More Retro-Milwaukee Memories and Letters

Memories of Retro-Milwaukee
 I was born and raised in Milwaukee in the 70's.  What a great time!! 
Lived down the block from Hi Fi Fo Fum, and still remember the sign and
purple shag carpeting!  Do you remember places like Barnaby's pizza,
the seasonal toy department in the basement of Boston Store-downtown. 
The restaurant on the top floor of Gimbel's.  When Mitchell Park had
water ponds.  Chapman's at Capitol Court.  Skating at Mayfair.  The 2
story greenhouse at Mayfair, and waiting to hear the bird chirp.  The
funky string art sculpture in the center of Brookfield Square.  The
many fountains at Southgate Mall.  Farrell's old fashioned ice cream
parlor at Southridge (remember the banging of the drum on birthdays?). 
Family, Deconess, and Emergency hospitals.  The old coffee shop in the
Knickerbocker hotel.  The Green Sheet.  The double decker busses that
ran briefly downtown.  Saxxon paint stores.  Burger Chef.  Arthur
Treacher's Fish and Chips.  Eating at the Lynden Room at Mayfair for
Sunday brunch.  Sampson the gorilla.  Albert the Alley Cat.  The
climbing thing at Greenfield Park.  "Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby
Chevrolet ".  The theatre behind Mayfair.  Sambo's restaurant chain. 
The old Scwartz's books downtown, and at Prospect Mall.  "Old Smokey"
the train.  Heinneman's on Milwaukee Street.   The old Christmas
decorations downtown.  The big clock in MacArthur Square.  The fountain
with the boy peeing front of the museum.  The bookmobile.  The tug
boats behind Fruit Ranch.

Remember  "Old Smoky"

"Old Smokey" is Milwaukee Road #265,  which was built in July 1944 by Alco (American Locomotive Company).   Alco #265 is an S3 class 4-8-4, one of a group of ten, which was the last of the steam locomotives delivered to the Milwaukee Road.    The locomotive went into storage in 1954, when the Milwaukee Road ended steam operations.  In January 1957,  the locomotive was donated to the city of Milwaukee  and placed on display in Bay View .  It remained there, until the city donated it to the Illinois Railroad Museum in March 1975.  It arrived in Union on April 12, 1975,  where it resides today.   Alco #265 is one of only three Milwaukee Road steam locomotives in existence.  Sister unit  #261, has been restored to operating condition and is used on excursion trips. 


 In 1955 Alco changed its name officially to Alco Products Inc.  In 1965 most of its assets were purchased by the Worthington Corp., later Studebaker-Worthington. By 1969 the Schenectady plant was closed and subsequently leased to the General Electric Co. for turbine generator-production.  However, the Alco name still lives. It's former plant in Auburn still manufactures diesel power plants and parts to support the Alco locomotives still in service.  While now a subsidiary of a British concern, it is still known as Alco Power. 

The Bookmobile

"What a great website!"

"Not in any particular order....
Treasure Island Shopping Center, where your groceries were put on a
conveyor belt and you drove to the side of the building to pick them up.
I think we call it a drive thru now...
Dialing for Dollars with Rosemary Ross and Howard Gurnet(sp?)
The Clipper Ship
Skate University
Pick N Save Warehouse when you had to write the prices on your groceries
with a weird black crayon. They saved money by not putting the prices
on the items!
A frozen Charleston Chew after swimming at McCarty Park (no towels
allowed in the pool area and don't forget your swim cap - ouch!).
What a great website!  Thanks!

