Ice cream dream come true

June 30, 2011

By Michael Timm

In a storybook case of entrepreneurship, a Bay View couple recently launched their own wholesale ice cream business, Purple Door Ice Cream.

Lauren and Steve Schultz, both educators by trade, rent space at Skyline Catering, 5601 S. Pennsylvania Ave. in Cudahy, where they produce custom-flavored super-premium ice cream for sale to local restaurants and grocers.

Inside the stainless steel kitchen they toil for hours feeding 2.5-gallon bags of ice cream base—cream, milk, sugar, stabilizer, and emulsifier obtained from Galloway Company in Neenah, Wis.—into their Carpigiani batch freezer, which looks like a cross between a soft-serve machine and an industrial washer. They pour the Wisconsin dairy products and local ingredients into its cylindrical tumbler, seal the hatch, and let it spin for 10 to 12 minutes. Then, a turn of a lever, and out comes Purple Door ice cream, ready to be spooned into compostable pint containers. These are quickly spirited across the kitchen into the “hardening cabinet,” a daunting steel freezer kept at 25 degrees below. And the process begins again.

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Bay View residents Steve and Lauren Schultz launched Purple Door Ice Cream in April. Purple Door’s “super-premium” status means the ice cream is 14-percent butterfat. ~photo Michael Timm

It’s a lot of work, but it’s literally a dream come true for Lauren, 32. “I’ve wanted to open an ice cream business since I’ve been in high school,” she said.

In fact, the dream was a topic of the couple’s first date back at the Riverview Café and Wine Bar in Minneapolis. Lauren was attending grad school with Steve’s sister and working at Izzy’s Ice Cream. She told him about her dream. He never forgot.

They married and settled in Bay View, which Lauren compared to their Longfellow neighborhood in Minneapolis. Steve is a counselor at Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wis. Karen is a special ed teacher for deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the Milwaukee metro area.

Last July, the couple had their first child, Simon, but last fall they were already making business plans.

“When we finally decided to do it, it was ‘Let’s make this happen, let’s make this happen now,’” Lauren recalled.

“My role is to support,” Steve said with love. “Lauren is the face of the company.”

Lauren smiles. “He does a lot. He makes a lot of ice cream…”

Working the Dream

Glance in the frozen desserts section at Bay View’s Outpost Natural Foods and Purple Door has its own row featuring vanilla, mint chip, chocolate, butter pecan, cinnamon, and even espresso—made from coffee beans from Anodyne Coffee Roasting Company, just down the block from the Schultzes’ Rusk Avenue home. Their website hints at more exotic flavors: salted caramel, goat cheese, mascarpone.

“The grocery stores are really interested in us because there isn’t another local ice cream maker in Milwaukee,” Lauren said. “You have custard, but not ice cream.”

In addition to Outpost, Purple Door is available at Metcalf’s in Wauwatosa, Sendik’s in Shorewood, and Beans & Barley on Milwaukee’s East Side. At press time they were still waiting to hear back from G. Groppi Food Market.

Restaurants serving Purple Door include Bay View’s Pastiche Bistro & Wine Bar and Honeypie, plus Ryan Braun’s Graffito and Mikey’s downtown.

It’s also available Saturday mornings through October at the Wauwatosa farmers market. The Schultzes pack up their Toyota Prius with 80 pints to vend from insulated bags. “We can’t afford a pushcart just yet,” Lauren said.

The couple once applied to compete on CBS’s long-running reality show Amazing Race, but didn’t make it. They were, however, inspired by Amazing Race alumnus Blake Mycoskie, whose TOMS Shoes One for One program donates one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes sold.

The Schultzes started their own give-back program, Milk for Milwaukee. Ten cents from the sale of each pint goes to buy milk that Purple Door donates to local men’s and women’s shelters including Guest House of Milwaukee, Cathedral Center, and Pathfinders. In the first month alone, they donated 22 gallons to Guest House.

Before starting the business, they flew out to San Francisco to take a course taught by ice cream guru Malcolm Stogo. Steve summarized their commitment, “You have to have a passion for ice cream and for doing it right.”

Purple Door received support from the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation. Lauren took a course on how to write a business plan and WWBIC also provided a small-business loan. The couple’s personal banker, Mike Phillips at PNC Bank, also helped arrange a loan.

“Eventually we’d like to open a scoop shop,” Lauren said, ideally in Bay View.

You can bet that when they do, it will have a purple door.

More info: or (414) 231-3979.


Senior housing transformation at Sacred Heart

June 30, 2011

By Michael Timm

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The Sacred Heart Senior Apartments are expected to be ready for occupants by Nov. 1. Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish still exists. During construction it’s congregating in Clare Hall. A smaller church space is being constructed beneath the apartments. ~photo Michael Timm

Apartments will be coupled with church

Look south from the intersection of Kinnickinnic and Oklahoma avenues and you may notice that the skyline has subtly changed in recent months—pyramid-capped “bell towers” now bracket the view at St. Francis Avenue.

The towers belong to the Sacred Heart Senior Apartments, 3627 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., whose 68 units are expected to be ready for occupants this fall.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, the small Catholic parish based at 3625 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., partnered with developers who are building the apartments and downsizing the church’s sanctuary.

