Oregon Area Community Book's Blog

January 5, 2011

Oregon Public Library Centennial Celebration 1910-2010

Filed under: Community, Social — oregonareacommbook @ 7:50 pm

By Susan Santner, Library Director

To celebrate this marvelous achievement the library offered a series of programs throughout the year.  Events kicked off in January with a yearlong Centennial Community Read. It was a program designed to get as many people as possible in the Oregon area to read the same book at the same time. The goal was to foster community by providing a forum for public discussion and interaction-and most of all-demonstrating that reading can be fun!

The Centennial Community Read selection was Living a Country Year: Wit and Wisdom from the Good Old Days by Wisconsin author Jerry Apps. In this warm hearted memoir, Apps tells of growing up on a farm near Wild Rose, Wisconsin in the 1940’s. The chapters are arranged from January to December and talk about love and respect for the land and for a vanishing rural way of life by using personal incidents, adventures, recipes, observations and thoughts for each month.

One way to participate in the Centennial Community Read was to listen to a chapter being read aloud and sample a recipe from the book. The library co-sponsored a Reader’s Theatre series with the Oregon Area Senior Center. Library staff, along with volunteers, read a chapter and the Senior Center provided samples of the recipes.

Jerry Apps made a personal visit to Oregon on October 23, 2010 to share stories about his writing and wrap up the reader’s theatre series. A very appreciative audience shared coffee and cake after his presentation.

Every month of the year had special programs to celebrate the Centennial. There were additional author visits, teen tech month, poetry jam, pre-school players, series of four storytelling concerts, and the official birthday party on October 9, 2010, attended by over 300 people.

The family entertainment included face painters, a juggler and a balloon artist.

There was a formal dedication ceremony which included a distinguished panel of speakers including the President of the Oregon Village Board Steve Staton, Library Board of Trustees President Lisa Hustad and Wisconsin Senator Jon Erpenbach, who presented Senate citation to the library in honor of the Centennial.

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.
Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” -Groucho Marx

Local artist Clarice Christenson presented the library will a lovely hand painted Centennial plate which will hang in the library for the next 100 years.

The most significant Centennial addition to the library was the beautiful new circulation desk built by local wood craftsman Paul Morrison of The Wood Cycle Shop located in Oregon.

The circulation desk was updated to enhance efficiencies and streamline the increasing demands of library circulation.

Paul was able to recycle, rebuild and refinish portions of the old desk into the new. He built new tops and moved the old tops underneath for additional shelving. Pieces of lumber to build the tops of the desk were donated by members of the community. Each piece of wood lumber was identified as to its species, the story behind it and the person or family who donated it to the project. Monetary donations were also greatly appreciated. These generous gifts were recorded in a memorial Centennial Community Desk booklet to honor the Centennial achievement and the community who built it.

The three beautiful mosaic tiles that were added to the front of the desk were designed and built by Cheryl Adams, of Adams Studio.

The Friends of the Library were the major contributors to the desk. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts. The Friends of the Library were originally organized by director Joan Wethal years ago. The library has been getting by with a little help from them ever since. They have been supporting the library landscaping; all of our programming efforts, special furniture, Centennial expenses including the indoor banner and this year a full size puppet stage.

Friends of the Oregon Library Board consist of President Beth Larimer, Vice-President Sue Johnson, Secretary Pat Berkan, June Hanson and Lucy Ruth were Co-Treasurers, Membership Sharon Kopenski, and Volunteer Coordinator Nancy Allen. The Friends currently have 120 members.

In a token of appreciation the library board of trustees presented a plaque to the Friends for their marvelous enthusiasm for books, and their generous and unwavering support. The plaque was present to Beth Larimer, as president of Friends board. All of the Friends who were present were asked to step forward.

Representing the youth of the community and the future of the library were Christian and Gabriella Wirtz. They were each asked to hold the end of the dedication ribbon so the Friends could cut it.

A coffee and cake reception was held, in the Sue Ames Room while talented members of the Oregon High School orchestra entertained with a selection of classical music. Over three hundred pieces of cake were served and every tasty crumb was consumed.

“What is more important in a library than anything else
is the fact that it exists.”    -Archibald MacLeish

There are many people who have supported the library during this Centennial year with their time, money and advice. I would like acknowledge them:

  • Alison Koelsch, the Director of the Oregon Area Senior Center who has been cooking and baking recipes all year for our Centennial reader’s theatre performances of Jerry Apps book “Living a Country Year: Wit and Wisdom from the Good Old Days.”
  • Mike and Erica Weidler from the Firefly Coffeehouse for hosting our storytelling events throughout the year.
  • Staff at WOW and Oregon Cable Access who have filmed all of our events this year.

“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap
compared to that of an ignorant nation.”   -Walter Cronkite

The library is supported through tax dollars, Dane county reimbursements and also through donations. We get by with a little help from our friends. It would be impossible accurately name all the individuals who have contributed to the library over the last 100 years.

