Shoe Column: Readers Weigh in on Point History
By Tim “Shoe” Sullivan
It’s been a fun ride so far at the Stevens Point City Times.
I’ve been doing this column thing for just over a year, and in case you missed it, we’ve presented columns on various topics like playing marbles in Stevens Point…the first year of Little League in town…Point’s water bubblers…local wiffleball…the Unique Bar…Softball at St. Pete’s…Ma Pesch and Mickey Crowe…the upstairs at Skipp’s…signs in Stevens Point…streets…a 1966 Honda motorcycle…building a grill…a Brewer game at Milwaukee County Stadium…Point quizzes…and weekly Co-Ed softball reports from action at Moore Barn Memorial. Got some pretty nice comments on all of the above, but the two subjects that seemed to generate the biggest response were the seven columns about Stevens Point nicknames and anything having to do with what Stevens Point looked like “back in the day”.
Recently, a few readers seemed to think I’m something of a Stevens Point historian. No way, Jose. Tim Siebert probably is one. Same with Sherman Rudnick. Those guys know a ton about our fine city. I know a little bit, but nothing like those gentlemen.
I’m more of a sounding board for you, the reader. This isn’t really my column. It’s yours. And it’s very clear that most of the SPCT readers really enjoy taking a trip down memory lane. As well they should. Hey, Stevens Point is your town.
And I’ll let you in on a little secret. Working by memory, we let you know what Point looked like in 1961, and we also noted many places that used to be here but no longer exist. It wasn’t meant to be a political statement or anything like that. We simply pointed out some places that were here one day and gone the next. Well, here’s the secret: several people thought the list of places long gone was incomplete. And they want you to know it.
I’m talking about a long handwritten letter from Bob Greener of Wild Rose in which he said he missed stopping at the Coney Island Bar and watching movies at the “outdoor” and stopping to visit with Portage County Sheriff Hank Duda. Gene Cote told me about Porter’s Store across from P.J.’s.
Bob Gollonik mentioned some Southside businesses that went away. Pete Pehoski remembered the Penguin. Al Gaboda brought up a few places that are long gone. Terry Kluck added a couple. Dave Medin had his memory jarred. He said the story about the big race down Elk Street Hill reminded him of his hometown.
To recap some of the places mentioned before that aren’t around anymore, and to add others that our readers remembered, it might be best to attack this alphabetically.
A person in 2017 Stevens Point will no longer be able to find (as far as I know): Artic Locker, The Alibi, Archie’s, Athletic Bar, the A&W root beer stands like Thompson’s, Reber’s, and Tess’ Twist, Al’s Diner (now under new management I believe), the Antler’s Supper Club (we’re including neighboring areas), Altenburg’s Dairy, Aldo’s Restaurant, the A&P, Art the Tailor’s, and the American Legion with the great fish fries and Friday night dances. Pretty sure all are gone. Then there’s the Big Moon Saloon, Bernie & Atz’s, Bob’s Food King, Bake Rite, Brat Barn, the Bukolt Park swimming dock, the Ben Franklin Store on Main Street, Big Daddy’s, Brill’s, and Belke Lumber.
We also can’t forget Cash & Carry, Country Spa, Country Kitchen, Chuck’s Tap, Cooper’s Corner, Cigel’s, the Clark Street Gas Station, Campus Café, Clarence Hansen’s Popcorn Stand, Citizen’s National Bank, and, of course, the Centerpoint Mall. And no longer are Dan’s Ice Cream Parlor, the Dewey Bar, Dave Koch Sports, and the Dixon Street Carnivals. We also lost Emerson School, Erzinger’s, and the Echo Inn. The Friendly Bar is no more, and that goes for Feltz’s Grocery, Frank & Ernie’s, Fisher’s Dairy, and the Foxhole Bar where Bill Clinton held court. And I’m not sure about Freda’s.
Graham & Lane Music hasn’t been around in decades. Hetzer’s went away, as did the Harmony Bar (I think), Hannon’s Drugs, Hal’s Red Owl, and the Hot Fish Shop. All of the IGAs like the old Northside, Eastside, and Southside vanished, and so did Iverson Park’s diving board. You won’t be able to find Jim & Judy’s, Judd’s (with the great fries), Jay-Dee’s Bowl, Joe Mama’s, or Jerry’s Shell any more. Knudson’s Grocery is a thing of the past, and that also goes for Krembs Furniture.
Lullabye is an empty lot. The Loop Bar, Lyric Theatre, and Little Brown Jug and Lippman’s no longer exist. Mickey’s, the Moon Fun Shop, Merkle’s Sewing Center, Montgomery Wards, Morton’s Grocery, the Majestic Hotel, the Mint Bar and the Mead Park swimming dock have gone the way of the 15 cent burger. Normington’s isn’t next to Northside IGA and I’m pretty sure Nigbor Furs and Northwest Liquor are history. Gone is Outer Limits, Osco Drugs, and the Office charburgers. Not sure about Otterlee’s. Oh, and Overlook too.
Man, Stevens Point and the surrounding areas really had it all. Park Ridge Pharmacy, the PourHaus, Poor Henry’s, Platwood, the Point Bakery, and Parkinson’s. Quality Beverage had the best soda pop. The River City Diner had its bands, there were polkas at the Ritz, and burgers at Robby’s and Richard’s. Good deals at Rudnick’s, beer at Rusin’s Tap and Romie’s, and fine food at the Red Lantern.
You won’t see the Sport Shop, Smart Shop, the Shack, Spurgeon’s, or Stan’s Beer & Liquor any more. (I think I’m right about Spurgeons). Thrifty went under the wrecking ball, as did Toyland, the Triangle, and the Town Clown with all those different flavors. And the 10-51 outdoor where you could hide three people in your car trunk.
And then there’s the Unique Bar, Vetter’s, Westgate, Woolworth’s, Westy’s, Wanta’s, the Yacht Club, and Ziggy’s.
Whew. Again I ask…what the hell happened? All those great places — they should all be put in a time machine. I thought the American Legion would last forever. No more carnivals? Are you kidding me? What happened to all of the swimming beaches?
I guess we never knew we had it so good. And I’m sure we missed some more. And you’ll remember them. And you’ll let us know. That’s why we’re here. Thanks for listening.