My Milwaukee

The city of his birth sent Richard Schickel off on a lifelong career. Here’s what the film critic and historian discovered when that job brought him back home.

It is a Sunday evening in late November. I’m standing in front of the screen at the Times Cinema in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, about to introduce a film I made, a biographical documentary about Charlie Chaplin. It is one of the closing night attractions at the Milwaukee Film Festival.Read more »

Ghosts From The Sky

THIS JULY MORE THAN TWENTY THOUSAND airplanes will make their way across hundreds and even thousands of miles of sky to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Some eight hundred thousand people will come to see them there, topping off the local hotel facilities, sleeping in college dorms and the rented bedrooms of private homes. For a few days a busy tent city will blossom around the planes, as America’s most impressive annual aviation event runs its hectic, buoyant course. Read more »

A Signature On The Land

The naturalist ALDO LEOPOLD not only gave the wilderness idea its most persuasive articulation; he offered a way of thinking that turned the entire history of land use on its head

The trouble began at midmorning on Wednesday, April 21, 1948, when a neighboring farm’s trash fire got out of control. Flames skittered across the grassy farmyard and began chewing swiftly through a marsh toward the “plantation” of white and red pines that the professor and his family had been nurturing diligently on their 120-acre patch of worn-out Wisconsin farmland since 1935.Read more »

Nicknames On The Land

A small but dependable pleasure of travel is encountering such blazons of civic pride as “Welcome to the City of Cheese, Chairs, Children, and Churches!”

Stephen Vincent Benét confessed that he had fallen in love with American placenames, and George R. Steward, author of the classic Names on the Land, wrote that he was born with rapturous feelings towards the names and cities that “lay thickly over the land.” Read more »

The Traveler’s Bible

A chance meeting in a raucous hotel lobby nearly one hundred years ago led two drummers to make a spiritual mark on hostelries worldwide

Whatever other surprises might erupt on a trip across the country, one thing you can pretty much count on is the presence of a King James Bible in your hotel or motel room, put there by an organization called the Gideon Association. That’s as much as most of us know.Read more »

A Heritage Preserved

History by a Dam Site

The humble structure at the right—as the sign conveniently tells us—is indeed a dam, but it is no ordinary dam. It is a logging dam and may be the last of its kind left in the country, the crude reminder of an age in which the white pine forests of Wisconsin were systematically stripped of timber. It was built sometime between 1878 and 1883 at Round Lake on the South Fork of the Flambeau River in north-central Wisconsin, and its function was as simple as its construction. Read more »

Stringing Along With H. H. Bennett

The Winnebago Indians called him 0Ke-wah-gah-kah (“Man Who Takes the Pictures”) and he certainly did that, over a career that spanned more than four decades. His name was Henry Hamilton Bennett, and the landscape he spent most of his life recording was that of the Wisconsin Dells, a region of ancient sandstone through which the Wisconsin River had carved a witchery of caves and palisades and curious rock formations. Read more »

A Brush Hollow Tale

Tucked away in rural southwest Wisconsin, where the west branch of the Kickapoo River crosses Route 82, is an area of the state known locally as Brush Hollow. It was there, after the turn of the century, that McGarry Morley spent much of his vacation time as a youngster, for his grandfather owned a local farm. Young Morley “loved the people, and thoroughly enjoyed all the various happenings.” Much time has passed since then, and Mr.Read more »

The Untold Delights Of Duluth

A few dazzling words about that emerging metropolis, delivered in 1871 by Congressman J. Proctor Knott. Edited for 1971 visitors by David G. McCullough

On January 27, 1871, a forty-year-old congressman from Kentucky sought recognition on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Upon being recognized by the Speaker, the Honorable James G. Blame, the congressman expressed dissatisfaction with the amount of time he had been allotted on past occasions and so requested, and was granted, one full, uninterrupted half hour to speak his mind. The congressman was a Democrat, an able lawyer, ambitious, learned in the classics, and generally well liked by his colleagues.Read more »