There are few things more exciting than uncovering new troves of vintage Milwaukee photographs and thankfully that still seems to happen with some regularity.
The latest batch to come to light were taken by lensman Alex Budny, whose granddaughter Rachel Bisom gave the photos with the Old Milwaukee group on Facebook who then shared them with us.
Budny, who died in 2012 at the age of 92, was blessed not only with a taste for photographing his hometown but was also an accomplished artist in other media, too.
According to Bisom, Budny lived for many years on North Bremen Street in Riverwest (at 2866A), moving to 111th Place in West Allis around 1943, when Bisom’s father was born.
Budny graduated from Boys Tech in 1937 and then, says Bisom, “he went traveling like a hobo with his older brother in the Civil Engineering Corps in the late ‘30s.”
Afterward, Budny (who also went by Alec) served in Hawaii in the Navy during World War II.
“He was the naval base's artist for their newsletter, the "8 Ball," (drawing) many political and naval cartoons,” she adds.
Though he attended art school and did some commercial art work on the side, says Bisom, her grandfather spent 40 years working as a welder at the Heil Company.
“He loved to take pics at local fishing spots,” Bisom recalls of Budny. “Other than photography, his passion was fishing. He'd take his camera and fishing poles everywhere. Took many landscapes and nature photos of Bark River, Lake Five, Cushman Mill area, and all around Wisconsin.
“He was always present for the parades in Milwaukee, the polar plunge, many celebrity pics of mayors, etc,” she recalls. “He drove until he was about 85 years old. Hung out at the local Dunkin Donuts every morning on Highway 100 in West Allis. Had a group of old guys telling stories.”
Sounds like a heck of a guy. In addition to the great memories Budny left his family, he left all of us some great shots of Milwaukee. Here are a few of them, courtesy of Bisom and Old Milwaukee.
Marine Bank Plaza construction (circa 1960)
Circus Parade / Plankinton & Wisconsin (circa early 1960s)
First Wisconsin construction (circa 1972)
12th and Mitchell / St. Jacobi Lutheran Church (1977)
King Drive, looking south from North Avenue / Berlin Arcade, home of Rosenberg's demolition (circa March 1978)
City Hall & Performing Arts Center (date unknown)
Human cannonball Hugo Zacchini (circa early 1970s)
Mayfair Mall (circa late 1970s)
Treasure Island (location and date unknown)
Jim King Chevrolet, 3045 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. (1953)
Dick Bacon at polar bear plunge (late 1970s)
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.