Saturday, April 23, 2016

From Jack Hill; From T. Hekkers, American Pie; From Deb Howland, a jar of rocks; A day with Helt; Still more Guthrie

Jack Hill points to wall sign
at the now Les Paul Central Middle School
on Grand Ave during the 60th reunion
of 2014 tour of our old WHS building

Having  Jimmy's Grotto sausage sandwich a bit ago.

Children of the 1930s: “The Last Ones”

A Short Memoir

Born in the 1930s we exist as a very special age cohort. We are the “last ones.” We are the last, climbing out of the depression, who can remember the winds of war and the war itself with fathers and uncles going off. We are the last to remember ration books for everything from sugar to shoes to stoves. We saved tin foil and poured fat into tin cans. We saw cars up on blocks because tires weren’t available. My mother delivered milk in a horse drawn cart.

We are the last to hear Roosevelt’s radio assurances and to see gold stars in the front windows of our grieving neighbors. We can also remember the parades on August 15, 1945; VJ Day.

We saw the ‘boys’ home from the war build their Cape Cod style houses, pouring the cellar, tar papering it over and living there until they could afford the time and money to build it out.

We are the last who spent childhood without television; instead imagining what we heard on the radio. As we all like to brag, with no TV, we spent our childhood “playing outside until the street lights came on.” We did play outside and we did play on our own. There was no little league.

The lack of television in our early years meant, for most of us, that we had little real understanding of what the world was like. Our Saturday afternoons, if at the movies, gave us newsreels of the war and the holocaust sandwiched in between westerns and cartoons. Newspapers and magazines were written for adults. We are the last who had to find out for ourselves.

As we grew up, the country was exploding with growth. The G. I. Bill gave returning veterans the means to get an education and spurred colleges to grow. VA loans fanned a housing boom. Pent up demand coupled with new installment payment plans put factories to work. New highways would bring jobs and mobility. The veterans joined civic clubs and became active in politics. In the late 40s and early 50’s the country seemed to lie in the embrace of brisk but quiet order as it gave birth to its new middle class.

Our parents understandably became absorbed with their own new lives. They were free from the confines of the Depression and the war. They threw themselves into exploring opportunities they had never imagined. We weren’t neglected but we weren’t today’s all-consuming family focus. They were glad we played by ourselves ‘until the street lights came on.’ They were busy discovering the post-war world.

Most of us had no life plan, but with the unexpected virtue of ignorance and an economic rising tide we simply stepped into the world and went to find out. We entered a world of overflowing plenty and opportunity; a world where we were welcomed. Based on our naïve belief that there was more where this came from, we shaped life as we went.

We enjoyed a luxury; we felt secure in our future. Of course, just as today, not all Americans shared in this experience. Depression poverty was deep rooted. Polio was still a crippler.

The Korean War was a dark presage in the early 50s and by mid-decade school children were ducking under desks. China became Red China. Eisenhower sent the first ‘advisors’ to Vietnam. Castro set up camp in Cuba and Khrushchev came to power.

We are the last to experience an interlude when there were no existential threats to our homeland. We came of age in the late 40s and early 50s. The war was over and the cold war, terrorism, climate change, technological upheaval and perpetual economic insecurity had yet to haunt life with insistent unease.

Only we can remember both a time of apocalyptic war and a time when our world was secure and full of bright promise and plenty. We experienced both.

We grew up at the best possible time, a time when the world was getting better not worse.
We are the ‘last ones.’


'American Pie'
was the name of the airplane
did you know?

Neighbor downtown
is Tom Hekkers
doer of kind deeds, alleged complainer

Here he re-inflates a vandalized (?) tire
on our car in the South St.
parking garage after a suspected
act of mischief

Triple AAA had been summoned
but Tom , good neighbor from down the street,
he of the restored Studebaker garage
on West Main,

beat the emergency truck there.
That's how we met.
A tool sharer, he had his portable
tank of compressed air
in the bed of his pickup truck.

Tom sent the Raccoon this American Pie
piece last week, thinking we would like it.
Coincidentally it arrived at the same
time as Jack Hill's nostalgic 1930s clip
attached above.

(Jack is of the WHS class of 1954)


A jar of 80 rocks
at jarring 80 years

Her Lesson:  Though jar is full, there is room to spare.
Lots  added water can be accomodated.

A gift from 'Rev-a-Deb-Deb' Howland

The jar was a recycled gelato container.
I like that stuff too.

The pieces within include beach stones and glass
(which I've collected lots of),
rough rocks

and some beautiful talismen
all at appropriate random,


Rev. Deb, interim-ing at 1st Cong. Waukesha

like a lone ranger she comes in and does needed prep
for the next minister, heals wounds, etc.

She does her job and leaves a clean slate for next pastor.

(Who was that masked woman?
The Lone Ranger


A day with another minister friend
as 80 years old comes and goes

John and I
toured again the haunts of
1.  The Holy Hill Cafe
2.  The sculpture woods of  Paul Bobrowitz, Colgate!gallery/cklj
 see it!

3. The active cemetery at John's former
and final church, St. Paul's UCC
4.  The Holy Hill gift shop at the base of the
twin steeples that dominate the rural scene
for miles due to HH's elevation.

Misc Photos

Holy Hill with some license

John Helt, Rev. / Dr.

The holy Hill gift shop for souvenirs pilgrims and others may purchase.

We restocked our supply of hologram wallet cards. Note the cards on the left.
Same card, just tilt a little.

A wide selection of crucifixery

Here, Jesus takes time to greet a bird

We're non-Catholics but
we are not making fun of the gift shop merchandise.
An enterprise like the HH shrine always needs income,
truly.  A glorious place to help fund with our trinket buys.

Small plastic tubes of Holy Hill honey to suck on.


At St. Paul's cemetery
John's last church before retirement
After a year of protocol absence he returned
as a regular member under the new called minister.
Good relationships ensue.

See 2009 Raccoon for more:

Open for business, active

John points to rank of stones being fixed.

John is working with a cemetery team on straightening, restoring  St. Paul's UCC 1800s tombstones


Bobrowitz sculpture woods
at Diebold Rd and Woodchuck Way

Welder/artist Paul Bobrowitz is the maker of the stainless guitar on Main St., Wauk. 

Cut and paste

That's 'spectacular sculpture'


Still more Guthrie

Again, Guthrie guitar No 1 with son Jim and grandson Ryan.
The three executed Wis's plan.
Red hot music with stove burners glowing.

At Les Paul's grave.

Guitar No. 2 - THE AX -on display at the Avalon lobby

Viewing one of son son Gerry's animated videos.
An art professor at Univ. Illinois

Guthrie shrine at Odd Fellows

Dust forms patina over the years on  Wis's DIRT MONSTER

 Dirt Monster base.  Note 1965 date on his signature.
"Never dust it," he admonished.
We have not.

At the Congo displaying decoupage, his art work in later years

Viewable in the Congregational UCC permanent collection.

Wis liked miscellany combinations in  his art work.
Worm-eaten wood; emphasis on subjects by elaborate framing;
found objects put together, etc.

An advocate of random selection, he once taught his Carroll students
to take big bales of assorted rags from Good Will, 
nail the rags side by side as they came off
the pile onto a barn side and then discovering how their finished product,
covering a wide swath of the barn surface, top to bottom, was more beautiful
than anything they might have planned.

Wis and Ina

Wis at the farmers market