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Written by Marie Darrow
Compositor - Ben Penkivich, for the Gillett Public Library
Scanned and contributed by Jennifer Bumann
Family Site  Researching Oconto County surnames

(Page 34)


    The Advancement Association, organized in 1916, was the fore runner of all the Civic organizations in Gillett today.    Nearly everyone in town belonged to it. Every holiday was an excuse for a parade, with several bands in the area taking part.    Earlier, before the organization of the Advancement Association,  there was a band stand on the corner where the Library now is,  and every nice summer even-ing,  one band or another would perform there.    The park area had been given to the village by August Zippel for use as a ball grounds and park.    The development of this area became a major project of the Advancement Association.

    After the ball park was leveled and completed, Mr.  Zipple arrived to see a fame.    He was stopped at the gate and charged an entrance fee.  The next day he showed up with a team of horses and plowed up the ball field. It took a great deal of psychology and skill to mollify Mr.  Zippel and get the park back for the people.

    The Old Timers Day, Harvest Festival, and Homecoming Celebration, sponsored each year by the Advancement Association was the forerunner of the fair.  Money made at these celebrations built the dance hall and other early buildings in the park. The center of attraction for many years was the old steam merry-go-round, with its calliope,  filling the air with a cacaphony of sound.    At two rides for a nickle,  the merry-go-round paid for Itself the first summer.

    The driving force behind all of the Advancement promotions for many years was Herman Flentje. He kept the floor in the dance hall smooth as glass. He was gruff but basically kind,  and provided clean decent recreation for the people of the area for many years.

    A   1920   advertisement   for   the  Advancement  Association  asks   a question  "is   it  alive?"   and  replies   "Just  write the secretary and be convinced." It  boasts   that   the  organization   is   composed  of over  10  members   full   of  "pep"   and  "convolution."     Officers   listed include  J.M.   Melchoir,   President;   Roger  C.   Brooks,   secretary;   and Bert   Cole,   treasurer.      It   lists   the   following board  of  directors: J.M.   Ankerson,   W.S.   Burse,   George   Grotelueschen,   Gus   Bocher, W.W.   Smith,   E.   Thibedeau,   Bert   Cole,   Gust   Bergmen  and  Jim Melcoir.

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