I started my business in 1986 when I was 16 selling (consignment) the hand made guitar effects pedals I was making in my parents basement at a music store at Southgate mall called Brass Bell. Brass Bell at that time was down one of the "wings" across from what at time was their version of a waterfall (seemed every mall in the area it was mandatory in the early 80's to have a waterfall) but by then the water was replaced with blue paint. The doorway / elevator to the second floor offices was next to Brass Bell and as kids we used to open the elevator doors between floors to write our names on the walls next to the dozens that were already there. In the late 70's and 80's we would do all our shopping at Southgate as they had a great selection of store - a hobby shop called A-1 Hobbies, a JC Penneys (even had an auto repair department), a Woolworths (when young would awe at the LED hand held video games) and it had both a restaurant and an escalator!, there was also many, many music stores, a Dunham Sporting goods (which earlier was a grocery store), a Baskin Robbins and the "Moon Fun Shop" that sold pranks and a section "you had to be 18 to enter". Southgate at that time seemed to be the place to be. By the end of the 80's I realized it was dying and many did not know their real problem was bad plumbing with pipes blowing regular and causing a lot of damage to stores there. One my friends there - Brad Campbell who worked at Brass Bell told me about how he heard a loud noise and then water was rushing out of from a wall and then scrambling to catch the instruments floating into the hallway. Soon Southgate stopped renewing leases (although some store workers said the business wanted to renew) so, one by one all the stores closed. I had my first bank account as a kid at Southgate mall at Badger Mutual bank and also when I started my business at 16 (back then it was called ACE Guitars), I had business shirts and hats made at Rick/s T-Shirt Plus.
On the way to Southgate we used to cut through Point Loomis mall. They had a massive Radio Shack at one point and 7-mile fair was there every winter (operating in the closed down JC Pennys) that we shopped at years earlier. Point Loomis also used to have a Kohl's grocery store, the Mainstream Music Megastore (it was open 24 hours and we would drive our dad's old station wagon down there to see who's outside in line for the midnight record releases and concert ticket sales ). Mainstream Music actually mid 80's moved over to Southgate mall. I would have bet Point Loomis would have been gone way before Southgate but they remodeled and are hanging on. Radio Shack is still there but much smaller.
I wish I had taken pictures back then of Southgate mall as the ones on your site are from decades before I hung out there and it looked way different from what I remembered. I'm still hand making my guitar effects pedals almost three decades later and right around the corner from my original shop in my parents basement in Greenfield, WI using the exact same technology to hand build them today as when I started, no plan n changing as it is what sets mine apart. However now the vast majority of my sales are online through my website which I am sure is why many of the malls are no longer around today. Perhaps it was that I was in my teens in the 80's but "back then" it appeared you could get all you wanted (or needed) in the mall, and today the malls just don't seem to have the selection anymore which may be why so many buy online. It was fun to head down to the mall to see if anything is selling where now I check emails for orders, I'm not complaining I always knew my business dream as a kid would come true.
Neat site, brought back a lot of memories! Hope some day people post some 80's pictures of Southgate or Point-Loomis.
My name is Chuck and I just read all 14 pages...
of Milwaukee stories on the retro Milwaukee site.
What great stuff!!
Makes me feel right at home again.
I was born in 1956 and lived in Wauwatosa on Underwood
Ave. right near Hillcrest Ave.
Went to Lincoln school for grades 1-6, then Longfellow
for grades 7-9, then Tosa East high for grades 10-12.
My maternal grandfather ran Milwaukee streetcars in
West Allis. My dad worked at Allis Chalmers.
I lived in Tosa and Milwaukee until 1986 when I
came to Florida to skydive, and I kind of never went
home after that.
Please let me know how to contribute my stories
to your website. Good job on it! Man, I could not stop
reading once I started!!
