By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Dec 30, 2020 at 9:03 AM

As we close out 2020, we wanted to share some of our favorite stories from the last decade. We hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as we enjoyed telling them. Click here to see the rest of our picks of must-reads and happy new year, Milwaukee!

Have you wondered, while driving on Prospect Avenue, about that dapper man immortalized in bronze, gazing toward Downtown from his perch above the foot of Knapp Street?

Of course, he's legendary Scots poet Robert Burns and, as far as we can tell, he never visited Milwaukee (which didn't exist in his lifetime).

So why on Earth is there a statue of the man who wrote "Auld Lang Syne" on Milwaukee's East Side?

The Burns statue was donated to the city in 1909 by James Anderson Bryden, a Milwaukeean of Scottish descent.

Bryden was a prosperous grain merchant who was involved in many civic organizations in Milwaukee, including The Old Settlers' Club, the St. Andrews Society and the Chamber of Commerce.

When Bryden heard that Chicago had a casting of a Burns monument in Kilmarnock, Scotland, sculpted by Edinburgh artist William Grant Stevenson, in its Garfield Park, he wanted Milwaukee to have one, too.

Legend has it that Bryden initially planned to bequeath the money to have the statue erected, but changed his mind, deciding he'd prefer to see it the monument rise in his lifetime.

A copy of the 12-foot statue of Burns clutching a notebook was made in Scotland and sent to Milwaukee, where it was placed atop an 11-foot pedestal. On the base are bas-reliefs designed by Milwaukee's Julius E. Heimerl and executed by Stevenson and quotes from Burns poems.

Burns' three-dimensional likeness was unveiled at a ceremony on June 26, 1909 at which it was officially accepted by then-mayor David Rose in front of a crowd of almost 2,000.

Gen. Arthur MacArthur – father of Douglas – gave an address, Milwaukee journalist and author John Goadby Gregory – who was then editor in chief of the Evening Wiscosnin – read his poem, "Robert Burns," and The Caledonian Pipe Band played, too.

The Burns statue is still a focal point for local poets and Scotsmen, who lay a wreath at its base each year to celebrate the birth of the great wordsmith, who entered this world on Jan. 25, 1759 (and left it July 21, 1796).

So that you're prepared on New Year's Eve, here are the lyrics to auld Rabbie Burns' holiday favorite:

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o'kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

(CHORUS)

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
Sin' auld lang syne.

(CHORUS)

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.

(CHORUS)

And there's a hand, my trusty fere !
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.

(CHORUS)

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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 has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.