Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sherman and Capitol

About 40 years ago, that corner was a regular stop for yours truly. Every weekday morning, around 7:30, I'd arrive and wait for the 30/Sherman bus to get me to my destination (if I tell you, I have to kill you...)

That gas station was there, but it was an ENCO franchise (IIRC,) and it did a lot of business. No coffee or doughnuts; just gas and light repairs, thanks. East of the corner by a few blocks was a very prosperous grocery store; the neighborhood was relatively quiet and very nice, but definitely "urban." Just north of the corner were some housing projects, which were quiet but just a little tacky.

South by a few blocks was WOKY/920 AM, the home of Bob Barry and The "Collegiate" Rock station (WRIT was R&B rock at the time.) The difference? WOKY played the Beach Boys; WRIT played the Stones.

A few more blocks south and the old-time prosperity of the Sherman Park neighborhood was evident: large 2-story all-brick homes, neatly manicured lawns, well-maintained yards. The somewhat noisy (and only occasionally rowdy) Washington High kids jumped off the 30/Sherman, leaving a lot of room for the downtown commuters.

Capitol Drive's eastbound traffic consisted largely of people going to work at AOSmith, Continental Can, Cutler-Hammer, Square "D," or (perhaps) downtown office types who didn't like the Lisbon Ave/Hy. 41/I-94 mess.

Closest thing to "an incident" in those days was the occasional traffic accident.

Drive down Capitol these days, and the scene is markedly different. It's not post-war Dresden (as is North Ave. east of 35th, or Burleigh)--but it's not really prosperous, nor is it "neighborly" until you get to the area between 20th and I-43, where it's obvious that some residents care--a LOT--about their neighborhood.

One wonders how long they'll be able to hold out.


Anonymous said...

You post highlights an important change. The good paying manufacturing jobs at the Companies you mentioned are almost all gone. Add folks who emigrated from states with slave like conditions, the introduction of dugs and government with a welfare mentality. The result was almost predictable.

Dad29 said...

The "jobs" section is right, JP. But the immigration you mention was well underway in the late 1960's, drugs were out there (at that time, it was H.)

And welfare? VERY present in Milwaukee at the time.

As to the "jobs"--I think that has most to do with this. Since then, AOSmith, Allis-Chalmers, and Square D closed, not to mention Nordberg. Foundries have downsized, and metal-fab/machining is much smaller than it was.

All those places provided good wages to somewhat un-skilled people. And all those places are gone.

M.Z. said...

My how the memory goes. I haven't been out of Milwaukee that long and I had trouble remembering what good area you were talking about between 20th and the I. I thought you were on Locust. The area north of Capitol and East of Teutonia is still alright. Roosevelt is still a nice street up there. Some beautiful homes.

Nick said...

I remember that neighborhood in the 80's. My grandparents lived on 41st and Fiebrantz. I used to play in the neighborhood all the time. Now I barely ever drive through it, and I would hate to see what happened to their house. Would probably break my heart.