Monday, September 18, 2006

RUDOLPH,WI Population 423

Can you say Sesquicentennial? Many Wisconsin (est.1848) localities are celebrating their 150th year. I visited one last Saturday. Rudolph reached that milestone and threw an all day party. West of Stevens Point, don't blink and you'll see it.

Rudolph was my parent's childhood home. They were brought up Moravian in your basic two church town. That church was my first stop and I returned several times. Food was served in the basement from 11-5. A large display of photos, church history, and even old church cookbooks made it worthwhile.

My grandfather Nels, born 1869, bought a farm north of Rudolph about 1900 where my father was born on the kitchen table November 1913 with a neighbor acting as midwife. My dad was the youngest of nine and electric lights appeared about 1926, the same year he began to smoke.

It was at school and church where he met my mother. My mother's family arrived in the early 1920's. My dad graduated from the high school in the early 1930's, a rarity for farm men at the time, and attended Stevens Point Normal School (UW-SP) until the depression forced him into the work force.

A 1935 photograph at the Moravian Church caught my eye. My mother as a teenager. I had never seen this particular photo. Other family members were also in it.

My grandmother had multiple entries in a 1920's church cookbook. The corn chowder recipe was just as my dad taught me and now I know the origin. My dad would tell me about hoisting the salt pork out of the brine to cut a slab. He would slap the pork with the side of the knife so he knew where the flies ended and the pork began and then slice off a slab.

I walked down the street to the Rudolph Municipal Building and found a beautiful 8x10 of the 1930-31 Basketball team with my dad front and center holding the basketball. Numerous news items and old plat maps interested me.

The parade started at 2pm with nineteen Fire Dept. vehicles! It sounds like a lot but they are housed in four locations and have a lot of rural area to cover. There were bands and floats and an overkill of candy tossed to the streets. The parade was extremely large and lasted well over an hour. The Parade Queen was Ninety-Eight year old Nellie Hamm, a lifelong resident. She waved and grinned to the crowd (false teeth?) through thick lensed glasses. This was a Lake Wobegon moment, no question! I wanted to meet Nellie but instead...

Ran into my Aunt Mable (Where's the Black Label?) who is 87. She was brought from the nursing home by a friend. She enjoyed the parade but is still in mourning over the death of her oldest daughter (66). The granddaughter who is suffering the loss is Wisconsin State Representative Amy Sue Vruwink. Mable is proud of her political grand kid and I am too.

Two of the rural Moravian Churches are co-ministered by Reverend's Olaf and Rita Anderson. I enjoyed conversing with them. The Roman Catholic Church is the other large denomination and the Rudolph Grotto is a popular destination for not only Catholics. I've never been there, maybe my parents thought that Catholicism might rub off on me. I'm not sure but I think the term idol worship was mentioned. Maybe I'll go next time.

The local park was a beehive of activity all day. It was a pleasant small town affair.

The Rudolph Post Office runs a Christmas special whereby you can send your cards there to be mailed from Rudolph with guess-who on the hand stamp. About 20,000 Holiday Cards are hand-stamped each year.


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