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November 2008 Odd Wisconsin

He Must Have Been Yaps

One of the more fascinating aspects of any culture is the jargon that its members speak. Whether they're an immigrant community or professional colleagues, a sports league or a religious sect, any group that shares the same values and lifestyle will evolve a unique vocabulary for talking about it. For example, a lumberjack arriving at a northern Wisconsin hospital supposedly...
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Posted in Curiosities on November 30, 2008

The Budget Deficit of 1921

This is by no means the first time that state government has faced a budget crisis. Eighty-odd years ago, Wisconsin's government apparatus nearly ground to halt when state revenues failed to keep up with the expense of serving the public. Lawmakers acknowledged the crisis in February 1921, when the head of the Board of Control warned that state prisons,...
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Posted in Curiosities on November 23, 2008

Longfellow on Madison

One of America's best poets wrote one of his worst poems about our capital. In 1876, a centennial exhibition was organized in Philadelphia to celebrate the nation's first century. The participation of Wisconsin's women was spearheaded by Mrs. J.G. Thorpe of Madison, whose son had married a daughter of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. She persuaded the famous author to write an...
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Posted in Madison on November 17, 2008

Snowplow Driver Appreciation Day

Gov. Doyle has proclaimed Wednesday of this week, "Snowplow Driver Appreciation Day." After last winter, we think they might deserve an entire appreciation week. Which raises the question, how did people cope with heavy snowfalls long ago? On Wednesday, March 2, 1881, a blizzard descended on southern Wisconsin which lasted three days. After blowing steadily for 24 hours, the storm...
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Posted in Curiosities on November 10, 2008

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