Monday, November 20, 2017

Stout Music

Russ Stout School of Music was bought by June Lefever, and she operated Stout Music for many years.  Recently she sent to the Fond du Lac Historical Society numerous photos and clippings about Stout Music.

This is a photo of trophies (and student photos) that were on display in 1954.

undated photo.

June Lefeber behind the counter of Stout Music.

Aug. 21, 1954 at the annual Chicagoland Music Festival.
Left to right: Linda Beyer, Anna Jo Loehr, Sandra Neilsen, audrey Wollitz, Sue Beyer, Carol Lefeber (barely seen), Marie Haensgen, Delores Kunasch, Pat Jameson, Alma Robbins, Carolyn Posey, Sandra Pittler, Donna Zeigenhagen, Judy Schmitz, Wilma Coonley (barely seen), Devota Gilgenbach.

(Imagine if they all played at once)

There always was a Home Show every year at the Fond du Lac County Fair, with entertainment in the Merchants Building!

Looks like they have a jam session going!

More  Home Show entertainment.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Wolf Lake play equipment

In scanning in some old slides from Fond du Lac county, I came across a few pics of old playground equipment, probably the products of BCI Burke Co.  These pictures were taken at Wolf Lake in August 1968.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Came across some old photos of the fairgrounds, and I can actually remember some of these older buildings, now long gone.

The old Merchant building, as well as the old horse barn can been seen in this aerial view.

The Old Horse Barn

Monday, October 23, 2017

Palmers, Bannisters and dulcimers

The Palmer dulcimer, on display at the Galloway House & Village

Birney & Carrie Palmer with their dulcimer

Bingham Lake
Dec 18th, 1932

Dear Mae & All.
This, while mostly business like is also a Christmas greeting to you all and I wish you a very bright and happy day. As you doubtless know before this time I came up here to attend Charley Siem’s funeral who died the 3rd of Dec. It is a very sad family for they loved him very much and had cared for him so long that it was very hard to give him up.

Once, when the family were visiting us at Valley Springs Charley wanted to see the dulcimer and we got it down out of the barn. The wrench was with it then so we could see how the tuning was done. And we never saw it after that till just a few minutes ago when Laura went and got it from Charley’s things. He had put it in his pocket and brought it home with him. I am sending it to you and as it is old you may want it for a pattern to make a newer one.

By now you will know that there are to be five or six bass strings which go over the top of the short bridge & through the holes in the long bridge. The bass strings are of brass but the other ones are of wire (steel wire) Bass strings are only two strands just from their keys over across to the nails on the left hand side. I do not know whether you can get the right kind of wire or not. Mary used to try to use different kinds of wire – fiddle strings, mandolin strings etc. But none of them gave the same satisfaction as the regular dulcimer wire which I doubt if you can get. Now, as to the history of this dulcimer. I can not tell in what year Erastus Bannister came to Wis to sell dulcimers but it was between 1850 and 1856. The Manning family were in Wis then from N. Y. state and had settled in Adams Co. at a place called Roche-a-Cree, an Indian name. Then Gaston Bannister & Jasper went to the same place. It was in the summer of 1856 that my sister Carrie worked for a family by the name of Dr Cruthers who lived about a mile west of where the town hall and the Methodist church used to stand in the town of Byron, Fond du Lac Co. This family were singers and music lovers. And when Erastus Bannister came along selling dulcimers and was himself a singer with a grand good bass voice, they had royal good times and of course he sold them a dulcimer, and as he traveled around the country selling them, he made the Dr’s home his headquarters, thus getting acquainted with your Aunt Carrie Bannister  who sang alto with the family. Your uncle Will Palmer was a baby that year born the 4th of Apr. Erastus & Carrie were married in the fall and went to Roche-a-Cree to live. And before going he gave your Aunt Mary a dulcimer for she took to it at once, thought Aunt Florence played some. And it is her picture taken with your father with the dulcimer on her lap. So you see the Bannisters – three brothers, and the Mannings all lived up there which we used to call the “Injun Land”. And Manning’s folks bought this dulcimer that you have. When the  moved to this country they brought it along, and when they went to calif the left it to Aunt Jennie. And when they moved in their new house they put it up in the barn where it stayed until charley wanted to see it that time. And now you have it. After your father came home from the war, he went up to Adams Co. to visit the Bannisters and Aunt Mary had already gone up there. She & Birney played together for dances etc. And she there met & married Frank Munn when they all came down to Byron in 1865 or 66.
Now I hope you enjoy the old thing and learn to play on it – I only wish I was there to see the old thing renew itself and to hear you play. A very merry Christmas to you all from my heart and Laura & Myrtle send their greetings too.

