Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Milwaukee Memories Day One

Our first day back to Milwaukee in many years was full of memories. 

Our first stop, this beautiful Saturday, was to the Brady Street Festival. Why? Because it was at this street show that I tried to sell any of my handicraft for the first time. I had no idea of how to get a booth at an art show or street festival, but I had been making some wire and plastic dip earrings and had enough to set up a small table display.  At the time the Brady Street show was a Hippie gathering and I figured I could just find someone to give me a space.  As it turned out, just about the time people were setting up, the sky opened in a gully washer of a rain storm and most of the vendors and organizers left.

Not being able to find someone in charge, I set up my table in a doorway that had an overhang and managed to make some sales. I was actually filmed and was on the nightly news as an example of a determined young artist!

I can still remember the thrill of going home with some cash, and being very excited that people had been willing to give me real money for something I had made. By the next summer I had learned how to find out about the shows in advance, who to contact and how to apply for a booth.  But Brady Street was my first.

This Festival was not big in the 70's and is even smaller now. There were no original artists there. The closet thing was a few selling some cheep hand strung bead jewelry and candles. Most of the vendors had T-shirts, imported clothes and food.

I did talk with a guy named Todd that had this very tame beaded lizard named Simon. For a small tip, he let me hold it and have Craig take my picture. 

Brady Street took up an hour or so of our day.

What next?

One of the places from our past, that we drove by, was the Wisconsin Club. It is an old mansion that has been a landmark for many years.  

It is a gated semi private venue. On this day there were several large limos in the lot. Ordinary people like us were not allowed onto the grounds, but we did drive by.

The Wisconsin Club is significant to us because that is where we met fifty-one years ago. I was sixteen and Craig was eighteen. I had been nominated for a college scholarship by my art teacher. The bank that gave the scholarship did so every two years for a different  field of study, and had a dinner for all of the nominees. Two years before, Craig had won the scholarship in "Space Science", and was seated at the head table and introduced as such.

I had just broken up with my boy friend of several years, not because he was bad, or because I didn't care for him, but because I was determined to go to college and I knew that was not his path. Had we continued to date through our senior year, we probably would have gotten married right out of high school and I would have had a pretty Italian baby by the end of a year.

My father, who had died that year,  always told me to get more education and to seek an intelligent partner. What better proof of intelligence than winning a four year college scholarship? Craig was going to be the first of many bright young men I would date.  Little did I know he would be the only one, and we would be married a few years later.

The story I have told many times over the years goes something like this:

As we were walking out of the dinner, Craig passed me and I said "Congratulations on your scholarship." I guess we liked what we saw, because walked out together, and not wanting the evening to end, went down the street for coffee.  It must have been one of those magical late autumn nights when the air isn't hot, but is still warm enough to enjoy a walk.

As we drank our coffee, he discovered he did not have any money to pay for it! 

So I bought him a cup of coffee, and he followed me home. That is to say, he took the bus home with me and walked me to my door. 

His home was several miles from mine, but fortunately it was on the same side of the city, so he was able to walk there. If he had lived on the other side of town, we may never have seen each other again.

The house that Craig grew up in on 46th street

The house I grew up in on 69th street a couple of miles northwest of his

To finish the story of that time, Craig sent me a check for twenty one cents to pay for the coffee, and we started to date.

We visited a number of places in the rest of the day. I will write about some of them in another post.


  1. What a great story, and it must be so fun to revisit the special places of both your pasts.


  2. I am really enjoying your stroll down memory lane. Looking forward to more stories.

  3. A great beginning, love the stories of memory lane.

  4. Nothing like a visit to the old hometown to get the memories flowing! I enjoyed hearing the story of how you met and seeing the houses where you each lived. I'm pretty sure that a 21 cent first date would not be possible today!

  5. What a sweet love story! How nice to stroll down memory lane.

  6. I love your love story! How cool to be able to walk down memory lane in person :-)

  7. A very sweet love story. So nice to read about long ago memories.



  8. How sweeeeet was that ???? Enjoyed your trip down memory lane ..... Thanks for sharing !!!

  9. Such a wonderful story and the memories to go with it. Loved this post along with the accompanying photos.

  10. It is wonderful to have those happy memories to revisit. I hope you went somewhere for a cup of coffee ;-)


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