I would like to acknowledge a few of them.

  • My two predecessors …Joan Wethal and Vicki Cothroll.
  • The Bruning Foundation that helps to cover the cost of databases and newspaper and periodical subscriptions
  • The Faust Family who generously supports the library through the donation sticker program at Bill’s Food Center.
  • The Oregon Observer whose donation helped us purchase the lovely desk lamps.
  • The Wackman Foundation which has been set aside for book purchase.

Thank you to all the people who have donated memorials in honor of a family member who loved the library and all the countless individuals who donated funds to support the collection and special projects.

“If you have a garden and a library,
you have everything you need”    –   Cicero

This year the Friends of the Library funded a new garden bed under the lamp post on Brook St. We also had a little help from our friends at the Oregon Garden Club including Mary Smith, Susan Kosharek, Jack Mitchell, Sandy O’Malley, Susan Shedivy, Barb Stock. They were led by Peg Thomas and Windi Fourdaine. They spent many hot hours working along with the Friends of the Library-June Hanson, and Gerry & Jeanne Neath, to spruce up the outdoor gardens for the Centennial Celebration. They also donated a great many of the beautiful plants along the front of the building.

I would like to thank the Village Board including of the Village Board President Steve Staton, Trustees David Donovan, Eric Poole, Randy Way Darlene Groenier, Jon S. Lourigan, and Philip J. Harms for their continued belief in the importance of a public library, Mike Gracz the Village administrator, Renee Hoeft the finance director and all their staff for their continued support and advice, and the staff of the public works and police departments who have been of assistance in so many ways.

In preparation for the Centennial the library was given a face lift by giving the interior of the building a fresh coat of paint, installing a much needed acoustical ceiling, adding three desk lamps, updating the indoor and outdoor signage, adding library read posters and chair rail to the Sue Ames Room, installing library advocacy quotes in the lobby and decorating with a few indoor plants and beautiful handmade quilts.

The Centennial Celebration could not end without acknowledging the wonderful talent of the dedicated library staff that has worked so hard this year. They have put up with all the planning, painting, rebuilding, removing, rearranging, dust, plastic tarps, and contractors, … all with good humor… always asking how they could help. The management team of Kelly Allen (Youth Services), Judy Collison (Circulation Supervisor), Mary Davidson (Technical Services) and Susan Kosharek (Adult Services).

The support staff has been outstanding in their excellent customer service to the community. They include reference assistants Wendy Borden and Nikki Bolka, circulation team of Cheryl Adams, Rachel Becker, Laura Dewey, Alicia Fisher, Molly Krause, Peg Thomas, Pat Wyman and the library pages consisting of Adam Chisman, Dani Carpenter, Emily Reinicke and Claire Sommers.

What a marvelous year it has been. We are pleased with all that has been accomplished in the last 100 years and look forward with optimism to what the future will hold for our public library.

“Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library.
The only entrance requirement is interest.”   – Lady Bird Johnson


November 24, 2010

“Miss Oregon”—Not Just Another Beauty Pageant

Filed under: Business, Community — Tags: — oregonareacommbook @ 10:47 pm

by Bobbi Dumas

Anytime a “Miss Something or Other” is mentioned, the inevitable conclusion is that it must be a beauty contest. The Miss Oregon title signified much more.

Miss Oregon, a now defunct event that selected a young woman from the village to act as a representative of Oregon’s Chamber of Commerce, was once a centerpiece of the community calendar. For many of the participants, as well as the women and men who worked tirelessly to put the pageant together, its loss remains huge.

There was at least one contest that predated the Miss Oregon pageant, a popularity event held during the Depression that had the community cast votes for young women who signed up, and ultimately crowned the winner the Oregon Queen. However, the more modern pageant started in 1966, and Pat Anderson (now Wilkening) was crowned the first-ever Miss Oregon.

“It was a big event,” Pat Wilkening remembers, “and it was generated as part of the 125th birthday celebration of Oregon. That year, Oregon also hosted the Alice in Dairyland contest, a big Wisconsin tradition. I remember that the Chamber liked the idea of having someone represent the village across the state, and we were the first small town to do that. The pageant was started, basically, to promote and celebrate Oregon.”

The experience for the girls that year was fairly straightforward. “We each had interviews with judges beforehand, and then we had to do a talent during the pageant. No bathing suits. The Chamber encouraged women between age 16 and 21 to participate, and about 18 of us signed up, with 10 finalists making it to the pageant night.” Pat was crowned on April 22, 1966, by Miss Madison.


April 22, 1966: The recently crowned Miss Oregon Pat Anderson, Miss Madison Pat Giese, and Miss Oregon runner-up/alternate Annetta Koepe, represent the Chamber of Commerce, sponsors of this big event.

