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Random Thoughts by Wendell Smith

MUSCODA - I am going back in time again this week, looking through Progressive copes from early June, 1958, the time when Vi and I arrived in Muscoda to take over ownership of “The Muscoda Progressive.” It was certainly a new experience for us.

It was a time when local businesses were changing their schedules. “Open Night” hours had been switched from Saturday nights to Friday nights and a group of businesses were offering special prices on a variety of merchandise.

Among the specials advertised that week were: Miller’s Dress Shop with ladies blouses for $1.00, reduced from $4.50. At the E. V. Gabler Store Friday night specials included an electric razor for $18.50 and a coffee percolator for $14.95.

At the Muscoda Hotel, the price of a fresh catfish dinner was $1.00 each with serving starting at 5:30 p.m. Johnsrud Dairy summer hour prices included all flavors of half-gallon Johnsrud Ice Cream for 75 cents and pints for 25 cents.

Walsh’s Store was selling electric fence posts for 35 cents each and for $39.88 you could take home a 3-piece chrome dinette set, including a 33-piece stainless silver set, for $39.95.

At Reetz Shoe Store the Friday night specials included men’s dress hose, ladies’ nylons, men’s and boys’ dress jackets for 25% off. Also on Wisconsin Avenue was Kalscheur’s, the meating place of Muscoda, where a pound of fresh ground beef cost 39 cents and 50 pounds of flour $3.19.

Harvey’s Bar and Grill had a new charcoal grill to prepare chicken, steak and seafood every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights beginning at 5:30. Gambles of Muscoda offered many Friday night specials, including an ironing board and pad for 99 cents and two gallons of grade-A house paint for $7.98.

A Maytag electric dryer cost $147 and water pails were going for 88 cents each at Schwingle Hardware.

Moving north from Muscoda, at Leyda Motors, Richland Center, new 1958 2-door Ford sedans were priced at $1,895 with a Mercury tudor sedan with automatic transmission going for $2,895. Stepping up, a new Lincoln Capri Hardtop, completely equipped, including power steering, Thunderbird engine and automatic transmission, was priced at $4,795.

Frawley’s Standard Service, corner of Beech and Wisconsin, was planning a 2-day grand opening with free candy for all kiddies in cars. Owner was Norbert Frawley.

Among news items at that time – the Blue River Fisheree was termed a success. Harry Schell brought in the heaviest string of fish that tipped the scale at 10 pounds. Jim Everson was the winner of the walleye and bass class.

A Coon Dog Trial was held at Avoca, attracting approximately 60 dogs, some of them valued at more than $100. No final prizes were offered as no dog completed the entire scent trail.

The Muscoda firemen were planning a dance, which would be held at Riverview Gardens, located between Muscoda and Gotham, with music by Jerry Gilbertson and his orchestra.

An editorial stated “Wisconsin Highways Are More Dangerous Than Tornados.” It noted that a series of tornados in northern Wisconsin shocked residents of the state as they claimed more than 30 lives. It was then noted that every 10 days that many lives were lost on Wisconsin highways, yet that toll was more or less accepted by people as common place with little thought about it. Perhaps there should be more effort across the state to reduce that number.

Muscoda Chief of Police Al Audetat operated a traffic check with 110 vehicles inspected with three summons and 43 “five day” tickets issued.

Basswood Peony blooms

The first June the Smiths lived in Muscoda, the late Ben Gies, local rural mail carrier, stopped by our shop and told us about the peony show at the Basswood Church Cemetery. We took time to check it out and were amazed by the number of flowers.

We have now made the Basswood drive many times to view the flower display that has grown through the last 60-plus years. Last week some of the big flowers were a bit beyond their peak, but other bushes were still budding, so there is time to look.