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Memoirs: contributed by Dave Ciser

This article was written the mid 1900's by Karl R. Vendt, a long-time resident of City of Oconto. It was in response to a previously written editorial that had lamented the loss of the early days (without paved roads) and the desire to return to the simple businesses, buildings and life of the "good old days".




Before wiping the mud off my feet (see your editorial
of January 30 regarding Main-st), I recall the following buildings in the year 1900.

The building that you are referring to was called the "Flat Iron" and also the "DonLevy". The corner store was occupied by Keith Shoe Store. Above the store was the Haas Brothers (Reinhard and Otto), and Charles Koehler, cigar manufacturer. A variety store next door was occupied by Mrs. Evans, who lived upstairs. Jack Carr's Restaurant was next, followed by the Oconto Post Office (operated by Grover Bailey, Postmaster, and Margaret Walsh, clerk), the Runkel Jewelry Store, and a Western Union Office and a saloon followed.

Across the street was the Presbyterian Church, S.W. Ford Drug Store, Millidge Clothing Store, Germond Drug Store, a woman doctor's office, Young Brothers Barber Shop, a hotel and restaurant called the Pierce House, and a saloon.

Across the street from the Flat Iron building was Gilles Bakery, a hardware store, Rasmussen's Store and home, Thiele Clothing Store, Calligan Ice Creem, Brauzeau-Pelke Office, Joe Heller House, Dr. Armstrong building, a bank building, the Armory, Freward Hat Store, a cigar manufacturer's office, and the Schumacher Grocery Store.

The Stage Coach was a long 6-seated open-air coach, operated by a relative of mine, Herman Rosenfeldt, and the rides were five cents and 10 cents. In 1900 Oconto had a population of over 5,000. Work was plentiful in Oconto and also the woods. Five mills were located in town - the Holt Saw and Planing Mill, the Oconto County Saw Mill in Frenchtown, the Spies Saw Mill, located near the Yacht Club, and a Shingle mill west across the street from the hospital. Also, Oconto had three printing offices - The Enquirer, the Enterprise, and the Reporter.

There were plenty of hotels, restaurants, saloons, etc., to accommodate the working people. Wages were low - the average about 10 cents an hour. I worked in a saw mill one summer at five cents an hour; later received an increase to six cents. In the fall my father and I went to the woods for the Spies Lumber Company, about five miles from Suring, called Hayes. We slept in tents while camps were built. We returned in the spring and received $144.40, of which my father gave me $4.40. The woods were located about a mile from camp and we worked from daylight to dark, six days a week.

The two men pictured, "holding up the building, "could very well be Albert Rohde and myself, as that location was our nightly hangout.

Those were the "good old days??"


Yours very truly,
Karl E. Vendt