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.

Autumn of Life's Jouney.jpg

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!”

Instead of cell phones, we had rotary phones and many of those along our road were attached to a party line! One answered the phone if one heard the correct sequence of rings! Astonishingly, that party phone line was even shared by a payphone that used to sit at the Horner Landing intersection. Anyone could listen in on anyone else's calls! It happened.

 

My father, Carl, became a UW-Madison engineering grad after World War II. He was a wonderful wood worker and built our first two prams, children's sailboats. Green Lake still uses this style boat for children, but years ago there would be over 20 children on the lake racing on Saturday mornings. Green Lake's original wood prams were mostly built by local men. One of my favorite weekends of the summer was the yacht club Chowder Party weekend. A different cottage hosted each year. The Friday cottage hosted many times. A farmer would drop of a huge amount of corn and children would spend the day shucking it for the picnic. A Green Lake style chowder would be prepared for over 100 people and there were treasure hunts and games for the children.  It would be fun to restart this! Growing up during the depression, Carl’s family did not have a sailboat. His first was a used Star keel boat he bought from beloved neighbor and local physician Dr. Burt Kilbourne. Burt was an excellent sailor and as he moved to a new boat he was happy to see my father learn to sail and teach his children as he learned. I loved Burt because the children in the neighborhood felt welcome to chat with him and his wife and bring him tiny wounded critters they'd find. He'd pretend to fix them, pretend to give them back to their parents, and we'd go home happy. The neighborhood loved going to sleep listening to him play piano with the jam group he'd invite frequently. And his dog, Buttons, showed up like clockwork to every cookout we had looking for a treat!

 

As society has changed the last 50 years, life around the lake has changed too. Many more children used to enter the sailing school and then graduate as crew into the thriving Green Lake Yacht Club, to learn the ropes, literally, and perhaps graduate to becoming a skipper with their own boat. Teens met teens this way and had a wonderful time!  The club has dwindled, yet survives. These past two decades, as more and more families aren't here during the week to enroll in lessons; on the other hand, instead of just children signing up for lessons, we now have entire families taking them together as it fits their schedules, which is wonderful! The junior golf program at Tuscumbia was huge, years ago.  Swimming lessons were offered at Hattie Sherwood and the outdoor pool, lakeside of the hotel, in the conference center.  That pool, whereI took my Red Cross life guarding class, no longer exists, nor the one in the athletic center there, which is unfortunate for the those who live here year-round.  Our kids summer baseball programs often had summer children join in. I hope this tradition continues.

 

The lake, at one time, had many camps for children. With the recent loss of Camp Grow, only Pilgrim camp is left.  Our children attended both camps. I saw no reason to send them off Green Lake.  As a child, Sandstone Bluff was home to two side-by-side camps filled mostly with children from the Chicago area, Sandstone and Daychola. Their final days were run by the Vee family, Nancy Vanderveld's parents. Jane Vee was a friend of my mother's.  When the camps finally closed down, Jane still invited her friends to play in a tennis group there, and treated those on Sandstone Avenue to an annual summer pancake breakfast. This was something I tried to resurrect at the Friday Cottage the summer before COVID, and hope to continue after, so that the newer neighbors can get to know each other. The Friday and Walsh clans have the greatest longevity on the bluff road; we have lots of stories to share! A favorite memory of the camp was taking walks on Sandstone Avenue and watching the campers ride their horses up and down the road. One summer, one of the counselors was a daughter of friends. This young lady had all her campers on horseback in our driveway one morning to wake us to a sunrise serenade! Jane Vee was a delight, loved children and had great interest in local Native American history. A few years before Jane passed away, years after the camp closed down, I asked if I could bring daughter Anna and a group of 10 little girlfriends to Sandstone Bluff to watch the sunset. Jane was not only delighted, she wore a lovely Native dress, showed them items she'd collected and gave the girls a history lesson about our earliest inhabitants!

 

It wasn't just the children who enjoyed their summers when I was a child. My grandparent's patio was always a busy place and they and many friends were bridge players, up until dawn in the sunroom playing cards. Bridge groups, in that day, were very active, and I remember joking that I'd have to get my name on Tutu's (my grandmother) calendar to slip in a luncheon date with her between bridge games! A bridge game was, in fact, what kicked off the first annual Yacht Club Luncheon, style show, and charity benefit years ago to help raise funds to get youth to regattas. That tradition continued for decades. The Yacht Club also held theme parties that the parents enjoyed immensely, and the kids loved seeing their creative outfits. The first two generations of my family were avid golfers and spent a lot of time at Tuscumbia. Many of us in the next two generations have enjoyed playing golf as well.

 

Teens of our first three generations did not use Norwegian Bay as a gathering spot, like they do today. I lifeguarded at County Park. It had a concession stand, pavilion, shower rooms, a juke box, and actual large sandy beach and was very busy. The teens also loved Hattie Sherwood, and while boating lots of kids would swim and swing off tree ropes along the sandstone ledges that make up Emerald Shores. Teens will find a way to congregate! We drove boats before we drove cars and for many of us, becoming brave enough to drive the family boat was a big step in independence.  There were no boater safety classes.

             

Grandpa Friday initially selected two different Dunphy wooden boats to share with his friends and family but came to realize that a Chris-Craft was ideal. The last one he bought, in 1950, has been renovated twice and is still on Sandstone, hopefully for generations to come.

I was asked to write an article about the history of it two years ago for the Brass Bell, the Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club's quarterly magazine, when the editor learned ours had been in the family for five generations. It was a pleasure to do so.

