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June 2005 Odd Wisconsin

The "Midget Wedding" & Other Extravaganzas

Frederick W. Kehl emigrated from Germany in 1874 as a twelve-year old orphan and by 1884 had moved to Madison and established Kehl's School of Dance near the Capitol. For generations, Madison children learned to dance there, at a time when dancing was not just a pleasure but a social necessity for middle-class and affluent young people. On June 11,...
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Posted in Odd Lives on June 24, 2005

"Ladies and Gentlemen! Step Right Up..."

This weekend is circus weekend in Wisconsin, with the 39th annual Great Circus Paradebeginning at noon on Saturday in Baraboo. The parade may step off at noon but Wisconsin's circus history began more than a century ago. Check out contemporary newspaper stories and reminiscences by the people who raised the first Big Tops in Wisconsin. And you'll never guess what...
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Posted in Curiosities on June 21, 2005

Plaid Refrigerators? Folk singers in pickups?

That’s right. Seven new “femineered” refrigerators model for 1954 that you “can decorate to match your kitchen, or leave gleaming white...They're beautiful either way!" and a Shindig at the Teenbeat Club ten years later were both used by International Harvester’s advertising department to market new products. You can see them, along with more than 800 other advertisements, in the new...
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Posted in Curiosities on June 19, 2005

Eagle in a Mousetrap

It's just been brought to our attention that at least one editor long ago thought up the idea of "Odd Wisconsin." We'll occasionally insert one or two of these 1935 cartoons here on the Web site, with links to related materials whenever they exist....
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Posted in Animals on June 16, 2005

Chimney Toppers

Victorian farm families frequently had their pictures taken in front of their homesteads to document their pride in what they'd built. Often they even moved their most prized furniture or other possessions out onto the lawn to show them off. These scenes - - hundreds of which were captured by Wisconsin photographer Andreas Dahl - - have a certain reassuring...
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Posted in Bizarre Events on June 14, 2005

Why Is This Man Smiling?

Maybe because tomorrow’s his birthday! Yes, Fighting Bob La Follette’s 150th birthday is June 14, 2005. Although today’s political climate is radically different than that of a century ago, we find that when the current generation is asked who are the most famous or important figures in Wisconsin history, he still tops the list. Visit our home page tomorrow (
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Posted in Odd Lives on June 13, 2005

Milwaukee's First Settler Bites the Dust

The first permanent buildings on the site of modern Milwaukee were constructed by fur trader Solomon Juneau. In 1816 he began his career as a clerk for Jacques Vieau, who had only a seasonal trading post on the Menominee River. In 1819 he bought out Vieau's post, in 1822 he built the first log house in Milwaukee, and in 1824...
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Posted in Strange Deaths on June 9, 2005

Mr. Wright's Second Slice of Pie

Frank Lloyd Wright had a justifiably large ego and a personality of mythological proportions. He is said to have been the inspiration for Ayn Rand's famous self-appointed prophet Howard Roarke in The Fountainhead. In this 1942 article, William T. Evjue describes a private tour of the Wright home, however, during which the master's simple wishes were categorically over-ruled by his...
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Posted in Odd Lives on June 7, 2005

Cooler Heads Prevail

Down here in the southern part of the Badger state temperatures have begun to break 80 every day. We spend half an hour before breakfast watering all those seedlings we put in a couple weeks ago (now parched and drooping by 4:00pm). The mosquitoes are humming, the dogs lie panting, aggressive weeds snake their way toward the sun between the...
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Posted in Curiosities on June 2, 2005

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