It happened here ( Milwaukee ) first...


In 1891, Schuster's Department Store located in Milwaukee started issuing blue stamps to customers, who saved them and pasted them in booklets, which later could be redeemed for cash. Borrowed from a British company, the idea went national later in the decade when Sperry & Hutchinson Co. began issuing its own stamps in a different shade - S&H Green Stamps.



During the 1850s and '60s many inventors tried to produce a workable typewriter, but none succeeded until 1867, when Milwaukee's Christopher Latham Sholes and inventors Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soul patented a writing machine. The machine held a sheet of paper between a rubber platen and smaller rubber cylinder, with a carriage that moved from left to right as the keys, each with a separate mark, number or letter, were struck. Their invention didn't take off until 1873, when the trio contracted with contracted with E. Remington & Sons of Ilion, New York, which until then just made rifles and sewing machines, to produce it.


Milwaukee's A.O. Smith Corp., which went from making bicycle frames to automotive frames in 1903, mechanized Henry Ford's assembly-line process in 1913, becoming the first company to mass-produce auto frames.

Famous Residents

George Peck (1840-1916): The creator of the first Dennis the Menace, who went on to become a Milwaukee mayor and governor of the state - in less than a year. Peck ran a humor weekly called Peck's Sun, which he moved here in 1878. The weekly's main attraction was a kid named Hennery who did terrible things to everybody, only to get his comeuppance in the end. The character made Peck a national celebrity - and a viable political candidate.

Tom Snyder (1936 - ): A familiar face on late night television, Tom Snyder was born in Milwaukee and got his broadcast start in a radio newsroom after graduating from Marquette University. He became a national figure in 1973 when he was named anchor of Tomorrow, a late-night television talk show that was replaced by Late Night with David Letterman in the early 1980s. After Letterman jumped to CBS, however, he hired Snyder to host The Late Late Show, which was broadcast immediately after Letterman's program. Tom Snyder left The Late Late Show in 1999.

Spencer Tracy (1900-1967): Born in Milwaukee, Tracy is the only actor to win three Oscars for Best Actor. Starting in gangster roles, Tracy quickly graduated to a string of movies in which he depicted Hollywood's archetypal American of the 1930s and 1940s tough, tenacious, honest.

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967): The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and biographer, best known for his poems about Chicago and writings about Abraham Lincoln, spent several important years here, writing for newspapers and, briefly, serving as secretary for Emil Seidel, Milwaukee's first Socialist mayor.

Golda Meir (1898-1978): Born in Russia, Golda Meir and her family moved here in 1905. She became a Zionist while still in her teens. After a few years as a schoolteacher in Milwaukee, she and her husband immigrated to Palestine, to help lay the groundwork for the formation of Israel.

George Kennan (1904- ): Kennan made his public mark with an "X" - the pseudonym he used while outlining the U.S. postwar policy of containing communism in a series of controversial articles. Kennan believed that the Soviet Union would eventually have to relinquish its harsh grip on its citizenry and would change its foreign policies if the West could maintain a firm and consistent posture of opposition. He also served as Ambassador to the USSR and to Yugoslavia. He was also a widely sought-after lecturer on foreign policy issues. At age 85, he received the Medal of Freedom. He spent 27 years as an influential diplomat, particularly while serving the Roosevelt and Truman administrations.

Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964): The most controversial American general of the 20th century spent a brief time in Milwaukee, but he always listed the city as his hometown. After being decorated in World War I, MacArthur served as superintendent of West Point and as Army Chief of Staff. He retired in 1935, but was called back into active duty to lead the U.S. Army in the Pacific during World War II. After overseeing the occupation of Japan, MacArthur made an unsuccessful bid for the presidential nomination and, after calling for a wider war in Korea, was relieved of his command by President Truman in 1951.

Liberace (1919-1987): A sensation in the mid-1950s and a self-caricature by the 1970s, Liberace was better known for his glitzy costumes and elaborate staging than for his piano work. His excessively stylized outfits and piano - always featuring a gaudy candelabra, he set the standard for showmanship.

Milwaukee Slang

Like any metropolitan area, Milwaukee has its own terminology that can be hard for out-of-towners to understand. Below are some terms you're likely to hear, followed by an explanation of what they mean:

BRAT: In any other state, a brat is a sassy, upstart kid. In Wisconsin, it's a food of almost religious stature. Short for bratwurst, this spicy German sausage can be found at almost any picnic or public event. Backyard chefs like to boil the brats in beer and onions prior to browning them on the grill to create a true Wisconsin delicacy.

BUBBLER: A drinking fountain. Specifically it refers to drinking fountains that feature a stream of water in the middle that bubbles upward. In Milwaukee, however, the term is frequently used for any kind of drinking fountain.

CHEESEHEAD: Many consider this a derogatory name for the state's residents, but some Wisconsinites are actually proud to wear foam-rubber cheese slices on their heads. Most of the state's dairy farms are located outside of the metropolitan area, but there are some local dairy cooperatives, including Golden Guernsey Dairy, which is based in Waukesha.

Aina?: This phrase ( a contraction of 'isn't it so', or 'ain't it so') used mainly on the South Side of Milwaukee and is typically tacked onto the end of a sentence as a sort of "verbal period" to let listeners know when a speaker is finished talking. "Aina" can be used in any kind of sentence, regardless of whether it is a statement, question or a cry for help. If you want to sound like a native, just tag an "aina" on the end of your sentences. People will think you were born on 'da sout side'.

FROZEN CUSTARD: This is a unique treat that is found only in Milwaukee and a handful of cities sprinkled around the country. Made with cream and eggs, frozen custard has become one of the area's primary food staples. It is so popular that it is not uncommon to see people standing outside in sub-freezing temperatures relishing a scoop of cherry amaretto cheesecake or chocolate truffle. There are more than 30 frozen-custard stands in the area.

GEORGE WEBB'S: From the number of people you're likely to hear say they're going to George Webb's for dinner, you might get the idea he's a benevolent old man with a very large kitchen. In fact, George Webb Restaurants are another unique Milwaukee-area institution. More than three dozen of these diners are scattered throughout the area, serving simple and inexpensive meals to everyone from blue-collar workers to CEOs.

SODA: While most Americans call carbonated beverages "pop," Milwaukee residents refer to them as "soda."   Gimmie a orange soda hey, nice weather were havin, aina?

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