The renovated sanctuary and rectory will be 19,058 square feet of the 113,735-square-foot project. Apartments will occupy 84,081 square feet in the renovated space above the church, formerly school classrooms, and in the newly-built addition on what was parking lot. There will also be a 10,595-square-foot common room shared between church and apartments.

The parcel is technically owned by Sacred Heart Condominium, an entity created to allow the tax-exempt church and taxable apartment project to cohabitate, with the shared space prorated. There are no condominiums—just rental apartments.

The apartments are expected to draw 80 to 90 percent of occupants from within a three-mile radius, said Michael Lerner, one of the developers. Renters must be age 60 or over or married to someone 60 or older, but Lerner expects the average incoming tenant to be in their early 70s.

In June, Lerner said marketing had just begun and October was the earliest occupancy is expected. A leasing office opened a few months earlier at 3457 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., sharing space with the Setum brothers’ American Family Insurance office. So far Lerner said the response has been “excellent.”

“You do not have to be Catholic to be in the housing, but I believe having the church there is a benefit. It provides stability for people, gives them comfort.”
—Michael Lerner,
Sacred Heart Senior Apartments

Lerner said his development group has several decades of experience in affordable housing in Wisconsin and Michigan. The lead developer is Doug Stratton, who operates VSL Construction, based out of Novi, Mich. Lerner’s Development Consulting Services, Inc. is based in Mequon.

Lerner said other projects he’s heard about where church and housing occupy the same piece of real estate work well.

“You do not have to be Catholic to be in the housing, but I believe having the church there is a benefit. It provides stability for people, gives them comfort,” Lerner said.

There are 41 one-bedroom apartments ranging from 632 to 651 square feet situated in the new addition, Lerner said.

There are 23 two-bedroom units ranging from 919 to 1,029 square feet above the church in the renovated former classroom space. Four more units, three at the corner of the new building and one on the third floor of the old, have two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

“Senior citizens are a very vital part of any community. What we’re trying to do is hopefully create an environment where senior citizens can thrive.”
—Eric Stemwell,
Sacred Heart Parish Core Team

Many senior apartments are built in suburban communities where car transportation is paramount, Lerner said. “This particular area is very unique because it’s a walking community,” Lerner said. “People actually walk on the sidewalk and take the bus.”

Still, when work is complete, there will be 97 surface parking spaces for tenants, 150 for the church, and four for employees. The addition is also built above “underground” parking for 27 vehicles at grade level to be accessed off St. Francis Avenue.

Other apartment amenities include a fitness center, recreation room with pool table, mailroom, theater room with TV, business center, crafts room, a barber/beauty parlor, and in-unit washers and dryers. The project was designed by architect Gregory Benz.

Rents & Income Restrictions

Rents at Sacred Heart Senior Apartments are not subsidized, Lerner said, but vary based on income. The project was financed with federal affordable housing tax credits administered through WHEDA, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

This is similar to the financing mechanism used to build the Hide House Lofts apartments, 2615 S. Greeley St. in Bay View.

A maximum individual income of $24,900 allows for a one-bedroom rent of $609 and a two-bedroom rent of $734, according to apartment manager Sue Edson. Those rates would also apply to couples with a maximum income of $28,450, three people up to $32,000, or four up to $35,550.

Renters with annual incomes between $24,900 and $29,880 would pay $695 for a one-bedroom and $825 for a two-bedroom; these rates also apply for couples with a maximum income of $34,140, three people up to $38,400, and four up to $42,660. These numbers were the latest available at press time.

Hot water baseboard heat and hot water are included in the rent. Residents will pay their own electric bill. Free high-speed internet (Wi-Fi) is included in the rent.

Church Changes

The apartment project marks a moment of transition for the only Catholic parish in the city of St. Francis.

Founded in 1869, Sacred Heart is one of the area’s oldest parishes. Since 2004, it’s been part of a six-parish cluster including St. Augustine of Hippo, Immaculate Conception, St. Paul, St. Veronica, and Nativity in the Lord in Cudahy. The cluster parishes share resources as well as a grade school, St. Thomas Aquinas Academy, currently in the former St. Veronica school building, 341 E. Norwich St. Sacred Heart of Jesus School, above the church at 3641 S. KK, was vacated after this consolidation.

Sacred Heart’s apartments should position the parish for the future, said Eric Stemwell, member of its Core Team.

“We’re trying to reinvent ourselves, if you will. It’s kind of an experiment, teaming up with a developer to offer senior housing,” Stemwell said. “Senior citizens are a very vital part of any community. What we’re trying to do is hopefully create an environment where senior citizens can thrive.”

With less physical plant to administer, Stemwell expects lower heating and operating costs for the church. He also said the senior apartments will lend themselves to a new ministry that does not compete with other cluster parishes.

The church capacity used to be about 900, Stemwell said; the new capacity will be closer to 450, “which allows room to grow,” Stemwell said. “We sized ourselves properly now.”

Sacred Heart counts about 725 parishioners from over 300 families, according to a mid-June estimate provided by the parish office.

Its pastor, Fr. Robert Surges, plans to retire in October. After that, it’s expected that the parish will share a pastor with others within the cluster. How priests will be distributed—and if more parish consolidations will occur—will not likely be determined until late August at earliest. That’s when Fr. Mark Payne, the cluster’s dean and pastor of St. Veronica, returns from studying at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

Currently, six priests serve the six cluster parishes, but it’s been floated that that number could be cut in half.

