Tuesday, Dec. 15th, 2009

He Stole Her
Dec. 13, 1891

He Stole Her
A remarkable story which came from the Town of Ludington in Eau Claire County.
Eau Claire Daily Leader | December 13, 1891

A young farmer comes to town and carries off the wife of another man.

Ludington township is enjoying a rich sensation. The story goes that a farmer in that precinct, whose name is withheld for the present, made a trip to Eau Claire about one month ago and stole away the young wife of a man living not two miles from Barstow street. How he managed to get the woman to his little farm in Ludington township secretly and without resistance has not been explained. But Friday the woman returned to her hubby repentant and humiliated, and declared she had been stolen away and kept a prisoner. And he believed it. The facts are vouched for by a reliable citizen of Eau Claire, but the names of the parties are withheld for the present.

Chad’s Take:
Lock up your spouse

First off, let me save you the trouble of having to ask Frank Smoot where the town of Ludington is located. The town of Ludington is just east of Fall Creek in Eau Claire County. Consisting of nearly 1,000 people, the rural town normally gets lumped in with Fall Creek.

Now that I have done Frank’s job, let’s move on to the real heart of this article. Before any of you add this case to your running total of Chippewa Valley kidnappings, you should be aware that stories like this one were fairly common during this time period. Perhaps this woman really was the victim of a kidnapping and held hostage at a Ludington farm. Although stranger things have happened in the Chippewa Valley, I am a bit skeptical of this story only because over the years, I have discovered dozens of cases in which the woman simply ran off with another man, and when the forbidden romance did not work out, they inevitably returned to their waiting husbands. Upon returning home some of the women followed the advice of this article and told an amazing tale of being kidnapped by some unknown man. However, many other returning “kidnapped” women were much more creative and clever. These women claimed to have been drugged, hypnotized, and even tricked into leaving with another man. You see, during this time period men mostly thought that women were weak minded, and therefore they could easily be tricked or fooled by any suave and cunning man that came along.

However, these bizarre kidnappings were not exclusively reserved for women. Men also left their wives for other women, and many times when their new love did not flourish, the men also retreated to the safety of their previous home and spouse. Yet these strong and proud men could not claim that they had been kidnapped by some mysterious woman. No, these tough and rugged men had to suffer from amnesia, or have been robbed and beaten by a gang of traveling thieves.

So what really did transpire in Ludington? The simple answer is that I do not know. The article stated that it was withholding the names of the parties involved, and I was unable to find any other article that followed up on this kidnapping story. I did fin it interesting that the paper also hinted at its skepticism toward the kidnapping when it wrote “and he believed it,” referring to the outlandish story told by the wife. In the end I guess this case will remain unsolved, but maybe you should lock up your spouse just in case.

Keep an eye out ...

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Monday, Dec. 14th, 2009

“Crazy” Chippewa man gives out free 20 dollar bills, y’all

Just saw this over on Chippewa.com (The Chippewa Herald) – and wow. An anonymous resident walked into Gordy’s County Market last Friday and handed out $20 bills to random people – his goal was to give out $3,000 in total. He told the Herald, “We’ve been very fortunate, and we want to give it to people.” For the record, the guy’s not crazy, just really, really nice. From the story:

  • [A $20 bill recipient] said, “I thought he was playing a joke for a second.”
  • Another man who had recently lost his job refused to take the money because he said he didn’t want to take advantage of the donor.
  • Gordy’s night manager Seth Walker said he’d never seen anyone handing out cash at the store before. He said people’s reaction to the man has been varied.
  • “It’s been mixed. Some people say they think he’s crazy, Walker said.
  • But since the man was simply helping people, he was allowed to stay inside the store.

It’s too bad we live in such a nutty time where even people in a town like Chippewa Falls are wary of such a good deed – that seems like New York City Talk. But who cares. That guy helped a lot of people buy groceries and he inspired some people to actually give him more money to hand out. And other fine citizens turned down the offering, saying others needed it more. So, wow, happy holidays everyone.

P.S. In case that image up there makes no sense, look here.

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Friday, Dec. 11th, 2009

The car on the ice contest

You may have noticed that winter has arrived. And while the local lakes are not yet frozen to the point of safe trans-ice travel, we’ve been thinking about a weird Midwestern phenomena involving lake ice, old cars, gambling, and physics.