An excerpt from Pat Anderson (Wilkenson)’s winning speech.

Wilkening’s experience as Miss Oregon was unique. For one thing, she was the only Miss Oregon to attend the Miss Wisconsin contest. After that year, likely due to the cost of entry, Miss Oregon stayed in Oregon – at least from a contest perspective, anyway. “Of course Miss Oregon’s job was to represent Oregon, so I attended community events in Oregon and surrounding areas, taking part in parades and celebrations. Since it was our 125th anniversary celebration, I took Oregon booster buttons to then-Governor, Warren Knowles. Because of that, I was asked, along with Miss Octoberfest, to do a Wisconsin State ‘We Like It Here’ promotion, where we flew with the governor across the state into different communities. It was a lovely experience.”


Governer Knowles helped publicize Oregon’s 125th anniversary celebration. From left: Dr. M. J. Wischhoff, Oregon Chamber of Commerce director and general chairman of the anniversary event, Governor Warren Knowles, Jim Cannon, Chamber secretary and chairman of the recent Miss Oregon pageant, Pat Anderson, Miss Oregon, Norm Champion, Oregon Chamber of Commerce President.

Pat considers her year as Miss Oregon a life-changing experience. “It was wonderful. I can’t express how much it did for me, in terms of building my self-confidence and other skills, like public speaking and being comfortable in front of a crowd. But it was so much more than a beauty contest,” Wilkening notes. “There were area musicians who played for the pageant, and Ginny O’Brien helped organize them and make it into more of a show. My year, Buzz Hanson (an active Chamber member and community ambassador) wrote a song that the girls sang as part of the pageant evening. Everyone came and a number of people from Oregon participated. It was a real community event.”

Indeed, ask any person involved in the Miss Oregon pageant history from its beginnings, down to the last couple years, and you’ll hear the same note of affection and wistfulness toward the pageant-era. Most will credit Ginny O’Brien, now 88 and still active in Oregon, as being the principal contributor to the pageant in its first decade.

Pauline McMannes, who pretty much ran the show later, remains amazed at what Oregon pulled together in those first few years. “Ginny didn’t run a pageant, she ran a show. At the time, the pageant was held in the high school auditorium. Ginny was involved with the Madison-area theater guild and had a lot of connections with area artists and musicians. Each year, she would pick a theme, and then would basically write a musical around it. The talent in this town, and the way it came together on the night of the Miss Oregon pageant, was truly something to behold. And it was something everyone in the community got behind. The school, the chamber, businesses and families. It was a sell-out crowd every year. She wrote something every year, produced, choreographed, and found talent in the community to take part. Oregon really stepped up to the plate the night of the pageant, and the whole community just shone.”

If you ask Ginny, she’ll acknowledge that it was hard work, but she modestly attributes the success of the event to “all the people who just put their shoulders to the wheel. Really, it was everyone, not me,” she claims. “The school encouraged the girls to take part, and the people in the community rallied around it. The newspaper wrote about the event and the girls, and everyone turned out. It was a lot of work, but when you’re having fun, you don’t notice. It was truly one of the best things I ever did, and working with the people here who were so committed to making it great, for the girls, and for the community, was an honor.”


1978 Miss Oregon Tracie Halverson rides the Summer Fest float with contestants Kay Ferguson, Julie Brindley, and Laura Cower.

Jim Bossingham, owner of B.J.’s Hair Salon, was one of the area residents who was involved from the beginning with Ginny O’Brien’s mini-musicals. He took part by singing in the pageants, helped with the planning later, when Pauline McManus was the major force behind the event, and in 1990 saw his daughter, Deb, crowned as a Miss Oregon. From every angle, Jim feels the event was a great asset to the community, and he would love to see it come back.

“For my daughter, it made a big impact. It helped her sort of grow into her skin, so to speak. It was a very positive experience. But it wasn’t just about my daughter, it was about all the young women who took part. It was never a popularity contest. It was about being able to talk to people, to be polite and social, and a good spokesperson for your community. It was different from the other places they spent time and experiences they might have had. And on the night of the actual pageant, especially in the days when Ginny put together such a fabulous show, but later, too, when the young women had to stand up and give a speech in front of a packed room, it was just such a wonderful experience for all of Oregon. Honestly, everyone was so proud. There was this wonderful feeling of accomplishment in what our small town could put together. The joy was palpable.”



1989 Miss Oregon Erin Farrar awards the blue ribbon at the Madison Horse Show. "

Pauline McMannes, perhaps the person most responsible for the event for the longest time, adjusted the Miss Oregon pageant from the musical show into a quieter, less entertainment-focused evening, in part because she knew she wouldn’t be able to replicate Ginny’s accomplishments. “The full production aspect of it rolled back a little, and it became more about the young women and how they would represent Oregon.” Around the time Pauline took over, the event moved from the high school to various supper clubs on the north side of the village (same building, different management/owners through the years) and the talent segment was dropped.