This would be more in line with other area parishes, suggested Julie Wolf, communication director for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Wolf said that Divine Mercy parish in South Milwaukee has two priests serving around 7,000 parishioners. Wolf said the six-parish cluster also serves around 7,000 parishioners.

During construction, Sacred Heart Masses are held in nearby Clare Hall, 3470 S. Illinois Ave., 4pm Saturdays, and Sundays at 10:30am and 6pm.

While the church construction is expected to be completed by Christmas, Stemwell said that will not include interior furnishing like pews.

Those interested in helping to furnish the new church interior can contact Sandy Anderson, chair of the Dedication Committee, at (414) 881-3495 or

“Ultimately, the people and parishes are the ones who sustain a parish,” said the archdiocese’s Wolf. “In this economy, in this day and age, it’s become more difficult to do that.”


Would you consider raising chickens in your backyard?

June 30, 2011

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“As long as they don’t disturb the neighbors, I don’t see no problem with it. Not me personally. All the poop and all of that. And chickens can be noisy. As long as they don’t make no noise, I don’t see a problem with it, but me personally, I wouldn’t do it.”

—Sylvester Harris, N. Second Street

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“I wouldn’t raise chickens in my backyard, just for the simple fact that it would be just too time-consuming, too loud. I wouldn’t mind my neighbors owning chickens, but I wouldn’t personally. That’s not what I’m into.”

—Lewis Rad, Delaware Avenue

“I would raise two chickens, ’cause it’s not that many, but then you can still get eggs.”

—Mariah Ochoa, Burrell Street

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“I don’t think I would raise them, and as long as they’re not as loud as my neighbor’s dogs, I think I would be okay with it.”

—Charles Dwyer and Napoleon, Lincoln Avenue

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“Personally, I wouldn’t raise chickens in a city. In more of a country setting—I would find better for the chickens. I eat a lot of organic food so I find humane treatment of animals hard to come by in the city. I definitely wouldn’t raise them in the city. I would definitely prefer living in the country. My family has chickens in Indiana. It’s great, it’s a lot of fun, it’s good for kids, but not in a city.”

—Meghan Jungbluth and Elvis, Allis Street

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“No. One, I don’t want to clean them. Two, they’d make too much noise. If I have a party in my backyard and the next-door neighbor’s raising four chickens, no, I wouldn’t like that. But who am I to say what other people can do? I’m cool with it. Just don’t let it get out of hand. If it starts to disturb me and my family and we have to think about the nuisance law, too. I like peace and quiet. I don’t want to hear ‘gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble’ all day long. I’m actually not opposed to it.”

—Patrick LeMieux, E. Conway Street


How to keep urban chickens happy

June 30, 2011

By Michael Timm

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Squozi the Bantam Cochin, age 6, the favorite “grandma hen” of Madison chicken pioneers Alicia Rheal and Bryan Whiting. ~photo Jim Klousia

Effective July 28, it’s legal to raise chickens in the city of Milwaukee.

Far from transforming the Brew City into a dusty backwater with cocks crowing in the dawn, advocates envision backyard chickens as another way, as with urban gardens, to reintegrate agriculture into people’s daily lives.

They see chickens as undomesticated pets, with the added value of providing eggs, pest control, and waste-as-fertilizer.

And if it doesn’t work out, the ordinance sunsets in one year unless renewed, providing city leaders a political opt-out if their constituents’ feathers get too ruffled.

But that hasn’t happened in nearby Madison, where chickens were legalized in 2004. Over six years later, many Madisonians see backyard chickens as commonplace, even if they don’t have their own. And advocates say well-tended chickens are no smellier or noisier than dogs.

The Compass talked to some of the folks who’ve been down this road before to get their advice about raising chickens in the city. Alicia Rheal was one of the pioneers who convinced the city of Madison to legalize chickens in 2004. Dennis Harrison-Noonan has sold thousands of urban chicken coop designs via the internet.

“Ultimately it’s about food security,” said Harrison-Noonan. “You can grow broccoli in the backyard. Can you grow something with a little protein too?”

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Alicia Rheal’s chicken coop is attached to her backyard greenhouse. She recommends welded wire instead of chicken wire. ~photo Alicia Rheal

Rules of the Roost

1. Build a secure coop. “Security is key,” said Rheal. “The most important thing you can do is build a secure coop. Secure against raccoons, possums, foxes, Cooper’s Hawks, against dogs and cats, squirrels, coyotes. We recommend a welded wire. We like one-inch square welded wire as opposed to chicken wire. Raccoons can bite right through that. It’s fine in a pinch, but it rusts.”

Chickens will also scratch underground in their search for grit, so Rheal lines her coop with brick.

2. Keep your chickens dry and draft-free. “Dry and draft-free is kind of the rule of thumb of housing. A lot of people are really afraid in the winter they’re going to be cold. No! They are fine! You do want them to be dry—in the wintertime as long as they don’t have a draft going over their little heads they should be fine.”

Not air-tight, but draft-free, Rheal emphasized, otherwise there will be moisture build-up that threatens frostbite in winter and promotes fungal or bacterial growth in the summer. “The drier your coop is,” she said, “the less it will smell.” Rheal has built her coop on a raised bed of gravel to help with drainage.

