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C. Stevens Point, Wisconsin


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Life in Stevens Point

Life in Stevens Point was different. If you weren't Polish or Catholic you had a hard time fitting in. It was a nice town but if you weren't connected to the college or were not polish, things didn't seemed to go along very well. My parents were both college graduates and the three of us, went to the campus school, when we were in grade school. It was a very religious town, in fact basically, the majority was made up of Catholics.

My father was born in the town of Linwood and he meant my mother in college. He was majoring in dentistry, and my mother was a home economics major and taught at the Mid State College as a Home Economics Coordinator. We lived for awhile with my father's mother and dad and at times, my mother would say it was hard raising 3 girls, because my grandmother had a lot to say about it. They had their differences on how children should be raised, but other than that they seemed to get along fine.

Life at the campus school was great. We had all the student teachers that were majoring in education. We did have a head teacher, but most of our classes were taught by college students. The classes were small and we all knew one another, almost like an extended family. Most of the kids had parents as college graduates like my parents, so we all seemed to have the same life style. Most of us were protestant, but we did have two students that were Jewish and we celebrated their holidays along with ours. Art class was my happy time, don't get me wrong I liked the other classes, but art was my favorite. Edna Carlsten was my art teacher and she got me interested in going into the field, and I went on to major in art at UWSP.

My mother was a teacher so she had summers off and we would spend our summers in Barnum, where my mother was from. She would go down there to visit her mother and the place was country like, so she could let us kids roam free without worrying about us. My father also had a break because he would have the whole summer away from us kids and he seemed to enjoy the time to himself. We would go down to Barnum, right after school was out and not return until school began in the fall. We loved it down there, it was so peaceful compared to the city life. We could find so many things to do, without actually spending a lot of money and it gave my mother time to be with her mother and her family because some of her family lived down there also.

High School was a lot different than grade school. It was PJ Jacobs High School on Main Street. You either liked it or you didn't and I choose not to care for that section of my life. I came from a small interwoven grade school and liked that environment. I was also in the school band playing the clarinet and my friends were cheerleaders, and I was disappointed. But I enjoyed college and just forgot about my high school years of misery.

My father's parents Thomas James Porter died in 1947 and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Ault died in 1949 and my father took over the store. The store was a two-story brick building with an apartment flat above it. The flat had a place for two living quarters. Kitchen, dinning room, living room, 2 bedrooms and a bathroom and then a separate quarters for extra living conditions, which became remodeled into a two extra bedrooms after my grandparents died. My cousin Lavern Marion Junior came to live with us after my grandparents died and he went to college and eventually we got another college student Rose Mary and she took care of us kids, which gave our parents sometime off. Then we seemed to have female college students stay at our place and help my mother out with us kids and we use to have fun, because they were into the school thing and helped us with our home work and entertainment.

Porter's Market was sold in 1966, and the building was demolished for another retail business. My father took on another occupation and mother continued teaching, They moved to a house on Jordan and Sommers streets in Stevens Point. Us three girls eventually moved out and went on to college and formed our own lives..

There were many different things about Stevens Point. The Market Square was one attraction. Farmers from all over the county would bring their produce and sell them as fresh, home grown products, which the whole town seemed to appreciate. My mother was down there a lot. You could buy produce very reasonable and the vegetables didn't contain the preservative spray that was found in the food stores. She would always say, it was so much healthier for you, that preservative spray was not good for you, but she understood why it was used.

Portage County was also known for growing potatoes, and if you want to have the potato thing, live in Stevens Point and you can have potatoes in every variety , shape and form. It's interesting in how you can make a whole meal out of potatoes and a few added extra's. But you have to live in Stevens Point, in order to get educated in Polish Potato meals.

A beautiful place in Stevens Point is the territory on the Wisconsin River by the Mill. Spillway is a unique picturesque dream land. The water flowing over the rocks is so soothing to the mind and a beauty of God's creation, but it is also a very dangerous place, because there has been many fatal accidents of fisherman going over the spillway to their death. People in the area loved to fish and they love to fish in the area of spillway and the many islands. It is a beautiful peaceful haven, a dreamland where someone can relax after a stressful, hard working week.

The town was also known for Paper Mills, years ago they use to rolled the logs down the Wisconsin River, over Big Bull Falls, Little Bull Falls and Spillway, from the logging camps north of Stevens Point and park them in the slough or the booms and then transport them to the Mills. The Wisconsin River log drivers became known as "white water" river Pilots because in the spring, the snow thaw and run off caused the river to become a raging torrent, and that is what was needed to transport these logs to the mills. The Legend of the River pilot was one such story and his grave is along the river side near Spillway.

Then there is Hertiage Park, south of Stevens Point in the town of Plover. It is the result of Maurice Perrets's and John Anderson foresite the late 1970's. It consists of old buildings and structures that are intended to be preserved and show what life was like in Portage County between 1870 and 1910.

Stevens Point is considered a small unique, different type of a town, small enough to be out of the big city life, for crime is scarce, but big enough to have some existence and entertainment in a different way.

It's just one different place

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