history – On Wisconsin https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com For UW-Madison Alumni and Friends Thu, 27 Jun 2019 17:02:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 Lost in Space https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/lost-in-space/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/lost-in-space/#respond Tue, 26 Feb 2019 16:46:40 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=24973 In September 1962, a 20-pound hunk of a Soviet spacecraft, still hot, landed in the middle of a Manitowoc street, rocketing Wisconsin into the space age. It wasn’t so much a sign of things to come on Earth, but it was a glimpse of what was to come in space: it was going to get crowded up there.

Just 60 years ago, the environment around our planet was pristine. But now there is an eclectic constellation of stuff. The list includes wrenches, toolboxes, and cameras left behind by astronauts, along with abandoned and broken satellites, spent rocket parts, and the cremated remains of celebrities and rich people (including Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry). At least 23,000 other objects larger than a baseball, not to mention the millions of bits of debris too small to track, are speeding like shrapnel through space.

Also in orbit, of course, are plenty of working satellites. And their numbers continue to grow at an astonishing pace as the world’s spacefaring nations take advantage of new rocket technologies, miniaturization, and plummeting costs to seed space with more and more satellites.

“Satellites are in the background of just about everything we do in our daily lives. Modern-day America is tied to satellites. They are infrastructure,” explains space debris expert Lisa Ruth Rand, a science historian who was an A. W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow in UW–Madison’s Center for the Humanities from 2016 to 2018.

Within the next few years, the number of satellites in orbit may climb by as many as 20,000. This year alone, scores of small satellites have been lifted into Earth’s orbit, and the deployment of thousands more is already in the works. One ambitious proposal from the aerospace company SpaceX calls for placing as many as 12,000 small satellites in low-Earth orbit to create internet service networks.

Sometimes, the orbits of the things we launch into space — such as the bus-sized vacated Chinese space lab that came blazing back to Earth in April 2018 — degrade, and those objects streak through the atmosphere, often disintegrating and burning up. Cosmic debris also crashes into oceans and, occasionally, terra firma. But as the space around Earth gets more congested, the risk of debris crashing into spacecraft or working satellites (used for weather, navigation, communications, science, and defense) becomes significantly greater. In June, the Trump administration announced a space policy directive intended to prevent more collisions in the increasingly crowded orbits around the planet.

The first documented space wreck occurred in 2009, when a collision over Siberia between a defunct Russian military satellite and a commercial communications satellite created some 2,300 pieces of junk large enough to track by radar. The event inspired Rand, who once harbored aspirations to be an astronaut and grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, with a ringside seat for rocket and Space Shuttle launches from America’s “Space Coast.” She began to examine our legacy of space junk as an environmental issue, work she continued during her UW fellowship, cosponsored by the Department of History and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. She is now hip deep in writing a book on the history of galactic garbage.

The saga is riveting: a tale of rocketing technological sophistication, Cold War clashes, cultural iconography, geopolitical maneuvering, and environmental hubris. Take, for example, Project West Ford. Initiated by the U.S. Air Force and MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in the early 1960s, the aim was to fill space with millions of needlelike dipoles — magnetized wires — that could serve as emergency reflectors or antennae for radio signals in the event of a nuclear attack. The Air Force launched a test version and successfully used it to transmit cross-country signals, but the full-fledged project never followed. A few clumps of the project’s copper dipoles remain in their polar orbit 2,250 miles above Earth.

“Beginning with Sputnik, there’s been a pretty high awareness of the dangers of polluting space among scientific, government, and lay communities,” notes Rand, who holds research appointments at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the RAND Corporation. (RAND stands for Research and Development. No relation to the historian.)  

In 1962, two Manitowoc police officers found a piece of Sputnik 4 that landed in the middle of a city street. Courtesy of the Rahr-West Art Museum

The first encounter with space junk for many was the world’s first baby step into space. Those who were alive when the first Sputnik was slung into orbit in 1957 remember dark nights in the backyard waiting for the “satellite” to pass overhead. What we were in fact seeing, says Rand, was the second stage of the rocket that carried Sputnik aloft. For the backyard observer, the satellite was too small to see.

Since then, the space around our planet has accumulated a cloud of orbiting debris. One early American satellite, Explorer 7, launched in 1959, carried the flat-plate radiometer, the world’s first space-based climate experiment. Devised by UW weather-satellite pioneer Verner Suomi and engineering professor Robert Parent ’39, MS’49, the radiometer was used to establish the critical role of clouds on climate and showed that Earth absorbed more of the sun’s energy than previously thought. The experiment aboard the 70-pound satellite paved the way for all future studies of weather and climate from space. Six decades later, it’s still in orbit.

Another UW contribution to the clutter around Earth is the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory–2 (OAO–2), the first successful space telescope. Launched in December 1968, OAO–2 carried Wisconsin-built telescopes that opened a new astronomical vista by providing access to light waves such as ultraviolet, which are blocked or absorbed by the atmosphere. This led to a raft of discoveries, including the identification of hydrogen halos around comets. Contact with OAO–2 was lost in January 1973, ending the mission and relegating it to the catalog of lifeless objects that circle our planet.

“[OAO–2 is] listed on various websites and apps that keep track of satellites, but I’ve never succeeded in seeing it fly over,” says Jim Lattis MA’87, PhD’89, a UW historian of astronomy and director of the university’s astronomy outreach outpost, Space Place. “It isn’t particularly bright.”

The observatory and its launch of space astronomy was an early milestone in the scientific community’s abiding interest in the environment immediately above our planet. For astronomers, programs such as Project West Ford were a threat, seeding space with objects that would reflect light and radio waves, wreaking havoc with astronomical observations.

Vigorous lobbying to impose some international regulation of Earth’s orbit was the prelude to the first space treaties. The effort spurred one annoyed diplomat to scrawl a hand-written note on a State Department resolution, discovered by Rand during her research, describing astronomers as “a noisy and parochial group.”