Even all these years later being gone for so long,
people everywhere still know I'm from there because of
my accent. What's so bad about that, hey? :)
I grew up in the best town in the world,....
and it seems that you all actually know that to be true. It seems that Milwaukee is often viewed by the rest of the nation as a “hick town” but to me it was the best place to grow up anywhere in the world. I was born in 1960 at Milwaukee General and was the last of 8 kids. Most of my family grew up in smaller towns like Marinette, Janesville, and DePere, but myself and two sisters grew up pretty much exclusively on the Southside. First on 5th Place just off of Lincoln and then shortly after I was born we moved to Rusk Avenue just off of KK. We had the complete Mayberry experience. Our neighbor Andy owned a hardware store on the corner, Mrs Klitzke next door taught piano lessons, and best of all Mr. Motor lived across the street and he was a lieutenant with the MPD in the 2nd district so we NEVER had any crime in our area. I always thought I had the best of both worlds, because we had all the cool things of a big city nearby, but we lived in an atmosphere that was so much like a small town, that it couldn’t have been better.
Things I remember:
· Going to the Avalon Theater, where I always felt I was entering dreamland with the stars on the ceiling
· Going to Chet’s Variety store to buy magic tricks and comic books
· The awesome Summer Festivals at Immaculate Conception Church
· The South Shore Water Frolics Parade and Fireworks – Where I learned to believe in Magic
· Suburpia Sub sandwiches
· DiMarrinos Pizza
· Visiting Old Smokey with my folks (my mom loved the old steam engines)
· Going down to South Shore park with my mom and sisters in the summer and playing by the lake all day long
· McDonald’s being built just off of KK and working there in Lime Green Polyester Shirts and pants – seriously we could not have looked STUPIDER
· The old Llewellyn Library and the Billy Bookworm Club
· The Castle on the Hill – Bay View HS – being there while the North extension was built (new music rooms, etc), then we became the first Arts Magnet school – largely because Ray Dietrich was such a great teacher of Music I think; and then having the first Afro-American Female Principal in town, Going to school during a big teacher’s strike, and feeling scared, but getting to do cool stuff like making jewelry (I made a turquoise ring for my mom)
· Marc’s Big Boy Hamburgers
I could go on and on, but I am so glad that there is a site like yours that celebrates our town. I will dig out some pictures that I have (My dad was a professional photographer, so he was always snapping photos) and send them your way.
Keep up the good work!!!
Rauel F. LaBreche
Billy the Bookworm 1960
Gcharlie on page 13 asks about the club on State St. with country music...
Two come to mind. Nicks Nicabob on the northeast corner of 26th and State
and Rickys on the southwest corner. Sonny Williams, Stoney Calhoun, and
Kidd Carson come to mind as band members at Nicks while Billy Spaulding and
his sister June, headlined at Rickys. Nicks Nicabob featured big name
country stars frequently, usually backed by the house band. The Clef Club on
55th & Center was another weekend hot spot. Many will remember Bobby Nelson,
Bob Steele, Billy Schmidt and Earl (can't remember his last name) known as
the Bobby Nelson quartet. Hope this info stirs some old Milwaukee
BB, Las Vegas
I was born in 1959 and lived on the south side of Milwaukee on 20th and Howard...
Wilson park was down the block where I spent many a winter ice skating on the frozen
lagoon. There was Hoopers grocery store at the end of one block and the beer depot
down the other direction. I went to St. Mary Magdalen and St. Romans for elementary
school and Pulaski high school. I remember the Fourth of July parade that would go
down 20th street right in front of my house every year and being able to see the
fireworks from Wilson park when I was sitting in my front yard. I fondly remember
Dutchland dairy and Marks Big Boy, who could forget those shredded onion rings. I
remember going to Sheridan park and walking down the curvy path to the water for
late night bonfires. Gimbals baked Alaska and of course George Webbs 6 for dollar
hamburgers, of which I ate all of them and chicken noodle soup that was bright
My father worked for Milwaukee Dressed Beef, at the time all I knew was
that he worked under the bridge, It was very mysterious. I remember when Burger
Chef came to town and how exciting it was to take your hard earned dollar from
collecting newspapers to spend. I remember when they built the interstate and the
huge very high bridge over the valley to get to downtown. I remember my brother and
several other guys helping to rock the city bus out of the snow so he could ride it
to Tech high school downtown.