3. Clean your coop regularly. Four or five times a year Rheal cleans out her coop and shovels it into her compost pile, mixing the chicken waste with vegetable food scraps.

4. Do your research and invest your time and money wisely. “It seems really obvious,” Rheal said, “but I advise people to build the coop before you get the chickens.”

She also cautions against letting chickens loose in your yard. “It may look charming, antiquated, but they will demolish a garden in an hour.” To give her chickens some room to exercise, she has built a separate chicken run, fenced in but without a roof, that connects to her coop.

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Bryan Whiting holds a baby chick. ~photo Alicia Rheal

How do you get chicks?

Would you have guessed by U.S. Mail? It’s true. Right before they hatch, chicks ingest the egg yolk, Rheal said, so they don’t need food or water for 24 to 36 hours. That’s how they can be shipped, many from Iowa, all over the country. “As long as they’re warm, they’re fine,” Rheal said.

In her experience, 98 percent of shipped chicks survive. The cost is typically about $2.50 to $5 per chick. “Five dollars is really expensive,” Rheal said.

How many eggs will they lay?

It depends on the hen’s breed, age, time of year, and if the chicken is in the mood.

“If a chicken is brooding, it will sit on a rock, ping-pong ball, just a pile of sawdust until something hatches,” Rheal said. While brooding, hens won’t lay.

Otherwise, for nine months a year, healthy hens will lay about one egg per day. With four chickens, you might reasonably expect 120 eggs per month. That’s a lot of protein.

You may notice that your own eggs are different than those at the store. Your chickens are catching rays and eating bugs and vegetation, not confined and stuck on commercial feed, so their eggshells are typically a little firmer and the yolks a little darker.

What breeds should you consider?

Depends on what your reasons for raising chickens are. If you want to maximize egg production, go for so-called “eggers” like Rhode Island Reds. If you want a cute pet, go for distinct plumage.

Rheal recommends obtaining the Murray McMurray Hatchery catalogue. It’s like a seed catalogue, only for different chicken breeds. Connoisseurs and novices alike can revel in the genetic diversity of our feathered friends—from showy Mille Fleur Bantams and classic Blue Andalusians to fluffy White Silkies and plump Cornish X Rocks.

How long will your chickens live?

Not long if you forget to close the door to their coop…but otherwise, assume an average of 2.5 years. Once hens stop laying, they enter a new phase of life many do not survive. If hens survive this “chicken menopause” they may be good for 12 years or more, Rheal said. Otherwise, it’s the freezer.

Are chickens safe?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions people with weakened immune systems against handling chickens and their waste because of the risk of contracting Salmonella. However, the CDC essentially just recommends diligent hand washing to prevent contamination.

In some foreign countries, Avian Flu is a risk, but not yet in the United States.

What do you do with all that chicken poop?

Many people compost it. Poultry waste is rich in nitrogen and makes excellent fertilizer—if blended with other compost materials. On its own, it will burn vegetation. “This stuff is great,” Rheal said. “It’ll get all that compost cooking.”

What do they eat?

They love Japanese beetles and will snatch up other insect critters, but chickens will still need a diet augmented by feed. A 40-pound bag of generic feed from a store like Farm & Fleet will cost $7 or $8 and should last four chickens about a month and half, Rheal said. You can also consider organic feed for $15 or $20 or vegetarian options for $10 to $12.

What about water?

In the summertime, Rheal fills a two- or three-gallon water feeder that automatically fills a watering trough. In the winter, she manually fills a rubber dish that she can stomp on to break ice out.

How much time and money will it take?

Ten to 15 minutes per day to water and feed them and remove the eggs, plus two hours five times per year to thoroughly shovel out the coop. Plan “chicken sitters” to pick up eggs if you’re away on vacation.

Budget at least $500 for initial coop costs.
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The “playhouse” coop designed by Dennis Harrison-Noonan and constructed by his son, Tobias, for his Eagle Scout project. ~photo Dennis Harrison-Noonan

Ordinance Justifications

Milwaukee’s ordinance listed four justifications for the policy change sponsored by Alderman Nik Kovac:

“A number of cities allow the keeping of chickens.”

“Chickens can produce eggs, a source of sustainable, healthy food.”

“Once a chicken’s living space is arranged, chickens are low-maintenance and often treated as pets.”

“Chickens are voracious insect-eaters; their fertilizer is ideal for vegetable and flower gardens; and they do not smell if well cared for.”

The chickens ordinance passed the Common Council 8-5 on May 24, was signed by the mayor June 3, and published June 13. It takes effect July 28.

How They Voted

Alders for chickens in the city: Bauman, Bohl, Coggs, Hamilton, Kovac, Murphy, Witkowiak, Zielinski.

Alders against chickens in the city: Donovan, Dudzik, Wade, Witkowski.

Alders excused for the May 24 vote: Davis, Puente.

What Milwaukee’s Ordinance Boils Down To

No more than four chickens per yard.

No roosters.

No slaughtering.

Coops must be adequate and maintained.

16 square feet of yard and coop space per chicken are required.

Coops must be at least 25 feet away from any residential structure on an adjacent lot.

Coops must be in the backyard, not front.

A $35 annual permit is required.

Written consent of property owners and owners of directly or diagonally abutting properties is required.

Chicken owners must report disease or illness to health department.

