RM and I are traveling to Wisconsin this week-end for a visit with our daughter and her boyfriend. They live in Illinois but we decided to rendezvous in the Cream City or the city perhaps better known as, Milwaukee. My street growing up in the town of Holton, Kansas, was Wisconsin Avenue so I have an affinity to the state without ever visiting. I think of Wisconsin, I think beer, brats, and cheese. And dairy? But I know it is so much more. For starters, it is the hometown to Russian immigrant, Golda Meier. She went to high school and college in Milwaukee before leaving to eventually become the Prime Minister of Israel.
Milwaukee has long been known as the “Cream City,” and while many people assume that the name comes from the State’s long pre-eminence in the dairy industry, it is in fact derived from the cream-colored bricks from which many of the City’s buildings are constructed. Deep veins of red lacustrine clay run along the western shore of Lake Michigan, and one of the unique properties of this clay is that when formed into bricks, it turns a light golden yellow color after firing. Not only pleasant in color, these bricks generally possess superior strength and weather resistance characteristics, as well as excellent color-retention properties.
I am frantically trying to finish “Cream City Chronicles” — a collection of stories about the people, the events, the landmarks, and the institutions that have made Milwaukee a unique American community. These stories, each sharing an historic photograph, represent the best of John Gurda’s popular Sunday columns that have appeared in the “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” since 1994.
Milwaukee here we come.