The Mad Hatter bar downtown is where I spent many
weekend nights. Quality candy and their marshmallow Easter eggs was the best thing
ever. The orphanage behind St. Francis hospital where I always wanted to visit.
Of course the circus parade downtown, where you could buy a color changing chameleon.
Pepe's pizza and Dominic's pizza by Pulaski park. Does anyone else remember when
you could go to Pulaski park and rent a board game for a week. I thought that was
the greatest thing ever! Forest home cemetery where some of the tomb stones date
back to the early 1800's. Kinikinic parkway had some of the most beautiful scenery
in the spring as well as Whitnall park.
I remember going to listen to music at the
Humbolt park band shelter. I lived in Milwaukee until I graduated from high school
in 1978 and then moved to Florida. I have so many fond memories of my childhood in
Milwaukee and feel blessed that I was able to experience such a wonderful city. I
hope to return in my retirement years to make some new memories.
Like everyone else, I'm loving your site...
I was born in Milwaukee good old St Lukes
Hospital. Grew up in West Allis until we moved to Brookfield in the early 70's,
until we moved out of state my junior year of high school.
Many fond memories.
Haven't read everyone's post yet but I will. I've been trying to find out
information about an event, an all day music fest that was held at county stadium in
June of 1969 (I believe). I was hoping to find out what bands played there that day
and just stroll down memory lane. I attended the concert but was just a kid only 12
yrs old at that time.
Does anybody have any info on this? or can you direct me to
website about it. I've searched google, but have hit dead ends.
Jill K. firstname.lastname@example.org for responses please.
Late 1940s and early 1950s...
I remember going to Szerbat's Bros butcher shop
on the corner of Locust and Fratney, I believe, and the small "sweet shop"
directly across Fratney.... Anyone else remember?
Does anyone remember the Layton Show House.....
on 27th and Lincoln Ave. I do have a picture
of it. We lived about a half block away from
it and went there all the time. I cannot find out
anything about it. If anyone remembers it please
share your information
Thank you !
What was the name of the downtown Milwaukee lunch cafe.....
where Al McGuire ate lunch alot at?
It was in a building on Wisconsin, I think like on the 5 th floor.
It has been closed for years.
Can you help me?
Does anyone remember the name of the pizza place on Wisconsin Ave.....
about a block east of the Eagles Ballroom?
Lived in that area all my life but can't remember name of that place.
Thought your readers might enjoy this....
Probably from around 1963-4
We saw their live show at the Point Loomis theatre.
Author- Chicago Music Scene: 1960s & 1970s.
Available at my website:
I've lived in metro Milwaukee most of my 63 years......
and thought I'd share a couple
memories / pictures.
My grandmother, Dorothy Sevedge, started the Newcomer Hostess Service (and Newcomer
clubs) in the 1930s welcoming new Milwaukeeans with products from local merchants.
She operated the business for over 50 years. In 1948 her friends at the Ad Club
asked her if she would like to be in a Blatz beer print ad...check out the picture.
Coming home for lunch from school in the 1950s, I would catch Joe Shott and the Hot
Shots band on WTMJ tv. A local antique dealer was actually in the audience of the
show and got a handkerchief with the band's likenesses. I bought it from her and
have included a picture.
I was born in 1947 in Milwaukee at the old St. Lukes Hospital.....
They tell me there was a major snow storm that year.
I grew up in West Allis on 57th & Burnham. John Young's Drug store was
on the corner of 57th & Burnham and they had a fine soda counter where I
spent a good deal of time.
I remember my first job, pedaling newspapers for the Milwaukee Journal.
I remember Bomberg's Bakery and hot ham and fresh from the oven butter
crest rolls on Sunday.
