't got time."

FW: You mean this, by this time you knew that there were storm warnings out?

Inf: Well, we didn't know it, but we knew it was a bad storm comin', we could see by the sky. So my uh aunt and them went to school. And we stayed home, got the car off of the, under the trees. And we went into the house. And the wind began to blow. And, it blew the kitchen door open and big-- blew the tree down, but it wouldn't have fallen the way the car was, it fell in the opposite direction, it fell right towards our kitchen door. My husband says, "I'm standing here by the door. If we get another gush like that, you make a dive for under that tree," the tree that had fallen. And you could just look out the window, and the corn was just bent over like there was no corn there.

FW: (laughs) Geez.

Inf: So, uh, after the storm was over,

FW: It didn't blow again big like that, huh?

Inf: Didn't blow at our place, where we were.

FW: Yeah, I see.

Inf: But after it was over, he says, "Well let's go over to, my folks, and see how they made out."

FW: Where was your house at this time?

Inf: We were back of the school.

FW: I see. Yeah.

Inf: And his folks lived over

FW: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

Inf: So we drove down around the street here and we'd see people, and we drove, over to his folks. Their house was gone.

FW: Really?

Inf: Demolished. Well, they told us there that his mother and dad were out and told, they were down to, by Mr. _____, so we went down there and Grandma wanted some things from the house, so we went back up to the house. And the, the house had been lifted up and a broken . . . a tree had broken off and the tree came back down, I mean the house came back down on the tree.

The speaker is a 30-year-old White woman with a college education from Wautoma, Wisconsin; she was recorded in 1968.

County: Waushara
State: WI

Located in central Wisconsin, Wautoma is in an agriculturally productive area where cucumbers and pickling plants are an important part of the economy. The speaker reflects on the use of the term pickle for a raw cucumber, a lexical usage characteristic not only of Wisconsin but also of the North and North Midland more generally.
Inf: Pickles. Uh, George was thinking that it was kind of funny that uh, we called them pickles even when they were growing. And I remember too thinking it was kind of funny um, that we called 'em pickles. I remember when the change came. We'd always called them cucumbers when they were growing and pickles when we ate them out of the can, but I kind of remember when a change came in and everybody just said pickles no matter what they were doing. I, I knew it was hard to get used to but now I guess I thought, "There's a bunch of pickle plants over in the field." I'd say that too. Funny how those things catch up.

The speaker is an 83-year-old White man with a grade school education from Lancaster, Wisconsin; he was recorded in 1968.

County: Grant
State: WI

Among early settlers in southwestern Wisconsin, "taming" the prairies and making them suitable for agriculture was an essential part of homesteading. The speaker tells of some of the difficulties of breaking ground with rudimentary kinds of equipment.
Inf: Well, of course lots of it was uh, the prairie uh, uh, th-this uh, this uh, hadn't been broken up, near where the oaken ground was. And uh, they, they,they broke that with horses and-and oxen, some oxen, and uh, then of course they -

FW: With a plow?

Inf: Yes, with the bracing plows. And uh, they, well, all I uh, when they first started farming out there, I've heard 'em tell about uh, they-they'd sow corn by hand and uh, then -

FW: Broadca- or no?

Inf: And broadcast it you know, by hand. And uh, they were, they used to uh, they'd go and cut a sapling down out in the woods and they'd drag that, hitch oxen onto that, and drag that around over the ground to cover up the corn. They didn't have a harrow at that time.

FW: Yeah, yeah. Apparently not. Yeah, yeah.

Inf: Then after awhile of course they began getting harrows, and the, the, the grain had to be cut and bound. Of course them days the reapers didn't bind, didn't tie it. They'd have to go along, well when they first come out, the reaper first come out, why they had the fellow follow along there to rake it off. And then they got so's they had those rakes. They had those rakes there that went around 'n round and moved that off the end of the platform and then they'd come along binding that, tie it by hands, you know. And then they'd, they'd stack it and thrash it.

The speaker is a 48-year-old White man with a college education from Greenfield, Wisconsin; he was recorded in 1968.

