It's certainly not a secret if you live in the neighborhood, but I recently discovered Hawthorn Glen, a 25-acre park and nature center run by Milwaukee Public Schools and tucked away north of State Street in the shadow of the big water tower that also overlooks Hawley Road.
With two big play sets with slides and swings, a pond inhabited by a family of ducks, short but rustic nature trails, picnic areas, and a soccer pitch (which, oddly, has a sign that says "no ball playing"), Hawthorn Glen is fun enough.
South of the soccer pitch there's a grassy hill that seems out of place, but is a blast to run up and down!
Add in "The Little Nature Museum" housed in what appears to be a WPA-era stone building and this off the beaten path gem is even better. Recently, I stopped to visit the park and found the nature center -- which has very limited public hours, since it's aimed mostly at visiting school groups, I think - open.
Although the official opening hours had passed, the two employees welcomed us in and let us check out the rabbits, frogs, fish, snakes, birds and turtles (to name the living animals; there are a few taxidermied ones too).
According to its Web site, more than 12,000 students visit Hawthorn Glen every year and numerous science and nature programs are continually offered to them.
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.