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October 2005 Odd Wisconsin

Ghosts of Halloween Past

'Tis the season to be ghouly. The sun has begun to set early, the full moon looms large on the horizon, and dead leaves fly like witches on broomsticks through the Wisconsin sky. Our state has its share of ghostly legends. Eery sounds long escaped Juneau's haunted house, where a murdered man stalked the empty halls. Spirits were called forth...
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Posted in Curiosities on October 22, 2005

Warm Thoughts

This week's cold snap will turn the cranberries and maple leaves red and send some of us out to finally buy that new storm door or put plastic over the windows. It also sparks questions (no pun intended) about how Wisconsin residents used to keep warm. For nearly all of our 12,000-year history, most heat for homes came from an...
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Posted in Curiosities on October 19, 2005

2 Days in November

On this date in 1967, the first violent anti-war protest on an American campus occurred in Madison, shown in tonight's PBS documentary "Two Days in October." But more than a century before, the good citizens of Port Washington and Milwaukee had engaged in similar violence when the U.S. government attempted to draft men into the Civil War. Many Wisconsin residents,...
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Posted in Curiosities on October 16, 2005

Constitutional Labor Pains

This week the world watches the people of Iraq try to form a new national government. Here in Wisconsin, we went through a similar phase 160-odd years ago when a rag-tag assemblage of pioneers attempted to invent first a territorial government and then, a decade later, a full-fledged state government. They faced some of the same difficulties we hear about...
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Posted in Curiosities on October 12, 2005

Frog Jumping & Other Pursuits

Madison photographer Arthur M. Vinje, 1888-1972, had an eye for the curious moments of everyday life, whether they were mundane (like this Italian housewife in Greenbush, 1941) or historic (such as VJ Day, August 15, 1945. Many of his pictures are also aesthetically compelling: this is no ordinary wedding photograph. Vinje also seemed to be on hand for evocative situations...
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Posted in Curiosities on October 9, 2005

Where Are They Today?

It's October, the month when pumpkins are harvested, sold for jack o'lanterns, paddled in Lake Mendota (really), and made into pies. These Madison kindergarteners making their first pumpkin pie at Dudgeon School in 1954 are identifed in the caption, but where are they today? They would be in their mid-fifties, presumably, and probably have better taste in hats. Keep up...
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Posted in Children on October 7, 2005

The Theft That Wasn't

The media has buzzed these last few days with the bizarre story of an attempted theft here at the Wisconsin Historical Society. The phone has rung at least once a day with calls from the press asking what really happened. It wouldn't be appropriate to comment in Odd Wisconsin on a criminal case under investigation, but Society friends, supporters, and...
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Posted in Bizarre Events on October 5, 2005

Injudicious Appointment

There's a clamor in the press this morning over the President nominating for justice of the U.S. Supreme Court a candidate who's never sat as a judge anywhere, even in a small-town traffic court. Here in Wisconsin we once had a powerful judge with a similar amount of judicial experience, and he was the sole government in the state at...
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Posted in Odd Lives on October 4, 2005

Concealed Weapons

We read in the press that the legislature is considering allowing citizens to carry guns, as was common in the Old West. One of those western cowboys later settled in Milwaukee. He knew Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, and other famous gunslingers, and gave this newspaper interview (and shared his photographs) about what life was like when gun-carrying citizens settled...
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Posted in Odd Lives on October 1, 2005

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