Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Coming for 2016....high chair.

Projected for 2017 and table.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Folly in the North Woods?

In the UK you run across what are called "Follies".  Strictly speaking they are structures that are not actual dwelling places, but are simply decorative touches.  Fake Greek Temples, fake ruins, faux castles.

Driving in northern Wisconsin I was surprised to see this:

I can't tell from the road if this is an actual "castle" or just a house with an extended false front and some turrets.

Certainly odd.  Possibly Folly.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tell Wisconsin

Any rural area that has been settled for a while has its share of oddly named little communities. Recently while on my way elsewhere I passed through Tell, Wisconsin.

The basic societal unit in Wisconsin contains at least one tavern, two churches (one Catholic, one Protestant) and a post office.

Tell falls a bit short.

Of course there is a tavern.

This was 10:30 am, a bit early even for Wisconsinites to need a nip.

Only one church.  And as you can see below, it is not much of a "going concern" these days.

But marvelously the graveyard did contain a nice "newer" variant of a Tree Shaped Tombstone. Understated but well executed I thought.

Since Tell is near the heavily Swiss community of Alma I am assuming that the name is homage to William Tell.  As to whether any of the citizens of this little place would "tell" on you if you misbehaved, I suspect you would be fairly safe.  The church, the tavern, a few houses....I did not see a living soul about.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Does Whatever a Spider Can

It is difficult to sew up lacerations on small children.  Oh, in the bad old days we would just hold them down, but that is really not a very kind thing to do.  Besides, it tends to sour them on the medical system generally and if you give a kid a horrible experience you are just making life so much harder for the next doctor who has to treat him.

You can medicate kids.  We have some short acting stuff that makes them pretty silly and happy, and gives a temporary amnesia for any discomfort they may experience.  But so called "concious sedation" involves a lot of paper work and a small element of risk.  I do it when necessary but only then.

Most of the time you can get by with showmanship.

There is a topical anesthetic gel that works pretty well on the thin skin of kids; if you can get it on there and keep it held in place for a half hour or more.  I like this stuff a lot.  Sometimes you can get a parent to put on a glove and hold it in place.  Other times, like a two year old I had recently, the injury is a place like the forehead where you can hold the cotton ball in place with an elastic "Ninja Turtle head band".  I have actually learned the names and distinctive color schemes of all four Turtles.

Then it is simply a matter of getting the first stitch in successfully.  Kids are smart and realize that if the first one did not hurt the rest will also be ok.

Lately I have started telling the kids that my Secret Identity is:  Spider Man.

One of my ID badges had a photo that faded prematurely so I put a Spider Man sticker over it and just kept it when I got my new one.  It makes a sort of Kid Logic....he has a Secret Identity badge and he has Spider Man web material that he is going to use to fix the owie.  You just need them intrigued by the possibility for long enough to get the job done.

Ah, but we live in suspicious times, we do.  So to persuade the young doubters I sometimes have to take the special marker we use for drawing on skin and do this:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Forgotten Brewery Caves - A Closer Look in Chippewa Falls

Chippewa Falls has a nice brewery cave in their local park.  It was the first such cave I studied and since then I have learned quite a lot on this subject.  Recently I went back for another look.

My first post on Chippewa Falls is here.

Here is the entrance to the cave.

The initial user of the cave was a man named F.X. Schmidmeyer.  I have done quite a bit of research on this fellow, a three part series that starts HERE.  In short, Schmidmeyer started the first brewery in town in the mid to late 1850s and purchased the land you see here in 1871.  His earlier storage cave appears to have been obliterated.

Schmidmeyer did not have to start from scratch when digging his new cave, there was an existing niche or cave to expand.  Not far away we see another example:

Layers of stone tend to be put down in specific strata, and caves are often located where water erosion has exposed softer stone under a harder layer.

Schmidmeyer used the cave for something just under a decade.  The business faltered in the late 1870s and was sold at auction in 1881.  His main competitor the Leinenkugel Brewery was right up the street from this cave site and appear to have taken it over.  How long they used it is not certain, but most breweries of any consequence got mechanical refrigeration systems starting in the mid 1880s.  And as this would have been a somewhat inconvenient overflow storage from their own caves I suspect it was not used continuously.

In 1906 this cave and the land it was on became part of Irvine Park, named after the local businessman who donated much of it.  The cave was near the bear den which was the first part of the Irvine Park zoo, established in 1909.  Local lore aside I can't find evidence that bears were ever lodged in this cave.  In fact they would be able to hide out in the back and be invisible, which would hardly please visitors.  Also there is  a continuous flow of water in the cave from a natural spring. Great for cooling beer.  Likely to make your bears soggy and unhealthy.  No, I think the cave has always been just a local curiosity.

The cement pad you can see leading into the cave is a bit of a puzzle.  I suppose it could be a loading platform for wagons to unload kegs, but the cave proper is too low for them to enter.  And the pad only goes about 1/3 of the way back.  beyond there it is rough, damp rocks.  I was hoping to see the remains of bars, representing a bear enclosure, but the cement is entirely smooth.

