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Updated 5/24/2021

From the Clutter of My Old Office Corner

A continuing saga of a cluttered office.

Submitted by anonymous Verona resident. 6/1/2021

Take me out to the ballgame; take me out to the crowd …


In the old beer case (bookcase) there is an official baseball program for a Chicago Cubs/Milwaukee Braves game at the famed Wrigley Field. The price is 10 cents while the game’s ticket stub,dated June 30, 1956, was for Grandstand seats, Section 136, with a price of $1.24 + .01 tax for a $1.25 total. I don’t recall attending the game so I wonder how the program found its way to my desk.


The teams’ rosters and numbers were listed; but I don’t know who played that day because the batting order was not penciled in. With any luck at all, fans could have watched four future Hall-of-Famers. For the Braves there were Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron. Ernie Banks represented the Cubs team. What a treat it would have been able to see those stars!


The program included a list of snacks at Wrigley Field. Peanuts and popcorn, but no Cracker Jacks. Just the same, can’t you hear Harry Caray leading the fans in singing “Take me out to the ballgame…” during the 7th inning stretch? The ballgame staple of a hotdog and beer was 60 cents. Coke sold for 15 cents. Imagine a day at the ballpark now for under $2.00. Wow!


I had to look up who won the game that day. It was the Braves with a 4-3 victory. That Braves’ team made Wisconsin even prouder the next year by winning the World Series. Unfortunately, they left Milwaukee nine years later.


Resting upright next to the program is a Rand McNally classroom atlas with a copyright date of 1950. It offers an interesting trip through time when one looks at all the countries that were in existence then. I recall how we had to learn those names and locations while in school. Somehow the older names seemed a bit easier to remember than today’s many new-name revisions.

I pulled two “Sports Afield” magazines from the bookcase, dated October 1936 and June of 1994. Even with a nearly 60-year span, they remain similar in content regarding hunting and fishing. However, it is hard to miss the contrasts between the two. The early version has all black and white ink versus the other in color, its ads are much smaller as opposed to full-page spreads. Of course, a price change would be expected: 15 cents vs $2.50.


While tobacco continued to be advertised in both issues, years ago canned, cut tobacco reigned. While paging through the older issue, I came upon an ad for Prince Albert cut tobacco. Seeing this rectangular metal can brought back a flood of memories. That tobacco can became a prize possession as it fit perfectly into the back pocket of jeans. As soon as school was out for the summer, I would spend hours fishing. The can with its flip-top lid was an ideal container for worms and night crawlers. With Prince Albert in my back pocket, a jackknife, a small Bayer aspirin tin for extra hooks, and a tube of split shot with an extra leader wrapped around it in my jeans front pocket, I would grab my pole, jump on my bike and head for the river.


Good luck fishing in your pond of memories…remember, it’s good for you.



The Ol’ Pack Rat

From the Clutter of My Old Office Corner

A continuing saga of a cluttered office.

Submitted by anonymous Verona resident. 5/1/2021

Here it is May already. For many of us graduation from high school was in May, never in June. Adding to the excitement of the time was that yearbooks (annuals) were handed out then. I pulled out two annuals from the wooden beer case sitting upright on the desk top. One is dated 1946 and the other 1956, but they are from different school districts in rural Wisconsin. The earlier book was from a high school created by consolidation in 1942 in the middle of WWII and this senior class was the first to graduate.


The new school offered four courses of study: academic, commercial, vocational home economics, and vocational agriculture. The four were comprised of twelve subjects taught by five staff members. It stated that this was an improvement over past academic-only offerings! A limited number of sports and activities were available.


Jump ahead ten years to the second yearbook from a much older established school. It is reflected in this annual that after the prosperity following the war, schools were able to offer more educationally and to include more activities.


Yet, the books are surprisingly similar especially since they are about teenagers and school life rituals which seem to be a constant. Both schools had graduating classes with students numbering in the 20’s. Each yearbook featured a Class History, Class Prophecy, Sports, Music, and Activities sections. However, a singular difference in the 1946 book was an Honor Roll listing 18 students who had joined the armed forces since the school opened in 1942.


One thing they had in common was the coverage of Initiation ritual. Remember how Initiation was one of the feared highlights of freshman year? The seniors were in charge, forcing embarrassing directives on the lowly newcomers. Some requirements for girls were the wearing ‘diapers’ over jeans and gunny sacks as blouses with no makeup allowed. Boys were required to wear a two-piece bathing suit over long johns, and on their feet, one high-top boot and one bedroom slipper. As you may remember, the activities were equally as humiliating as the garb.

Another similarity was that there were special dances in addition to the more formal ones. These were sock hops, sweater dances, and Sadie Hawkins in November. For the last one, ‘twas the girls who did the asking and the paying for the date.


The most striking difference between the two books is in their appearance. In the earlier one, all text including ads was type written and had the look of a mimeographed book. The other used the more advanced linotype.


Next, I pulled out the folded, yellowed newspaper which rested upright next the annuals. I felt a sense of sadness. It’s dated Friday, November 22, 1963. That is one of those dates in history when everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing. The two-inch headlines: PRESIDENT KENNEDY ASSASSINATED.


Finally, in addition to the items described above, the beer case ‘bookshelf’ holds a thick, high school Prose and Poetry textbook. I am surprised I have that because it wasn’t a favorite of mind. Can you recall sitting through this series in English classes when the hours seemed to drag?


Until my next visit to the Old Corner… remember, it’s good for you.

The Ol’ Pack Rat

From the Clutter of My Old Office Corner

A continuing saga of a cluttered office.

