A few years ago I did a story about the great salvage and reuse work being done by WasteCap Resource Solutions, 2123 W. Michigan St., near the Marquette campus. Lately, it's received some pretty great items you can buy.
For example, I recently saw that WasteCap has the distinctive upstairs "barn" doors from the old Usinger's stables, demolished for the construction of the new area. And yes, the elf sticker is still there ...
WasteCap also currently has some architectural details for sale from a former tied house on 17th and Wright, which was demolished in November ...
These tin cornice pieces (WasteCap has six segments of varying sizes) are from the old tap at 1635 W. Wright St., which thanks to a little quick digging, I learned used to serve up the sea foods, including a 15-cent fish fry, back in 1939 when it was called Old Heidelberg Cafe ...
It's unclear whether or not Peter Schmidt's Wright Street place was affiliated with McCarthy's Old Heidelberg Cafe on 31st and Meinecke, or the more famous Downtown restaurant of the same name on Mason Street, owned by and later named for Karl Ratzsch. You know, the one where the Lions Club would hold its annual "whoopee party" and which got busted in 1931 for selling booze during Prohibition.
I'm guessing not, but this neighborhood pub had issues of its own.
Just ask Walter Schneider, who in 1944 was arrested as drunk and disorderly after he walloped MPD patrolman Alex Palluck there. Or tavernkeeper Stephen Yurmanovich, who was busted in '51 for allowing minors (a 14-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy) to "loiter" – that is, drink a Coke and lean on the jukebox – for 10 minutes while waiting to use the occupied restroom.
Things took a much darker, more tragic turn there in '65 when it was called Willa & Stumps Tavern and run by Albert Knox. A man walked in and asked his wife, who was working at the bar, if he could buy her a drink. "She refused and they exchanged harsh words," according to a newspaper account.
The woman, a 28-year-old waitress, took her purse containing a .25 caliber automatic pistol from behind the bar and went to the rest room, where she put the gun in her dress pocket, the paper wrote. When she returned to the bar, her husband allegedly grabbed and slapped her. She shot once and as her husband headed out the door, she shot twice more, and he collapsed in the alley and later died, the Journal wrote.
Nine years later, John Harris, publican at what was then called John's Tap, suffered a loss of $2,000 plus some payroll checks, when burglars broke in and, as the daily paper reported, "took the loot from cigar boxes."
Sadly, another fatal shooting occurred at John's Tap in 1986.
Take a look at the photo at the top and you can see the cornice when it was in situ. If that tin could talk ...
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.