But sooner or later, depending on altitude, everything comes back to Earth. Many objects spend only a short time in space, a few years to mere days. Objects in very high geostationary (matching Earth’s rotation) orbits — 22,000 miles and above — would be there for thousands of years, except that international convention requires that maneuverable satellites in those high orbits be brought down when their missions are complete. Although various schemes have been proposed to clean up space — nets, harpoons, robotic arms, space tugs — “we often allow outer space to clean up our mess for us. Earth orbit, like the ocean and the atmosphere, is a waste sink,” Rand says.

Certain orbits, especially geostationary and polar orbits for large maneuverable satellites, are a precious and finite resource. There are “good orbits” to be in, notes UW meteorological satellite guru Steve Ackerman. For example, key weather satellites are lined up in less-cluttered orbits, keeping them safely away from other working satellites to ensure they can avoid collisions and do their jobs. Right outside Manitowoc’s Rahr-West Art Museum, in the middle of one of the Wisconsin city’s busiest thoroughfares, is a brass ring set flush in the pavement. Placed by the International Association of Machinists in 1963, the plate-sized ring marks the spot where, in the early morning hours of September 5, 1962, two city patrol officers making their rounds discovered a piece of steel embedded three inches deep in the pavement of North Eighth Street. It was from an unmanned Soviet spacecraft — dubbed Sputnik 4 in the West — rumored to be carrying a prototype spacesuit as a test for crewed flights. Its flight went awry due to a bug in the guidance system, and instead of a planned, controlled glide to Earth, the ship was boosted to a higher orbit. The seven-ton spacecraft eventually re-entered the atmosphere, where most of it vaporized — except for a few bits that landed in Wisconsin.

Although Rahr-West is dedicated to fine art, the museum has a small display of artifacts — a cast replica of the spacecraft fragment, pictures, and newspaper clippings — to memorialize Manitowoc’s unique place in the history of the space race.

“Being able to recover part of a spaceship was a rare thing,” Rand says. “It is one of the few pieces of space debris — outside of the space shuttle Columbia accident — that has been recovered on American soil.”

The remains of Sputnik 4 became a Cold War prop as the United States sought to return the debris to the Soviets on the floor of the United Nations, demonstrating for all the world that early Russian spaceflight technology didn’t necessarily match the nation’s boasts.

The only other confirmed example of space junk found on American soil is also the only documented case of space debris striking a human. In January 1997, Lottie Williams was hit by a bit of fabric debris from an American Delta II booster rocket while walking in a Tulsa, Oklahoma, park. “Lottie was lucky,” according to one 2014 account: she was hit by the smallest piece of wreckage from the disintegrated rocket. A 66-pound titanium pressure tank was recovered in Texas.

For Rand, a visit to Rahr-West — where museum curator Adam Lovell places a thin file of letters, reports, and yellowed newspapers on a conference room table for her perusal — is another opportunity to research her story of space debris. The museum, for its part, takes full advantage of its proximity to Sputnik 4’s ground zero. Each year in early September, the museum hosts Sputnikfest, a quirky celebration featuring a Ms. Space Debris pageant (a contest open to any “human life-form,” in which Rand has twice placed as runner-up).

The crash of Sputnik 4 into one of Manitowoc’s busiest streets decades ago is a convenient touchstone for Rand, who came to the UW in 2016 after completing her doctorate in history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania. The debris that falls from space, she has learned, is almost never recovered, instead burning up or falling in the oceans that cover most of our planet. Exceptions include the U.S. space station Skylab, which re-entered the atmosphere in 1979, pocking the Australian Outback with at least 22 tons of wreckage in 500 pieces — some the size of a loveseat.

And then there’s the example of Kosmos 954, a nuclear-powered Soviet reconnaissance satellite launched in 1977. A malfunction prevented the satellite from safely shedding its uranium-powered reactor core, and when it re-entered the atmosphere in 1978, it scattered radioactive debris over 48,000 square miles of Northwest Canada.

The incident prompted an exhaustive international air and land sweep to find and scoop up large pieces of radioactive debris — one reportedly so hot that a few hours of exposure would have been fatal.

International incidents created by stuff that falls randomly from the sky date almost to the beginning of the Space Age. In 1960, Rand notes, a failed rocket launch from Cape Canaveral resulted in debris raining down on newly Communist Cuba. A piece of debris supposedly struck and killed a cow, inspiring the first student-led anti-American demonstration there. The United States reportedly paid $2 million in compensation for the beaned bovine. It was a gift, too, for headline writers: the “Herd Shot Around the World.”

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Reckoning with History https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/reckoning-with-history/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/reckoning-with-history/#respond Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:26 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23738 People walk past a decorative wall in the Memorial Union

Bryce Richter

Between 1919 and 1926, two UW student organizations took the name Ku Klux Klan, and a report delving into that era of campus history “does not make for comfortable reading, nor should it,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank.

In the wake of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last fall, Blank appointed a study group to research the organizations and their connection to the national KKK. She also asked members of the group, which included UW history professors, to advise her on how the university can respond to this painful history.

The group’s report, released in April, found that the campus community in the early 1920s did not question the presence of two organizations bearing the KKK name, including one that was affiliated with the national white supremacist group Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The report also detailed what Blank calls “shameful examples” of the UW community’s treatment of black and Jewish students and of Native Americans, who were excluded from the student body during that era.

“The history the UW needs to confront was not the aberrant work of a few individuals but a pervasive culture of racial and religious bigotry, casual and unexamined in its prevalence, in which exclusion and indignity were routine, sanctioned in the institution’s daily life, and unchallenged by its leaders,” the report says.

The study group also considered the question of renaming campus spaces. But members decided that, first and foremost, the university needs to take more substantive action to address the past and reinvest in institutional change. “We want our collective reckoning with this history to consist of a great deal more than the purging of unpleasant reminders,” the report says.

