Friday, August 26, 2005

History of Wisconsin

I’m enrolled to take a History of Wisconsin course this fall and I’m quite excited about it. The other day when I was at my neighbor’s house I noticed a book about the history of Milwaukee, so I axed if I could borrow it. The book is helping me appreciate the local history here. I never much considered the history of my city or state, probably because compared to the history of Europe, or the ancient Middle East, or the far east, Wisconsin’s history didn’t seem very sexy. But if you can get in the right mindset, Wisconsin history is HOT—ooh baby.

So many places here have Indian names, but when you’re born here you take it for granted. Places like “Waukesha”—an Indian name—seem just as vernacular as “Appleton” or “Green Bay.”

My dad used to work for a company that did a lot of business in Germany. I remember him telling me once about the time he was escorting his German associates around Milwaukee and the surrounding area. Every time they encountered a street sign with a “strange” name the Germans would laugh about it. “Ja, ha ha, look Hans, zat sign says ‘Menominee—ha ha, ja, funny! Vhat!? Look at zat von, it says Vauvatosa! And over zere is Vaukesha-ja! Ha ha! Ja, and zere is Muskego! Oh, and look, vee are approaching… Germantown…?... vhich is norse of… New Berlin…Vhat?”

Anyway, I’m excited to learn more about Wisconsin and Milwaukee not only because I enjoy learning, but because I think Wisconsin history will make for great party conversation (just kidding).


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