We can’t even think of a general term to describe this, but we’re sure that, at some point in Your Wisconsin Life, you’ve seen a small town contest where an old clunker of a car is rolled out onto a highly visible frozen lake, and then people buy tickets and guess what day it’ll crash through anticlimactically submerge itself through the ice. Usually the contest is run by the Lions Club or the Elks Club or the Moose Lodge or the Zebra Squad or something like that. It’s basically a raffle epitomizing the long, slow crawl of winter, with a payoff signifying the coming of spring.

Menomonie does this every year on its conveniently situated Lake Menomin. If fact, this style of contest served as a really cool plot device in internationally awesome writer Neil Gaimen’s novel American Gods, and guess what Wisconsin town he lives near. Hint: Menomonie.

So, yeah, the whole thing’s kind of weird, yet totally endearing in a very Midwestern kind of way. There’s gotta be some environmental problems with purposely sinking a car into a lake, even if you take out the engine and drain the fluids, but I doubt that’s gonna stop the Moose Lodge.

Are there any other towns nearby running such a contest? What is it usually called? Exactly how bad is it for the environment? Is it crazy? Is it cool? Any responses would be much appreciated.

Comments 23

Thursday, Dec. 10th, 2009

Friday, 1pm

Here’s a quick snapshot of one of the “sets” for Friday’s big, 3-hour web-a-thon to be broadcast LIVE from the Volume One office at 1pm, right here on the VolumeOne.org homepage. Big thanks to Community Television for lending us their cameras and mixing equipment. Our office is a huge tangle of cords and lights right now, and we’ll be having a steady stream of guests filing through the doors throughout the show.

Yeah, we’re doing all this to try and get a bunch of people to sign up for a Volume One membership package. But we’re also doing this because it’s never been done around here. We’ve never tried anything like this, so we’re not really sure what to expect. We’ve got five sets, three cameras, zero telethon experience, and three hours to fill. It’s just our staff and interns running the thing. Should be fun.

Later today, you’ll be able to leave comments and Facebook updates and tweets from right here on this screen, right under the LIVE broadcast window. Doing so will enter you to win a “staycation” prize package, including a hotel stay, tickets, and free food. And if a staycation doesn’t get you excited, how about guests like Justin Vernon, Michael Perry, Daredevil Christopher Wright, and world record whip cracker Adam Winrich? What’s that do for you?

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Wednesday, Dec. 9th, 2009

Sunday’s Found Footage Festival to feature local clips

On Sunday, Eau Claire’s Cameo Budget Theater will enjoy yet another visit from the enjoyable Found Footage Festival. And this time, the fest will be featuring some local clips, like the one below. FFF co-curator Joe Pickett says:

  • This video was found in a closet in the old Menards building in EC. I guess the facility also doubled as a studio for a regional home shopping channel called America's Value Network. The video was found by a friend of ours and was labeled "Sell Sell Sell." It featured 30 minutes from "The John & Johnny Show," a show that felt like they were making it up as they went along. It also feels like uppers were involved. We actually tracked down Johnny (the one sans mustache) and talked to him about it. He said that this particular show (which didn't last very long) was one of the very first home shopping shows ever. This clip contains one of Johnny’s' best lines – “Automatically outstanding!”

FFF goes down on Sunday, December 13 at 7pm and 9pm.

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Tuesday, Dec. 8th, 2009

The Valley shoots We Are the Willows

Watching Peter, Jeremiah, Karin, and Zach play is a breathtaking experience. All are fabulous multi-instrumentalists, deeply invested in Peter’s infectious melodies and narrative lyrics. Their voices blended together in open harmonies and unison, making the open air of Owen Park the perfect setting for them.

... for more videos and photos of We Are the Willows, check out The Valley.

  • The Valley is a collection of musical performances with the Chippewa Valley as a backdrop. The project is headed by three students at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire who may have only minimal experience, but a passion for their community and the art that surrounds it. (The Valley is inspired by Vincent Moon's Takeaway shows, available at La Blogotheque.)


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Show Review: Mojo Lemon @The Snout Saloon

The band, Mojo Lemon, Volume One reports to be the Best Blues Band in the Chippewa Valley. For my part, I would have to agree. Strictly speaking, a real blues aficionado wouldn't consider most of what the band plays as blues. I, on the other hand, am willing to color outside of the lines where blues is concerned. They are having fun on stage. The music selection is great. I am having fun listening. It was a great night to be at the Snout Saloon.

The bar was full. I knew it before I hit the door. Central street was fully parked and the lot across the street nearly so. So no surprise when there was a wall of people just inside the door. The band was playing, and good times were being had by all. We were arriving late, having caught another show earlier in the night, Brian Bethke at the Acoustic Café. Naturally the band went out on break at the end of the song they were playing. My timing has always been lucky this way ...

