"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
The last time we were in Columbus for July 4th was in 2012 so we decided to go back. The parade started at noon and it was wonderful! It lasted nearly two hours. The Parade Marshalls. (click to enlarge)
Watch it here.
After the parade we headed to Fireman’s Park where all of the festivities were taking place. There was a carnival also, Mr. Ed’s Magical Midways.
The main attraction that drew us here was the First Brigade Band from Watertown. They were in the parade. They are a Civil War-era band, complete with instruments that were played in the 1860’s. We knew about them but never saw them perform before. See them below.
At this point, rain was threatening. The next show was Ballet Folkloriko Mexico. They were also really good, but it began to rain half-way through their performance and they had to cut it short. They had someone also getting video, but they had to stop because of the rain. I held my hat over my camera to keep it dry! You can see my video below.
And that was the conclusion of our July 4th celebration in Columbus. We had a wonderful time here today! Let freedom ring!
Our last old-fashioned picture was in 2008, also on Broadway but not here. It was at Professor Samuel S. Porter’s Old-Time Portraits.
To treat ourselves for our 19th wedding anniversary that occurred the day before, we arranged to get a tintype picture at the famous H.H. Bennett Studio on Broadway in the Wisconsin Dells. Our Photographer was David Rambow, expert in wet-plate photography since 2001. He is also Site Director for Wisconsin Historic Sites under the umbrella of the Wisconsin State Historical Society. We booked it well in advance at the H.H. Bennett website, deposit is $50. From there you can choose your package and complete your payment during your sitting.
We arrived at 10:30 for our 11 AM sitting, ready to be impressed! I had picked out clothing we had that looked sufficiently “period”, late 1800’s. My lace collar that I wore over my blouse was crocheted by my Grandma Tauchen when they were in style in the 1980’s!
Dave greeted us warmly and invited us to the very studio where Bennett made the Dells famous in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is how the backdrop looks in color.
Behind the chairs are head braces to help you hold still while the picture is taken. This is a long exposure photo. The darker the studio, the longer the exposure. Since it was a bright sunny day, it only took 6 seconds.
Photographer Robert Squires was there too and documented our visit. Thanks for the great photo! He got a picture of Dave installing the prepared wet plate into the camera. It takes 3-minutes to get it camera-ready after exposure to the chemicals. There is no going back once it is preparing!
Dave graciously allowed us to shoot video of getting our photo “struck” so we could show everyone how it’s done! See it below.
We had a great time doing this amazing photo, and they said Al looked like a Civil War vet. We were sent a digital copy ahead of the photo that would be sent in the mail to us.
On August 1st we received our photo in the mail. It was varnished to help protect it from scratches. It was beautiful! On the back was David’s info about the photo.
Also some information on how the photo was made.
I already had a frame to put the photo into that looked good with it.
Don’t pass up your opportunity to get a tintype photo taken by David at THE H.H. Bennett Studio!
Today was a special day in the Village of Oregon. Oregon is a big believer in preserving their heritage and history. They proved that again by not tearing down their historic “Tin Man” water tower. Instead, they chose to restore it and light it up! Tonight is the inaugural lighting of this Oregon landmark. The Pump House below the tower was previously restored and now the tower is too! It was also open that evening.
Before that, it was time to enjoy a concert by the Oregon Community Band. It takes place at Waterman Triangle Park downtown. They have entertained Oregon since 1981. Jim Baxter is the current Conductor.
Enjoy the concert too! At the end of the show, the Tin Man Water Tower’s lights were turned on for the first time!
A beautiful evening in Oregon, Wisconsin. This community preserves their history in a way that all can enjoy.
Winter Hours: From September through May we are open by appointment only.
This was the building in 2016.
The building in 2017/18.
Since we were here for the Big Top Circus Parade, learning more about the history of clowns was a great addition to the day. We could tell by the entryway it was going to be a fun visit! Tours are conducted daily at 2 June through August.
Inside is a large room with displays dedicated to famous clown past and almost present.
The clown giving the tour was talking about the clown’s roles in history and even had some artifacts from their performance days.
Bobo‘s tiny clown car, I don’t know how he got into that!
My visits to the former Sear’s Tower began the year the skydeck was open for viewing in 1974 when I was 7. It opened on June 22 and we went that fall. It is on the 103rd floor. I don’t remember a lot, but my grandparents Norm and Barb Braton came along and grandpa filmed some of the view out of the North-facing windows. This is the Lake Point Tower Condominiums building on the right side of the photo. This photo is composed of two frames of the Super 8 film. It was color but it was inconsistent so I changed it to monochrome. The reason why this view is significant is because it was where Al’s Mom would be living in the late 70’s-early 80’s. As you see, there are no buildings around it YET.
See the video in its entirety.
Photographer Jack Bradley took this photo from the tower in 1975.
Here is another view of the city from the 1970’s from a postcard taken from that era-Phil Valzez.
Cost of admission in 1977, probably the same in 1974. Found in this 1977 guide published by the Chicago Tribune.
The button was my souvenir from then.
10-17-03 29 years later…
Still the Sears Tower until 2009. This time, Al and I went alone. We got more photos this time. They also had a very nice brochure on cardstock. For some reason I don’t have a lot of memories from this visit.
Prices that year.
A couple displays on the walls.
The Northwest view.
Revisiting the Lakepoint Condo viewpoint, much more built up now around it. You can see another building going up nearby.
The clover leaf on the East-facing side.
1-30-18 15 Years later…
It took awhile but we finally made it back. This time we did a day trip. We took the Metra commuter train in from Harvard, IL at 5:47 AM. We learned in advance Tuesdays are often the slowest days and be there when they open the doors at 9:30 AM. I recommend monitoring the Skydeck Chicago-Willis Tower page on Tripadvisor. We knew the express elevators were not in use so waits might be longer.
