February 11, 2019
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What??? Are you kidding? Is this really Week 386 of this feature? Who ever thought it would last this long? Well, we’ll just keep throwing words up into the air and see where they land on the page. Let us commence this week’s festivities…
My family up in my old home state of Wisconsin went through a rough spell two weeks ago. None of them could remember when it had been THAT cold. I know, people joke about ‘the frozen tundra,’ but Wisconsin winters over the last 20 years or so have not been that bad. There have been some snow storms and cold spells, but nothing like this season.
In my home town of Manitowoc the temp fell to 22 to 24 below zero a couple of mornings, and the highs for several days ranged from three below to three above. In Tomah, where my sister lives, it dropped to minus 27 one morning. So, what did she and hubby do? Drive to their favorite auto service place forty-some miles away for a scheduled oil change! Well, of course. That’s a Wisconsinite: they just keep on keepin’ on.
Oh, and this record-tying (or maybe breaking) cold snap was preceded by 10-12 inches of snow, just to make it interesting.
I can remember only one really cold period when I was a kid; it was in the early ‘60s and it dropped to minus 15 or so one day and then 22 below the next. When it was ‘just’ 15-below, we went to school. Then it dipped to -22 and the school board grudgingly gave in and let us stay home.
In periods of cold weather, especially windy and cold weather, it was always interesting to go downtown to the harbor area and take a look at the piers and also any ship traffic arriving or departing that day. Both the C and O Line and the Pere Marquette Line ran their car ferries all year long and it was fascinating to see them arrive after a run through bad weather. They would be covered with thick layers of ice from the hull right up to the pilot house.
The navigation piers, which extended out into the Lake for maybe a third of a mile, would be ‘decorated’ with crazily shaped ice layers deposited by hours or even days of high winds and waves. When our North pier had a manned lighthouse (pier still there, but sadly, unmanned) the light keeper would traverse an iron-frame catwalk twenty feet above the pier to go to and from shore. Without that catwalk he would have been stuck out there all winter-long, marooned by ice on the pier below. Go to Google and type in ‘ice-covered pier on Lake Michigan’ for some dramatic pictures.
We love to visit old Wisco in the summertime, but I don’t think I’d want to live there in the winter. And drive forty miles for an oil change in 27-below weather? No way. A Packer game, maybe.
LATE BREAKING UPDATE: When I was researching pier lengths I came across a story about a January 9th, 2019 storm that washed away the South Pier navigation light, a twenty-foot-tall structure that sits in the harbor entrance about 100 yards away from the ‘main’ lighthouse talked about in the paragraph above. There’s a good story (with amazing video) about it on Google. Just type in “navigation beacon washed away at Manitowoc.” Incredible.
Okay, let’s see what you did with our questions from last week…
Terry was first in with ‘Ebony and Ivory,’ the Stevie Wonder/ Paul McCartney hit from ’82. Tom and Steve K were not far behind. Good work.
The Great Fishing Tackle Question was finally answered! Mark and Tim got it in that order: the fishhook itself! Yes, the modern ‘offset’ hook was designed in the 1650s by Charles Kirby of England. You can trace quite a few fishing innovations back to the Brits, who were and are, avid fisherpersons.
Julie tried the soap question; she noted that Burt’s Bees has a soap that’s used for poison ivy. Yes, they do, but we were looking for the name of a very old American brand with a two-part name. This brand was popular back in the days of products like 20-Mule-Team Borax, which is also still around.
We’ll give that question one more week and then just tell you, if no one gets it. Ditto for the question about Chiefs coach Marv Levy’s musical contribution to team spirit.
One other puzzler still unanswered is the name of the restaurant (‘80s, maybe early ‘90s) located in the old railroad depot building at Larned. It was ‘famous’ for its ‘blooming onion’ appetizer, something not previously seen in the central Kansas ‘fine dining’ scene at that time.
Two new ones: Speaking of railroads, what is that big concrete structure over the tracks on Railroad Avenue east of Washington?
And, a question I don’t know the answer to, but maybe YOU do: the building at 2112 10th Street in GB has been an insurance office and an investment office, but it sports what looks like a drive-up window facing the street? Why does it have that? Was it once a branch bank or similar facility? Enlighten us.
Well, okay, one more: What business was once located in what is LeAnn’s Restaurant on 10th ?
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Have a good week.