Pauline invested hundreds of hours in the pageant each year and wound up planning it twenty-seven times. “All the young women who participated got a lot out of it, not just the winners. I spent a lot of time with them, helping them feel comfortable speaking in front of a crowd, learning how to give a speech, coaching them so they’d feel comfortable when it came time to sit down with judges for their interviews. The girls tended to bond over the experience, too. It was a special thing.”

Pauline’s Miss Oregon calendar started in January, when paperwork was gathered and the participating young women and a parent were invited to a meeting at Pauline’s home where they would discuss the rules, the schedule and the criteria. Each contestant was required to have an area business or business owner sponsor her. The week-end before the crowning, the women would experience the first segment of the Miss Oregon contest when they each met with four judges, two men and two women from other communities across Wisconsin. The participants were told to dress appropriately for a business interview, and would spend ten minutes with each judge. Pauline organized the judges, a broad spectrum of professionals that ranged over the years from bankers to (legal) judges to business owners, and everywhere in between.

The judges were looking for a number of things, mostly having to do with social skills and the ability to be at ease in conversation with a wide variety of topics and people from every walk of life. Once the interviews were tallied, the same judges would attend the pageant event, a week later. On that evening, the contestants stood in front of the usually standing-room only crowd and gave a speech. The topic was determined at the original organizational meeting, when each participant put a topic into a hat and then picked them randomly. They had from then until the pageant night to write and prepare a speech.

“We worked with them for months,” says Pauline. “I would help them any way I could. This wasn’t planned so that the girls who had the parents most willing to coach them would win. I would coach them if they needed it. I helped a lot of girls. I’d go over their speeches with them and give them suggestions. My goal was to make sure they all felt as comfortable as possible going into the competition. And you know? I believe almost any girl who signed up could have been a Miss Oregon. They were all great. But if they wanted help, I’d give it to them. I spent a lot of time with the girls, and they spent time together. If you ask most of them, they’ll tell you it was a fun time. A lot of them developed some special friendships from participating in Miss Oregon.”

The pageant crowning event was a dinner/dance, where the contestants wore formals. The judges would listen to the speeches, and would watch the young women during the dinner. “They were looking for other things than just how they gave their speeches,” Pauline adds. “How did they treat other guests? How did they interact in the crowd? Were they polite? Did they mingle, or just talk to one or two other people? Once, one of the girls sat in a corner all evening and read a book. Well, she was a nice girl, but you didn’t really want her to represent Oregon at social and community functions.”

After all the speeches were finished, the judges tallied the scores, and Miss Oregon was crowned, usually in the early spring. “The newly crowned Miss Oregon would dance with her father for a few minutes alone on the dance floor, and then all the other young women would join them with their fathers.”

Becky Bomkamp was crowned Miss Oregon in 1982.

“I know a lot of people think pageants are silly, and there were naysayers even in Oregon, when the pageant was a highlight event. But I honestly believe we provided a great experience for the young women of Oregon, and we helped them develop skills that would help them throughout their lives. We tried hard to make this event about being poised, friendly, articulate young women, comfortable in who they were and how they presented themselves to the world. We tried to separate it from beauty or popularity.”

Speaking to women crowned as Miss Oregon, you get the sense that they agree with that assessment.

Ginger Neath (now Zimmerman), Miss Oregon 1972, was a longtime dance studio owner in Oregon, and remembers the pageant as completely removed from her high school experience. “I wasn’t popular in school. In fact, I was already studying dance seriously, with the intention of becoming a professional. The Miss Oregon pageant was a pivotal point in my life, and was a wonderful experience, but I’m sure, for me, winning had more to do with my outside interests and passions, and being able to talk about them, than it did any school popularity.” (And in Ginger’s case, doing them, since her experience included a talent – and she chose Hawaiian dance, which she was studying with intensity.)

Becky Bomkamp (now Groenier), Miss Oregon 1982, also feels grateful to the experience. “It impacted me, certainly, though I can’t pinpoint exactly how or why. It was a great year, and I met a lot of interesting people. It certainly added to the layers of who I am and what I’ve done. And since it wasn’t a ‘popularity’ contest, it seemed more real to me. You had the sense that the most popular girl at the school wouldn’t win just because she was the most popular girl at the school. It was about more than that.”

Oregon Observer, Thursday, March 18, 1982: 'Cooning' lions Last Sunday the Oregon Lions Club sponsored a Coon dog trial at the Oregon Sportsman's Club north of the village. Many entries from surrounding areas participated in the event. Raffle tickets were sold and Kenneth Loomes was the first-place winner of a shotgun. Joining in the festivities was Miss Oregon, Becky Bomkamp. Shown: Miss Oregon Becky Bomkamp draws the winning ticket, with Oliver Culles (left), head of concession and food, and Joe Byrne, (right), chairman of the raffle, in the white hat.