Remembering Polish Culture

"Thank you for a great site!. I grew up in the Parklawn Housing Project 1941-1952 on the (then) far north side. Parklawn had an ice skating rink with a warming shed in the winter, large wading pool in the summer, basketball and tennis courts, baseball diamonds, swings, jungle gyms, and a recreation center that showed movies for 5 cents on Saturdays. There was quite a mixture of people (German, Italian, Jews, African-American) and we were  'poor' by today's standards.... but as kids we seemed to have all that we needed. There was a bar & grill on the SE corner of Fondulac and Capitol Drive that had a neon sign that said "Handbugers". An 'r' was added above the 'b' with an arrow pointing to where it should have been. I also remember the first A&P Supermarket that opened on Fondulac Ave just south of Capitol Drive. It was the first supermarket we had seen and a man fell down and broke his arm because he did not know the doors were automatic. In the spring we would climb down into the storm sewers and spear carp to sell to the farmers at a penny a piece. Air conditioning was a luxury beyond our reach, so when it got too hot we would spend the day a Bradford Beach, or if we had 50 cents, we would go downtown to the air conditioned Wisconsin Theater and see two complete movies, cartoons and Movietone News. Milwaukee had a great public transportation system and you could go anywhere very cheaply. In 1952, my mother remarried and we moved to 9th and Windlake on the near south side-- which at that time was mostly lower income Polish folk. My stepfather was from Poland and owned a tavern on 16th and Rogers. At that time there were still a few street signs in Polish and I delivered the Polish language newspaper. There were many corner taverns (the social centers of the neighborhood) and they served fish fries on Friday and often hosted wedding receptions on Saturdays. During a summertime reception they would close off the corner for a street dance that lasted almost till the time to go to Sunday Mass. I am not Polish or Catholic, but grew to love the Polish culture. Later I attended Pulaski High School which was one of those magnificent brick and marble schools built in Milwaukee during the great depression. After that, I worked at Allen Bradley for four years. This was when old man Bradley still owned the place and used to walk down the isles with his poodle (who would piddle on everything) and he ran the place like a big family picnic. On the top floor was a rec room where you could get 10 cent beer, play high stakes Sheepshead, or work out in the gym. They also had a large inexpensive cafeteria and a free health clinic. When asked to work overtime, you got a 15 minute break and a free dish of ice cream. If the overtime exceeded two hours, you also go a another break and a free meal in the cafeteria. I've lived in Rochester MN since '67, but often run into people from Milwaukee... all of whom seem to have warm memories of growing up there." 

Eric F.        

"Thanks for this nostalgic tour. I love it and will pass it
on to all my friends.  Sincerely  Nicki Steffens"


"Great site, lots of fantastic memories, I was born in Milwaukee in 1940 and remember most of the things listed. One thing I didn't see was a candy bar called "Snirkle". It was made in Milwaukee and there may still be an ad painted on one of the buildings downtown near Plankinton and St. Paul. Thanks again for the site, it's great!
John Karlovich
Retired Milwaukee Police Officer"

Gone but not forgotten  Snirkles

Snirkles Caramel Bar by Howard B. Stark Co. Confectioners, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Stark also made 'Candy Raisins', a treat popular in Milwaukee

Remembers Snirkles
OH MY..... I'm not crazy after all!  As a child, I used to get Snirkles at the candy stand at the local swimming pool!  Thank you!  Wish I knew where I could get these now!  One site says that they've been discontinued...darn!  I did, however, find the "Twin Bing" candy bar.  I now know why nobody I know has ever heard of them....the candy company, Palmer Candy, is in my home town!  Sioux City Iowa....

Thank you for sharing all your memories!


Jill C

Tippecanoe and Snirkle Too
"Hi All,
Enjoyed your fun site. Needed a word to rhyme with Crop Circle and my
memory banks immediately dug up "Snirkle". Did a google search and sho'
nuff one of the hits was your website.
How about Al's Hamburger Stand across the street from Billy Mitchell
field and the many "happy hours" spent working at Dutchland Dairy Store
and setting pins at Club Blue Jay both on South Howell Avenue? Went to
Grade School at Tippecanoe.
And, nobody since has made Turkish Taffy as good as the bars we could
buy in the little shop right next to the Avalon or Bay Movie Theaters.
Hope my memories make your site.
Fond regards,
John B. Picchiottino, Bay View High School - Class of 1954!
Had a great time at our 50 year reunion there last Sept."