Aunt Rosina

Johny's on the Lake

Just received an email from someone out of state, who came across some photos of Johny's on the Lake, which the family had owned at one point.

Rick is the youngest of the Nagy “kids” whose parents John and Dolores Nagy owned the restaurant.   Dolores was a cook there and John also bartended.  Their home was also located at the restaurant.  My husband gained his love of boats growing up there and as kids got to help bring patrons’ boat to dock.  

John and Dolores eventually moved to Arizona where they retired and eventually passed on.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Gene Autry

Here are some fun photos of a time when Gene Autry visited Fond du Lac.  Of course, he received a key to the city, but on this occasion he also got to visit some safety patrol students.  Does anyone recognize themselves in these pictures?

Gene Autry receives key to the city from Clarence Sheridan

Sunday, September 3, 2017


Today marks one year, that my mom finally was re-united with my dad, so I decided to go through some of the many little papers of anecdotes that she wrote, which gives me a glimpse into days long gone.

[My mother was born Jan. 24, 1914, and her early days were spent on Morris St.  Her next-door neighbor was Mrs. Shirley, the last of the freed slaves who moved to Fond du Lac after the civil war.  Mom's playmate when she was little, was Mrs. Shirley's grandson.]

Here is a little piece that she wrote about her early childhood:

Thoughts about my Mother
By Emma Berghandler Reinhardt

Seems more difficult to recall things about my mother than my father, as he seemed to dominate my childhood more than she did. Perhaps the word dominate isn’t appropriate. Let’s say he impressed me more by the things he did when he was at home after work and on weekends and Holidays, not that he engaged in activities that included me and my younger brothers. I was more like a bystander, watching and learning and admiring things that he did. A small part of my memories of my mother dwells on her hard work, our kitchen floor in the house on Morris Street was of hardwood boards, laid by my dad, but my mother it was who scrubbed the varnish off of those boards, till they finally shone white. She was 34 years old when I was born, and 39 when brother Herb was born, he being the last in the family. As brother Bill (William Otto) was born in 1907, our mother bore 8 children in 12 years. The reason I remember her scolding when we tracked up her clean floor is very clear to me now. 

However, my first memories of her, which I’ve related in another paper, were of her standing in our parlor with Dr. Waldschmidt. I was standing on the table being wrapped in bandages from head to toe, so it seemed, after I’d been burned by scalding hot coffee. I must have been just 3 years old, as it was wintertime and my birthday is in January. I remember our kitchen in the Morris street house very well, and I’ve been told the story by others, so I can picture how the accident happened, but the only clear picture I have is my concerned mother, the doctor and me. 

Our property went back to the Chicago and Northwestern railroad, and there was a deep ditch running alongside the tracks over which dad had put planks for a footbridge so we could get up onto the tracks. The summertimes when I was 4 to 7 years old seem to be easy to remember, as sisters and brothers were home from Franklin school, and there was always something going on.  There was a pond across the tracks  kitty-corner from our place, and south of a huge stock pavilion, where cattle sales were held at times.  There was a long side track spur running for about a half a mile, and when the circus came to town the wagons and animals were unloaded there. This was always a great treat. People came from all over just to watch the elephants pull the circus wagons off the railroad cars, sometimes going long into the night. There were lanterns on poles to light the way as the men worked. Sometimes the living-quarters cars were shunted on that siding later on, and we would see the circus people come and go. Of course there was the huge informal parade to the Fairgrounds. I remember a lot of horses and costumed ladies, but we were cautioned and kept from mixing with the roust-a-bout circus workers. I never remember going to the circus in the tent; I’m sure we couldn’t afford that luxury. Brother Bill may have crept under the tent to see the shows, but it was always a grand and exciting time for us. 

The pond was a drawing spot for me especially, with its pollywogs and minnows, no big fish as I remember. Another pastime was watching the trains go by while dangling our feet from the plank bridge over the ditch, then walking out the tracks with a pail to pick up lumps of coal thrown off the coal cars by the momentum of the train. My mother as well as some of our neighbors picked coal, and thus saved on fuel bills. On special days Irma, Frieda and I would cross the fields and journey over to Grandma’s house on Military Road. Her place was just opposite Seymour Street. The entire plot that she and Grandpa Keilberg bought was just over ten acres, which were divided into home plots, and Uncle Paul built 3 homes, one on Military St., just opposite Seymour St., which is where Grandma lived in the upstairs apartment, she went in by the front door and up the stairs. Slaters lived downstairs. I especially remember the beautiful buffet and the grand piano, which was a duplicate of the one we had.  Needless to say, they took up a lot of room;  later on, when I was a teenager, dad dismantled ours and made a library table with the mahogany wood.