County: Milwaukee
State: WI

Originally a township with vast, verdant fields, Greenfield, Wisconsin (whose name also paid tribute to Greenfield, Massachusetts) gradually found its territory being annexed by the neighboring communities of West Allis, West Milwaukee, and Milwaukee. To maintain its remaining land to itself, it incorporated in 1957. Like its neighbors, Greenfield has been an important industrial and manufacturing area, and the speaker reflects that background as he tells of his work in a metals processing factory.
Inf: Ok, we'll uh talk about the, uh, manufacture of large seamless rolled rings. Uh,

FW: Just like the ones you got out the front of the plant?

Inf: That's a small seamless rolled ring.

FW: Oh, gee (laughing).

Inf: Uh, we had best uh define the term large seamless rolled ring. Large, by arbitrary definition, would be anything over one hundred thousand pounds in weight. And, seamless is contrasted with various methods of making rings. Starting with, uh, the boiler shop concept of taking a strip of steel and rolling it from a flat length into a hoop, and

FW: Well you, how do you, join the ends on that then?

Inf: And rivet the ends together. That's a boiler concept. And so it has a, a seam, a riveted seam. And, this is limited to very small cross-sections, maybe half-inch, maybe one inch maximum.

FW: And yeah, can you [?]

Inf: Yeah, the thickness of the plate. Then there is another means of manufacture of a ring, which is called butt-welded. And this is a process whereby you take a strip of steel, either flat or contour cross-section, in the same manner that you roll a riveted ring, roll it into a hoop, and then, by applying a electrical potential across the two ends that are butting or adjacent to each other, you cause a arcing or sparking to occur. And this gradually heats the ends of the metal to the point that they become molten at the ends. And then, by pressure, you squeeze the two butted ends together, and this exudes all the oxides which are preventative towards welding. You extrude them out of the cross section and form a weld. A weld that is butted together, hence the term butt-weld.

The speaker is a 78-year-old White woman with a high school education from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin; she was recorded in 1968.

County: Waukesha
State: WI

In a challenge to etymologists and to spellers, Wisconsin has three similar-sounding communities: Menominee, Menomonee Falls, and Menomonie. Menomonee Falls was founded in 1843 on the rapids of the Menominee River north of Milwaukee, largely by German families. The flour mill, sugar beet factory, and bottling plant of early days were supplanted by larger commercial and industrial enterprises as Milwaukee expanded and as the population of Menomonee Falls grew as well. The speaker, of German heritage, talks about one of the traditional skills she has helped to perpetuate, that of quilt-making.
Inf: Have you ever seen a quilting frame?

FW: No, no.

Inf: There are four long pieces of wood and they have a thick, like canvas, uh, tacked to ea-, ea- this is the frame, and each board has uh this heavy canvas uh tacked to it. And, and then they have four clamps, metal clamps. And, and these are all holes in here and like the, a pin that fits in, on each corner, to hold that square. Then they clamp each corner. And then they pin the bottom of this quilt to this canvas. Then they lay in their cotton, thin, a wadding of cotton.

You can buy that sheet wadding. And uh, lay that all in smooth, then they put the top cover on. Then, then they pin with regular pins, this top cover to that canvas, and make it real tight. Get it real tight and stretch that frame as much as they can so it's tight. And then they, somebody'll draw a, with pencil and ruler, a design. Stripes, or however they choose to do that, and then the women start sewing.

FW: Along the lines, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Inf: And when it's completed, it looks very pretty on the wrong side.

FW: Oh yeah, sure. Beautiful, I'm sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Inf: And they are very particular. They want the finest, smallest stitches that you can make.

The speaker is a 72-year-old White woman with a college education from Florence, Wisconsin; she was recorded in 1968.

County: Florence
State: WI

A small unincorporated community, Florence serves as the county seat for Florence County, which is a heavily forested area in northeastern Wisconsin. Mining and lumbering industries have been historically significant in this area., with tourism and vacation homes providing substantial economic support today. As is true in many small communities where annual holidays take on special importance, the Labor Day celebration in Florence has become a kind of home-coming event, as the following speaker describes.
Inf: Labor Day is a, the celebration in Florence. Uh, before Labor Day, the night before, they honor some important citizen or somebody that's done a lot for the town, an' they usually get a gift, and there's speeches, and then they have Miss Florence County chosen, and then they have a little boy an' girl that's, a little couple that's supposed to be real cute, and they're chosen, an', and then they have a street dance, probably some square dancing. That's on a Saturday night. Then Sunday they have a county fair up at school where there's exhibits and 4-H exhibits and farm products and fancy work, everything like that.