However, the Wisconsin Union Council, which governs Memorial Union, voted in August to change the names of the Porter Butts Art Gallery and the Fredric March Play Circle — named for the union’s first director and the Oscar-winning actor, respectively. Both men belonged to an interfraternity society that used the Ku Klux Klan name in the early 1920s but was not affiliated with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

The surviving family members of Butts publicly supported the move, which council members said would allow the Union to fulfill its mission by being more welcoming to students of all backgrounds. Butts ’24, MA’36 worked for inclusivity later in his life, including his refusal to allow segregated groups to use Wisconsin Union spaces. And in the 1950s, March ’20 fought persecution of Hollywood artists, many of them Jewish, by the House Un-American Activities Committee. The Union council plans to acknowledge the professional achievements of Butts in another way at Memorial Union.

In response to the study group report, the UW has committed up to $1 million to research and install a public history project “that will document and share the voices of those on campus who endured, fought, and overcame prejudice” throughout its history, Blank says. The university will also fund a proposal to hire a new faculty member in four progams: Afro-American Studies, American Indian Studies, Chican@/Latin@ Studies, and Asian American Studies.

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Parental POV https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/parental-pov/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/parental-pov/#respond Wed, 23 May 2018 14:24:41 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23119 Ronald Reagan waves to supporters in front of plane with "Reagan '80" painted on side

The Reagan Era takes wing: Ronald Reagan waves to supporters at Van Nuys Airport before a set of presidential campaign rallies in the Los Angeles area in October 1980.

For the sake of learning — and with occasional family healing — a UW history course is asking students to turn their parents into historical subjects.

Professor Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen’s History 221 course, The History of Your Parents’ Generation (1970s–90s), tackles a tumultuous few decades through a generational lens, assigning students to interview their parents (“compelling figures in the drama of American life in their own right,” the syllabus states) about their upbringing and their memories of music, fashion, and historic milestones.

Responses have ranged from the stereotypical — dads waxing poetic about Bruce Springsteen, moms admitting to wearing disco sequins — to the unexpected. One student learned that her mother, a nurse, rushed to the front lines of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s to work at a specialized clinic. The mother cried as she recounted the death, terror, and antigay backlash she witnessed. Another student leveraged the assignment to ease tensions between a mother and grandmother who hadn’t spoken to each other in years. One student even found out about a half-sibling for the first time.

“It seemed to me that [the course’s approach] could get students to connect to history,” Ratner-Rosenhagen says. “History is nothing other than actual human beings in time and space having thoughts and feelings and being affected by their world.”

She challenges students to keep their parents’ answers in mind during the course’s traditional lectures and readings, which cover the cultural fracturing and economic upheaval — or the “great shift” — that defined the ’70s and ’80s. The course concludes as it started, with students conducting follow-up interviews with their parents and connecting them with subject matter from the course.

Lindsey Brugger ’18, who took the class in 2016, wrote her final essay on childhood nostalgia and its association with political identity. She posits that her father’s happy upbringing on an isolated farm may have contributed to his lasting fondness for Ronald Reagan, even though he can’t recall any of the former president’s policies or actions.

“A really great takeaway was getting to know my parents a little better and getting to understand how they came into a political awareness at the same time that I was discovering mine,” Brugger says. “I grew closer to my parents because of [it].”

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Madison, Revisited https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/madison-revisited/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/madison-revisited/#respond Wed, 23 May 2018 14:24:40 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=22970

We’ve been there before.

Visiting Madison to revive Badger memories, we order up the usual, frequenting the same places and reliving time-honored activities again and again.

That bowl of Berry Alvarez ice cream is calling our name at Babcock Hall. A plastic pitcher of beer awaits on the Union Terrace. The burgers, brats, and sticky-floored college bars that drew us away from textbooks, term papers, and 8:50 classes beckon.

Following that script is easy. Occasionally, though, it’s fun to venture beyond our comfort zone and build fresh traditions. So, we spent 36 hours traipsing to untested venues, sampling innovative tastes, and plowing ahead with untried activities.

Along the way, we met an Iron Chef champion, admired Frank Lloyd Wright’s rare Japanese art prints, soaked in a shimmering view of Madison’s lakes from a brand-new roost, put on our dancing shoes, checked out a Huey helicopter, and browsed 13 types of cheese curds.

Nighttime view of the capitol building and State Street in Madison, WI.

An action-packed visit to Madison puts the capital city in a new light. Andy Manis

We scarfed a raft of cuisines, cruised museums, and got a little exercise.

Madison has enjoyed a rebirth as its people and tastes have morphed and diners’ expectations have kicked up. It’s become a foodie town, awash in creative restaurants.

“Dining has to offer an experience,” says Sara Granados ’10 at the Eno Vino Downtown Wine Bar and Bistro atop the AC Hotel. “Madison has a lot of restaurant options. Having good food and drinks isn’t enough. You need to have the whole package.”

Push away from the table, and you’ll find that Madison deserves high marks as a destination. National Geographic Traveler named Madison one of America’s top small cities, ranking it on such things as green spaces, coffee shops, breweries, and music venues.

We put those assessments to the test. At noon on a Wednesday, the Good Food cart on East Main Street on the Capitol Square is running with choreographed efficiency. Workers in the cramped cart crank out signature veggie dishes, some with lean meat, and all with a low-carb profile. The line lengthens as offices empty for the lunch hour.

The cart is the brainchild of Melanie Nelson ’08, a zoology major and runner who had trouble finding healthy eating options as an undergraduate. She saved money from her bartending job and sank it into the food cart in 2010. She now has two carts — on Capitol Square and Library Mall, open weekdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — plus a brick-and-mortar restaurant, the Good Food Café, on Cottage Grove Road on Madison’s east side.