Companion Ordinance

The Common Council also unanimously passed a companion ordinance that modifies the zoning code to make it easier for residents to build coops in their yards.

A building permit is not required if the coop is 50 square feet or less and 10 feet in height or less.

This was approved June 14, signed June 23, and published June 30. It took effect July 1.

Web Resources

My Pet Chicken –

Murray McMurray Hatchery –

Urban Chickens –

Mad City Chickens –

Isthmus Handyman –

Beloved Music Man Mr. Dietrich

June 30, 2011

By Stephanie Harling

When Ray Dietrich took the podium to direct the Bay View High School Alumni Choir in May, it was a surreal experience. His career has come full circle.

The beloved concert choir teacher at Bay View High School is now retired, and at age 84 he appears to be enjoying each reunion with his former students.

Dietrich grew up in Bay View on E. Ohio Avenue and attended Fernwood Grade School. Music was always a part of his education.

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Ray Dietrich, 84, stands outside his alma mater, Bay View High School. ~photo Jennifer Janviere

“My folks bought a piano accordion when I was 8 years old. It was a time when accordions were a great instrument to entertain because of the Depression,” Dietrich recalled. “So that’s what I did for my early youth so that people could have a good time during these hard times.”

With this foundation laid for music in his early childhood, he attended Bay View High School in 1936. He realized in his senior year that he had the talent to pursue a career in music. Contrary to his parents’ desire for him to study business and accounting, Dietrich decided to further his musical studies at the university level. Inspired by his high school teachers, Dietrich enrolled at the Milwaukee State Teachers College (now UW-Milwaukee), and went on to attend the University of Michigan.

Dietrich’s education was interrupted by World War II. He answered the call to serve from 1943 to 1946, first with the Army Air Corps as a radio operator, an assignment that did not appeal, then as a chaplain’s assistant.

Stationed on Guam for a year, he helped to build a chapel, assisted with Sunday service, and formed a choir with 12 fellow soldiers. In 1946, he returned to college to finish his two years at the Milwaukee State Teachers College and then used the GI Bill to earn his master’s degree.

Then, in August 1949, Dietrich received the call that launched his career as a music educator.

“I got a call from Mr. Williams, the director of music and bands of Bay View,” Dietrich said. “I never imagined I’d be able to come back to my own school to teach. I think I was 27 when I came to Bay View. I was only 10 years older than the students.”

Dietrich started teaching orchestra and some choral instruction with the glee club and choir. In 1972 he ended his tenure teaching orchestra and focused solely on choir instruction until his retirement in 1984. Until 1997, he also boasted a second career as choral director for the south side’s Ascension Lutheran Church.

Witness to Change

One of the major interests at Bay View High School was the musicals. In all, Dietrich directed 31. He loved doing the current, recognizable Broadway productions where people could sing along. “We were privileged to do those shows at a high school level. And the kids became stars in their own right.” Dietrich said.

During his tenure, Dietrich saw the biggest challenge as recruitment. “In order to survive you had to recruit. Kids didn’t just come in and say, ‘I want to sign up.’ It required visits to the grade schools with the string ensembles to recruit.”

As decades passed the challenges to teaching music became more difficult and the school in which he began his career looked like a very different place.

For much of his career, Bay View High School had a sense of community and camaraderie that neighborhood schools enabled. At the end of his career in 1984 Dietrich said there was little evidence of that sense of community. Absenteeism was high, and Dietrich no longer wanted to deal with the negative changes he was witnessing. Retirement looked like a good option.

But Dietrich’s philosophy about the importance of music education hasn’t changed.

“To cut the arts programs is terrible for young kids,” he said. “Music and athletics are the primary motivation for kids. Everybody can speak and sing, rather decently. The vocal instrument is our means of expression and communication. So much has been neglected. We have to develop the whole human being. To cut out and neglect the arts is a terrible thing for students.”

Over his lifetime Dietrich has witnessed a shift in society’s priorities.

“There was an expectation from parents that music education would be provided at all of the schools. Those expectations don’t exist anymore.”

Alumni Impact

In soliciting memories from alumni, the response has been overwhelming. The lifelong influence Dietrich has had on his students is apparent.

Bill Payne, class of 1976, was being considered for an alternative high school program when he met Mr. Dietrich.

“There was an expectation from parents that music education would be provided at all of the schools. Those expectations don’t exist anymore.”
—Ray Dietrich

“Had I not met Mr. Dietrich who knows how life would have turned out,” recalled Payne. “When we think of most choir kids we think of the good kids. We don’t think too much of the lost kids. I was a lost kid who was found because of the music department at Bay View High School and Mr. Dietrich. As a result I have been the lead in a number of community theater productions, had a commercial, and have been with the same company for 33 years. Thank you, Mr. Dietrich.”

Alumna Ginny Burdick praised Dietrich for introducing her to the love of classical music.

“When I was in his orchestra at Bay View (I played the violin), he took me and my violin partner to a Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concert. It was my first experience with a real symphony and I was just thrilled with it,” she said. “My lifelong love of classical music began and grew from that experience.”

Musical Legacy

When first approached to lead the alumni choir, Dietrich was skeptical. He had doubts about the level of interest, how to recruit, and if the organizers were prepared for the work it would require. But the choir has been a success, thanks in part to his investment of time and talent. “The nice thing about it is people still call me ‘Mr. Dietrich,’” he said.