Then Monday is the big day. They have a big parade. I think this year they had more floats than ever before. Bands, as many bands as they can get. And they have uh, oh clowns, an' people riding in queer wagons, and every year they get out a 197- 17 fire truck. And it still goes. They can still drive it. And it really is quite funny to see-- I always want to laugh every time I see it. Then, um, children with dressed-up bicycles, and, people riding horses, and, the high school band is always the last band. We let the visitors do everything they want to. And then in the afternoon there is a water fight. And then there's small sports, and the band plays again on the street corners, and things like that.

Uh, a lot of people that live, used to live in Florence, that live near enough that they can get here, always come for Labor Day. It's uh, a kind of a homecoming time, too.

The speaker is a 65-year-old White woman with a college education from Medary Township, near La Crosse, Wisconsin; she was recorded in 1968, with her husband also contributing to the conversation.

County: La Crosse
State: WI

The city of La Crosse, located at the confluence of the Mississippi, the Black, and the La Crosse rivers, has been an important shipping point from its early days as a trading post for the western frontier, through the development of Mississippi River commerce, and with the establishment of a railroad hub. Settlers from many ethnic groups peopled La Crosse, but the first and largest group came from Germany after the revolution there in 1848. The German tradition of Oktoberfest has been revived in La Crosse and is the subject of the following excerpt.
Husband of Inf: This year there was a an entirely different format, uh, an entirely new different, um, different uh, board of directors, it's divorced itself from the Chamber of Commerce and it's now a separate activity. There was a good deal of criticism because of what happened. Nobody could prevent that. I mean, eh it really wasn't a justifiable criticism because people being what they are, they'll do what they want to do.

FW: That's right.

Inf: Well, another thing. Dur-, around in the streets, they blocked off the streets downtown, you know, 'n' had it down. And they had German bands playing at different hours. People would dance to it. And these German-, they had many German bands [Husband of Inf: Oh yeah] going around which is, 'course is typical of [(?)].

Husband of Inf: And o' course, as I say, they serve bratwurst and beer. And uh, you couldn't get in to get a bratwurst or a beer, I'll tell ya.

Inf: They were just jammed.

Husband of Inf: Those first two years, it was just something awful. We uh, we used to go up to the Elks, uh, which was right nearby, and then you could go over and take part in some of the activity an' then go up there and get out of the way, you know.

Inf: They'd serve bratwurst and beer, also, you see, so

Husband of Inf: I don't think we went at all last year, did we? I don't think so.

Inf: No. But the first year, of course, and the second year were the really fun years. After that it got to be kind of a mess.

FW: Yeah.

Inf: 'Cause the kids spoiled it all.

Husband of Inf: This year they're changing it a good deal 'n' gonna have uh, off uh, they're not gonna close the streets. They're going to be off the streets in parking lots, I guess and ah,

Inf: And of course they have a tremendous parade which lasts about four or five hours. They, the people from uh the uh Ice Capades, uh no, the, yeah Ice Capades, St. Paul

Husband of Inf: St. Paul Winter Carnival.

Inf: Winter Carnival'd come down. They had bands from Madison. Oh, they had huge bands.

Husband of Inf: University of Wisconsin band played.

Inf: Yeah, they played. They really had a beautiful parade.

Husband of Inf: They led the first- they led the parade the first year. University of Wisconsin marching band. Boy, that was really tremendous, if you can imagine. [FW: Yeah] 'cause they're good.