Working originally out of a commercial kitchen in a converted garage, Nelson built a reputation for her tasty menu. “We were fast as hell, but there was always a line,” she says, noting that many of her customers are repeaters. “Attorneys would come down and I thought, ‘You guys are earning $150 an hour, and you spend 20 minutes waiting in our line?’ That says something to me.”

At $8.50, the pad Thai salad melds spiral-cut veggies with red cabbage, onions, peanuts, greens, cilantro, and a wedge of lime — plus a choice of grilled chicken or tofu — all drizzled with a spicy peanut dressing.

Around the corner is an often-overlooked gem — the Wednesday Dane County Farmers’ Market. With tables laden with beans, beets, and onions, Yeng Yang sells produce and carries on a family tradition at the corner of Wilson Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

His Hmong immigrant parents began growing vegetables in 1989 and have been selling at the market since 1992. “My parents did not want to accept welfare, so they began farming,” Yang says. “I grew up farming most of my life.”

The family operation grows vegetables in nearby Brooklyn, Wisconsin, and works both the Wednesday and Saturday markets.

“Wednesday is more of a buyers’ market,” says Yang, as he sells two bags of fingerling potatoes to a shopper. “We see the same people every week.”

The Saturday market rings Capitol Square and commands a sea of visitors, but the Wednesday affair is more laid back. A wild rainbow of produce is heaped on the tables: broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, poblano peppers, melons, spuds.

Dairy farmer Tom Murphy’s family sells 13 varieties of cheese curds, plus fresh-baked cookies and bars. Murphy Farms has also been at the market for a quarter-century.

“This market saved my family farm,” says Murphy, of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin. “We’re in our sixth generation on the farm and people saved it by buying our products.” A 15-minute walk lands us at Madison Sourdough on Williamson Street. A popular breakfast and lunch spot, it has a bakery producing breads, rich French pastries, croissants, scones, macarons, and cheesecakes.

Dessert tarts from Madison Sourdough bakery

Dessert from Madison Sourdough Emily Hutchinson

A dense, rich pistachio Breton ($5) and a chocolate-almond croissant ($3.75) make up our midday snack, along with cups of steaming coffee. Executive chef and general manager Molly Maciejewski uses traditional French techniques.

“We source many of our products locally and mill much of our own flour,” she says. “It keeps more money in the local economy [and] supports farmers, and milling our own flour helps bakers, because it gives them more control.”

The bakery has a friendly energy. “It’s very neighborhood centered, with a family vibe, and we like that,” Maciejewski says.

With only wayward crumbs remaining, it’s back to downtown and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, which occupies the prow of the Overture Center on State Street.

The State Street gallery featured the metal sculptures of Jaume Plensa in a display titled Talking Continents. The suspended steel forms appeared to float in the gallery. Other galleries feature works in video, film, painting, prints, and fabric and are staffed by knowledgeable docents. In May, the museum welcomed Far Out: Art from the 1960s.

One can’t-miss feature is the museum’s store, which has a stunning array of goods from designers and studio artists — including jewelry, wood, leather, glass, and metal work as well as children’s gifts, art books, and cards. Soon, dinnertime arrives. Just off State Street, we find out whose cuisine reigns supreme.

Tory Miller began his restaurant career working in his grandparents’ Racine, Wisconsin, diner — the Park Inn — and today he owns four Madison fine-dining restaurants: Estrellón, Graze, L’Etoile, and Sujeo.

Chef Tory Miller Sam Egelhoff

Award-winning chef Tory Miller Sam Egelhoff

His skills, honed at the French Culinary Institute in New York, have earned him the James Beard Award as the Best Chef: Midwest. Then, in January, his friends and fans gathered at Estrellón’s bar on West Johnson Street to watch him defeat rarely vanquished celebrity chef Bobby Flay on the Food Network’s Iron Chef Showdown.

“It’s very intense,” says Miller. “You’re pretty much competing against the ingredient. It’s wild to be on a show I grew up watching and take out somebody like Bobby Flay.”

We tried Estrellón, a Spanish restaurant with elegant, creative cuisine and a warm feel. “We wanted people to feel like you were coming into our house,” Miller says.

Paella at Estrellón

Paella at Estrellón Sam Egelhoff

The Spanish Experience Chef’s Dinner for Two ($90) includes a selection of tapas, a mixed-beet salad with smoked goat cheese and a subtle horseradish sauce, and a sweet treat of Basque cake with frozen custard and fruit compote. In between, there was a crusty bread with tomato; Tamworth ham pintxos; a tortilla with egg, potato, onion, and aoli; croquettes made with smooth Spanish manchego cheese; grilled octopus; and a paella made with bomba rice, chicken, shrimp, clams, mussels, and chorizo.

Miller locally sources ingredients. “Proximity to great food and agriculture is what keeps me here,” he says. “People rave about the Rhône River valley in Europe or Napa Valley, but to me, the Driftless Region is something untouchable for growing super-delicious food prolifically.”

Sated, we head off for a novel nightcap. For some at The Brink Lounge, Wednesday night is beer night. For others, it’s date night or a break from the routine. But for more than 30 souls — a mix of regulars, curious onlookers, and the experimental few — it’s time for some high-energy dancing.

The lounge is part of a trio of bars and entertainment venues in what was once a secondhand store. It’s also part of a neighborhood teeming with new residential, commercial, and entertainment developments at downtown Madison’s eastern gateway.

Every Wednesday at 9 p.m., The Brink features Jumptown Swing Dance, a group born as a UW–Madison student organization. Eventually, Jumptown became a community-based group that holds classes and events to teach people to swing dance — especially the Lindy Hop. With a DJ playing the swing rhythms of Cab Calloway, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and a variety of more contemporary swing artists, people discard their inhibitions and dance.

“It’s people trying to have fun. You can have a party for two for three minutes,” says Sarah Zabinski, a Jumptown instructor and a 14-year member member of the group. “We’re all dorks, so silly things happen on the floor.”