Dietrich and his wife Eleanore have three children. Their oldest daughter Joan plays piano and is a music teacher in Brookfield. Son John was the director of the Radio City Rockettes and enjoys a career in the entertainment industry. Daughter Ann is a businesswoman. The Dietrichs enjoy six grandchildren.

What’s his secret to a good life?

“You have to have variety,” Dietrich advised. “Don’t get stuck in a certain slow, skinny narrow lane. Be broad in your interests. Don’t get blinded by the narrowness of one particular vein. Enjoy as much as you can. Know other cultures, other countries. I’m in my eighties and I’m still going. Life is too precious. Never stop learning.”

Continue the conversation. Submit your memories of Mr. Dietrich in the comments section below or or email


Dr. Lewis — Pathologist gave life working to save lives

June 30, 2011

By Anna Passante

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Dr. Paul A. Lewis. ~image courtesy Paul A. Lewis II

To most people, Lewis Playfield on E. Pryor Avenue is just a small park popular for baseball and football. But its name honors a courageous early 20th-century medical researcher.

The playfield was named for Bay View native Dr. Paul A. Lewis, who died of yellow fever on June 30, 1929, while studying the disease in Bahia, Brazil. Originally known as Pryor Avenue Playground, the Milwaukee Common Council renamed the playground in June 1932 “in honor of the public services of Dr. Paul A. Lewis, who gave his life in the interest of medical research…”

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(THEN, left) Dr. Paul A. Lewis’ childhood home at 2519-21 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. ~photo courtesy Carlen Hatala, city of Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission
(NOW, right) After Clinton Lewis’ death in 1930, Paul’s sister Marian, also a physician, took over her father’s practice and did an extreme makeover of the family medical office and home on Kinnickinnic Avenue. ~photo Anna Passante

Born in 1879, Lewis was the eldest son of Dr. Clinton H. Lewis, who practiced medicine at 2519-21 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. The building was also the family residence where Clinton and wife Caroline raised five children.

Paul Lewis attended the Milwaukee Public Schools, most likely Dover Street School and South Division High School. (Bay View High didn’t open until 1914.) He attended the University of Wisconsin, the College of Physicians & Surgeons in Milwaukee, and earned his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1904. In 1906 he married Louise Durbin, then had two children, Hobart D. and Janet.

Paul Lewis’ passion was the medical laboratory, and he intended to spend his life as a bacteriologist. In 1906 he held a teaching fellowship at Harvard Medical School and in 1908 joined the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. In 1910 he left Rockefeller to become the director of the Henry Phipps Institute at the University of Pennsylvania-Philadelphia and also taught experimental pathology at the university. Lewis never practiced medicine as a physician either in Milwaukee or out East.

In 1916, while he was at Phipps, a polio epidemic broke out in New York City with over 9,000 cases and 2,343 deaths. Nationwide, there were 27,000 cases and 6,000 deaths. Lewis worked with Dr. Simon Flexner to find a vaccine for polio. Together they proved that a virus caused polio and developed a vaccine that protected monkeys from polio 100-percent of the time. But it wasn’t until 1954 that Dr. Jonas Salk successfully developed a vaccine that prevented polio in humans.

Lewis was highly regarded in the research field, especially by Flexner who was quoted as saying, “Lewis was the smartest man I ever knew.” And the world of 1917 needed smart researchers, for during that year a worldwide influenza, of pandemic proportions, broke out. Also known as the Spanish Flu, this disease killed an estimated 20 to 100 million people over three years. A number of researchers, including Lewis, worked feverishly to develop a vaccine, and, by 1920, a number of different vaccines were administered, including Lewis’. The death toll dropped, but it is unclear if the drop was the result of these vaccines or the fact that the virus had weakened dramatically by that time.

Dr. Lewis researched polio, influenza, tuberculosis, and yellow fever, the last of which claimed his life in 1929. A telegram reporting his death read: “Typical yellow fever. Probably laboratory infection.”

Lewis was a quiet man, not very sociable, unlike his wife who loved societal gatherings. Lewis wanted to be in the laboratory, not fundraising for research projects. Grandson Paul A. Lewis II, son of Hobart, was told very little about his grandfather. However, Hobart did tell his son this story: “Someone came to visit my parents,” related Hobart. “Upon leaving, the person said to my mother, ‘I have met some quiet people in my day, but your husband isn’t quiet, he is silent.’”

In 1923 Lewis returned to the Rockefeller Institute to work on a cure for tuberculosis, but he produced little of significance in the lab and was in danger of losing his position. In an attempt to redeem himself, Lewis volunteered to continue the yellow fever research of Dr. Hideyo Noguchi, who at the age of 28 died of the disease in May 1928 in Ghana, Africa.

Instead of Ghana, Lewis continued Noguchi’s yellow fever research in Bahia, Brazil. Unfortunately, Lewis contracted yellow fever and died on June 30, 1929. A telegram reporting the death read: “Typical yellow fever. Probably laboratory infection.” Lewis’ wife Louise requested that the body be shipped to Milwaukee. Seventeen family members attended Lewis’ burial at Forest Hills Cemetery in Madison, Wis.

It is unknown how Lewis contracted yellow fever, since he reported no research details, and his lab notes provided no information about his laboratory procedures.

