Bits and Pieces for Sept. 7|
I’m sure there was noise, competition, plenty of strangers and perhaps some foolishness going on during the World Championship Off-Road Races last weekend in Crandon.
An Antigo Journal representative was on the grounds on Saturday, and came back telling me what a great time it was.
I would have had a blast because I know some of the characters associated with off-road racing. But it is a young man’s game, and many I knew are either retired, or worse.
I certainly remember Walker Evans and Jack Flannery, and I became friends on a professional level. Jack was easy to like.
In those days, Parsons of Antigo had a race truck driven by Dave and Sherri and their son, Curt and daughter, Jenny, raced in the buggy class in what was the old SODA organization.
Curt recalled that it was a very good time.
They put on quite a show at the Langlade County Fairgrounds, where I met Jimmie Johnson, Flannery, Evans and other interesting folks.
But the venue was just too small to support anything like that, and pretty soon the race organizations, which seemed to be troubled themselves, had moved on. A visit to Crandon makes the differences obvious. The races there are great and a weekend-long party with music, excitement and foolishness is incredible.
We could not compete with that freewheeling program.
But signs of the Antigo experience linger. Charlie Schlieve and his family are still here and thriving. And a building constructed as a shop at Elbow Road and Highway W was used for the SODA campaign in the Midwest by Schlieve and the Herzog organization, and I think by Walker Evans. It is still tucked out there among the trees in the town of Norwood.
These guys were here ready to race, and spend. It was a very good time.
Speaking of good, Melinda Smith from the Forest County Chamber of Commerce in Crandon has estimates of the direct impact of the off-road racing.
There are two events at the Crandon track this year, and using a formula from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, she has figured businesses benefited to the tune of about $8 million.
Imagine that — in a smaller community like Crandon.
Smith said that formula uses a good crowd count, which the Crandon raceway has, and a number of other factors.
Smith said the downtown area of Crandon was “packed as far as the eye could see” for the Friday noon parade that featured the racing trucks, crews and the spirited Antigo High School marching band.
There is even some kickback here to the race season. The Menzies Red Bull team loads up on food here, including crab legs and steaks. I suggest these folks, and especially the Menzies, a team that travels with a fancy mobile kitchen, eat very nicely.
Lodging facilities and food stores should have seen a spike, too.
A few weeks ago, I had a report in a few 75 Year Ago columns in Peeps at Our Past about the selection of a Dairy Princess from Langlade County.
It was Eleanor Schweitzer, the 15-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Schweitzer.
At the Langlade County Fair, she was crowned as the queen and escorted to a throne by Caroline Hubatch, assistant county 4-H leader.
I reported it in “Peeps,” and it had little impact because I don’t know who Eleanor Schweitzer was back in 1938.
But her daughter, Julie Halambeck, wrote a note and told me that Eleanor was her mother. Lights came on — she married Paul Spiegl, who is deceased. But she is still doing quite well, and I managed to spear a picture from her son, Tim Spiegl.
She attended the Wisconsin State Fair just after the exposition here closed and even went to the “Butter Ball” with other queens from around Wisconsin.
It is true fun to connect a name and face to the people from the 75 Year Peeps. Especially when they are still an active part of our community and have family members I know well.
I thank all of the Spiegl family for their help with this note.
I got into a tad of trouble last week with the Bits & Pieces column.
There were some problems with my data.
Mary Pavek from the Antigo Housing Authority wrote that the project at Park View Manor will be adding to the southeast corner of the building to create handicapped accessible units, all of the existing units will be modernized and a hair salon, exercise room and media center for residents will be added.
The entire area near the Springbrook Trail System will be landscaped and if there is enough money left in the kitty, exterior work will take place. That’s not quite what I gleaned from a municipal report.
The work will start just around the corner, in January or February with the project capped later in the year.
“It is good news for our residents and the local economy as well,” Pavek said.
The other came from Kelly Zagzebski, from Wisconsin Public Service in Wausau.
Someone brought Bits to her attention, and she sent a correction along.
I said the former office area would become a call center, and she said that wasn’t in the plans.
She explained that the office is still a distribution facility and operations still continue out of it. Regional leadership works from the office with the line crews and a designer.
I hope that straightens everything up.
Dennis Miller, a native of Mattoon, brought a few pictures for me a week or two ago of the Pelican Lake area. One is of the interior of the Boiling Springs tavern, and while I haven’t been there for a few years, it looks pretty much like I remember.
The other, which I’m printing today, shows the hotel at the top of the hill, the tavern and boathouse. The hotel is now an apartment building, the tavern is still running as Gerrit’s Lakeview as a very popular stop on the south side of Pelican Lake. But the boathouse out into the water has been gone for years — I think without a trace.
The owners of property at the time the photograph was taken was very likely the Guth family.
Those who owned property on Antigo Island parked on the west side of the property, a line of cars are over there.
One of these days I’ll take a modern picture of Boiling Springs, and print it with the Miller photo.
See you next week.
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