On day two, the dawn finds us confident we can outsmart cholesterol science. That puts us at The Curve, a Madison diner just six blocks south of campus, next to Spike-O-Matic Tattoo, at the bend in Park Street.

The Curve is owned by Bill Antonie ’90, a Badger outside linebacker in the late 1980s. He’s still beefy, with an easy baritone laugh that erupts after summarizing what satisfies him most: “Everybody yaps and yaps and then, all of a sudden, they get their food and they shut the hell up.” Antonie started working in his parents’ Monona truck stop diner at age nine. “If I was working for the state or any other company, I’d be retired with a gold watch, but instead I’m sweeping the damn floor.”

Eggs, wheat toast, and corned beef hash arrive on an oval platter, delivered by Kathy Tracy, a 26-year veteran waitress behind the U-shaped Formica counter where politicians, students, hospital workers, university administrators, and neighbors gather.

Antonie is a jack-of-all-trades, flipping eggs and bacon on the flat-top. He whips up his special-recipe corned beef hash every other Saturday (and every Badger football Saturday). To work off the $6 breakfast, it’s off to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum on the Capitol Square.

The free museum, operated by the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs, is compact but jammed with fascinating artifacts and exhibits.

World War I Beyond the Trenches marks the war’s centennial. It combines displays and artifacts such as trench periscopes, a German MG08 machine gun, and uniforms, and features compelling interviews with Wisconsin soldiers.

It also features exhibits on 20th-century military conflicts, including a World War II Jeep, artifacts from the battleship USS Wisconsin, and a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter. Peckish again, it’s time to seek and destroy some pizza.

This time, we turn to vibrant Monroe Street, with its wealth of shops and restaurants. Pizza Brutta is tucked behind a stone-arched façade and offers wood-fired Neapolitan pizza.

“Neapolitan pizza is simple,” says co-owner Derek Lee, a professional pizza maker, or “pizzaiolo,” certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana, the association for authentic Neapolitan pizza. “There’s no sugar, no extra ingredients. It’s just crushed tomatoes, handmade fresh mozzarella, sea salt, olive oil, and our dough. It’s an exercise in restraint.”

Employee places pizza inside the wood-fired oven at Pizza Brutta

The wood-fired oven at Pizza Brutta Andy Manis

Of course, there are other toppings, too. We chose the $12 salame funghi, featuring oregano, salami, cremini mushrooms, and saracene olives and delivered steaming after just 90 seconds in the 900-degree brick oven.

Lee’s co-owner, wife Darcy Lee ’96, says Pizza Brutta uses locally sourced organic products. “In Naples, they depend on a local food system. It was a way for us to marry business with helping the environment.” By now, exercise seems appropriate, so it’s off to a nearby BCycle rack to use the city’s convenient bikeshare program for a junket west of campus.

In 2017, renters rode 300,000 miles, burning off 11.9 million calories. With several dozen stations around Madison, you can rent one of the red bikes, outfitted with a basket and a lock. A $6 daily pass, which covers unlimited 30-minute rides, is required. Additional time goes for $3 for 30 minutes.

“Badgers and bikes are a great blend,” says Morgan Ramaker ’06, MBA’17, director of Madison BCycle. “It’s a way to cover more ground and see Madison without parking hassles.”

Headed west on the smooth-riding bikes, we begin a mini–Frank Lloyd Wright x1890 tour. First stop: the Eugene A. Gilmore House, known as the “airplane house.”

Wright built the house for Gilmore, a UW law professor, in 1908 on the highest point of University Heights. Its copper-roofed wings extend from a center pavilion with a triangular balcony — which gives the home the appearance of an airplane. It remains a private residence, unavailable for tours.

Ten minutes away is the First Unitarian Meeting House. A National Historic Landmark built in 1951, it’s a magnet for Wright devotees. Its design, with a soaring copper roof evoking a church steeple and a triangular auditorium, has influenced religious architecture since it was completed.

Two bicyclists ride past Frank Lloyd Wright house

Touring Frank Lloyd Wright’s “airplane house” via BCycle Andy Manis

Our guide points out Wright’s signature plywood furniture and Hiroshige’s early-nineteenth-century prints — once part of Wright’s collection — in the loggia. Wright said the simplicity of Japanese art, which he sold early in his career to supplement his income, greatly influenced his work.

After the tour, there’s still time for nature. Just more than a mile away is Frautschi Point, part of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, a lesser-known area west of Picnic Point. There’s a parking lot off Lake Mendota Drive, and a short walk yields an elevated view of Lake Mendota, beneath a canopy of burr oaks, white oaks, and shagbark hickories.

A wooden staircase leads to the lake’s edge at Raymer’s Cove. The spot offers a view of the Middleton shore and of sandstone cliffs where Raymer’s Ravine meets the lake.

With the clock ticking on our rented bikes and our 36-hour adventure, we pedal to a new vantage point.

Eno Vino Downtown Wine Bar and Bistro combines urban attitude with panoramic altitude. It offers a 10th-floor penthouse view of the state Capitol, just a block away, and Lakes Mendota and Monona.

The eclectic menu features a globally fused array of cheese boards and dishes with small-plate influences ranging from Greek to Korean to Italian. Its floor-to-ceiling windows and a ninth-floor outdoor terrace provide a vivid atmosphere.

Interior of Eno Vino Wine Bar and Bistro shows view of capitol building

Eno Vino Downtown Wine Bar and Bistro Sara Granados

After Eno Vino opened in 2017, social-media selfies helped drive success. “People started asking, ‘Where is that view? We’ve never seen it before,’ ” says general manager Jennifer Cameron. “It was a snowball effect.”

Eno Vino commands a big-city vibe and a glass wine case holding hundreds of bottles. After glasses of wine with small plates of goat cheese tortellini ($12) and lamb meatballs ($13), there was just enough time to crown our 36-hour expedition.