They opened promptly at 10:00. We put our stuff through the security check then went to get our tickets, general admission. I have no photos on this area since they were prohibited. Prices have really risen in 15 years. Of course, different ownership too.
The brochure as it looks now, no longer on cardstock, just glossy paper.
On your way to the elevator, they take your picture in front of a green screen with the option to buy before your exit or online. This is what it looks like, we didn’t get this one.
We got in line quick, aware of the growing crowd behind us. You can also see an informational 9-minute movie about the tower called “Reaching the Sky” before going up.
We were in the first elevator(s) up! The views were just as incredible as we remembered, and there were more towers built or being built.
We revisit the Northwest view. That tall silver building in the middle is the Trump Tower. Construction began in 2005, completed in 2008.
And back to the Lake Point condo building. A new skyscraper is going up on the left!
The biggest change at the tower since 2003 is the installation of The Ledge™. It’s a reinforced glass “box” that extends outside beyond the other windows. The view was incredible in there, you either feel like a bird or queasy. Al and I did it and felt fine! This picture was taken by another visitor. You are facing East.
Looking at another ledge from inside.
And down. You can see where we entered the building.
View of the ledge boxes from the ground, how tiny they look!
This is the same side as the clover leaf we saw in 2003. Let’s take a new look.
One of the most interesting buildings we saw was the MCC Jailhouse Skyscraper. Even the jails are tall here and saw a volleyball game played by the inmates on the roof. It holds 681. This is on the West-facing side. Apparently it’s hard to see from the ground.
Other skyline views. This is the Chicago north side. That cone-shaped object in the upper left corner is the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. It is 16 miles north of here.
We have been up in the tower for about two hours now, it was nearly 12:30. It was time to go see more of Chicago since we had to be back on the train at 3:30. We could not resist getting a copy of the picture the staff took on the Ledge™.
Enjoy video of our visit!
Blackstone? Tower future
The tower had been sold to the Blackstone Group in March of 2015, though you could not tell that yet on the outside. In the near future it will be undergoing some renovations to make it a more welcoming place to visitors. Perhaps in 7 or 8 years, we will be back to see this 3rd incarnation of Chicago’s largest office building.
Token Creek is an unincorporated community that is part of the village of Windsor. The town of Burke also has some sections here as well. We are going explore Token Creek, past and present.
We had the pleasure of celebrating July 4th here in 2017, so much fun! They distill July 4th to the basics, honoring all veterans , joining family and community together for a day of fun. A favorite tradition is holding hands and singing along to Lee Greenwood’s famous song, God Bless the USA. They call it the “Circle of Freedom”. See it here.
Token Creek also has many businesses on Portage Road and Highway 19. A popular restaurant is on the corner of Hwy 19 and Portage Rd is the Paddle Inn. We need to eat there sometime.
Turn right at the corner and you find several more.
Gentle Breezes Hot Air Balloons has been giving you a ride to remember since 1990. Before that there was a different balloon company here called Token Creek Balloons, different ownership. At one time, the water tower near our home was painted with their logo. It now is blue and says “DeForest”.
Next is the parks, Token Creek cares about the wildlife in the are and makes sure they have a place here too. Token Creek itself is still a work in progress. Across 19 from Portage road is a sign about that.
Continue down the road and you will get to the Token Creek Conservancy, where the old grist mill used to be.
At this pond behind the sign, only the disabled are allowed to fish here. Just beyond this sign is the Token Creek marker you see at the top of the page.
A little past here is more of the park and the cemetery where the Veteran’s Remembrance Ceremony was held on July 4th. First the bridge over the creek.
The mill used to be in this area, now a beautiful park. To the left of the parking lot is the cemetery.
Keep walking streight ahead through the parking lot and you will soon come upon a bridge over the creek. Also a plaque on a rock to the right of the bridge.
Here you will find the other marker in Token Creek, near the park entrance.
You can camp here too.
Enjoy the pine forest with many mature trees.
I enjoyed my visits to Token Creek. To learn more about the community in the 19th and 20th centuries, I have a copy of this book, Token Creek by Mae Bork. The book is now out of print, but I found a copy here if you are interested.
I have lived in Madison for 33 years, Al about 23, and we had never been to Smoky’s Club before. We figured it was about time! For those who don’t know, this is a supper club, only open for dinner. Wisconsin is famous for them all over the state, and we hope to spend more time exploring them. Find a supper club in your area here.
Smoky’s opened back in 1953 before there were many businesses on University Avenue. I hope they are there for their 100th anniversary in 2053. My Grandparents Norman and Barb Braton brought many people here during the 60’s-80’s. Leonard and Janet Schmock are the current owners and are grooming the next generation to continue the great service here.
When you enter, you forget it is 2017. It is the 60’s again and big band music plays softly in the background. No bright lights here, subdued lighting and a tension-free background leads to a relaxing dinner here.
Yes, that lamp above is a puffer fish.
We ate in the back dining room, inside was a picture of John F. Kennedy and candlelit tables with cloth napkins. The long table was soon filled with Badger football fans enjoying dinner after the game.
Our meal began with relishes, veggie while we wait for the meal.
And dinner itself! We ordered the sirloin steak with hash browns, another item Smoky’s is famous for. The steaks come a 500°F heated metal platter, you are warned not to touch it by your server. You also get a bread basket with your meal.
Dinner was delicious and we had no leftovers. Enjoy some pictures of the bar area, many twinkly lights and neat decor.
Get out of the water, SHARK!
We really enjoyed our dinner here and the relaxing ambiance. We recommend coming here for a great dinner, especially steak, as they are famous for them. Don’t pass up the hash browns either, Smoky’s is also famous for them as well.