Old Kenosha

This week’s Happenings magazine has a section called “It’s Your Hometown Memories”.  It includes a lot of old Kenosha photos and businesses from way back when.  It’s pretty surprising to know some of them have survived for so long!  I thought it would be interesting to list some of them along with a few of my related memories of them.  Unfortunately I can’t include photos from the magazine due to legal reasons, but I’ll try to describe anything I found interesting in them as best I can.

Brat Stop started up in 1958 as a tiny little place that looked like a drive-in restaurant.  It was located on Highway 41 long before I-94 even existed.  I saw Oceans at Brat Stop with Hans D long ago.

Javelin Restaurant was located on the corner of 22nd Avenue and 60th Street, was started in the 1980’s when AMC was the big manufacturing giant in Kenosha, and was obviously named after the AMC Javelin.  I don’t recall ever going to this restaurant, but it was fairly close to our family’s home, which was 6611 20th Avenue, very close to uptown Kenosha.  It was owned by Vasilios (Bill) Anastopoulos, who apparently later moved on to build the successful Anastos Motors car dealership in Kenosha.  I’ve watched this high-traffic corner location change hands many times over the years

Bernacci’s Drug Store was located uptown where Fire Station #3 is today, at 63rd Street and 22nd Avenue.  This business wasn’t mentioned in Happenings at all, I just remembered it when I was thinking about Javelin Restaurant (those darned “member berries” again…)  I remember, as a kid, the huge fire that occurred there, burning the store to the ground.  Since it was only a couple blocks from home, my friends and I all ran and biked there and watch the firefighting & chaos as it unfolded.  My attempts to find more information about Bernacci’s on the web have failed.  Am I spelling it wrong, maybe?

The Music Center, now located on Green Bay Road, opened up in the 1940’s.  I had no idea it had been around so long.  Where it was originally located, I have no idea.

Happenings Magazine has been around for 40 years – since 1977.  It’s a free local magazine we usually pick up at local restaurants and gas stations.  It is currently located in the old American Brass Administration Building, 1420 63rd Street.  Gotta include a little self-promotion in their own magazine, so there it is.  It’s funny how the entire section is mostly ads (as the magazine always is), but a lot of the ad content for each business contains their historical significance, and Most pages of ads “interconnect” with each other and the photos in the pages near them, making it more like one big article you’re reading.  Nice work, I enjoyed it.

Chester Electronics was located next to the train tracks on 60th Street, and I remember going there many times with my dad (both of us were gadget geeks) as a kid, buying CBs, police scanners, crystals–one crystal was need for each scanner frequency you wanted to listen to, so they had to be hand-made (or tuned) for that frequency.  This took a week or two after ordering, then you could come in and pick up that crystal and install it in your scanner.  This was way before today’s scanners, which provide entire bands and you just electronically tune in (or scan entire bands) to listen to them.  Chester’s eventually moved to it’s current location, where National Foods once was–7709 Sheridan Road.  Chester Minkowski is the owner.  I’m not sure what year it opened, or whether Chester is still alive, as that information wasn’t included.  Oh, and do you want to see the worst website ever?  Check it out: http://chesterelectronics.com/

Lou Perrine’s gas station (aka “One Stop Shop”) has been around for 62 years – Since 1954.  It is now located on 52nd Street and Sheridan Road.  I noticed a YouTube logo next to this one, so out of curiosity I had to check.  Very nice!  It contains video ads, as expected, and they’re interesting… I had no idea they even did home delivery…$5 delivery charge, but they insist on NO TIPS!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jppVnBhbVik

Thomas B. Jeffery Company was founded in 1902.  It evolved into Nash Motors in 1916, American Motors in 1954, and Chrysler in 1987.  Later it was reduced to just the Chrysler Engine Plant.  It closed in October 2010 and was demolished in 2013.  I worked there for 5 years–1985 to 1989–as a Security Guard.  Looking back on it, those were some interesting and fun times, I must say.  I was hired at $4.50/hr and worked my way up to the maximun $6.50/hr by the time I left.  I was hired after a bunch of restructuring of the Security department and mass-layoffs of the “old guard” who were still unionized and paid much more money as a result.  The restructuring ended up with most of those guard either quitting or retiring and the wages being more than cut in half.  I wasn’t looked upon very favorably by most for taking the job, but for me I had just graduated from Tech College and had been looking for work, and figured any job is better than no job.  I was surprised it lasted as long as it did.  I was looking for PC Tech work (and doing side PC work) pretty much the entire 5 years…though not very aggressively.  I was laid off during another of the many cutbacks they did in those days leading up to the final closing.