Just a 25-minute walk away, we settled into sunburst chairs on the Memorial Union Terrace with bowls of Berry Alvarez ice cream to catch a perfect sunset.

New adventures are great, but some habits die hard.

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Paul Rusk ’77, MA’91 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/first-person/paul-rusk-77-ma91/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/first-person/paul-rusk-77-ma91/#respond Wed, 23 May 2018 14:24:08 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=23054 Paul Rusk in graduation cap and gown poses with his mother

Photo courtesy of Naomi Halverson

“We must always remember that we — the people of this nation — should and can be ‘the powers that be,’ ” said Paul Rusk ’77, MA’91 (pictured here with his mother) in a speech during UW–Madison’s 1977 spring commencement. Rusk, then student government leader and senior class president, urged new Badger alumni to get involved in their communities in the post-Watergate era. Today he’s served almost two decades as a Dane County [Wisconsin] supervisor and executive director of the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin. Recalling his speech, Rusk says, “I wanted to leave a message that we, as new, young graduates, had our whole lives in front of us, and we really could substantially make changes in the world.”

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A Judge on Trial https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/a-judge-on-trial/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/a-judge-on-trial/#respond Thu, 22 Feb 2018 19:12:33 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=22440 Before Twitter and cable news, political fights were up close and personal. For John Becker LLB1890, the battle that would change the course of his life took place 100 years ago on a February night in Monroe, Wisconsin, at the height of World War I.
Editorial cartoon picturing a hand grabbing away Lady Liberty's torch.

This editorial cartoon opposing the Espionage Act was published before Congress passed the law in June 1917. Federal prosecutors used the act to charge Becker less than a year later. Winsor McCay, Library of Congress; Green County Clerk of Courts

It was 17 degrees below zero outside when the shouting started inside the courthouse. Becker, a local judge, was among 50 or so residents who trudged through two feet of snow in the howling wind to attend a regularly scheduled meeting of the Green County Board. Not enough board members made the journey, so without a quorum, the group left county business aside. An informal and increasingly agitated conversation about the war erupted. Becker did not back down.

“There is no shortage of food. The idea of a shortage of food is being preached by agents employed by corporations for their own gains and going about the country on high-paid salaries,” said Becker, an ardent pacifist and Progressive Republican gubernatorial candidate. “This is a rich man’s war. There is no labor shortage. There is no seed shortage. Farmers, beware of taxes, war taxes, which must be paid in July.”

“I have listened to a speech which is seditious,” responded Monroe school superintendent Paul Neverman with indignation. “If the boys over in France could have heard his speech, they would make short work of him.”

“I doubt you can define the word seditious,” Becker replied.

“You’re a traitor,” the superintendent sneered.

Roughly three and a half months later, Albert Wolfe LLB1900, the U.S. Attorney for Western Wisconsin, made the accusation official.

In a 12-page indictment, he accused Becker of violating the Espionage Act of 1917. He charged him with seven counts of making false statements “willfully and feloniously … with the intent to interfere with the operation and success of the military and naval forces of the United States.”

  Becker was no stranger to challenging the government: he believed it was the definition of what citizens should do. He was the chair of Wisconsin’s Commission on Peace and lobbied for a citywide referendum in Monroe on whether the United States should get involved in World War I. In April 1917, three days before the U.S. entered the war, Becker and his fellow Monroe neighbors voted 954 to 50 against American intervention in the conflict.

The Milwaukee Journal called the referendum, “The Monroe Folly,” and wrote that the “stupidity and disloyalty” of the city injured the whole state. And the Los Angeles Times editorialized that there was “more disloyalty per square foot in Wisconsin than anywhere else in the country.”

But once U.S. soldiers headed to Europe, Becker encouraged his son to sign up for the military and stated publicly it was the responsibility of all citizens to support the war effort. At the same time, he poked and prodded at elected officials, as did his political mentor, Wisconsin Senator Robert La Follette 1879, to ensure a more representative policy.

“Judge Becker practiced a complex patriotism, not unlike that of Senator La Follette,” says Richard Pifer MA’76, PhD’83, who recently authored The Great War Comes to Wisconsin: Sacrifice, Patriotism, and Free Speech in a Time of Crisis. “He approached the war effort with similar integrity and nuance, advocating policies he thought best for the nation during the war, even when his position flew in the face of government policy, and even though the result would lead to hostile attacks by super-patriots with little understanding of the war or Judge Becker.”

Those “super-patriots” took Judge Becker to trial in August 1918. A jury took less than six hours to convict him and he was sentenced to three years at the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. Wolfe, the U.S. attorney, told reporters afterward that he hoped Becker’s situation would “deter” lesser citizens who might be disloyal. Becker was forced to resign the seat on the bench he’d been elected to five times and held for 21 years in his community.

“It seemed to me, the response to what he said was over the top,” says Leslie Bellais MA’09, curator of social history at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. “It was an ongoing struggle in America, balancing civil liberties with national security. We saw it all over the United States and especially in Wisconsin — this overwhelming desire to shut down civil rights — a reaction, as we would see it today, that seemed un-American.”

The museum displays a sign donated by Becker’s family members that someone affixed to their home during his 1918 trial. Below his name is a crudely drawn figure in yellow with a speech balloon that says, “Berlin for Me.”

“It’s a powerful statement that during World War I, people would attack others this way,” Bellais said. “It’s not an abstract concept. This impacted real people.”

Becker never served a day in jail, and the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned his conviction two years later, but the court of public opinion had rendered its verdict. He was defeated in his subsequent attempts to run for district attorney and for his former county judge seat.

When he died in 1926 at age 57, the local newspaper in Monroe described him as “a fighter, but fair. If he felt he was right, he battled to the end, staunchly supporting his friend, client, or cause upon which he was engaged and if defeated … winning admiration even of those opposed to him at the time.”