Submitted by anonymous Verona resident. 4/1/2021

Spring is upon us. As I am spending as much time outside as I can, my time at the old desk has been limited. My Coke case still holds many ‘treasures’ and I will return to them at a later date. But for now, my eyes are drawn to a reminder from a significant spring ritual of years past. Hanging on the big bulletin board on the wall behind my desk is a rug beater – an essential tool for spring cleaning. The living room rug, after months of only being cleaned with the carpet sweeper, was rolled up and taken outside. It was draped over several clothes lines ready to be rid of its deep dirt. As you might have guessed, it was my job to beat the rug, pounding out a year’s worth of dusty accumulation!


This three-foot beater looks similar to a badminton racket. The head is bare wire formed into various shapes, the most prominent are two large hearts. This sits on top of a twisted wire shaft running through a wooden handle at the end. It cleaned surprisingly well as the dirt rose to the surface which was then swept away. The process took a l-o-n-g time. To make the time go by more quickly, I turned the beats into hitting home runs, sword fighting, swatting giant flies, and other imagined feats. Still, it was an eternity of beat and sweep, beat and sweep! Another spring cleaning event involved the beds. Each mattress was carried outside, leaned against a tree or clothes line pole to air out. The bed springs of coiled wire were thoroughly washed by hand and left to dry.


While I am on the subject of cleaning…a well-worn wash board, partially exposed behind the desk, rests against the wall. It consists of a rippled aluminum panel held in place by a wooden frame, two feet by one foot. The top had a space for a bar of Fels Napta soap while the legs at the bottom were submerged in a tub of wash water. This essential from the past has a beauty all of its own. The wood, roughened and eroded by the soapy water, now has a silver patina.

But life isn’t all hard work as the ‘treasures’ above suggest. The bulletin board also includes reminders of fun things and events. An iconic Pillsbury doughboy and a rubber chicken are displayed. Commemorative tickets for the first UW women’s basketball game at the Kohl Center are dated Tuesday, January 20, 1998. The free tickets were handed out as a way to fill the arena for that initial game. As you might suspect, the seating was in the nose-bleed section. Today the ol’ knees probably couldn’t make it up that many steps! Joining the basketball tickets is a sponsor ticket for a NASCAR race at Chicagoland Speedway. Attached to it are two passes: a “cold” pass for the garage area before the race and a “hot” pass for pit areas during the race. A nice memory is that we were able to rub elbows and meet drivers in the hospitality section before the race. Another unforgettable memory is the indescribable noise generated by the cars.


Ear protection was a must!


Until the next time, remember … it’s good for you.



The Ol’ Pack Rat

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Posted 6/24/2019

July 2019


Arthur E. Clough


RSVP Vets Helping Vets Program Helps Veterans and Families Do What They Love


Arthur loves to sing, Judith loves books, and Amy loves to give back as a volunteer.  This amazing trio met through RSVP’s Vets Helping Vets (VHV) program.  The program provides rides free of charge to medical and other important appointments for Veterans and their family members who don’t have access to other transportation.


Judith and Arthur E. Clough came to Verona from Texas in 2017 to be near daughter Heather R. Bowers.  Arthur is a retired U.S. Army Veteran with 28 years of service. When her parents first arrived, Heather did all the driving for them.  Enter Amy Lasch, who volunteers for RSVP as a VHV driver and in the Madison office. Asked about why she volunteers Amy promptly said, “When my kids went off to college I had extra time, and I wanted to give back.  I enjoy volunteering and it’s important!”


Lasch works 70 percent as a Physician Assistant for UW-Health in Madison.  Amy said, “I’ve been driving Arthur and Judith for about a year now.  At first, Arthur couldn’t remember my name and called me ‘Tammy,’ but after a short while he made an effort to remember my name and says ‘I know, your name is Amy!’”  Amy enjoys driving Arthur and Judith to help them get to and from activities and to socialize.  “Arthur talks about himself and his memories, such as singing bass in a choir.  Judith is researching her family history and I drop her off at the library.


Arthur goes to activities such as Club 108 at the Verona Senior Center.”


Club 108 is an activity program for individuals with early memory loss named after the Verona Senior Center’s address, 108 Paoli Street.  Club 108 Program Assistant Jan Paul said, “Arthur forms friendships and interacts with different ages, physical abilities and backgrounds.  The program uses cognitive stimulating activities such as conversation, crossword puzzles, movies, games, skits, music, gardening, art and photo sharing from trips and guest speakers.”  Jan and longtime volunteer Lou Slamar run the Club 108 program. Verona Senior Center Program Manager Alasa Wiest said, “Club 108 is a growing program with a group of very involved 80 to 90 year olds who meet weekly.  Every other week, our caregivers support group meets at the same time as Club 108, allowing caregivers time for a short break and to confer with one another.”


Heather Bowers, daughter of Arthur and Judith said, “Dad sang on both Veterans Day and Memorial Day at the Verona Senior Center and my Mom’s rides to the library every two weeks are an incredible, critical thing for her.  She
sometimes leaves the library with ten books to consume!”  Heather loves the help she gets from Amy and RSVP’s VHV program, “I was doing all the driving myself, it is an enormous help, I would be at my wit’s end without the service.”


Amy remembers how proud Arthur was when he sang for Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.  Her greeting from Arthur says it all, “when he sees me he says with a big hug, ‘It feels like forever since I’ve seen you!’”


RSVP volunteers like Amy help folks like Arthur and Judith to keep doing what they love! If you are interested in learning more about volunteering as a driver, contact Mary Schmelzer, Driver Services Co-Manager at 608-441-7896 or


Written by Luanne Fax, RSVP of Dane County, Driver Services Marketing & Program Assistant