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~photo courtesy Carlen Hatala, city of Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission

The Rockefeller Institute paid the Princeton University tuition for Lewis’ son, Hobart, who was 20 at the time of his father’s death. According to Paul A. Lewis II, after her husband’s death, Louise resided in Merion, Pa., and never remarried.

Hobart went on to make a name for himself in the literary world. In 1960 he traveled with Richard Nixon during his presidential campaign as a journalist for Reader’s Digest. Hobart went on to serve as the chief editor for the magazine from 1964 to 1976. He recently died on April 1, 2011, at the age of 101.


Strolling through summer

June 30, 2011

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

Two years ago on a hot July weekday, a friend and I took our 1-year-old daughters to Summerfest via bus. Riding Milwaukee County Transit System Route 15 north on Kinnickinnic Avenue to the Third Ward seemed like the best way to reach the festival grounds.

We didn’t expect the bus to be crowded on a Monday around 11:30am, but seats toward the front were full so we paused inside the door with our kids in one hand and our strollers in the other. Diaper bags hung over our shoulders. Balancing all those elements did not seem like fun. Upon request, two young men let us take their seats, which filled up with two adults, two kids, two diaper bags, and two collapsed strollers leaning on our knees.

Now in 2011, our biggest public transit system is trying out a special spot for strollers and carts which are not collapsed. It takes the place of a seat row on 30 buses.

When the spot is free, it seems like a handy solution. Collapsing a stroller is the MCTS rule but that can be easier said than done. Many strollers have one (or even two) drink holders and a large basket for storage, and some have room for multiple children. These features all take up space and add weight that makes them unwieldy to collapse. (The attributes also make strollers a sore spot for some people, perhaps those who have gotten their ankles bumped too many times.) Manipulating a complicated stroller also could be a safety concern because preoccupied parents and children near the street don’t mix.

The stroller/cart spot may help people get to summer festivals more easily. More importantly, it may help people who need to use the bus for daily commuting, or shopping runs that end with a full cart of groceries. Accommodations like this—plus pleasant attitudes from fellow riders—make stroller pushing more pleasant.

The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at


Young farmer, old traditions — LotFotl

June 30, 2011

Story & Photo by Sheila Julson


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Tim Huth leans against a pickup truck and gazes across the gentle waves of green flora growing from the fields on his farm. Fjord horses trot freely in the distance against a crisp June sky. Content with his slice of life and the career path he has chosen, Huth, 31, takes a sip from his can of PBR. “Farming is a good life. It’s an honest life.”

Huth owns LotFotL Community Farm (LotFotL rhymes with “hot bottle” and stands for Living off the Fat of the Land), a name that sums up Huth’s philosophy. Huth said he became interested in vegetable farming while studying at Carroll University (formerly Carroll College) in Waukesha, and started LotFotL five years ago on leased land. This year he moved LotFotL to the historic Quinney family farm, W7036 Quinney Rd. in Elkhorn, Wis. The farm was originally started by John and Bridget Quinney in 1868.

Dr. Richard Quinney, criminology expert, philosopher, and author of the memoir Of Time and Place: A Farm in Wisconsin, which tells the story of the farm his great-grandparents started, owns the 160-acre property along with his brother, Ralph. The Quinney brothers became intrigued by the viability of small farms in modern times. In 2004 they leased the farm to the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture.

Huth said he subleases 15 acres from John Hall, program director of integrated farming systems at the Fields Institute. Hall has been performing agricultural research on the land, studying the pros and cons of switchgrass as a renewable form of energy.

These days, Huth continues the farming traditions of previous generations. He barters with neighboring Sugar Creek Dairy, growing forage and hay for the dairy in exchange for manure. Flourishing onions and lettuce rise from healthy soil with added organic matter. Crop rotation helps manage pests and weeds.

Animals that live on small sustainable farms such as LotFotL often have it much better than their commercially-raised counterparts. At LotFotL, piglets playfully scamper in a spacious pen. In the distance, Black Angus cattle cluster in a wide open pasture.

Huth said his CSA (community supported agriculture program) is up to about 260 families, and the farm also sells to Beans & Barley on Milwaukee’s East Side and to area restaurants including La Merenda and Meritage. This market season will mark the fourth year of LotFotL’s presence at the South Shore Farmers Market. “It’s satisfying to drop a bell pepper into the hand of a 6-year old girl,” Huth said.

He plans to work with local artisan cheese makers and maple syrup producers in the Walworth County area to possibly offer their goods in his CSA shares, “to help get their products out there.” He also bartered with a mechanic in South Milwaukee who is in the process of converting one of the farm tractors to run on electricity. An online store is also in the works.

LotFotL also participates in Slow Food Wisconsin Southeast, part of Slow Food International, a nonprofit organization that emphasizes reconnecting people with the earth, each other, and agricultural traditions. LotFotL hosted its first Slow Food farm tour and dinner June 18, and plans are in the works for a menu-item release event at the farm later this summer with David Swanson’s Braise RSA (restaurant supported agriculture program).

Like most farmers, Huth puts in long days. “But I’m not one of those farmers who is up at 4am.” He said he does average 10- to 14-hour days, “and I work best with people around.” The farm employs five paid workers, some of whom are aspiring farmers, and several CSA share workers. Huth’s girlfriend, April Yuds, began helping at the farm this season.