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Keep on a- Rock’n Us, Baby https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/campus-news/keep-on-a-rockn-us-baby/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/campus-news/keep-on-a-rockn-us-baby/#respond Thu, 22 Feb 2018 19:12:30 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=22392 Long before Steve Miller x’67 sang about being a space cowboy and flying like an eagle, he was a UW English major with a passion for civil rights. After growing up in Texas, Wisconsin was a homecoming of sorts for Miller since he was born in Milwaukee and spent his first five years in the state. More recently, he returned to campus during actual Homecoming in October, when he guest-lectured for a music class, performed a concert at the Memorial Union’s Shannon Hall, and directed the Fifth Quarter after the football game. One of Miller’s early influences was his godfather, acclaimed musician and inventor Les Paul, who became a friend of his parents when they lived in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

What are your favorite memories of Les Paul growing up?

Well, Les was one of the best guitar players ever. And he was always so generous. He taught me my first chords. He would always invite people to come and play with him — all kinds of people across all different generations. I think that was one of his greatest attributes — his openness to all kinds of music. You’d see Tony Bennett come up and sing a song with Les, and the next artist might be Jimmy Page or Keith Richards or Johnny Rotten or somebody you never heard of. He was very generous with the spotlight on his stage. That was my favorite thing.

Why did you decide to go to the UW?

I had a cousin there in graduate school. I had friends there. It had a wonderful reputation and great history and English departments, and I was very interested in creative writing and comparative literature. And also, it was really far away from home, and I wanted to get the hell out of town.

Did being an English major influence how you thought as a songwriter?

Yes, because it was basically comparative literature. The more writers you read, the broader your thinking becomes. That was part of it. But while that broadened my vision and ability to write, I was probably more influenced by blues artists and rhythm-and-blues artists and country artists — you know, the actual songwriting.

What UW lessons have informed your career?

The things I really learned there were when I joined SNCC [the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] and became a Freedom Rider. I was in the civil rights movement. And I was involved with the antiwar movement. That was probably the greatest thing I was exposed to, that there were activists on the campus, and it wasn’t something you [just] read about. You could go to a political gathering and get a different view than the standard view in the newspaper. If you felt as I did — very disturbed by the condition of blacks in America — and you wanted to fight for civil rights … that was the important part for me. It was more the political atmosphere on the campus than it was actually the classes I was taking.

You first met Boz Scaggs x’66 when you were in Texas, right?

Boz and I went to the same school, and when I was in the seventh grade, I started a band called the Marksmen Combo. And in the eighth grade, I asked Boz to join it. Boz and I played together all through junior high school and high school. Boz was a year behind me in school. He came up to the University of Wisconsin, and we played together there as well [in the Ardells]. We grew up together playing in the same band.

What was it like playing with the Ardells?

We were really a shuffle blues band. At the time, there really weren’t any rock ’n’ roll bands. There was maybe one other band on campus at the time. So we played all the parties — all the sorority parties, all the dorm parties, just everything. We backed up artists that came through town to do shows at the Coliseum. Those guys were all terrific, and Boz and I did the vocals. It was two guitars, bass, and drums. We were pretty funny, too, and really enjoyed playing.

What are some of your favorite memories of playing with them?

We usually played five times a weekend. In the afternoon, we’d play a beer supper, we’d play a fraternity party, before the football game, after the football game. Our last gig as the Ardells, I think we played “Louie Louie” 24 times in a row because we knew that was our last gig. Why did you decide to go into music full time?

My mom and dad came to Madison and had a meeting with me. I had entered school when I was very young — I was 16 when I started my freshman year. So I was 20 years old, and my parents came to see me and said, “Steve, what are you going to do? Like what’s going on?” And I said, “Well, I want to go to Chicago and play blues.” It’s the last thing a parent wants to hear from their child. My dad gave me a look that said, “Nuh-uh.”

But my mother said, “You know, it’s a great idea. You’re young. You don’t have any responsibilities right now. So why don’t you go to Chicago and see if you can make something of your music. Just try.”

And honestly, the next 10 years were really rough. But for some reason, I believed in my ability and in myself. So I went to California and started a band, and we started managing ourselves and designing our stages and creating things. I was part of a group of people that changed the way people listened to music. When you come out to Summerfest and see that big stage and PA and those groovy lights, and things sound really great, that stuff all had to be invented in the late ’60s and early ’70s. It didn’t exist. It was a really exciting time because it was a real leap of faith. There was no set path. The path before that was to be on the Dick Clark show and get in a bus and ride around with seven other bands and play three songs on a show Dick Clark presented. And they owned all your publishing and work and everything. But we changed all that and turned it into a whole new world.

You’ve lived in and played places all over the world. Has that nomadic style of living affected you?

I go to about 70 cities a year and have for about 50 years, so I’ve been all over the United States and Europe and Australia. My wife and I really enjoy it. We like traveling and have friends all over the world that we visit and see.

You currently serve on the welcoming committee of the Department of Musical Instruments of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and as a board member of Jazz at Lincoln Center. What have you enjoyed most about those experiences?

The musical instruments department is one of the most fun places in the whole museum. They have the first piano and things like that. We’ve done two exhibits on guitars at the Met, and they’ve been very successful — 500,000 people came to each one. So that was a big deal.

I was asked by Wynton Marsalis to design the blues program at Lincoln Center. They wanted to start teaching blues like they do jazz. My wife, Janice, and I curate shows on jazz at Lincoln Center. We work on 12 music-education programs. The most important one is for children from the ages of eight months to three years. We’ve had metrics on those kids for 25 years. And it’s a very serious educational program as well as one of the great music venues.