And, the cement is in several layers.  As you can see below this has been revised several times, the most recent date being far too new for a bear enclosure (the bear pens are next door, and while empty now are certainly many decades old).

There is even a layer of old metal in there.

Here we have documentation of the most recent cement work.

So, while you can't entirely discount other theories, I think the evidence here supports the cement pad being nothing more than a safe footing area for park visitors.  Back when this end of the park was more visited this would have been a nice shelter for a picnic, or a retreat from bad weather.

The sign board outside the cave claims that the hole in the ceiling was to lower down kegs of beer. I think this is unlikely.

I have seen too many vent holes in brewery caves to consider this to be anything else.  There are no remains up above of any platform or structure.  And while I have had the opportunity to go over Schmidmeyers actual inventory  and know that he was using some small 1/8 barrel kegs, the standard sized barrels would never fit down a hole this size.  And really, why bother with all that when you have a nice road leading up to the cave entrance?

Of the other reported features of the cave I could find nothing.  In particular I hunted for evidence of the iron gate that supposedly closed off the entrance from unauthorized withdrawals.  But I could see no anchoring points in the walls or roof, and anything down on the floor is covered under layers of cement.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mrs. Julius Anklum goes out on the Town

One of my earliest posts in the Forgotten Brewery Cave series went by the fanciful title "The Cave of the Mad Poetess".  It recounted the eccentric doings of a certain Maude Phillips, poet, suffragette, adulteress and at least for a while in the winter of 1917, occupant of this former brewery cave overlooking the river in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Little did I know that the history of this particular cave featured another eccentric female scofflaw, the redoubtable Mrs. Julius Anklum.

While running through on line newspaper archives in search of more clues on brewery caves I ran across this rather remarkable 1905 entry:

A Scene in Municipal Court

In municipal court this morning Judge Gilbertson presiding, Mrs. Julius Anklum, who was found dead drunk in the old beer vault or cave near the Eau Claire river last Saturday afternoon, was given 15 days in jail in lieu of the $15.50 fine which she could not pay.

She was brought into court at 9 o'clock this morning and was still unsteady.  She wore an old shawl and hat which have become familiar on the street.

"Charged with being drunk and disorderly," said the judge.  "Guilty or not guilty?"

"Guilty", she responded.

"Fined $15.50" said the judge.

"Can't pay any fine", replied Mrs. Anklum.

"Fifteen days in jail", said the judge.

"Please judge", she said, "I'll get right out of town today and won't bother you any more."

"You've told us that a thousand times before.  You'll go and get drunk again as soon as you're out", said Chief of Police Higgins.

"No, honest I won't.  I want you to take my word for it.  I'll go right out of town, out on a farm where I will work.  I want to leave Jule," reiterated the woman.

"I think we had better send you to state prison to get rid of you", said the judge.

"I won't go to state prison.  I never killed nobody. I never did anybody any harm.  Honest, I'll get out of town.  I have been working a few days lately and got a little money but Jule stole it from me and got drunk"

(various other details are omitted for brevity here)

"If it hadn't been for Jule I'd never have drank", continued Mrs. Anklum.  "He got me drinking.  No judge, please let me go.  I'll go right out to my father's farm.  He wants me to come.  When I married Jule I had a big farm but now I have nothing.  Please let me go."

Eventually the Long Arms of the Law had to drag her from the courtroom and not without difficulty as she had a strong grip on the ornamental railing.

Of Mrs. Anklum's later legal antics I can report that a 1906 newspaper article titled Mrs. Anklum is Back, relates a sadly similar tale.

And what about her husband Julius, familiarly but not affectionately referred to as "Jule"?

With various spelling variations I think I have traced his life for nearly three unhappy decades.

1891  Eau Claire.  Julius Anklam fined $3 for use of abusive language after getting into a fight with a fellow masonry worker.  Details not specified but oddly the article mentions that his "wife deserted him some months ago at a Saturday night party for a handsome man."

1895  Eau Claire.  Julius Anklam is arrested when his team of horses runs into a horse that was watering at a trough.  In effect, a traffic accident with a parked "vehicle".  The horse he hit broke a leg and had to be killed.

1898  Fall Creek.  Julius Anklum arrested for selling mortgaged livestock and property.

1918.  St. Louis Minnesota.  The body of Julius Anklum, watchman, is found in the ruins of the Toro Motor company the day after a fire that destroyed the building.  Note: there actually is no community by the name given in the newspaper article.  As the Toro Motor company was headquartered in Minneapolis at this point in time, I suspect the fatal fire may have occurred in a suburb called St. Louis Park....unless the proof readers were having a really bad day, as Toro's main factory was in St. Paul.

Of Mrs. Julius Anklum's later career I have found nothing more.  It seems a shame that we don't even know her first name.