The speaker is a 50-year-old White woman with a college education from Polar, a small village near Antigo, Wisconsin; she was recorded in 1968.
3:43-5:35; 6:40-9:30

County: Langlade
State: WI

Like other northeastern Wisconsin communities, Polar relied on timber and wood product industries for a large part of its economy. In addition, however, agricultural industries such as dairying and potato production played a significant role. In recent years, tourism has become important, with fishing, water sports, and skiing providing attractions for visitors year-round. In the two segments below, the speaker shares her appreciation for the woods and the natural environment.
Inf: One of the interesting things that, uh, is a story that came from my mom and dad's early years, was the account of how they picked ginseng, or in the common terms in this area, "gingsheng." It's a plant that grows possibly eight to ten or twelve inches tall. The uh, leaves are three-lobed, as I recall. And, it has uh, a red berry that is oftentimes picked by those who gather it and re-planted in the area where they have gathered it. The roots are shaped in various ways, but the name originated, the Chinese gave the name. It is to represent a man. The roots were picked and dried, and then sold. The uh rate as I recall, when I was a small child, was possibly six or eight dollars a pound. It was used for medicinal purposes and much of it was shipped to China. The um, plant was also grown commercially by a local man who had long sheds that were made of slats permitting both uh, the entrance of light and sunshine, and then there were these slats that also covered these long sheds. They possibly were, oh forty or more feet long, and approximately four to six feet tall.

And, I think he [father] passed this love of the woods on to each of the children in our family because we do enjoy getting out and learning of the things that nature has in store for us. In my own life, it has ri-, enriched my life and many times when I have a problem that is particularly pressing, if I can get out in the woods and hike, I find that it does help to solve the problem, and not only that but I do believe that the presence of God can be felt very much in God's out-of-doors, as well as in a church. And, um, then, too, the many lessons that I've learned from nature: the animals that one can observe, the, for instance, a muskrat swimming in the lake and building its home, and the eating of food that it does, and then the um, birds, the many species that we have native to our area, watching them in their natural habitat, and listening to their songs, and learning more about their life has been a, a great pleasure, and it's also been a way of alleviating the cares that one has.

Also, the uh treasured experiences that one has, and companionship with others who are interested in the same thing; I recall one evening, a niece who shares the love of outdoors just as much as I do, uh we were down to a local little trout stream and a little lake that we often went to, the evergreens hang close over the lake, the the lake is not very deep. It's fairly shallow, but it is an area where trout are. And, as we were sitting on a large cedar log that goes over the stream -- its roots are deeply embedded on one side of the stream, and then one can cross over to the other side on the log with the branches sheltering one overhead. About five or six little, uh, weasels, scooted out from their covering, and following one another, went down into the, the little place amongst the roots, under the cedar tree. This was the first time we had ever seen this many at one time, and it was late in the summer, so they had not yet gotten their white coats for winter, but they were most interesting little creatures.

The speaker is an 80-year-old White man with a college education from Antigo, Wisconsin; he was recorded in 1968.

County: Langlade
State: WI

Known as "The Gateway to Wisconsin's Northwoods," Antigo is situated in a rich timber region that has shaped its history since its founding in 1878. The lumbering activities that spurred its growth required oxen to transport logs from the woods, which helped to spur another industry, farming. The timber industry also required railroad facilities, and Antigo became a local hub for shipping both timber and agricultural products. In recent years, recreation activities such as camping, boating, fishing, hunting, and snowmobiling have become important parts of the economy. The speaker remembers the old days of the logging industry and here recalls some typical lumberjacks.
Inf: Well anyone that has lived in this area like I have all my life, uh, knows something about the lumberjack as he was, uh, during the uh, latter part of the last century. That is, in other words, uh, the early uh 1900's, say nineteen hundred and six or ten, uh, the old lumberjack uh more or less had migrated . . .he left here. Uh, the reason was, he just couldn't get along with a lot of these men that they brought in, who they said were lumberjacks. Uh, they were mostly young farm boys, looking for work, and they hired 'em because the uh, there was a scarcity of the real old lumberjack as we knew him. Uh, he was, the old uh jack, as we called him, uh he was really a breed.

Uh, the old lumberjack as uh we had in this uh area, of northern Wisconsin on up in Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Uh, most of 'em originally came from uh, um New England States and up in uh Canada, a lot of Canadians, see. And that was uh, that was a life that they, they just loved that life. They didn't make a lot of money. They got about a dollar a day and board, and course the board was good. It was, had good cooks, and uh, if they didn't have good cooks, uh that's one thing they never would complain, only they wanted good food and lots of it. Otherwise, they were just liable to say, "We're all leaving. We're through. We don't have anything" and they meant it, they'd just pull out. So they, they had to have good cooks. And lots of good food, and well-cooked, it was really fabulous.

