Fotos from the past
Researched by Michael J. Caylor Jr
More candidates are coming forward for local offices. Former city council member Gerald Bauer announced he will join the growing number of candidates for the position of mayor. Bauer retired last September from his position of food inspector for the state; he has served as alderman for two, six year terms in the 1960s and most recently from 1970 to 1976. Local attorney Michael Ravn has announced he is seeking the position of City Attorney which is being vacated by William Wulf. Ravn is a partner in the law firm of Russell & Ravn. Alderman Ellsworth Plautz, who has served the city second ward since 1945, and Robert Klug, the City Clerk since 1950, have also announced their intention to seek re-election this April.
In news briefs: The local Christmas decoration contest has wrapped up with Leonard Wiesman of South Foster Street taking first place. Marion Meyer on 1st Street was second and George Schotz of Jackson Street was third. The business award went to the Guy’s Shop with second place to Added Dimensions clothing store and third to Stieve’s Shoe Store. Judges were Faye Mittlesteadt, Kris Ravn, Jim Rammer and John Drengler. Perhaps it is Freudian, but GTE Telephone Company wants to remind you the phone number to the Family Medical Clinic is 715-536-9511. It seems too many people are calling the Merrill Bakery at 5911 in error. Congrats to Scott Meunier and Marge Fox who will be sporting new bikes come spring. The two won the bikes in a drawing at the Lincoln County Bank. Ron Hornischer, Charles Eckerle and John Ronis are pictured with the winning pair. Firefighters from Merrill are calling the fire at the home of Chester Brietzke a total loss. The Christmas night fire thankfully did not cause any loss of life as Brietzke and his family of six was sleeping when it broke out. Cosmo One this week features George Burns and the movie “OH God” with John Denver; in Cosmo Two it is Jackie Gleason and Burt Reynolds in “Smokey and the Bandit.”
Looking for a place to go to celebrate New Year’s Eve? The entertainment page is full of ideas. Les & Jim’s will have the music of the Rhythm Masters from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. and a buffet dinner which includes two drinks for only $6.50 a person. At Schult’s Country Inn you will find the music of Dan Rafik and his Polka Pals. Club Modern will be serving prime rib and roast duck with a buffet on New Year’s Day, Roy’s Westside Bar will feature the Three J’s Band from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m., the dance at the Eagle’s Club starts at nine and runs until closing, Bob and Barb’s Club 64 will serve prime rib and a full menu, and for those looking for an early morning snack a full buffet will open at 3 a.m., or you want a quick dinner to go stop at Arnold’s Drive Inn where a fish fry to go will be just $1.19.
A well-known business man and community member passed away Christmas Eve in Merrill. Leander “Lindy” Porath, age 66 of E. 10th Street, died at Wausau Hospital. Porath was the owner/operator of Lindy’s Clark Station on E. 2nd Street for many years. Prior to his work at the Clark Station, Porath operated the American Legion Club. Porath was also known for his work with the area barbershop groups and his work with the area youth in the Optimist Club. A veteran of service of World War II, Porath also was at one time the post commander of the American Legion Edward Burns Post 46. In 1978 Porath was honored by the Merrill Chamber of Commerce with that group’s “Merrill on the Move” award. A funeral service was held at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church and he was buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in his native Wausau. (I always remember he handed out Tootsie Rolls to kids at the Clark Station)
For someone reading the story 80 years later, it probably sounds like sort of a strange party: entertainment, refreshments, over 1,000 people in attendance and in the end they cut down a tree. The story goes back to 1937 at Dudley outside of Gleason. What was known as the great white pine, said to be over 500 years old and standing 150 feet tall and five and a half feet wide at its base, was felled by woodsmen’s saws. Loggers knocked down hundreds of thousands of trees outside of Merrill and beyond in the early days. Trees and sawmills built this town and drove its economy. Lumberman came and went, fortunes were built, families begun, lives were lost, logging towns and camps came and went, and rivers were filled with logs headed to the sawmills in the towns that dotted the maps on the Wisconsin River. But as the lumbermen moved through the forests outside of Gleason and harvested the great white pines they left this one alone. Harry Doering, the leading lumberman of the Yawkey-Alexander Lumber Company of Wausau, estimated the tree would have produced 10,000 board feet of lumber compared to an average pine which scaled 500 feet. But in 1937 it came crashing down. Storm damage was the reason for its demise as it was believed the tree would soon rot and would be in danger of falling after suffering damage to its top portions. Harry Doering’s crew went to work with a double handled wide tooth saw that December day and two and a half hours later the tree fell to the ground with such a crash it was reportedly heard in Echo Lake, smashing smaller trees as if they were stalks of oak. Even Henry Dudley, then a 91-year-old resident of Dudley, and Hugh Lee, then 61 of Gleason, both early loggers, took turns sawing. Little of the tree actually became lumber, the butt or largest portion of the tree was shipped to Wausau where it sits in Marathon Park. The second log was placed in a display outside of the Lincoln County Courthouse in Merrill where it remains. (On the west side of the court house it has hosted generations of kids who sat there and watched the world go by, many on Friday nights when Hwy. 51 went through town. It has stood the test of time and will probably remain long after we are gone, hopefully no one will forget the story of where it came from and remove it for a new vision of what Merrill should be.)
Little movement will likely be seen on the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors as only one person has taken out papers for most seats. Four people will likely face challenges, most in the city of Merrill based on papers that have been taken out. Gordon Schoeder of the fifth district is the only incumbent not seeking re-election to the board. Mike Wahoske is seeking a new position as representative to the county board for the 8th district as he also seeks the city council post for the 8th ward. This is permitted under state law and according to reporter D.W. Pfister all city council members for the eight districts were at one time automatically the reps for their districts on the county board. That practice ended in the mid 1960s. One of the last persons to fill both roles was former resident J. Jean Rodgers. She later became executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin and now works for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development overseeing the development of Wisconsin Works and the W2 program.