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Justin Vernon/Memorial HS jazz concert CD released

Hey, remember last April when Justin Vernon joined Memorial High School’s Jazz Ensemble I for an eight-song set which included adaptations of two Bon Iver songs: “For Emma” and “Lump Sum”?

Of course, you do.

The concert was a fundraising event for Vernon’s alma mater, and now you can get that concert on CD. Yep, that’s right, Bon Iver and/or Eau Claire Memorial High School Jazz I fans, A Decade with Duke is now available. The CD includes two sets of music – Jazz I’s “Essentially Ellington” set and the tunes with Vernon.

The CD is available for purchase only in Eau Claire and only at Brickhouse Music, Morgan Music, and Volume One’s office starting today. But a digital version of the Vernon set is available right now from iTunes, Amazon.com, eMusic, and the like (or will be soon). Proceeds from CD and download sales will be donated to Memorial’s band programs.

Obviously, Vernon’s being a hell of guy with this. Tune your web browser in to our big ol’ web-a-thon event right here on the VolumeOne.org homepage this Friday, Dec. 11 from 1-4pm – where Vernon is one of several guests – and hear what the man has to say about the whole deal.

Here’s the CD’s track list and more about the concert ...

First Set
1. Wind Machine
2. Symphony in Riffs
3. Moon Over Cuba
4. Happy Go Lucky Local
5. Portrait Of Louie Armstrong (featuring Bruce Hering)
6. Bye Bye Blackbird 

Second Set
1. Lump Sum
2. Rocks In My Bed (featuring Addie Strei)
3. Bewitched
4. Miss Otis Regrets
5. For Emma
6. Lady Is A Tramp
7. Since I Fell For You (featuring Mike Noyce)
8. Satisfied Mind

On April 19th, 2009, Eau Claire Memorial Jazz Ensemble I, under the direction of Bruce Hering, invited former Eau Claire Memorial Jazz I alumnus Justin Vernon to perform with them at their annual fund raising concert. The concert was held to raise money for the band's sixth trip to The Essentially Ellington Competition and Festival at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. At the concert, the band performed their Essentially Ellington set, then invited Vernon on stage to sing an eight-song set with them, which included several jazz and blues standards as well as two songs, "Lump Sum" and "For Emma", from Vernon's acclaimed Bon Iver release, For Emma, Forever Ago.

The concert is dubbed A Decade With Duke to commemorate Eau Claire Memorial Jazz I's ten years of involvement in The Essentially Ellington Competition and Festival. Vernon was the guitar player in the first Eau Claire Memorial Jazz Ensemble I to attend the competition back in 1999.

The 2009 Eau Claire Memorial Jazz Ensemble I went on to be named “One of America’s Best Jazz Bands” by ranking third at Essentially Ellington, which earned them the honor of performing onstage at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, the coveted Essentially Ellington trophy, and a check for $1,000.

Comments 9

Monday, Dec. 7th, 2009

Who knew? Wisconsin is 5th largest Christmas tree grower

Hey! Apparently, Christmas trees are a Wisconsin cash crop – we’re the nation’s fifth largest grower. Whilst buying a tree, shame on me, I’ve never really thought about where it comes from – I’ve always just assumed it was grown somewhere relatively nearby. But this year, I’m going to ask how local it is. Obviously, if you go out to a tree farm to purchase your Symbol of Holiday Goodness, it’s a local commodity, but those tree lots? You better ask or you might get stuck with a tree from Pennsylvania or some crap like that. Read:

  • The state is the fifth-leading producer of Christmas trees in the United States. Only Oregon, North Carolina, Michigan and Pennsylvania produce more.
  • More than 1.8 million trees, grown on nearly 1,400 farms encompassing 36,000 acres are harvested in Wisconsin each year. Christmas trees are a major part of the state's agricultural commerce, pumping more than $50 million into the state economy each holiday season.
  • "Buying a real Wisconsin Christmas tree does a lot of good things," says Cheryl O'Brien, the 62nd Wisconsin Alice in Dairyland, who is also a spokesperson for the state's agricultural industry. "Buying a Wisconsin-grown Christmas tree helps support our local farmers, producers, communities, economies, and all Wisconsin agriculture." (via asseeninwi.com via onmilwaukee.com)

This much is true: if the 62nd Wisconsin Alice in Dairyland says something, I believe it.