Uh, I got to know the the lumberjacks, as I may have said before, through my dad as he made trips uh, into the logging camps to sell watches. Those ol' lumberjacks, they all wanted a good watch. Uh, they had no way of spending their money except on whiskey, and uh, the clothes they wore, and always wanted a good watch. Uh, the reason they wanted a, a good watch, they'd spend uh, maybe a month's salary on one. They knew that uh, sooner or later they'd probably land up in uh Antigo or Rhinelander or some other town and the, when the camps were through in the spring, and uh, when their money that they had worked hard for all winter, and even darned their socks and scrimped and scrimped, and then go out in about three days they would be broke. Didn't have a plugged nickel.

Uh, they didn't drink up that much uh, uh whiskey, that impossibility. But, uh their money was uh, often taken away from 'em by a unscrupulous bartender. He wa- he was out to get the money and if he figured a fella was a little bit intoxicated, didn't know what the score was, he'd hand him a ten-dollar bill, maybe for fifty cents worth of drinks, maybe he'd give him back two dollars. Well, he'd go broke, and then, but he always had that wa- good watch that he could take to a pawn shop. He might have paid uh thirty-five, forty dollars at that time for it. But eh, he'd take whatever they ga-, gave him. Might be a five- dollar bill. And soon that would be gone. Well, then, then he'd have to head back to the woods again.

The speaker is a 67-year-old White man with a high school education from Algoma, Wisconsin; he was recorded in 1968.

County: Kewaunee
State: WI

Settled by English and Irish pioneers on the Lake Michigan shoreline in1851, Algoma soon attracted immigrants from Germany, Bohemia, Belgium, and Scandinavian countries as well. Lumber operations and a sawmill supported the early economy, with commercial fishing becoming important in later years. Today, sport fishing and charter boats have superseded commercial fishing operations, and tourism has become a significant industry; some manufacturing concerns also support the local economy. The speaker relates an incident that occurred in his work in an Algoma physical plant.
Inf: Well, at this time, we also had a cat that made its home down in the plant. And this cat uh, would live on mice and things like that, and we would give it uh, the leftovers from our dinner bucket and so-on, so-forth. And it hung around the plant there always. And one day while I was making my rounds, checking these, this engine, see if there were any hot bearings or anything like that, we had to watch it continually, see it was getting properly oiled, and so on. And here was this cat, sitting along side of this revolving flywheel in a crouched position, and it was gazing into the flywheel. And I was just thinking to myself, "Now what's that dumb animal up to now?" And while I was thinking it, that cap-, cat leaped int-, leaped into the flywheel. Believe it or not.

Well, I was dumbfounded. I didn't know what to do. And we needed that large engine. I couldn't shut the engine down because we'd have the town without any power. Factories'd all shut down and everything. So I let it run. And, then I looked up on the ceiling. I thought well, probably the pieces are strewn around the ceiling already, you know, but I couldn't see anything wrong. So then I gazed into the flywheel, and there by making my head go around with the flywheel, I could see the cat was sitting on the inside rim of that flywheel going around with that flywheel. Well, I let it run. This was ten o'clock in the morning. And we shut the engine down at six o'clock at night. That was eight hours later and fifty thousand revolutions later of the flywheel. And when I shut the engine down, it gradually come to a, it slowed up first, and then it come to a halt. Well, when it slowed up, that cat jumped out o' that flywheel onto the floor. It staggered a little, and it gradually walked away. Now, isn't that one for Ripley?

The speaker is a 78-year-old White woman with a college education from Burlington, Wisconsin; she was recorded in 1968.

