O’Connoradioland for 7/25/11
Hello again, it’s time for more magical prose (yeah, right!) on Week #10 of O’Connoradioland, brought to you in part by John’s Drive-Through Dentistry, the perfect stop “when you got an ache and you just can’t wait”. Slight additional charge for anaesthetic.
STAND BY!!! We’re gonna start up a submarine later in this post.
Had some nice comments on the ‘beer bottle’ story in last week’s post. I did a little more research on that plant and discovered (or re-discovered; I knew this as a kid) that it had opened in 1847. That’s a lot of water—or beer—under the bridge in 164 years. But I’m sure the natives will still have plenty of it stocked up, especially now that the Packers will be playing again soon. As I’m writing this the NFL and players still haven’t signed off on the new deal, but you gotta believe it will be soon.
A few people have asked for more stories about my old home town, either because they have been there or they might be planning a trip to that part of the world. Well, if you’re a potential visitor, great! It’s a beautiful area all year, but significantly more so during the summer months. Winter can be a little tough, and they have had a couple of doozies in the last few years. Snow every few days, ice storms, record cold, you name it. Back in the late 90’s and early 00’s they were having record warm winters, but that trend has reversed itself dramatically.
Manitowoc is an old industrial town, one of many on the Great Lakes. It has survived and prospered despite some reverses in the 60’s and 70’s when shipbuilding jobs went overseas as did employment in the the aluminum cookware industry, both mainstays of the local economy. At one time it was world headquarters for Mirro Aluminum, world’s largest producer of aluminum cookware, with seven plants going 24 hours a day. There was an aluminum rolling mill just a block away from our house, and I remember my friends and I walking in there when they had the doors open on a hot summer day and watching the process of thick aluminum slabs being gradually reduced to aluminum foil thickness by a series of very hot and heavy rollers. The workers didn’t mind us watching; they would just good-naturedly tell us “watch your step, you guys, don’t get too close”. If a kid were allowed to wander around a plant like that nowadays, there would be twelveteen investigations by as many federal and state agencies and no doubt plenty of fines and firings. Back in the 60’s they just figured, “ah, what the heck, the kid knows better than to stick his hand in a five-ton roller”. It was a simpler time.
The city has done well, though, over the past 30 years, re-inventing itself with a combination of tourism and new industry. It built a gorgeous lakefront marina and helped finance the Wisconsin Maritime Museum on the banks of the Manitowoc River, complete with a fully-restored World War 2 submarine, the USS Cobia. The Cobia is the same type of boat that Manitowoc built 28 of during the War. More on that some other time, but let’s start up the Cobia’s engines for you. The sub’s volunteer staff along with sub veterans do this every summer and it’s quite an experience. HERE’s WHAT YOU DO: Go to Google and type in “cobia submarine engine start-up”. That should take you to the 2008 Sub Vets reunion video that take you through the start-up procedure as seen and heard from inside and outside the sub, plus the sounding of the ship’s airhorn. Pretty neat. It’ll also give you a nice look at part of the waterfront and also the Anheuser-Busch grain terminal across the river that I mentioned in last week’s post.
Were the trivia questions last week too tough this time? Okay, I’ll give you a few more clues. The business on Broadway (2000 block) carried a lot of the same products that a prominent business in the 1200 block of Main Street now carries.
On the music question, the musician-singer I’m talking about was never a “big star”, but he was –and still is- highly respected in the industry, and yes, he did give John Lennon some tips on how to play his instrument. NO, NOT A GUITAR.
As always, contact me with comments below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a mega-happy week ahead. See you on the Trading Post.