Every once in awhile, I need to stop and catch up. I have to pause and write about some things, this and that, I learned along the way on this little path of historical research.
In the last Local History Notebook that I write for the La Farge Episcope, I was ruminating on the beginnings of the Zzip Stop gas station/convenience store in La Farge. I forgot to mention that when the Zzip Stop opened in 1987, the La Farge Co-op was also still selling gasoline. After talking to Kevin Janecek, the present manager of the Co-op, he related that the Co-op stopped selling gas around 1990. When that happened, the Zzip Stop was the last and only place left in town to buy fuel for your automobile.
After that column on the Zzip Stop came out, I was chatting with Megan Stone, the friendly gal at the cash register of the Zzip Stop. She informed me that there was no hyphen in the Zzip of Zzip Stop. I was aghast, as I had changed the spelling of the gas station several times as I wrote that column. I originally had it spelled Z-Zip with two capital Z’s, but edited it down to one capital Z and one small case z. But through the editing process, I had not noticed that there wasn’t a hyphen in the name of the business. So, for now, Zzip Stop with two Z’s (one big – one little) and no hyphen should be correct. If you think differently, keep it zzipped!
Joe Young called me last week about the Lyons School. Harry Peterson has been trying to take photographs of all the old country schools that once were in Vernon County and had contacted me about that school’s whereabouts. I wasn’t sure, but Harry and I had both heard that the school had been moved to La Farge and converted into a residence. The problem with that story was that I couldn’t find anyone among my reliable history sources (not to be confused with my unreliable history sources) that knew anything about that move of the schoolhouse to La Farge. Turns out it never happened. The schoolhouse burned down back when it was still being used as a school. According to Joe, some of the students had to go to Fairview School after the fire. I also heard from others that some Lyons School students went to Tunnelville School after the fire. Some of the remains of the old school are still visible along the old roadway that once ran from Tunnelville out to Buchanan Ridge.
Later, another Lyons School was built and in 1951 that schoolhouse was moved to Viola. (So we had part of the story right; the school was moved to a town, but it was Viola and not La Farge.) John Burnard lived in the school that became a residence for years. Now it is owned by Max Perkins, who gave me a phone call about the old school house, its location (on the corner of McKinley & York Streets in Viola) and some of its history. Harry now has a photo or two of the former schoolhouse as well.
Harry was also looking for the Buckeye Ridge School. Art Thelen filled me in on the final journey of that old country school. Years back, after the school closed due to consolidation, the building was moved down off the ridge to a property along Plum Run Road. But the school was not well maintained and, alas, soon fell into disrepair and collapsed in on itself. Eventually the property was cleaned up and the old Buckeye Ridge School became a large pile of ashes.
I have this file saved on my computer screen called “LHS Strikeout Kings”. It is the possible genesis of a column on notable La Farge Wildcat baseball pitchers with lots of K’s. While conducting some research recently on what was happening in La Farge back in 1976, I found where Van Bergum had been named an All-Conference pitcher in his senior year at LHS. Van had led the Wildcats to a conference championship that spring and had pitched two no-hitters along the way. In one of those No-No’s, Van had struck out 16 batters. That rekindled my wondering who held the school record for strikeouts in a game.
In May of 2013, Josh Lisney had struck out 20 batters in ten innings in a 1-0 LHS win over Seneca. At the time, everyone wondered if that was a school strikeout record. As it turned out, it wasn’t. Upon examining the contents of the Years past in La Farge column in the October 27th issue of the La Farge Episcope, we found that Mac Marshall Jr. struck out 22 batters in a 9-inning 1-0 win over Wauzeka. That strikeout total of Mac’s was a Kickapoo Valley League record (which I’m assuming stood the test of time). It’s interesting to note that both Mac’s and Josh’s strikeout totals were reached in extra-inning 1-0 games won by La Farge. Ironically, in that 2013 game in which Josh fanned twenty Seneca batters, the game actually went eleven innings. But by WIAA pitching rule, Josh had to leave the mound after the tenth inning, thus never having the chance to challenge Mac’s school record. Are there any other stories out there about LHS hurlers and their strikeout exploits?
Another notable accomplishment in high school athletics was achieved a couple of weeks back by a former LHS student. Mark Johnson, LHS Class of 1980, coached the Eau Claire Memorial High School girls’ cross-country team to a second straight WIAA D-1 state title! Johnson, who is the co-head coach along with Angie Rush, watched the Old Abe runners win the D-1 title over the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids on October 31. It was plenty of treats and no tricks for the girls in the purple and white of Eau Claire Memorial that day. Way to go MJ!
Several people have talked to me about the question that has arisen recently regarding the Viola Horse & Colt Show. When did the Horse & Colt Show switch from being always held on a Friday to being held on a Saturday? My rather vague recollections put the change at about 1960. I seem to remember of the change being made at the insistence of the principal at the Viola school because he didn’t want the students in Viola to be missing another day of school. It seems to me that the students at La Farge also got out of school when the Horse & Colt Show was held on Friday, so there was some consternation by the upriver students about the change as well. I must admit that my memories of this are rather murky. Can anyone clear away the clouds?
A friend recently talked to me about a column written last month by Matt Johnson, the editor of the Vernon County Broadcaster newspaper. Matt’s column addressed a division that he saw in the city of Viroqua between the old-timers (people born and raised in the area) and the newcomers. He identified the newcomers as the people who have recently moved to the city and as those that espouse charter schools, home schooling, alternate and back-to-nature lifestyles and have other sorts of “New Age” credentials. Matt saw the newcomers as almost isolating themselves from the community at large through their choices of lifestyle. I found that observation by Matt interesting because usually one would view the separation to be caused by the non-acceptance of the new people by the more traditional establishment folk.
My friend, who moved to La Farge in the 1970s along with many other “Hippies”, “Back-to-the-Landers” and other societal dropouts of that time, said that he never felt that separation in the community of La Farge. He said that he thought the “new” people of that time were well accepted in La Farge. I tend to agree with him for the most part. Generally, Kickapoogians are not a group that wants to put on airs (for some very obvious reasons), so acceptance of others may come rather easily. It is interesting to note though that at the same time as there was this influx of new blood into the community, La Farge was being torn apart over the controversy of the dam project. Perhaps the La Farge locals did not have time to discriminate against the newcomers since they were so busy staking out their sides over the dam story. I will write more about these dynamics of division within the community at a later time.
I also want to send a “Shout Out” to the folks at North Crawford High School for their recent production of “Fiddler on the Roof”. The students, faculty and entire community came together to make the 48th season of musical theater at North Crawford a rousing success. Historically, I found the production interesting in that this was the third time that “Fiddler” had been done at North Crawford. The musical had previously been done in the school years of 2000-01 and 1973-74 and there were cast members from those two previous productions in attendance the night we saw this years production of “Fiddler”. I found that connection with the past quite amazing.