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Sausage Was Doped
December 12th, 1905

Sausage Was Doped
Eau Claire Weekly Telegram | December 12th, 1905

More Prosecutions in Eau Claire Under Pure-Food Law
Fines Paid by Several
In Two Cases, Defendants Plead Not Guilty and Will Stand Trial

Asst. Dairy and Food Commissioner Moore, as result of the state chemist’s analysis of the samples of bologna sausage which Mr. Moore secured in this city recently, had more meat market men arraigned before Judge Gilbertson this morning. The charge against each was that of unlawful offering and exposing for sale, taking orders for selling and being in possession of bologna sausage containing artificial coloring matter and boric acid.

The defendants were Gustav Walter, Herman Alf. L.E. Cranie, J. Blasius, John Welch and Chris Diefenbach, the sausage maker for the Drummond Packing Co. All pleaded guilty –except John Welch and Chris Diefenbach—and paid the fines and cost of $29.95 each under the protest.

Messrs. Walter and Alf did not think it was right to fine them, as hey did not know that there was any preservative in the sausage and had not made it themselves but bought it of the Drummond Sausage Company. John Welch pleaded not guilty and said that he would consult a lawyer. He too had purchased his sausage from the Drummond Packing Co., and he did not think it right that he should pay a fine for somebody else’s offense.

Attorney Frank R. Farr appeared in behalf of Chris Diefenbach, who pleaded not guilty to the charge, and his case was adjourned till later, the date, however, not being set. Its looks as though the Drummond Packing Company is going to contest the case. Mr. Moore left this morning for Madison. As a net result of his work, eleven of Eau Claire’s eighteen butchers were arrested and fined as a result of his investigations during the present week and two cases are pending against two.

Chad’s Take – A tough choice

On numerous occasions I have written about the fallacy that our great grandparents were more grounded, had more common sense, and were overall stronger than we are today. This article serves as one such example to bolster my argument. In today’s world we routinely eat chemically modified food, play with China’s lead infused toys, and build our homes right next to industrial waste producing plants, without so much as a second thought. Yet this 1905 article tells of several Chippewa Valley residents being arrested for selling the fine folks of the area some sausage with a little Boric acid in it. Sure there are those of you who will state that Boric acid is not meant for consumption, that it is primarily used for insecticides, flame retardants, antiseptics, and nuclear power plants. I’ll concede the fact that at first glance Boric acid does seem quite harmful, yet it is still generally considered a weak acid.

However, as a researcher of the strange and bizarre, I strive to give every side of an argument fair treatment. Perhaps, you critics are right in the belief that the Chippewa Valley residents should have been protected from Boric acid in their sausage. For this experiment I am going to compare your expertise of sausage, versus the expertise of the sausage makers, Drummond Packing Company.

Myself and the normal (or abnormal) readers of this column.

1. I am guessing that the majority of you are similar to me in the fact that most of my yearly sausage intake is in the form of a topping decorating a pizza.

2. A few of you may even enjoy the occasional tasty sausage stick throughout the course of the year.

3. And perhaps, by some far-fetched chance, one of you readers even makes his/her own homemade sausage.

I must admit that so far, we the people of the Chippewa Valley possess a fairly impressive sausage resume.

Now, let’s take a look of Drummond Packing Company.

1. David Drummond came to Eau Claire in 1870, and formed a small meat packing business that mostly provided lumbermen with the necessary food to get them through the day.

2. In 1881, David’s brothers joined in the business, and it became known as Drummond Brothers. In 1893, the business was incorporated, and the business name was changed to Drummond Brothers Packaging.

3. By the year 1927, the Drummond Packing Company was handling 2,000 hogs per week, they employed over 15 people, and sold over 10,000,000 pounds of product annually. All of this was from their plant on the north side of Galloway Street in Eau Claire.

4. David Drummond is a member of the Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame.

5. For 120 years, some variation of the original Drummond Packaging Company existed in the Chippewa Valley, until Armour finally closed down the plant in 1990.

This was an excruciatingly tough call to make. I tediously studied the qualifications of both sides of the argument. And after much thought and debate, when it came to sausage safety, I was left with two options. I could throw my weight behind myself, and several other avid pizza fans (Chippewa Valley Residents) or behind the Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame business (Drummond Packaging Company). In the end, I decided that maybe eating sausage and not consuming Boric acid could go hand in hand. After calling a few local butchers, and several proprietors of meat selling establishments, I quickly found out that today’s sausage contains no Boric acid at all, which made my locally made pizza taste even more delicious.

Keep an eye out,
Chad Lewis

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