County: Racine
State: WI

Located on the White and Fox Rivers in southeastern Wisconsin, Burlington was ideally situated to develop a saw mill and a grist mill, the latter supplying flour to nearby Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha. The raising of sheep by local farmers also stimulated the establishment of woollen mills. But Burlington's recent claim to fame stems not from its industries but from being the headquarters of the "Liars' Club," with its annual contest for the best "whopper." The speaker tells no lies, but instead reminisces about her life in the city.
Inf: We bought my mother's home, the one in which my sisters and I had all been born. It was a wonderful place to bring up our family. A rather commodious white colonial house on a hilltop, with much room for garden, fruit trees, and, and fruit bushes, quantities of other trees, room for football, baseball, croquet, a tennis court, in the winter, a flooded sp- place in the back yard for skating, and always in the winter, a fine place for coasting in the front yard. Each summer, there was camping at nearby Brown's Lake in our family cottages. Eight years ago this fall, we started a new chapter in our lives, selling the big place and moving into a brand new modern ranch-time. . . ranch-type home. We have enjoyed the convenience of this, even though for the last four years I have been alone, with many happy memories. My sons' families, most of them, are nearby. I have seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren. Several of the grandchildren are now in college and universities. My life is not at all humdrum for I have numerous outside activities and interests and considerable in my own home at my desk.

The speaker is a 54-year-old White woman with a college education from Superior, Wisconsin; she was recorded in 1968.

County: Douglas
State: WI

Superior, a port city on the southwestern shore of Lake Superior, has been significant both in terms of water and rail transport. Iron ore from Minnesota, grain, other agricultural products, and timber have all found their way to the Atlantic Ocean via Lake Superior in the eight or so months of the year when the harbor is not icebound. Railroads have supplemented water transport the year round. The speaker takes pride in living in a harsh climate and tells of events unique to this far northern part of Wisconsin.
Inf: I was born and raised in Superior and I wouldn't live anywhere else. Superior is a rugged, wholesome climate that makes for friendly, healthy people. We enjoy the things that other people seem to feel sorry for us for having. For instance, the rough weather that we have in the winter is a matter of humor and pride, even with the small school children. For instance, they'll beg for a ride to school or get there any way they can on a nice day, but let it be 26 or 30 below zero and a blizzard howling, they wouldn't take a ride for anything. They're, they know that their friends would say "cream puff," or "chicken," and they absolutely want to show the world that they are equal to this climate. Um. There's never, uh, time to be bored here. There's something doing all the time. Things are changing all the time. In the spring we have, uh, the break-up of the ice. People look forward to that because the minute the ice goes out, in great thundering ten-ton globs, the ships start coming in. But even before the ships, the millions of silvery little smelt come in the minute the wind and, is right, and the temperature is right; they come in in a solid wall, up the streams and rivers and cricks. Children just leaning over the edge of the bank with an empty tomato can can scoop it up full of smelt. People use this occasion to have immense bonfires all along the shore of Lake Superior and the local organizations will put up tents and have smelt fries: all you can eat for a quarter. Of course all of this just lasts for two or three days and then as suddenly and mysteriously as they came, the smelt are all gone.

The speaker is a 67-year-old White woman with a grade school education from Jim Falls, Wisconsin; she was recorded in 1968.

County: Chippewa
State: WI

Jim Falls is a small industrial community on the Chippewa River north of Chippewa Falls, where shoe manufacturing, plastics, and small-motor production have supported the community's economy, as have surrounding dairy farms. In recent years, tourism has also become important. The speaker reminisces about her childhood in the nearby rural area.
Inf: Always having free shows up there. Well, not really free shows, but uh, oh, these medicine shows, you know, they used to have. And, so we took the lantern with us and we walked up there, and we left it on the neighbors' porch, we didn't want to take it all the way up with us. So, come during the show, why they showed the devil, his big, long horns, his pitchfork and everything. Scared us, of course, you know, an' we had to walk home in the dark, alone.

So we started home. We stopped to the neighbors and grabbed the lantern off the porch, and didn't stop to light it. And we beat it down the road. We wouldn't run 'cause we knew if we run, ever started running, we'd get so scared we'd keep right on running and couldn't run fast enough then. But we walked real fast. We sure was scared.

There, uh, to a program of some kind, a bunch of us. And, we walk and a big storm come up and just rained and thundered and lightning and we went into the barn up on the hill here. It uh, let up a little bit, and it was dark in there of course, an' my sister said to me, "Quit pulling on my dress," she said. I said, "I'm not pulling on your dress."

She felt behind her and here was a calf was sucking on her dress.