Deb Bossingham agrees. “It was a great program. There was scholarship money and a stipend for clothes. The duties of Miss Oregon included attending lots of area functions and community events, but I also welcomed new businesses into the village, and acted as an ambassador for the Chamber both within Oregon and outside of it. My dad was a Shriner, so we traveled to places all over Wisconsin, and it was fun to be in the parades and represent my hometown.”

The Miss Oregon contest saw a lot of change over its nearly three decades of existence. Alice Seeliger, former Oregon Chamber of Commerce President, notes that there were a few reasons for the event’s eventual demise. “While I do think there was a change in the attitude toward beauty pageants in general (and we did have our share of opponents to the program), we purposefully made a sincere effort to promote the program as less of a beauty pageant and more of an opportunity to earn scholarship money by becoming a very visible representative of the Chamber and the business community. And, appropriately, we promoted gender equity by renaming the program ‘Oregon Ambassador’ to allow young men to participate in the program. At least one young man did take advantage of that opportunity.

“I think once Pauline stepped down, the people who took over didn’t understand how much work she’d put into it to make it as special as it was, volunteer organizers were reluctant to take over the task, contestant applications dwindled, the Chamber needed to reallocate its resources and, eventually, the program was discontinued. It’s a shame, really.”

That’s a sentiment shared by almost everyone who had anything to do with the pageant. The Miss Oregons and Oregon Ambassadors, the planners, the supporters – all of them feel that the program was so much more than what people think of when they hear the phrase “Miss Oregon.” And in its passing, Oregon lost a wonderful community event and a great resource for its young women and men, not to mention visibility for Oregon in other communities.

“I’d love to see it come back,” Pauline McMannes comments, her voice soft and wistful. “I’d be willing to consider doing it myself again, if it meant the Miss Oregon pageant came back.”

“Miss Oregon” Chamber Representatives, 1966-1992

  • 1966 Pat Anderson
  • 1967 Betty Hoffland
  • 1968 Marcia McAllister
  • 1969 Nancy Stoneman
  • 1970 Laurie Kennan
  • 1971 Barb Miller
  • 1972 Ginger Neath
  • 1973 Gail Bentley
  • 1974 Lynn Okey
  • 1975 Terri Winch
  • 1976 Pam Jensen
  • 1977 Debbie Abrams
  • 1978 Tracie Halverson
  • 1979 Kelly Champagne
  • 1980 Penny Swinehart
  • 1981 JoLynne Jensen
  • 1982 Becky Bomkamp
  • 1983 Andrea Lukonic
  • 1984 Carla Christensen
  • 1985 Jill Guerink
  • 1986 Jackie Garvoille
  • 1987 DeAnne Anderson
  • 1988 Renee Frank
  • 1989 Erin Farrar
  • 1990 Deb Bossingham
  • 1991 Jeanne Horstmann
  • 1992 Tina Gefke

October 29, 2010

On Veterans’ Day, Remember Liberty Pole Hill in Brooklyn

Filed under: Community — oregonareacommbook @ 2:08 pm

Liberty Pole Hill first rose to prominence (pun intended) during the Civil War. Elsie S. Smith (1886-1976), a former Brooklyn resident and town clerk, penned a description of the hill that appeared in the Green County Atlas, 1969.

“Liberty Pole Hill is a high elevation of land in the Town of Brooklyn, located about three miles from the Village of Brooklyn at the junction of State Highway 9w and County Highway E. Elevation is 1600 ft. above sea level.

“The Patriotic Citizens of the years of the Civil War erected a flag pole and kept the Stars and Stripes of our American flag waving throughout the Civil War, honoring our “Boys in Blue.” It was a place for enlistments into the services, and other gatherings. Although the generations of those times have passed on, leaving no records, its history has been handed down…”

According to an article appearing in the Monroe Evening Times, March 14 1970, a log cabin was erected on the Hill for the purpose of enlisting soldiers. At the Hill, the area soldiers joined together and marched on down to Janesville, to be sworn into the Union army. (This article gives its elevation as 1,110 feet above sea level.)

Brooklyn recruits were so numerous that a draft on the town for soldiers was avoided. The article mentions names including King, Shepard, Taylor, and Flood among the recruits. Visit the Oregon Area Historical Society’s website for more information on area civil war veterans

Tiny Jug Prairie cemetery, a mile away, has the graves of 32 soldiers, most of them Civil War veterans.

When the war was over, the flag and cabin deteriorated, and no effort was made at preservation.

Fast-forward 100 years…

In 1966-67 the property came to the county’s attention when the grade of the hill was determined to create an unsafe roadway. As part of the highway relocation project the County purchased the 3.6 acre Liberty Pole Hill site from the Rhyner estate.

