Support Bay View

John Manke is an active former Bay View resident who is involved in numerous neighborhood organizations, including the Bay View Historical Society, the Humboldt Park Fourth of July Association and the Shore Shore Farmers Market. He believes Bay View has a fine tradition in its past that we do not want to lose in the future.

Summer of 1962

  In 1962, I had a very unusual summer. I was active in the YWCA Terpschichorean Club and enjoying life to it fullest. The club had dances, parties, picnics and other coed activities for interested people. Henry W. Altstadt was the founder and director of the club. He taught dance classes at the downtown YWCA located then at 610 N. Jackson Street. All club activities were coed and had members take turn planning and organizing each event. At least once, we went to the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. We played coed softball at Wilson Park on Sunday mornings. When a new member came along, it was common to place him or her into the kitchen until they loosened up and relaxed.  Afterwards, when the person was relaxed, they were placed into the middle of the activities going on. Everyone was made to feel at home.  No person was allowed to be abusive toward others.  Most activities were oriented toward singles and couples and were clean and wholesome.  It was like being at home away from home in spirit.  Many members were college students and dance class students.

 One Sunday, when we had club activities at Regner City Park in West Bend, Wi., I forgot that I had red hair and sensitive skin. We had softball games, tennis, swimming and other activities. It was so much fun, that I took off my shirt while playing these games.  After I got home, I noticed that I had sun burn over most of my body. When I took a bath, the bath water sizzled. The next day I went to work and visited the company nurse to see how bad my sun burn was. When she saw me, she exclaimed: " Ach, mein Gott im Himmel, was ist her los mit du"?  ( My God, what is the matter with you?)  I was immediately sent to the company doctor, given salve for the burns, and told to stay off my feet until the burns healed. It seems that I had gotten 2nd degree sun burn on much of my body. Well, if you play, you must pay.

 After I healed from my sun burn, I tried to get closer to my father. I went to help him do some things. He could lay 500 rools of sod by himself.  He knew how to plant trees and bushes. He was very gifted in hard work and the ability to be a great cook in the kitchen. His downfall was his stomach and bleeding ulcers. He and my mother raised six children, five girls and myself. He had a green thumb from working with his family in the Manke Greenhouses. He worked at Pabst Brewing Company for a living. He would take side jobs, laying sod, removing old coal furnaces and coal bins, planting trees and shrubs, and also selling Christmas Wreaths. Throughout his life, he always worked very hard.

 In September of 1962, I was reading a book in my apartment, when I found a note that was slipped under my door for me to read. It stated: "Call home. Your father is dead." My father was only 52 years old, and it was hard to picture him dying that young. He once told me about the story of the bridal wreath bush. He said that if it bloomed twice in one year, then its owner would die. His bridal wreath bush did bloom twice that year and he did die. He had made me promise that if anything ever happened to him, that I would take care of my mother.

 This was the end to my summer of 1962. As a warning to others, if your are fair skinned, do not expose yourself to too much sun. Enjoy the love of your parents while you still can. Someday they will no longer be with you. I hope that you will enjoy many wonderful joy filled summers with your family and friends.

This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Page Tools