Jilly D.

Those 70s Memories of Wisconsin: F**k Scott Walker

In Friends, Pictures and memories on March 5, 2012 at 3:44 am

I never got into watching the situation comedy of life in the 70s in Wisconsin, because I’d largely lived it and it wasn’t pretty. Streetscapes and soundtracks of those days haunted me this past week when I returned to the Badger State. Things are not the same.

Neenah sits along the Fox River and Lake Winnebago; the names of the streets and the curves in the roads are the same but the stores and scale of small town life have changed. The interior sense of place remains precious as reality pales. Retail sprawl crowds out the empty lot where the first Mars drive-thru served fast-food breakfast. The commercials demonstrated the convenience of drive-thru fast-food breakfast and inspired me and Sharon and Sandy and Joni to wear our flannels to the Mars on Richmond Street early one Saturday back in 1975.

Neenah is next to Menasha. Step-sister cities. One of the first years of the Otto Grunsky bike races, in the late 1970s, my friends Beth and Amy and I attended with Beth’s new boyfriend Geoff as the designated driver. They served corn on the cob you dipped in a vat of real butter. Amy polka danced with an intoxicated man wearing a Morris the Cat t-shirt spread thin across his polish beer belly. We all danced until we dropped from too much fun.

Madison is a city I first visited with Sharon Schwab senior year as we considered colleges. She introduced me to freshly baked bagels and a jewish housing and food cooperative in the heart of campus that altered my view of what higher education might mean.  Beth and I drove down to rent rollerskates and take to the streets for a day of sightseeing before I started college at Lawrence University.

I discovered the Ovens of Brittany had the best sticky buns from my best friend, Amy Anderson. One time I came to visit her in Appleton and she’d just returned home from a trip to Madison where she’d bought one for herself and had put it in the fridge hidden inside a bag. I woke up in the middle of the night starving and devoured that sticky bun when I discovered it. I’ve spent most of the rest of my life in search of the same delicious taste sensation. Amy about killed me the next morning when she discovered the empty bag. Them sticky buns are worth killing someone over. Really. Butter. Brown sugar, cinamon, vanilla, sweet rising wheat dough. To die for.

Bakery. You betcha. In Wisconsin, bakery goods are a way of life. Sure, I’d love a cup of coffee, if you’ve got something to go with it.Old times. I enjoyed remembering the way things used to be, but didn’t care much for how things were today. Appleton has a prison downtown and generates revenues by taking inmates from Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere. Their families move into an old neighborhood where the homes have all been subdivided into tenement apartments.

On Friday I walked the Lakeside neighborhood of Madison with Amy and found this wonderful remnant of that 70s spirit. Scott Walker Douche poster

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