For me, it’s a wonderful opportunity to work with really brilliant musicians and very smart people. At this point in my life, instead of retiring and playing golf, I’m being challenged, and I’m very enthused about the creativity that’s required of me to work in those environments. … It allows me to use my experience that I’ve gained over my lifetime and apply it to educational systems. When I’m [not touring], I work at Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Met. I’m thankful that somehow fate has washed me up on those shores. I’m giving them all I have, and will continue to do so until I leave the planet.

You were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. You were critical of it at the time. What do you think now?

The people who run the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are well meaning. In my year, my induction, there were actually no ceremonies for anybody. We were just told to show up and do a television show. That was it. They’ve changed that.

[Now] they’re trying to do a lot of good programs. The music-education programs should actually make a difference and should have a goal. [The Hall of Fame] should be in Cleveland, not New York. They should keep track of the metrics. I think it’s going to be more inclusive and, in the end, will become a beacon of light for music education. That’s what it really should be. It’s drifting that way.

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A Civil Rights Pioneer https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/a-civil-rights-pioneer/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/a-civil-rights-pioneer/#respond Wed, 21 Feb 2018 16:54:02 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=22505 "Justice for All" book cover

The influence of Lloyd Barbee LLB’56, a civil rights leader and lawyer in the 1960s and ’70s, lives on through Justice for All: Selected Writings of Lloyd A. Barbee, which was edited by Barbee’s daughter and civil rights lawyer Daphne Barbee-Wooten ’75. The book includes a foreword by Wisconsin congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee, who describes Barbee’s lasting impact on the state and the nation.

Barbee, who died in 2002, frequently signed his correspondence with “Justice for All,” a principle he carried out day to day. An attorney who is most remembered for the case that desegregated Milwaukee Public Schools in the 1970s, he defended prisoners, protestors, the poor, and Wisconsin college students who were expelled after pushing the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh to offer black-history courses.

Daphne Barbee-Wooten holding up black and white photo of Lloyd Barbee.

Daphne Barbee-Wooten Kathy Borkowski

Barbee was the only African American in the Wisconsin legislature from 1965 to 1977, and he advocated for fair housing, criminal-justice reform, equal employment opportunities, women’s rights, gay rights, and equal access to quality education.

The selected writings detail Barbee’s experiences during the civil rights movement and the challenges he faced while legislating. In the book’s introduction, Barbee-Wooten says that growing up as his child was like “riding a wave of history.” She writes, “By introducing and compiling this book, I am proudly fulfilling his goal and dream to share his thoughts and philosophy with all.”

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A Muffled Voice https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/a-muffled-voice/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/a-muffled-voice/#respond Wed, 21 Feb 2018 16:12:18 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=22566 Enslaved for nearly 70 years, George Moses Horton was perhaps the unlikeliest man of letters. After teaching himself to read, he took to poetry, composing and memorizing verses in his mind. For a price, he’d recite them to students at the nearby University of North Carolina (UNC) who were eager to use his love poems as their own. Later, Horton regularly traveled to the university to write poetry and serve as a handyman, using any income to purchase part of his own time from his owner.

Sample of George Moses Horton's handwritten poetry.

New York Public Library

Part of Horton’s repertoire, however, was lost in time. Although Horton released three collections of poetry — becoming the first slave and African American to publish a book in the South (The Hope of Liberty, 1829) — there was no record of other types of works until recently, when Jonathan Senchyne, an assistant professor of book history in the UW’s Information School, took a serendipitous trip to the New York Public Library.

Senchyne was poring through the papers of Henry Harrisse, a French-born lawyer who taught at UNC in the 1850s, when he came across a two-page document with handwriting distinct from the rest. The signature read, “George M Horton, of colour … belonging to Hall Horton.” Senchyne was holding Horton’s first known essay, “Individual Influence.”

“There’s always a certain moment of fascination — the very literal meaning of fascination, which is to have your eyes frozen,” Senchyne says of his find. “It’s a special moment between you and the person who’s writing. You [run] your hand over it, and you have this moment where you’re present to each other across time.”

Senchyne transcribed and published the essay in the October issue of the Modern Language Association’s journal, PMLA. Horton ponders the limitations of “popular” human power compared to “absolute” divine power.

Humans have control over how (and whose) history is preserved and told, Senchyne notes, and those everyday decisions can lead to the century-long burial of an important document and the relative obscurity of an extraordinary poet.

“Why wasn’t [Horton] in all of our history books and literature classes?” he asks. “That’s the question I’d leave people with. Think about your own education and the choices that were made [by people along the way] when history [was] told to you.”

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Witness to History https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/witness-to-history/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/witness-to-history/#respond Fri, 03 Nov 2017 23:03:12 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=21372 Portrait of John Hall

Sarah Morton

Military history professor John Hall spent 15 years on active duty as an infantry officer and strategic planner for the U.S. Army before joining the UW–Madison faculty in 2009. Now he is recording history as it happens.

In a new Pentagon appointment as a historian for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he follows the development of counterterrorism plans and strategy at the highest levels of the U.S. government and then writes the official history of these efforts.

While counterterrorism may be a relatively new subject to document, the armed forces have been recording military happenings in real time since World War II.

“The U.S. military has been very good for a very long time in recognizing the importance of faithfully capturing details of what transpired, as it transpired, so there’s an accurate historical record,” Hall says.

The job’s requirements — among them a PhD in history, top security clearance, and an Army reservist rank of colonel or lieutenant colonel — fit Hall’s background and his dedication to both scholarship and service. After growing up in southeastern Wisconsin, Hall left the state to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In the second half of his military career, he embarked on what he calls “the military version of academia,” earning a master’s degree and PhD in history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before returning to West Point to teach.

At the UW, Hall has taught a variety of classes on military history, including advanced courses on the American military experience since the early 20th century. He also teaches Native American and early American history and has earned several distinguished teaching and writing awards.

Hall’s work at the Pentagon over the next several years will be highly classified, but he plans to bring his experience to the classroom upon his return to campus.

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