Sheldon Yarwood, then town chairman of Brooklyn, proposed a park on the historic ground, to take advantage of the beautiful views over the countryside. Helping Yarwood in the restoration effort were Ben Beckman, Mrs. Gerber, Carl Schulz, Wilmer Dehmer, Charles Freitag, Ken Morganthaler, the Conservation Department, and the Jolly Mixers 4-H Club. “All performed various tasks to improve the Hill. Trees and bushes were planted for shade and beauty,” the Monroe Evening Times reported.

In 1968, Mrs. Thomas McCarthy, leader of the 4-H Jolly Mixers, purchased a flag from Congressman Robert Kastenmeier that had once flown over the nation’s capitol. The flag was later raised in a dedication ceremony. The current town clerk, Lucille Brown, attended to the raising and taking down every day, until she discovered it was stolen. Another flag did not take its place until Memorial Day, 2010.


The flag flies again in Liberty Pole Park, photographed in October 2010 by Lisa Hustad.

George Hesselberg recounted the most recent history of Liberty Hill in the following article, which  appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal on May 24, 2010, used with permission.

Liberty Pole Hill to again fly a flag

TOWN OF BROOKLYN — History has a way of defeating itself. Origins grow fuzzy, accomplishments are overshadowed, materials deteriorate. But now a persistent effort by local town residents has resulted in the restoration of a longtime symbol of those origins.

On Memorial Day, for the first time in 40 years, a flag will wave from the pole at Liberty Pole Hill Park.

The park is a three-acre sweet spot of green atop a quarried hill off Highway 92 west of Brooklyn.

During the Civil War, men destined for the Union army gathered at a log cabin at this, one of the highest points in four counties. A flag was raised and lowered daily to mark the location for all to see. From there, the men marched to Evansville, and so to war.

On Monday [Memorial Day, 2010] Roseann Meixelsperger, the Brooklyn town clerk, was taking pictures as her husband, Dan, restoration organizer Steve Westphal, and Alliant Energy pole-planting expert Gail Sieren slowly hoisted and slipped into place a 45-foot pole, prominently placed in the park. An antique solid brass two-pound plumb bob was swung into use to make sure the tapered pole was straight.

The pole — acquired with the help of Pat Drone, of Prairie du Sac, and topped with a golden ball — will restore flag-waving honors to the hill and signal a reopening of the park, Meixelsperger said.

“Forty years ago, vandals knocked down the pole and wrecked everything,” she said. Over the past year, the Friends of Liberty Pole Hill Park and other groups have held raffles and euchre parties and with the addition of a $2,000 grant from Alliant, a goal was met to restore the pole, add lighting and a flag to the park.

“We thought it was time that the citizens took back the park,” Meixelsperger said. In taking it back, they also restored its symbol and, they hope, its meaning.


Madison’s WKOW.com reported that on Memorial Day 2010 members of the Battery B 4th U.S. Light Artillery fired a Civil War era cannon to kick things off at a gathering to raise a new flag up the park’s new flagpole.


October 7, 2010

Clarice Christensen’s Oregon Library Centennial Anniversary Plate

Filed under: Community — oregonareacommbook @ 4:45 pm

By Lisa Hustad, President, Oregon Library Board

Clarice Christensen has created a beautiful Oregon Library Centennial commemorative plate that will make its public debut during the awards ceremony at the Oregon Public Library’s Centennial Celebration on October 9, 2010.

Clarice Christensen, artist, with Lisa Hustad, President, Oregon Library Board, and Clarice's commemorative plate.

The plate will be hung prominently above the Sue Ames Room in the entrance to the library. In addition, an image  of Clarice’s plate may be used as an icon representing the library sections of the Oregon Area Community Book: Celebrate the Past, Embrace the Present, and Envision the Future.

Clarice’s selection of the earliest date found in written record was a wise choice. It introduces us to the traveling library, an important first step to the official beginning of the  Village of Oregon Free Public Library in 1910.

Clarice found this history in the “Souvenir of Oregon Centennial, 1841 to 1941, Centennial Celebration,” a community history published in 1941. In that book, on page 52, Mrs. Wm. C. Bennett is credited with starting the library. She talks about meeting up with Lutie Stearns and working with the traveling library commission to start a traveling book library in Oregon. On page 53, Mrs Bennett writes…”I don’t know what year the (traveling) library was started–I would say 1907, maybe 1908.”

Clarice’s Oregon Library Centennial Commemorative Plate captures that first cited date, 1907, and properly gives credit to the traveling library, which took the first step towards the establishment of the Village of Oregon Free Public Library. On the back of the plate, Clarice signed the plate and wrote in gold letters,

~100th Anniversary, October 9, 2010 ~

from Clarice Christensen

According to a history of Oregon written at the time of the Village’s Centennial in 1981, the first public library was started in 1908, but Clarice has pointed out the reference to the 1907 date made by Mrs. Wm. C. Bennett in the 1941 publication and she has given it a firm place in history.