Happy Memories

"God, this took me back. I grew up in Southlawn Housing Project (At the time it was for low income veterans). Southgate was my childhood stomping grounds. I remember Duncan YoYo pros teaching us to do tricks with a yoyo & then rewarding us with patches designating our yoyo skill level....Best Site I've ever come across! So many happy memories.  I also attended Pulaski High which was a feeder to Leon's and Mazo's, a few more Milwaukee landmarks. Again thanks for the memories.............   Mark Wisniewski"

Great Memories
I am 43 years old and was born and raised in Milwaukee, and It was great reliving alot of great memories on this site.  In addition to all those listed,  how about:

-  Steve's bicycle shop on N. 76th, the best place to shop for your Schwinn Sting Ray
-  Fonda Pharmacy on Fon du lac Ave. & Hampton
-  The National Tea grocery store on Hampton & 76th, and the Courtland Rexall pharmacy at the same location, which still had a soda fountain until the early 1970's.
-  The Hobby Horse hobby shop at Capitol Court, when it was still an outdoor mall
-  Ice skating in the winter and hanging around at the summer playground program at Columbus Park on 74th and Courtland
-  Shopping for a case of soda, mixing and matching the favors at Winn's soda bottling company on the northwest side
-  Buying everything from canned goods to furniture at the Railroad Salvage, some where near downtown
-  Deuster's Lanes on Fon du lac Ave.
-  Watching "Bowling with the Champs" every Sunday morning on WTMJ channel 4
-  Visting the Public Museum when it was still located in the Central Library.

 Great memories one and all!!


Karen S.

Born in Milwaukee
You want proof that you can't take the Milwaukee out of the boy?  Here goes...  I was born in Milwaukee in 1948.  We, actually, lived on 112th Street in Wauwatosa, in those days.  I remember swimming at, either, Hoyt Park, or Greenfield Park, depending on which one was least crowded.  I, also, remember sitting in the audience in the WTMJ Auditorium on Capitol Drive to watch a live radio show. 

We moved to the Rust Belt town of Elyria, Ohio during the Christmas holidays of 1954.  Until the summer of 2003, I hadn't been to Milwaukee since 1967.  I have lived in Houston since 1968.  Last summer, I reached the point where I had to 'go back home'.  You guessed it.  I fell in love with Milwaukee all over again.  Since I can't stand cold weather, living there would be pretty tough.  Still, having been well traveled during my life, I can tell you that you have a city to be immensely proud of.

Last June (2003), I took my wife and kids to Milwaukee.  As much as I was impressed with all that was new, I was far more impressed with how much was still there, intact, and looking better than ever, not the least of which was my old neighborhood!  I took the kids to see my kindergarten and first grade classrooms at Underwood School at the foot of 112th Street at W. Potter Road.  They were, for the most part, unchanged.  The old house was immaculate!

Here's a special memory.  The last summer we lived there, my dad had to take a flight out of the old Layton Avenue Terminal for Cleveland.  I tagged along with Mom to drop Dad off.  As we walked into the terminal, we noticed a bit of a ruckus going on inside.  There was a large crowd of ladies and people with cameras.  Turns out, it was Liberace, getting ready to take a flight out, too.  In fact, he was on my dad's plane, on his way to a concert in Cleveland!

Love your website!  Keep taking good care of Milwaukee.  While that town holds a lot of great memories for me, I want you to know that, today, she looks better than ever.
Dan Gallo
KILT-FM, Houston

" I was born in 1951 & lived there (Milwaukee) until 1966 (moved to Miami Beach). I enjoyed looking at the Retro-Milwaukee web site. I have a few more nostalgia
places: Hoight Park community swimming in Wauwatosa, & the Strand theatre
downtown on Wisconsin Ave. Also, the skating rink at Sherman Park. I just
thought of another one: Petroff's.....Susan S."

Going Home
"Love this site. Grew up in Milwaukee in the 50's and 60's. Haven't heard
 the Messengers 'Midnight Hour' since they played it live at Samuel Morse
Jr High. Now I know I'm going back this summer on vacation."

Milwaukee Heritage
"What a wonderful walk down memory lane..I moved from Milwaukee in 1991
to southwest Florida..but I'm always from Milwaukee! There are memories
in here that I want my son and grandchildren to know about their
heritage...Don't forget Leon's custard.."