Guttormsen’s Recreation Center, now located on Green Bay Road and 52nd Street, began in 1919 on 6th Avenue downtown, where the KVNA building now stands, across the street to the North of the Municipal Building.  As a kid I remember a friend working there as a pinsetter.  And I also remember “someone” obtaining a large quantity of soap and dumping it into the large Municipal Fountain located on 6th Avenue one evening, and watching as the fountain overflowed with soap suds!

The Elk’s Club, located at 5706 8th Avenue, is now The Heritage House, and is a historic Kenosha building.  I don’t think this one was was even mentioned in the Happenings section, but I just remembered it now, having worked at the Elk’s Club as a dishwasher for two years, part-time, while I was in high school.  Here’s the history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenosha_Elks_Club

I think that’s about half of the section so far.  I’m finding it pretty interesting myself.  I’ll probably post the other half soon, if time permits.  Thanks for visiting!

Kenosha Parvo Outbreak

Neighborhood walk

There’s been a Parvovirus outbreak in Kenosha recently – most notably in the Lincoln Park area – so I’ve been keeping the dog home most days.  Lincoln Park WAS one of the parks I liked to walk occasionally, so that sucks.  Just another reason to avoid Ingress park portals and stay home.  So today, after denying Socks a good walk for some time, I decided to just walk the neighborhood with him.  I tried to squeeze in a full mile, but my bluetooth headset kept slipped off my head because it got pretty wet and slippery.  It didn’t rain, it’s just really humid today (Accuweather says 80% humidity).  Reminds me of David Letterman’s classic line: “It’s not the HEAT, it’s the STUPIDITY!”

Now I’m going to back to continue my Sopranos marathon… I’m just starting season 3–Meadow’s in college, Little Tony just starting getting his dad’s panic attacks, Big Tony is still trying to hide his money safely (now out in the shed and in each of his wild bird feed bags), and Uncle Junior doesn’t have the money for both his cancer treatment and his legal fight against the feds.

New Kenosha Art

I added 8 new photos to the Kenosha Art set today.  These were all taken during my Pennoyer Park walk yesterday.  They’re the first 8 photos in this set – 2 new park signs, 4 black-on-blue themed music murals that were ocated around the restrooms at the bandshell, and 2 new tile art images, located on either side of the bandshell itself.  Enjoy!

Kenosha Art – click on any thumbnail to view the set

Kenosha House Explosion

12:00am – We were just getting into bed tonight, turned out the lights, then saw a bright flash in the window and the house shook with a BOOM! Turned on the scanner right away and at first they thought it was a transformer that exploded. A few minutes later they began getting calls of a house that exploded at 2115 55th Street. That was corrected shortly after to 2113 55th Street. And as the information kept coming in, it sounds like approximately 10 houses were heavily damaged as well as 2 commercial buildings, according to police. I heard one of the officers first on the scene say on the radio that “chance of anyone inside the house surviving, ZERO.” I’ll keep updating this post as I hear more.

12:04am – Mt. Carmel is open as a shelter right now for those forced from their homes. In the scanner chat, “User342767” says “Heard they left the stove on. If anyone was inside there’s no way they made it”.

12:09am – We Energies is on the scene now. People are also reporting heaving smell of gas at Johnny Midnight’s.

The very first early 911 calls that came in stated a house had exploded, half of it had collapsed, and a woman was trapped in a bedroom. No further information was given about that, and it quickly changed when they arrived on-scene stating the house was fully engulfed and totally destroyed, with no chance of anyone inside surviving. My guess is, the half-house that collapsed probably WAS the initial address–2115–because I doubt any calls ever came from the actual house that exploded.

12:29am – They’re reviewing the original calls now – first call was from 2113 55th Street, and said “a MOTHER was trapped in a bedroom.”

5510 23rd Ave – Large piece of plywood about 40 feet up in a tree – they’re concerned it may fall and injure someone.

12:41am – They’re reporting the media is now on-scene. They’re looking for a PIO.

Kenosha resident Michelle Pulera said she was sitting in her chair watching TV when she heard what she thought might have been an explosion. When she went outside to investigate the noise, other neighbors were also outside looking for signs of smoke. “A neighbor and I were walking to 60 Street, Pulera who lives on 37th Avenue, said. “We thought it might have been a gas station.”

1:11am – Engine 3 is leaving the scene, fire is out. I’m heading off to bed, thanks for visiting. There’s supposed to be live Chopper 4 video here, but I’ll be darned if I can find it. G’night. Oh yeah, I posted a Google Streetview shot of the house here, if you want to see what the neighborhood looked like before the explosion.

5:15am – Live News report on TMJ4 – There was no one in the house at the time of the explosion, it was being renovated. There were also no injuries as a result of the explosion, which is amazing after listening to all the chaos on the scanner last night! The investigation continues today as they try to determine the cause of the explosion and assess all of the surrounding damaged buildings.