Mom meets dad and other notes

My parents’ home, ether I grew up, was on a 2 acre plot at the edge of the city, on Military Road. The Milwaukee St. Paul Railroad track ran south on the edge of the property. My father, a carpenter, was very industrious, and always busy improving the place. I guess I took after him, raking the lawn each spring, while he made a large mounded flower bed, with a tall caster bean plant in the center. He planted sweet peas along the chicken yard fence. My older brother Bill, and sisters left home at an early age, so I became special, and tried to do my best to help out at home, helping with my three younger brothers. As a teenager, in the summertime I often hiked a mile out the tracks, climbed onto a haystack, and read my book!

A near neighbor, Margery Hill and I, became fast friends; I joined her dancing class. Our teacher was Helen Fagan. Classes were held in the Moose Building on Forest Ave. We learned tap and toe dancing. Our group of nine girls performed at the theater twice a year with Arch Adrian’s band. We even put on a show at a Beaver Dam Theater one year. We were always competing with Cleo Smith’s dance studio. At that time, KFIZ was only on the air for 1 hour, with their studio in the Haber Print Shop building. After the news, Ev. Williams played the piano. One afternoon he had Marge Hill and I harmonize 2 songs on his show “Drifting and Dreaming” and “Dream Train”.

I planned to attend the Rural Normal School for teachers, but the school was closed the year I graduated from High school. I went to work at the Bonita Candy Factory on East First St. I became one of a group of young people who went to dances and roller rinks, where I met Neil, the love of my life. After he bought the South Side Dairy business from Walt Sievert, we married in 1936. I continued to work; the milk-bottling business was all hard work, long hours, little money. When we heard of an opportunity to go farming in the town of Springvale, we took it. We had 2 foster babies at the time, and (because) I was expecting our own first baby,  they were placed elsewhere.  I still remember those two babies.
We ran Allie and Eva Stearns farm for two years, but came back to this area after Neil’s dad died suddenly.  Neil’s mother moved to town, and Neil ran the farm.  His brother Jim stayed with us. The subject of the Army came up, and Bob R. said something. Neil decided to move out. After farming at two places (Varings and Kelroys) we settled on the Mullins farm, which we bought 5 years later.

Here is another little piece written about the farm that I grew up on, and she starts it off in her usual way....with a poem

As you’ve been digging into long-ago days, here is something I must have written a while back:

There’s Blessings left for me
Of days that used to be
I live in memory
Of days on Reinhardt Road
An old unpainted barn
That kept the cattle warm
A corn-crib that told the reason
Full or empty you’d know the season
Water pipes below the frost line
Kept water-cups filled for thirsty cows
High on a pole an automatic yard light
Kept wild critters away through the night

The granary was a two-story building
The upper floor was reached by a stairs
Whose wooden steps hugged the outer side
Beneath was the hen-house, kept in fresh straw
Tracy drove the pick-up truck full of grain [she did not…it was Peggy]
From the combine to the granary to be emptied
By dad, into grain bins.

The granary was the place where gunny bags were filled with grain to be ground for cattle feed. This job needed two people. The girls helped willingly. [we did?] The boys were too young to help as yet. When dad came in with a load of corn to be fed into the belt of the silo-filling machine, the girls kept the boys on the porch, away from that area. In all of our farming years the only accident was when Dick stuck his finger into some moving part. He cried a lot, so we took him to Doc. Thiesen; it was bruised but not broken. A good record for few mishaps, which were mostly whooping cough, chicken pox, mumps or measles. Am I just remembering the good times???? We worked together, getting all the farm chores done, sharing the driving kids to St. Joes school in Fond du Lac. The brooder-house in the grove near the house got a lot of attention in the spring. The baby chicks had to be closely watched for diseases, the house kept warm and clean, and kept supplied with water and chick mash. There was a huge old blossoming Black Locust tree in the grove near the house, which perfumed the air.  Melrose school, near Pier cemetery, was 2 miles from the farm, so we drove them the last extra mile to town to St. Joes Grade School.