Eh, storm let up a little bit and we started on down the road. We walked home, got down there, one of the neighbors had stopped in, and because it was storming so hard, and they stayed all night, 'til four o'clock in the morning. It was one storm right after the other, just hard as it could storm, all night long.

And, uh, us kids used to have calves tied, (that's alright, you can-) we had calves tied on a rope, you know, out in the yard, quite a long rope on 'em so they could feed. And, the folks had told us not to turn 'em loose, you know, not to untie 'em because they'd get away from us. You know, it's pretty good-sized calves, so we thought it was fun to untie 'em and let 'em run, you know, and run behind 'em.

So, uh, my oldest sister, not my oldest one, but Grace, next to my oldest sister, she untied one of 'em , and us kids untie-, each untied one, we's running behind 'em and all of a sudden one got the best of her and started down the road. And her feet was just a-pounding, you know. And uh, head back, to keep from falling, and hanging on to the calf, she didn't dare let it go, because they told her not to let it loose. She met a neighbor man, "How do you do?" she says. [(?)] Finally she got the calf stopped and brought it back.

The speaker is a 42-year-old White woman with a high school education from Jim Falls, Wisconsin; she was recorded in 1968.

County: Chippewa
State: WI

Jim Falls is a small industrial community on the Chippewa River north of Chippewa Falls, where shoe manufacturing, plastics, and small-motor production have supported the community's economy, as have surrounding dairy farms. In recent years, tourism has also become important. The speaker describes the local economic scene.
Inf: Most of our local industry is um, uh farming. Uh we have uh, large dairy wh-, in Jim Falls, which the Kraft company has just added to, to uh, have a cheese-making plant. Prior to this they had uh, made uh, dried milk to ship to uh, the underprivileged in foreign countries. And, we have uh, two shoe factories in Chippewa who employ several people from around our area. They commute between Jim Falls and Chippewa. National Presto Industries, between Chippewa and Eau Claire, uh, employ many people from this area. In fact, they have uh employees from as far away as Ladysmith and uh, Rice Lake, uh, Durand, Alma Center, and they commute back and forth mainly. Um, there are a couple of small factories -- Johnson Manufacturing, that um, make motors for industry, and uh, Consolidated Thermo Plastics, which of course make all type of plastic bags, dishes, that type of thing. And um, they have an IBM or, uh, Data Control. They make the um machines and the boards and whatnot that they use in um, data processing work.

The speaker is a 52-year-old White woman with a high school education from Manitowoc, Wisconsin; she was recorded in 1968.

County: Manitowoc
State: WI

Located on Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Manitowoc River, Manitowoc is very much a maritime as well as an industrial city. Commercial fisheries and ship building have been significant in the city's history, as have industrial plants for aluminum, cement, tires, machinery, and malt processing. Manitowoc hosts one end of the ferry service across Lake Michigan to Ludington, Michigan, and it attracts visitors for outdoor recreation including hiking, biking, and sport fishing. The speaker tells of a trip west from Manitowoc and her happy return home.
Inf: The trip I took out west started here in Manitowoc. We went to um Redwood Falls, Minnesota, where we stopped the first night to visit a relative of people I was traveling with. From there we went to Colorado where we visited more friends. It was a delightful time. It was the first time I had ever driven in a pink Lincoln. The people that owned the pink Linc- Lincoln lived in a trailer court. He was a mason and traveled around the country working wherever he was sent. From there we went to Laramie, Wyoming, and Cheyenne where we saw a rodeo. The rodeo they called the Granddaddy of them all.

From there we went to Estes Park and had a wonderful time. From there we went to Albuquerque. After we visited very good friends in Albuquerque, we went on to California where I visited another friend. (clears throat). While I was in California, we went to Disneyland, and all the usual tourist attractions. But they were very thrilling to me because I had never been on any extended trip before. We also saw a baseball game, went to Ben Blues Night Club, all the nice eating places, and visited friends around there.

