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Early automobile ordinance offers insight into an era
Random Thoughts - April 28
Random Thoughts by Wendell Smith

MUSCODA - Do you ever wonder what it was like to operate a vehicle in Muscoda many years ago? Paul Kratochwill, editor of this newspaper in 1941, must have wondered. However, he did not reveal the date of the following ordinance as he hoped someone would provide that information.

The old driving rules he found were under the heading “AUTOMOBILE ORDINANCE: An Ordinance for the regulation of traffic of automobiles and other vehicles.”

Section I. That any person who exceeds the speed limit of more than twelve miles per hour with an automobile or other vehicle, shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not less than $5.00 and not more than $50 and costs for each offense or be confined in the county or village jail not to exceed thirty days.

Section 2. That any person who keeps their muffler open while starting or running through the streets or otherwise making unnecessary noises shall, upon conviction, be fined not less than $1.00 or more than $25, and costs thereof, or be confined to the village or county jail not to exceed thirty days.

Section 3. That all vehicles shall be kept to the right while driving or passing other vehicles, going in the opposite direction, and that all vehicles turning around shall go to the next intersecting street and go around a post provided in the center of the intersecting streets, and that all vehicles parked on Wisconsin Avenue shall be done so in the center of the street facing east when intending to go north, and facing west when intending to go south. Any violator shall, upon conviction, be fined not less than $1.00 and not more than $10 for each offense or be confined to the county or village jail for a period not to exceed thirty days.

Section 4. In case default is made of the payment of any fine and costs assessed for any of the provisions of this ordinance, the defender so defaulting may be confined to the county or village jail for a term not exceeding sixty days or until such fine and costs are paid. The ordinance shall take effect and be in force after its passage and publication.

Signed: Wm. Victora, Pres.; F. D. Groves, Village Clerk.

When the Smiths arrived in Muscoda, cars were not parked in the middle of the street – they were diagonal-parked against the curbs. The current parallel style of parking came later.

We did not arrive here in time to know Wm. Victora. However, Frank Groves and his wife were operating a small grocery store on West Warehouse Street.

There are still a few folks around who may remember at least one plus for having diagonal parking. One New Years Eve a big snowstorm caused the village to lose its electrical power for a few hours – but the partying continued along Wisconsin Avenue - with the help of candles, plus headlight beams coming from cars parked outside against the curbs.

As for the Muscoda village jail, we were told it was located on the south side of Highway 80 and a short distance southeast of the Nelson Service Station.

Apparently the jail did get some use. A local World War II veteran, now deceased, told me he had met a fellow soldier, during the fighting in the jungles of New Guinea, who claimed to have spent a night in the Muscoda jail following a “night on the town.”