GREEN LAKE STORIES
Green Lake has been a gathering place for families for generations. These stories are about the connection of our community to our treasured lake—and the understanding and will to protect it for generations to come.
My Green Lake Story videos: Voices from the community.
If you're interested in sharing your story with us, please reach out via email: email@example.com
Recollections of Growing up on Sandstone Avenue...
A Founding Member's Granddaughter
by Julie Jankowski
When your family owns and operates a cannery in Markesan, in a region of the country that has long been considered one of the most fertile, you employ many local residents and work hand-in-hand with the farming community. Your busiest months are June through September and you have huge responsibilities 24 hours a day during peak lake time, as crops wait for no one. So, when you dream of owning a cottage in 1936, to slip away to with your children and friends to try to relax and make precious memories, you can't search far from home. The nine-mile drive to Sandstone Bluff on the south shore of Green Lake was the solution. Dead end, Sandstone Avenue originally was a private drive to the Lucas Estate on the Bluff. This family had placed the historic stag statue there. Lucas lined the drive with beautiful trees. Though his estate is gone, in autumn, it is one of the most colorful drives on the lake.
In 1936 Floyd and Marge Friday, along with 8-year-old Eugenia (Jean) and 5-year-old Barbara, rented a newly built spec home just west of Horner Landing. Next door, also renting a house that summer was the Walsh family with their children David and Vivian. As the story goes, both families enjoyed the summer so much that they each decided to purchase one of the cottages. Floyd jumped into action before anyone else could buy his Dutch Colonial and paid the whopping $6,500, and the two families have been like one big family these five generations and 85 years! Vivian and her husband Bill Hanan eventually ended up with the other cottage and brought their three children for the duration of every summer. They were the parents of Fran Hanan Hill, who is a third-generation owner, and brothers Bill Jr. and Paul! The Walsh clan screen house was a place of relaxing, neighborhood, evening gatherings and children's slumber parties!
My grandparents eventually ended up with seven grandchildren and numerous grandpets. Floyd quickly converted the unattached garage into a second cottage, which was permitted at the time, and Jean and Barbara's families came every summer, for the whole summer. The two younger branches would arrive the day school got out from Stevens Point and Appleton, and would leave after an annual farewell picnic, the night before school started, which I'm sure included Green Lake's famous Van Ryan steaks, sadly no longer available! We grew up with two homes, two sets of friends, two worlds very different from each other. Only a few times per summer would my parents allow us to bring a friend from home. We needed to learn how to adjust, make friends, read, play cards, get involved, appreciate nature (I learned what poison ivy was but managed to get covered in it, annually, anyway) and the lake, and we did.
One of the wisest rules my grandparents enforced was that summer time was time to unplug. There were no computers then. But the TVs we had during the school year were not allowed at the cottage. It wasn't until I was about 16 that one showed up. Instead, we all became avid readers and were "treated" to town-time in Markesan or Ripon, weekly, to go to the library. We did occasionally go to a movie in Markesan, Ripon, Berlin or Montello, or the outdoor theater near Ripon on Highway 23, and it was a huge deal! People along the shore also had movie nights. Neighbors would call or send their kids down the shore with invitations announcing that their projector would be showing family movies and their house would fill with friends as the sun was setting. We all laughed about what the night's admission would be. It was whatever the host was in need of for cottage supplies: safety pins, bobby pins, pencils. Parents sent the kids to hunt around the cottages for the "admission!” (...continued)
And that is what many families along the shoreline of Green Lake did at the time, as probably did families on most lakes elsewhere. These lucky "displaced" kids found others in the same situation or made friends with the year-round children and adjusted and became lifelong friends with lake memories. When children got lonely enough, they got brave enough to go knock on a door where they knew there were other children! Most mothers weren't in the workforce as the majority are now. Many mothers stayed with their children throughout the summer and fathers commuted as time allowed, but fathers almost always returned for the weekend. I remember Bill Hanan's car heading out in the dark at 4 a.m. every Monday morning to get back to his Chicago company, whereas my father only had an hour drive and came to us nightly, whenvever possible. Cottages were busy places all summer. When one boated at night in the middle of the week the entire lakeshore was lit up with house lights, where as now it is darker and many come only Friday through Sunday. Houses were smaller cottages but families spent more summer time at them. Times have changed, but love of Green Lake has not.
However, on Sandstone, mothers weren't alone in their care of children all week long. Many families, including ours, had a summer girl. Our live-in babysitter was usually a college or high school girl who sat for us back home and wanted to try lake life. It was a wise decision with the waterfront property and age range of children in our neighborhood. I recall times when four of these girls down the shoreline would be sharing pier and house duty with the moms so the tots could sleep at the house and the older kids could enjoy the pier. Always a lifeguard! These girls became friends, and were much like camp counselors to the younger children. They orchestrated fun activities for the many children on Sandstone Bluff. We held pet shows, game nights and baking contests and slumber parties. When the fair was in town we were encouraged to "earn" our way. The summer girls would help us hold bake sales, and we created circuses and mini golf courses and charged admission from attending parents and neighbors. The girls were our chaperones to the Lazy L, a wonderful horse ranch to the west of the lake. They drove us to weekly sailing lessons, from which we all earned our summer certificate and got to make friends with others from around the area. They were allowed to use their record players and we learned about pop music from them. They watched over us as we lived on the pier, had our evening bath, and put our pajamas, and then they sent us to bed to repeat in the morning. They got a weekly wage and one evening off per week to hang with other teens they'd met on the lake. They didn't get rich, but I think they made great memories!