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July 2010 Odd Wisconsin

Blitzing the Bugs

Bugs are the third element (after beer and brats) in any traditional Wisconsin cookout. In June of 1820 James Doty found "The musquitoes are very thick [on Lake Superior] but the sand fly, a small insect, is more numerous and much more annoying. It is impossible to sleep where they are. Their bite is like the prick of a needle."...
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Posted in Animals on July 28, 2010

Cruel Deception

Men's fraternal organizations such as the Odd Fellows and Elks became very popular in America after the Civil War. Fieldworkers for the W.P.A. Wisconsin Folklore Project were told years later that residents of Lodi decided to form one of their own around 1870. They called it the One Thousand and One Club, and its sole purpose was to keep members...
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Posted in Curiosities on July 22, 2010

For Sale: Electric Chair (Slightly Used)

Jack Ferdette managed the Milwaukee Road's "lock-up" in Prairie du Chien for more than 30 years. The lock-up was the place where all unclaimed baggage or damaged rail freight was stored, and when W.P.A. folklorists called on him, Jack had many stories to tell about things left behind. Ferdette was supposed to sell unclaimed items for the benefit of the...
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Posted in Curiosities on July 15, 2010

Hermit Island in Lake Superior

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in northern Wisconsin is a popular spot for visitors to hike, boat and swim among some of the nation's most remarkable natural beauty. One of the islands, Hermit's Island, did not always have such an idyllic feel. During the 19th century, a recluse who went only by the name of Wilson lived there and fiercely...
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Posted in Odd Lives on July 6, 2010

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