Leon's, a Southside Icon

Captains Secret Cheese Fondue Recipe
I really hope you can help me out here. I remember going to the Captains Steak Joint and wanting to eat nothing but their cheese fondue. I've tried sooooooooooooo hard to get that recipe, or something close, but haven't had any luck. If you could get this for me it would mean the world. I have alot of very good memories about that place. Please see what you can do ok? Thank you, thank you.
E-Mail: Tiafor5@  (remove nospam)

" I was born in Milwaukee in 1950. We lived in an apartment building at 806 N. 9th st. I would go to sleep by the light of a giant neon Ford Crest emblem blinking on and off. I went to 8th st school, and played at Red Arrow Park on Wisconsin Ave. Later I would go to 27th St. school. My Mom and Dad ran Mannens' restaurant on the corner of Fifth and Michigan. Later it would become "Steak Town
 I remember walking down to the Greyhound Bus station to watch the filming of "The Rat Race" staring Tony Curtis. Can't help but remember the " Hi Fi Fo Fum " stereo equipment store on Wisconsin Ave. Used to enjoy riding the trolley on Wells street.    
Really enjoyed your Retro Site ,  John Mannen"

 Milwaukee Memories
I'm 53 yrs. old and am so happy that I found this website. What I
remember most is the Christmas Parade that happened on Vliet St. Our
family lived on 24th Place and Vliet for years.  The Zoo at Washington
Park was wonderful. The 1st year of Summerfest. My Dad was a friend of
 Mayor Maier's parents and I went to Neeskara School on N. Hawley Rd.
with Mayor Maier's niece. Shopping on 3rd Street and the downtown,
Wisconsin Ave as well as Mitchell St., Bayshore and of course Southgate.
  I definitely was born at the right time. I hope you could get more
pictures of Milwaukee in the 50's & 60's. I also remember attempting to
 ice skate with my sis (8-yrs. older) and her friends at Washington Park,
 they dragged me from one end of the lagoon to the other. I still can't
skate. Now all these years have passed, I have 2 daughters and 4 grand-kids
 and have been married to my high school sweetheart for 34 1/2 yrs. We
were '68 grads from Washington H.S. Thanks again for the memories.
   Sandy Gillich Thrall

Buran AMC Jingle
Love the website!
Four things I remember that I didn't see mentioned are:
1. Drews Discount Variety Stores (There's one left in downtown Wauwatosa)
2. Golden Guernsey milk man and his truck
3.Buran AMC dealer and the jingle (Buran, Buran, Buran has the answer to
the call of the open road)
4. And now, with the passing of Fritz Dinesen, memories come back of him
when he was in the "city of Sowt Milvawkee"
Z. Pethes

Remember ?
I was trolling for photos of old Milwaukee (TMER&L) buses when I found your retro site. Brings back a lot of memories... Remember ĎWABAHí on CB radio? What was that all about anyway? There was a guy with a strange answering machine message - these were rare in the late 60's - called himself Wrecker John - people used to call the number to hear his message which would change every few days. I recall Bordenís had an Elsie The Bordenís Cow traveling deal that they'd set up in a real little kid I couldn't figure out how the cow new to talk to me when I walked past! I do recall the parking lot director at Sears down by Mitchell...all the small neighborhood grocers - I grew up off Howell Avenue across from Humboldt Park - remember the bandshells? Bus stops where the metal sign said "Car Stop"? Voter registration lists tied to light polls at election time? Knife sharpeners pushing carts through the neighborhoods with bells that rang that were driven by the wheels? Produce trucks selling in the neighborhoods - they'd call Potatoes - Tomatoes - Sweet - a - Corn! When you shopped at Gimbels downtown - having taken the #11 Streetcar - they'd deliver your purchases to your home? The deliveries were made by Barry transport in green trucks..then later by a company nobody heard of in brown trucks...United Parcel Service. Signs at the registers said "The package you take with you gets home first!" Remember the smell of Carmel Corn when you walked into Sears? Remember the awesome Boston Cream Pies you'd get from the Deli at Gimbels? Remember the A & P Warehouse down by the River? Fruit Boat? The first time you went to a Kohlís grocery with the curved roof? Hot Ham and rolls on Sunday morning from Heinnemans or Model Bakery on Oklahoma? Slot car racing at Oklahoma Hobby? Any chance of getting an audio clip of the WEMP Braves Game singing intro? "There's a Game Today..The Braves are playing..and heres where you should be..We'll take you out to the Ball Game on WEMP..1250..WEMP..Milwaukee..WEMP..... Sponsors were...and I can still hear the jingles...Miller Highlife..Clark Super 100 Gasoline and Dual Filter Tareytons. Then we can get started on theaters that used to be such as the PIX on Howell just south of Lincoln and the Airway on Howell just north of the airport which became a First Wisconsin Bank. If only there was a way to convey the way you used to know that a Clark station had opened 'cause you'd see a search light in the this day if we're driving around at night and see a search light in the sky we'll say to each other...Clark Station!

