Shoe Column: A Brief History of Stevens Point Bubblers
By Tim “Shoe” Sullivan
Several people were asked the following question: When you think about Stevens Point, Wisconsin,
what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
As expected, the answers varied. Getting votes were: UW-Stevens Point, Sentry, Trivia, the [Stevens Point] Brewery, the Green Circle, Ma Pesch and the bratwurst, Art In The Park and a few other events.
Nobody mentioned water bubblers.
Water bubblers, or fountains, are like Rodney Dangerfield. They don’t get any respect. And that’s sad.
They are enjoyed by many but far too often merely taken for granted. How many people really get excited over a bubbler?
Well, I’d like to discuss the Stevens Point water bubblers. Kinda give them their due. Now, this is just from memory — I’m far too lazy to just hop into the car and drive around Point looking for bubblers. Aint gonna happen.
But from the past, several bubblers are still etched in my memory.
Back in the day, if you wanted to take a refreshing drink of nice cold water on a sweltering summer day,
you couldn’t go wrong by crossing the Clark Street bridge and checking out Mead Park on the west side of town. There was a nice bubbler right off the sidewalk when you got over the bridge.
A block north and you were at the Mead Park Little League Diamond. A bubbler was there, too, and another one was situated in the swimming area down the road.
That was back when Point had beaches and lifeguards. Nobody ever went thirsty hanging around Mead Park.
The same goes for Bukolt Park. When you got to the ballpark, a dandy bubbler was right there along the road.
If you kept going along the lagoon, you’d come to the swimming area. And its bubbler. By the way, the Bukolt Park ball diamond is awesome!
I’m not sure if Iverson Park is in Point or Park Ridge, but you could find water bubblers there, too. The Iverson Park softball diamond was one of the best in the state, and a often-used bubbler was right along the fence down the left-field line. And another one was at the beach.
The bubbler at Morton Park also attracted the thirsty throngs. My Little League team (Firefighters) played in the first-ever Little League game at Morton (1961), and our terrific manager, Garth Whitaker, encouraged us to drink from the bubbler as we downed the Odd Fellows on a hot early evening.
Teammates Tom Jensen, Dave Garber, John Herek and Charlie Spaar probably remember that.
Garth also took the team for root beers at the A&W, and that’s what Little League was all about. You would sip on a root beer float while shooting the breeze with kids from the Kiwanis, Rotary, Moose, and the Jaycees.
Recalling the most impressive water bubbler is easy: the one on the steps inside the Fox Theatre.
The Fox had beautiful carpeted steps leading up to the balcony (where you could toss popcorn and Jujubes at the people below), and it had an awesome bubbler a few steps from the bottom. Seemed like someone was always taking a sip from that one.
St. Pete’s baseball field on the north side had a bubbler way out in center field. It’s easy to remember because Rufus Worden once asked Jack Giese if that bubbler worked, and Jack said, “No, it’s its day off.”
St. Pete’s Tournament players Paulo Pavelski (LVP), Colin Sanders and Prune Kinney were known to sample the water out there.
Korfmann Field across from the Point Brewery had a bubbler near one of the dugouts. Jerry DeNuccio and Freddie Zivicki of the Medics hit a bunch of home runs there.
Fans and basketball players were always sipping from the bubbler in the lobby of the Rec Center back when the Rec Department ran leagues. There was one inside the gym, also. And another bubbler was in front of the Municipal Pool nearby.
Some schools had bubblers in the halls. P.J. Jacobs did for sure. Probably Ben Franklin. UW-Stevens Point had a bunch of them scattered throughout.
Not really sure if the downtown area in the days of yesteryear had bubblers or fountains. There might’ve been one in front of Rudnick’s Grocery where Graffiti’s Sports Pub is now.
And, of course, since we’re talking about fountains, it’s pretty hard to miss the big one … former Mayor [Andrew] Halverson’s huge water fountain right in the middle of the square!
At any rate, the long-forgotten bubblers of Stevens Point have finally gotten their “well” deserved moment in the sun.
Their 15 minutes of fame. Some overdue recognition for a job well done.
So … did we miss any???