Sunset Park Memories from the 1940s and 1950s
Other Memories of Growing Up in Sunset Village in the 1940s and 1950s
In the days when most dads went to work and moms stayed home, every family had only one car. This meant that those who had products or services to sell often came to the neighborhood. We still have pictures taken on the black and white pony that a photographer brought down our street. My older brother remembers vegetables being delivered by horse and buggy. Farmers also brought eggs and chickens. There were two dairies that delivered milk—Bowman Farm Dairy and Bancroft Dairy. The kids used to run after “Jumbo” the milkman to try to get some ice from his truck. And, of course, we bought our brushes from the Fuller Brush man. We had grease traps that were a kind of septic tank that had to be emptied regularly. A man known as Spike came along in his little black truck to do the smelly job. He walked along with his bucket on a stick and would ring the doorbell and keep on walking. If you wanted him to clean your grease trap, you had to catch him.
Who were some of the early residents? We could always count on fresh cookies when we rang Mrs. Wissler’s doorbell. Mrs. Narum had a beautiful flower garden. Mrs. Meyr gave permanents to the women and girls. Mrs. Snell took care of the few children whose mothers worked. Mr. Schape owned a car dealership. Miss Clock was the principal of Dudgeon School. Mr. Hughes was a optometrist. Mrs. Goldschmidt took care of her home and family when her husband was fighting in World War II. Mr. Peterson, a Swedish gentleman, was a carpenter who built the additions on our house. Don McKenna, a realtor who had developed the neighborhood, lived in the house behind us on Hillcrest Drive. There was a man who worked for the F.B.I. When I was in high school, I babysat for the Noth family on West Sunset Court near the corner of South Sunset Court. Their son Chris grew up to star on the TV series, Sex in the City.
My brother had a Milwaukee Journal paper route that was spread throughout Sunset Village. The Sunday papers were heavy, and he could only fit 12 in his bicycle basket. He found that the best time to collect from the graduate students who lived in the trailer park across from where the Hilldale Mall would be built, was at night when they were having parties. The Hill Farm animals would sometimes get loose and wander around.
We had a plot in the Victory Garden that was just to the south of the University Avenue bridge over Old Middleton Road. It’s now part of the Blackhawk Golf Course. With no TVs and only one car, we made our own fun. Our mothers talked over the fences as they hung their clothes to dry. Whenever we went shopping downtown, we got dressed up and took the bus. Sunset Village was a great place to grow up.
Jim Bennett’s additional memories I remember eating the concord grapes from a backyard fence in the park & the best 4-cent homemade popsicles at Rowley's back door (dipped in the bubbler in the center of the park to increase the flavor). I remember climbing a Maple tree one evening and finding myself eyeball to eyeball with a Mourning Dove on her nest. Don't forget the Baltimore Orioles and Scarlet Tanagers! I remember crawling in the storm sewers all the way to Westmorland Blvd.... you could see the 1" stream of light coming thru the manhole center from a block away! Probably the biggest adventure was going into the caves below the Hoyt Park lookout....and that toboggan slide was a huge wooden structure. I think they even had a ski jump built up there too. Thanks to all the Hickory nuts, I learned to count to 1000...good cakes. Good money shoveling driveways for $1.00. Paul Olsen...Midvale Principal, a bit intimidating with the awesome metal crutches. His address on Mineral Pt was same as ours.....4122. Likeable man, very instrumental with the Madison School Forest near Verona.
I just LOVED your memories. How lucky you were to live next to a park with so many opportunities/activities. I didn't know Miss Clock lived there. We also had a garden on University Avenue next to the RR tracks (across the tracks from Blackhawk CC). We'd sometimes find golf balls in the garden. The people that owned it were the Rodenschmidts and they kept horses there – just an electric fence away. Was that the same place you had yours?
Our garden was huge, and we had to carry water from the house to the west of the gardens to water plants - I especially remember watering the new tomato plants. We could park at the house there - it was lived in by the man who was the caretaker of Blackhawk (I'll remember his name soon - he had boys about our age) and cross a fence to get to the gardens. There is a big new storage garage where the house was.