Thursday, August 11, 2011

Trips to Necedah to Visit Family

As a child we did not vacation often.  We did take the trip from Chicago’s western suburbs to Necedah, WI to visit family but I don’t know how many times we were actually there.  I do remember a few visits.

The first time I remember going to Necedah I may have been about 4 or 5.  We took Highway 12 as I-90 did not exist at that time. (The section of I-90 between the Madison, WI and the Wisconsin Dells was not dedicated until October 6, 1961.) Highway 12 was, back in the mid 50s, as it is today, the most direct route from the Chicago area to the Mauston then Necedah via Hwy Q. I can’t begin to imagine how long it would have taken us to traverse the many twists and turns and small towns along the way. On today’s roads, in a modern car and no stops it would take 5 hours.  The mileage is about the same via today’s Highway 12 and taking the I-90 route but time taking the “I” would be 3 hours 40 minutes.

I remember it was dark, but being aware of travelling through some very significant hills in the Baraboo area. It was at this point either I or my sister, Sharon, pulled the keys from the ignition of our late 1940s sedan causing the engine to quit.  As you can well imagine this caused a bit of a stir and must have caused my Dad’s heart to skip a few beats.  I’m sure Dad had it started in no time.

1963 July Petenwell Rock and Dam

Petenwell Rock and Dam July 1963

The next visit I remember, must some years later.  Brother, Jim, was perhaps 5 years old.  I remember that the water was high was in the large ditches near Uncle Teddy’s farm and folks were shooting carp in those ditches.  I also remember going to a park near Petenwell Rock where Jim sat in poison ivy.  We toured the Petenwell Hydroelectric Dam on the Wisconsin River.  Petenwell Dam was built in the 1940s, creating the 2nd largest lake in Wisconsin.  Petenwell Rock is named for a star-crossed lover, who legend has it, leaped to his death from this spot with the local Indian Chief's daughter, Clinging Vine. It is said that the Indian gods returned Clinging Vine to the rock where she stands today, faithful to the memory of her lover, Peter Wells.  What also sticks in my mind is the water pump in the kitchen, the outhouse and the barn and various farming equipment which had seen better days.  1963 July On Petenwell Rock friend Peggy Sue Sharon

Friend Peggy, Me, Sharon

1963 July at Petenwell Rock friend Peggy  Cousin Phyllis Sue Sharon

Friend Peggy, Cousin Phyllis, Me, Sharon

The most recent visit was some time after my uncle’s death in 1997.  I didn’t know where the farm was but we inquired at the post office and were given directions.  At the time of my uncle’s death he had already sold the farm and the new owners allowed him to keep a trailer on the land in perpetuity.   When we went by, the house was just a skeleton and the trailer sat there still with the many whirly-gigs and lawn ornaments that my uncle Teddy had placed there.

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