The description given in the 1981 publication  (when the village became incorporated) refers to a traveling library supported mainly by organizations in the village. Rent to house this collection was $5 a month. A library historian, Larry Nix, reviewed the history and wrote “I would use 1910 as the official date of the establishment of the Oregon Public Library. It was not a free public library under the legal definition (Chapter 43 and its predecessors) until a tax was levied to support the library. I would use October 6, 1910 as the actual date of establishment.  In any history of library service in Oregon, you should of course include the other information as well.”

From this opinion, October 2010 became the official Oregon Library Centennial Celebration date. We thank Clarice for her fine work and steady hand in reminding us that the Oregon Public Library is “in the heart of the community!”

We also thank Clarice for giving the greater Oregon area, the Village of Oregon, Town of Oregon, and Police Department cherished logos too. Clarice, you are a true community spirit builder!

The Oregon Library Director, Staff, and Board of Trustees thank you for sharing your talents in creating the lovely Oregon Library Centennial Commemorative Plate.

Past Library Director's Vicki Cothroll & Joan Wethel & Friends of the Library Founder Rita Plummer. Rita Plummer was also the first woman on the Village of Oregon Board and we can thank her for getting the Village to acquire much of the land that is now our wonderful central community parks. Rita also served, for many years, on the Oregon Library Board of Trustees.

October 4, 2010

A Short History of Friends of the Library

Filed under: Community — oregonareacommbook @ 9:25 pm

By Beth Latimer, president of the Friends of the Oregon Public Library

The Friends of the Library group was started in 1987 by Rita Plummer at the request of library Director Joan Wethel to raise funds to support the Summer Reading Program.

In 1993, when the Village agreed to build a new library, membership in and organization of the Friends blossomed. The Village limited its overall cost to “under 1 million.” Reasons given for that limit were that if the cost was over 1 million, they’d have to put it to a referendum (later disproved) and they felt that a referendum for the new library would negatively affect the impending Middle School referendum that was planned for the following year.

The new library building proposed in 1993

The Village imposed a 30% cost sharing with the Friends of the Library, and agreed to a final bid of under $600,000 for the new building. They trimmed the architect’s plan for brick veneer, bay windows, and a redesigned book drop. The Friends had initial seed money from Sue Ames and raised enough to pay $47,800 up front, then another $125,000 over five years.

Additionally, the Friends were advised that they should contribute what added up to $86,000 for new furniture and equipment. The final payment was turned over to the Village Board in a ceremony on January 15, 2001.

The new building cost $576,000 to build. The Friends of the Oregon library paid 30%—$172,800 for the actual construction, as well as much of the fees to equip the building. Old shelves were salvaged and repainted. Old carts, desks, and other office equipment were also salvaged from the old building. The old book drop was inserted as best it could, even though it leaked.

The current Friends of the Library Bylaws state that we will “promote and improve library services, materials and facilities for the Oregon community; to stimulate gifts and bequests to the library; to provide volunteer support for the library’s programs; to raise funds for immediate and long-range library projects; and to encourage the broadest possible use of its facilities, materials and services.”

Every year we fund as much as we can for the Summer Reading Program. We have contributed as much as we can toward the Strategic Plan purchases. We do the landscaping, as the Village does not provide weeding or watering services. We run two very successful used book sales each year, and have run numerous other fundraisers in the past such as bake sales, garage sales, and fish fries, plus sales of bookbags, buttons, bookmarks, and raffle tickets for American Girl dolls. Currently we turn over between $6,000 to $8000 per year in one payment designated for the Library to use for its Summer Reading Program and any other items that are not covered in their operations budget.

Friends of the Library book sales draw readers of all ages...

In the past, many useful items have been purchased by the Friends of the Library. These include the glass display case, much of the specialty furniture in the Children’s Area, the bench in the front lobby, the TV and shelf in the Sue Ames Room, baskets for patrons to carry their books around the Library, magnets to advertise Library hours, a digital camera, paper shape-cutting machine, cell phone, laptop, DVD/CD cleaner, and a recognition board with names of folks who gave money to support the new building.

The year 2010 is the centennial year for the Oregon Public Library. Friends of the Library is funding several items to help celebrate this milestone. An indoor banner, a new garden on Brook Street, a refurbished central checkout desk, and a celebrity author with party in October are planned.

September 15, 2010

Oregon Area Historical Society’s “Loaning Closet”

Filed under: Community, Uncategorized — oregonareacommbook @ 4:00 pm

Providing Oregon School children with costumes for “Pioneer Days” and the “Wax Museum” projects

By Melanie Woodworth, for the Oregon Area Historical Society

In 1997 preparations were in progress to celebrate the state of Wisconsin’s 1998 Sesquicentennial. Grants were available for historical societies to do something special to celebrate the state’s 150-year anniversary. The Oregon Area Historical Society (OAHS) submitted a proposal and was awarded a grant for a project to provide pioneer clothing for Oregon 4th grade students when they have their special “Pioneer Days.”