Huth said that despite the long hours and unpredictable aspects of farming, the rewards outweigh the risks. He prides himself on producing quality food, because “whatever you’re producing goes into a belly.”


Natural gas for Badger?

June 30, 2011

The Lake Michigan Carferry Service is reportedly researching the possibility of using new fuel sources, including natural gas, to power its 58-year-old S.S. Badger.

The Badger’s steam engines are currently coal-fired.

In 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was ordered to regulate vessel discharges under the Clean Water Act. Nearly 70,000 vessels, including the Badger, were required to obtain a Vessel General Permit for any type of discharge. The permit doesn’t authorize ash discharge from the Badger after Dec. 19, 2012, hence the investigation of conversion to natural gas.

The ferry’s ports of call are Manitowoc, Wis. and Ludington, Mich.


Solar loans expected

June 30, 2011

A low-interest solar loan program for Milwaukee residents is likely to be approved in July.

The city’s Community and Economic Development Committee unanimously approved the Milwaukee Shines Solar Loan Program proposal June 27. The Common Council will consider the proposal, sponsored by 14th District Alderman Tony Zielinski, July 6.

The proposal would create a partnership between the city and Summit Credit Union to offer low-interest loans for city homeowners installing solar systems, with a $1,000 incentive for the first 20 participants.
There will be a kick-off campaign in Bay View in July, date to be determined. Watch for the date and more information about the event on, the Compass Facebook site, and


Needlehouse Tattoo Studio

June 30, 2011

Frankie Ramirez and Juanita Guzman opened Needlehouse Tattoo Studio in about 700 square feet at Bay View’s Hide House March 10.

Ramirez has been tattooing for eight years. He received an education in industrial design at MIAD and formerly worked at Plantronics, which designs headsets, but he wasn’t creatively satisfied. “I was sitting in front of a monitor 10 to 12 hours a day,” Ramirez said. “It wasn’t something I wanted to be doing.”

Ramirez started tattooing out of his basement, then at Body Ritual on Farwell Avenue. He was manager of Twisted Tattoo Company at 52nd and Howard.

When he and Guzman were looking in Bay View for a space for their new business, they remembered the Hide House from touring the complex three years ago.

Their high-ceilinged space with Cream City brick walls has a cool, minimalist vibe and is divided by folding screens. “We really want to be an open, honest store,” Ramirez said.

The Needlehouse artists are independent contractors. In addition to Ramirez, artists include Kurt Bagg, with five years’ experience; Eric Knaak, with 13; and Hayli York, with four.

York formerly worked at Diggers Den Tattoo & Piercing in Elkhorn. “I like to do custom stuff,” she said, “anytime I get to draw.”

Knaak grew up in Bay View, owns a home in St. Francis, and formerly worked at Por Vida Tattoos. “Being in the middle of the artist community in Bay View—it’s kick-ass,” he said.

He added that he likes that his artwork is out in the world on people’s skin. “Every piece sells,” he said, as opposed to art in a gallery. “It’s out there.”

Bagg said tattooing is therapeutic for some clients. He’s enthralled by the art form—and the psychological effect of making a permanent, meaningful mark on someone’s body.

Co-owner Guzman handles Needlehouse’s business side. She’s also a senior customer services rep for Northwestern Mutual Credit Union and connects with “bankers and brokers, people who wouldn’t normally get tattoos,” Ramirez said.

Needlehouse Tattoo Studio

2625 S. Greeley St.

(414) 217-7841

Tues-Sun 12-8pm or by appt.


Ink Spot Tattoo Studio

June 30, 2011

Adrian Fernandez and Julio Marentes opened Ink Spot Tattoo Studio Feb. 18 inside the King Building in 550 square feet previously occupied by the law office of Katherine Depies and before that by Prime Cut barbershop.

The pair have completely renovated the interior with hardwood floors and smartly painted partitions. They said they want clients to feel comfortable and unrushed. “We’re not scary,” Fernandez joked.

Marentes works nights at Potawatomi Bingo Casino as supervisor, but his passion is tattoos. Formerly a Denver bus driver, family drew Marentes to Kenosha and he now lives in Oak Creek. Hooked on tattoos since his first—a Koi fish on his left arm—Marentes met Fernandez when he went in for a touch-up at Skin Candy Tattoo in Racine.

That original fish is now joined by an entire watery environment inked by Marentes himself and also a lotus flower and Buddha head tattooed by Fernandez.

Fernandez formerly saw clients at Skin Candy and i ov thee dragon body modification studio, both in Racine. He’s illustrated comic book art for Milwaukee’s Star Cross Studio and also worked in animation for Karen Johnson Productions, responsible for films like 1992’s Fern Gully. Fernandez moved to Bay View to be closer to Ink Spot. He’s been tattooing professionally for eight years, Marentes for two.

Ink Spot’s co-owners acknowledge they’re between two competitors in Solid State Tattoo and Bay Street Tattoo N Body Piercing, but said their business is going well.

“We’re here to do good work without the attitude,” Marentes said. “I don’t do it for the money, more for the love of the art.”

In May Josh Ebert, formerly an artist at i ov thee dragon, joined Ink Spot.

There are no flip books or art samples on Ink Spot’s walls. “Everything we do is custom work,” Fernandez said.

Ink Spot Tattoo Studio

2534 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Suite 101

(414) 446-7196

Mon-Sat 11am-8pm or by appt.


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