 

Wooden boats have been a big part of the history of Green Lake. Several families in the area have history going back generations as boat builders and carpenters. When I was a child, most existing wooden boats on the lake weren't yet considered antiques.  We used ours hard all summer.  With 7 grandchildren, my grandparents had a charge account at the dock. The monthly bill must have been outrageous! We didn't have shore stations, we had community boathouses in the bay where one paid rent.  Families drove to the huge boathouses, left their cars for the day, brought these lovely wooden boats home for day use and typically returned them at night. Stall after stall of beautiful wooden boats!  They sat in the water tied to inside posts. The bilges kept pumping out water. Occasionally, someone had electrical issues, and they'd find their boat had sunk overnight. It would be slowly lifted and dried out. The excursion boat on the lake at the time was called the Queen of the Lake, it was the first boat one saw as they entered the boathouse.

 

The mailboats were in town as well.  Mail for us and other lakeshore residents was delivered to the pier.  You could hear children up and down the shoreline yelling " the boats are coming!" which meant the mailboats. These old heavy boats kicked up huge waves and children would run for their inner tubes like surf was up! Depending on how many extra paying guests the Marina had wanting to tour along there could be only one Chris-Craft or as many as four or five traveling together. The more boats, the greater the children's excitement! Some of the mail made it to the grownups dry, via the children; some mail took a bath first.  The sailors didn't have lifts for their boats either. We showed up at the marina dock, hailed a kid with a boat and caught a ride out to the sailboat. The bay was filled with boats at anchor, all pointing in one direction like seabirds!

 

My husband Mike (also a third-generation Green Laker through his father) and I met through the Green Lake Yacht Club's sail racing, as competitors. We had our first date on a catamaran and married two years later on Sandstone Bluff in 1978. A Saturday in July late enough in the day to allow our sail racing friends to get off the lake, get gussied up and attend! 250 guests enjoyed the awesome view on the bluff that many of you have now enjoyed. We were married right where the stag statue had stood proudly, at one time. It was there when I was a child, we'd all look for the stag when our boat passed beneath.  I’m aware of only three other weddings that have been held there since.  The empty camp buildings were still there, we held our reception in the camp dining hall and did shabby chic before it was a thing! We raced summer sailboats for decades, E scows, catamarans and crewed on Stars and Snipes and still race iceboats, which Mike introduced me to when we were dating, as he and his father owned two, a Nite and a DN. 

 

The Friday Cottage clan is celebrating its fifth generation of summers here, starting with PJ Vandervelde, 11, son of Drew and Eileen. Drew's mother Karin Krueger Vandervelde Jones was the first grandchild of Floyd and Marge. Karin was born in Hawaii during the war, and children there referred to both grandparents as Tutu, or beloved elder. When Karin returned as a tot to Wisconsin she renamed Marge as Tutu and it stuck. From then on, our very social grandmother was called Tutu by just about everyone in Green Lake County! My father named his first Star class sailboat after her and I have renamed the 1950 Chris Craft " Tutu's Legacy". Generation 4 brought 15 new family members. Generation 5 is growing and its latest local addition, through my branch, are our new twin grandbabies, Letty and Ackley, children of our son Stefan and his wife, Kara Kinas. In all, there are now 13 children in generation 5.

 

There comes a time when precious family properties roll to the next generation.   I don't think one is truly ever ready for that. Sadly, our cottage matriarchs, Jean and Barbara, both passed away during the summer of 2020. Generation 3 is making the transition.  Memories are still so vivid of parents and grandparents enjoying the lake together with us. We've all been so fortunate.  I do believe they are on the pier with us at sunset; this was dad's favorite time on the lake. Due to COVID, there were no funerals but I am hoping that 2021 will be a full summer of life celebration, and that it will also bring new babies to meet their family, two weddings, and… life goes on.  May your families find important life lessons and wonderful memories here as well!

 

In addition to the GLA's work, I've been proud of family and community members who have worked hard through the generations to bring enrichment to Green Lake.  The Thrasher Opera House, The Green Lake Festival of Music, The Green Lake Conservancy, Town Square and Green Lake Renewal, the new American Legion post, just to name a few, are things I hope future generations support and never take for granted.

 

Seventy years ago, Floyd Friday and others -- concerned about not just using the lake, but caring for it -- organized what was called the Green Lake Property Owners Association. It has grown into what it is today, the GLA.  My mother was a second-generation board member, and I'm proud to have been a third. I love that the name has changed to be more inclusive, as the lake of course belongs to everyone, not just lakeshore property owners. It needs all who use it in any way to protect it.

 

I ask those who fish, swim, wakeboard, ski, motor cruise, sail, watch the sun go down over it and those whose businesses thrive because of it to become GLA members! Those who are lucky enough to have homes on the shore need to encourage each generation to be members at an early age and truly get involved. We have members in their teens who are helping with things like creek restoration, as Tom Caestecker's granddaughter is. She is proudly a fifth-generation Lake Advocate and attends meetings with her father and grandfather. 

 

Many thanks to all who participated in 2020's novel COVID fundraiser and community connection event - "Shine A Light" Celebration. Your support in our pandemic summer was overwhelming!   And, a special thank you to all the friends who gifted memorials to the GLA in memory of my aunt Jean and my mother Barbara.

 

Please stay informed and help where and when you can, and encourage people in your circle to do so as well. Invite our Board members to your cookouts and patio parties to share news on all that is happening in the GLA. Keep up to date on the GLA website.  Don't forget, Green Lake's waters flow north and eventually flow into Green Bay.  By caring for Big Green, you are also a steward of the Great Lakes watershed!

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!