Ms. Brashi's "Pioneering" 4th grade class at Brooklyn Elementary School, May 19, 2010

Sarah Orvick went to the Oregon Consolidated School and talked to Marilyn Murphy (one of the fourth grade teachers) about how the OAHS could best help. Marilyn indicated that we could assist by providing costumes for 20 boys, 20 girls, and 20 adults for their “Pioneer Days.” Some students did not have a way to dress the part for these special days.

In November of 1997 the committee put out a request for seamstresses. Dorothy Tauchen contacted the Senior Center about participating in the project–donating fabric, using their space for cutting out patterns, and general help from the “Craft Afternoon” for sewing assistance. The seamstresses donated fabric and thread and patterns and their time.

Janet Keenan started making dresses—many, many dresses. Pauline Champion took on the project of making many knickers and shirts, in addition to making dresses and bonnets. Dorothy Tauchen made shawls and petticoats. Dorothy Davidson, Ruth Hauta, Phyliss Hanson, and Nina Noyce contributed their time and efforts to building the collection of pioneer clothing. Several dresses were also donated by people who had made costumes for their children.

5th Graders’ “Wax Museum”

In addition to providing 4th graders with pioneer clothing, the OAHS has expanded the clothing collection to assist 5th graders.

Fifth grade students in the Oregon School District participate in a “Wax Museum” project. Each student selects a character in American history. They prepare a report and dress as a particular historic character, part of a “Wax Museum” presentation.



A young Ben Franklin visited Oregon on February 18, 2010.

Initially, the OAHS received a few requests from some parents asking if we had some items for outfitting a particular historic character. This project has continued to grow. Staff members are working to increase our collection of clothing and accessories to help transform students into their historic personae, be it Henry Ford, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sacajewa, Clara Barton, Thomas Edison, Harriet Tubman, Dolly Madison, Rosa Parks, Levi Strauss, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Harry Houdini, Molly Brown, Pocahontas, Babe Ruth, or someone else.

Each year the OAHS “Loaning Closet” outfits approximately 350-400 students from the Oregon Schools. Participating schools include Brooklyn Elementary, Netherwood Knoll Elementary, Prairie View Elementary, and Rome Corners Intermediate School. Clothing is available at the Oregon Area Historical Society Museum at 159 W. Lincoln Street.

Janet Keenan served as the coordinator for the OAHS “Loaning Closet” until January of 2009. Ellen McKirdy currently manages this unique and special project.

Reenactors helped bring the past to life in Brooklyn, May 18, 2010.

Many volunteers created the OAHS “Loaning Closet.” This very successful partnership with the schools continues to be one of the major projects of the Oregon Area Historical Society. Volunteers today continue to help with sewing, mending, scheduling, fitting, collecting, laundering, ironing, and donating fabric. The project is supported by the donations from those who borrow the clothing. It is self-sufficient and continues to grow. The OAHS welcomes support and donations to our “Loaning Closet”.

Brooklyn Elementary students learn to "swing your partners."

August 4, 2010

Queen for a day…

Filed under: Community — oregonareacommbook @ 8:31 pm

A treasure fit for a queen–or a community book–appeared at our July 17 history-collecting session at the Oregon Public Library.

Clarice (Quale) Christensen brought scrapbooks and souvenirs from a long and busy life in Oregon, including a year served as Oregon’s first Queen in 1933. Who would believe that 51 years later, her granddaughter Karla Christensen would win the same honor, serving as Miss Oregon 1984?

A fore-runner of the Miss Oregon pageant, the Queen contest was not based on beauty or talent, but on popularity. And being popular, in this case, meant earning votes. In 1933 anyone could nominate an eligible candidate by filling out a ballot and dropping it off at any of the 43 businesses sponsoring the contest. All nominees received 5,000 votes to start. Anyone making a cash purchase or paying on an account at one of the businesses could vote, at a point a penny. In addition, the Observer carried 100-vote ballots, and offered 600 votes for each subscription.

On Thursday, August 17, 1933 the final results were tallied, with Quale the winner with 3,683,850 votes. “‘That was back during the depression, and it was a way of drawing in business,” Clarice recalled. “I guess I had a lot of friends.”

Miss Clarice Quale, 1933 Queen of Oregon, with attendants Catherine Clark (left) and Mary Ann Manion (right)


Clarice's grandaughter Karla Christensen, Miss Oregon 1984, with parents Arlen and Gloria

Thanks for coming and bringing your great stories, Clarice!


-Sarah White, for the Oregon Area Community Book

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