As a teenager I fondly remember CYO dances at St. Rita's and other
schools. There was youth center at Horace Mann on Friday nights too.
I went to high school at West Milwaukee High and remember our sad
football team and great pizza at several places around the neighborhood.
Giovanni's, Auggies and others.
There were good jobs in factories then too. Wisconsin Motor was just
down Burnham street. Rex Chain Belt was not too far over on Mitchell.
At Christmas there was the Mitchell street parade and Schusters had
their display windows all decked out with Christmas goodies and toys.
Billy the Brownie was on the radio and we all gathered around to hear
I used to take the bus to Mitchell Street by myself. Riding the bus was
safe in those days.
All the great breweries were going full steam back then too. I had two
uncles who worked for Schlitz. And there was the Brown Bottle at
Penny candy at the Dime store on Burnham...and yes, they had candy
The Milwaukee of my youth was a great place to grow up.
I remember the garage bands of the 60's. The Legends, Paul Stefan and
the Royal Lancers (Paul was a neighbor just three houses down) El Ray
and the Night Beats and many others. Beer bars like The Old House, and
Wylers. Trips to Madison and the Bunny Hop and driving home after. I'm
still amazed we didn't get killed!
The beautiful tree lined streets of West Allis and Milwaukee. Basketball
games at West Milwaukee and letter jackets and cheerleaders. I had a
crush on Mary Powers in my freshman year!
The Plankington Arcade and shopping at all the fine stores downtown. And
all the great old restaurants like Frenchy's, John Ernst, The Five
O'clock Club on State and there was one at Pabst Brewery in the basement
of the old church, the name escapes me.
And of course Kegal's Inn in West Allis had one of the best fish fry's
around and still do. Taverns had great fish fry's, like the 5th Wheel
Pub on 43rd & Burnham.
Growing up in Milwaukee of the 1950's and 60's was a magic time and I
wouldn't trade it for the world. I just wish we go back there now! Times
were better then.
I was born on the Southside of Milw. in 1955....
I heard no mention of National T foodstore on 76 and Beloit which is now Rupenas.
There was a Ben Franklin 5&10cent store
the cent was a 'C' with a line through it, not on my keyboard must not use it
anymore. Krambos food store on 76 and Oklahoma. Later taken over by Kroger.
National T food store also on 60 and Oklahoma. Other various locations
throughout the city. The store with the squiggly roof. That was Treasure Island.
Movie ushers showing you to your seat with a flashlight, we always had to sit in
the 6 row.
Buddy Squirrel next to the Modjeska Theater and the Grand Theater on
about 12 and Mitchell. Layton Theater on 27 and Lincoln. No one seems to remember
that one. Paul's hamburgers on 27th Forest Home, great burgers. Betty restaurant
on 27th and Lincoln, awful food but they never through us out.
McDonald's selling 2 burgers order of fries and a soda and change back from your
dollar. 41 Twin drive-in. Main Monkey Go Kart track next to the 41 Twin .
dime night at Muskego Beach later Dandelion Park. I think my dad was disappointed
when I started to go on the rides with my friends. He loved that place. 25 cent bus
rides and electric buses that occasionally the bus driver had to get out and put it
back on its track. Schneider Coal Co. on about 33rd and Forest Home across from
You didn't pay to go to the zoo or museum. James Bond films were considered
too riskay. Going to the corner store with a list from your mom ,sometimes a pack
of cigarettes on there and giving it to Mr. Brookman or Mr. Cornell, never
questioning you, everyone knew your parents. The Borden ice cream man on their
scooters. Grandpa Grafs soda, had a summer job there as a helper at lunchtime the
coke, pepsi, and the grafs guy would meet and exchange sodas. Wish I had a camera
seeing the coke guy drinking a Pepsi and Pepsi guy drinking a coke. Eating at the
restaurant inside Walgreens. Don't forget the Point Theater. Wow what great
memories. Miss you dad.
Thanks for all the great memories. Great site!!