On our way back, we stopped at the Grand Canyon, which was quite a thrill. Then we went (laughs) through Colorado, and did not make it over a mountain pass. And had to lay over in Santa Fe, which was no hardship, because we had friends there, too, and saw more of them that we had expected. We did try to get over the mountain pass three times and three times we did not make it because the car just broke down. And then we had to go back to Santa Fe and and uh wait for the car to be fixed, so this was a Saturday morning. We got as far as Amarillo, Texas, and then had to make it back up here, which was fourteen hundred miles, in two days. But we did make it, finally. In the pouring rain. But we did have a mighty fine time. And that's all I'm going to say.

The speaker is a 69-year-old White woman with a college education from Bayfield, Wisconsin; she was recorded in 1968.

County: Bayfield
State: WI

For the first half century of its existence, Bayfield was a small, extremely isolated community connected to the rest of the world by Lake Superior or by Indian trails. With the coming of the railroad in the 1880s, things changed: lumbermen recognized the opportunity to ship vast amounts of timber and took advantage of it. With the demise of the timber industry, Bayfield has relied on fishing, orchards, and tourism, with the nearby Apostle Islands a popular destination. Bayfield today has many part-time residents who own vacation homes there; the speaker is unusual in having been born and raised in the community.
Inf: Well, my father was uh born and raised in Bayfield. And, uh, in fact he was one of the first White children born here. And his sister was born in the old mission on Madeline Island. And their father was the um, what we now call the uh Indian agent over there. And of course, the old mission where she was born is torn down now. And uh, my father was in the grocery business for over fifty years. His father had had the business before him. And then, when my father passed on, it was handed down to my brother, and then to his son. And, um, course Bayfield had uh, was a busy little place in the early days with all the lumbering business here. And the um commercial fishing, which has practically petered out now because of state and federal regulations. And uh, course all the logging around here is practically gone with the exception of um logging for um, oh, s- for pulp. And uh, our family has lived here for all our lives. I was born and raised here, too. Grew up here. Married. Married a hometown boy.

The speaker is a 65-year-old White man with a grade school education from Washington Island, Wisconsin; he was recorded in 1969.


County: Door
State: WI

Located about seven miles off the tip of the Door County peninsula, Washington Island has always relied on fishing. In the 1870s a few Icelandic fishermen discovered it as an ideal place to live and work, and sent word home to their compatriots, who came in large numbers. The island has also been well suited for agriculture, with potatoes, peas, dairy products, and orchards sustaining the economy. In recent years tourism has been extremely important, with the island accessible across the notorious "Death's Door" by numerous ferry trips daily. The speaker, a life-long fisherman, talks about his work.
Inf: We dropped these hooks over the side and then we put uh, what-what we call plugs o-on and they, they have different, they have different length lines on 'em. Uh, some are two ply and some are four, some are six, some are eight, some are twelve. Uh, we uh, we put 'em at different levels t-try to locate the fish, to see where they're running. And then when we locate the, the fish, then we, we set our hooks at that certain level.

FW: I see.

Inf: And we float, we float these and we uh, when we put that hook through the back of uh, of the fish and out uh, and out through his mouth, you know, which is a job to be prized, quite a little skill, the speed, [FW: Yeah.] you know.

FW: They do it fast when they're paying out the line.

Inf: Sure. Uh, because we have the boat running along at a, at a pretty fast clip at the same time. And you gotta keep up with that boat and boy you don't want to get stuck with those hooks. You better know what you're about. And then we uh, uh, like I say, all depending on the light of the moon, particularly. Uh, uh when the moon is real light then the fish go down a little deeper. [FW: Oh] And then when the moon darkens and then they come closer to the surface. But that's the way they used to work. [FW: Yeah.] But you see they were uh, they were essentially herring chasers what-what we'd call uh, they were the big fellas and the s- fast ones, you know, th-the clever devils. And they, they would come up to the top to try to get those herring. But now of course with these alewives clearing the herring off, I don't know, maybe the trout would work out. And they seem to be working entirely different than they used to.

FW: When you say herring chasers, do you mean a kind of fish or do you mean the ac-?

Inf: Well uh, eh, uh, eh, this is regular trout, but eh, but, but if they're real fast swimmers and that, they, they go up from the water and catch the herring that are swimmin' high in the water.

FW: I see.

Inf: And those herring too ar-are very, very fast. But the trout have to be able to catch 'em, [FW: Yeah] you see.

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