Ahh---so much --- you should hear my 91 year old parents go on about it :~) Milwaukee - it's a great place to be from.


Praise !
"This site is fabulous!  You've brought back wonderful memories of some things long forgotten.  I miss Milwaukee, and come home as often as I can.  I even have the family treasured Billie the Brownie in my China cabinet.  Some things I didn't see, but remember well:  "Doc" Perko's, The He & She, Groppi's Market, Brady Street, The Coffee Trader, Theater at 4 with Judy Marks, The Top of the Marine(Bank), the Avalon Theater in Bay View....the list could go on forever, aina?  I now find myself hungry for a Twilight Dessert, a "classic" Suburpia (with medium peppers served out of the chute by a "burnout" (wow, man) I have been to Goldcoast though, a What-a-burger, a big glass mug of A&W root beer (hung on the window by the car-hop) and almost anything from Kopps.  Thanks for the trip down memory lane!!  One last Milwaukee phrase-since I moved to the Chicago area 4 years ago---Oh my God, I'm a FIB !"


Awesome Memories
This site is awesome!  Absolutely takes me back.  I grew up through the 60ís and the 70ís on 53rd and Washington Boulevard, and then later in ĎTosa on 64th and North Ave.
The old neighborhood Landmarks: Washington Park, St. Sebastianís Catholic Church, Mount Olive Lutheran Church,  Neeskara Elementary, the Washington Highlands (which BTW are laid out like a German helmet if you look at them on a map), Wick Field, Hawthorne Glen, Peterís Drug Store,Ö..  Aah, what memories!
Some additions to the ever-growing list of brain cell teasers:
-   The Hamdingers commercial (corniest commercial ever)
-   Doctorís Park (infamous party spot)
-   Brady street (an infamous 24/7 party)
-   $4.00 bleacher seats
-   Bat day, helmet day, etc.
-   Greasers
-   Sport Bowl
-   Uptown Billiards
-   Krogers food stores
-   Family grocery stores every 3 blocks (like Elmerís on Lloyd between 54th and 55th st.)
-   Banana seats with butterfly handlebars
-   Skating rink at Jacobus park
-   The alternate Music site
-   Mayfair as an open mall
-   Surburpia  (I had to mention them again.  BTW, back in business as Goldcoast Subs.  Same great sandwiches. Go have a taste of the past.)
-   Reinhold Brothers Hardware on 24th and Lisbon
-   Hobby Horse at Capitol court (for all of your plastic model and HO racing supplies)
-   Boy Blue ice cream stores
-   Whitlock Auto parts stores
-   Northridge Mall
-   Johnsonís Go Karts and Giant Slide
-   Nedís Yummy, Yummy Pizza


Have a listen to a vintage Suburpia TV ad. It is thought this ad spawned the later "Where's the Beef" series of ad's by a popular national hamburger chain. You be the judge!
Suburpia 1980 TV ad

Editors Note : As of this writing 12/31/05 Suburpia has reopened!
Check for a location near you...


Even More Milwaukee Memories (page 3)

Send us your Milwaukee memories from the 50's 60's 70's.

Back to Retro-Milwaukee