HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - merchants slogan: "We don't have it but we can get it for you."

Monday, October 25, 2010


I am having difficulty watching what Brett Favre is going through right now. I was reading earlier that Minnesota fans are becoming skeptical of his "acting". One minute he's clenching his elbow like he's about to pass out and the next moment he is pumping his fist with complete abandon.

And if it's not his elbow it's his ankle which seems to bother him only after a play fails.

It has gotten difficult to figure out how much is real and how much is an act. And to me, that's sad. If he had only really retired the first time, he would've gone down in the books as one of the greatest quarterbacks, if not the greatest, to play the game.

Instead he has become a sad joke because of press and television "coverage" of his off-field activities.

Anyway, that's how part of me feels. Then there's another part of me that looked forward to the Viking/Packer game with vengeance. When Favre fell down on that last play and then jumped back up (bad ankle and all) and threw to Moss all I could think was: "Oh my god! He's going to do it again!"

Did you see Clay Matthews tear off his own helmet and throw it on the ground as he charged the back field? I found out today that he had complained over and over to the referees that the Vikings were grabbing his face mask - so he finally took it off so they couldn't grab it.

I love that kid!


Thursday, October 14, 2010


We had quite a wednesday! Wednesday afternoon I spent keeping vigil for my friend Doug Cox who was in the hospital for yet another procedure. Kim had the house to herself as she was visiting with a teacher friend of hers.

On my way to the hospital via Highway 94, I spotted three different police cars, one from the Eau Claire sheriff's , one from the State Patrol and one from the Eau Claire Police. All were traveling at a high rate of speed with lights flashing and sirens wailing.

I thought that maybe they were doing a sting operation on the interstate.

When I got home Kim related the following story to me.

Kim's sitting visiting when suddenly there is a very loud banging on the front door. She opens the door to find an Eau Claire policeman armed with an automatic weapon.

Kim doesn't see the weapon until she opens the door. She says "Hi! and then "That's a gun!"

The policeman informs her that there is a felon who has escaped and is somewhere in the neighborhood and that she should keep her door locked. He leaves.

Kim and visitor are understandably shook by the news and start looking out various windows to see what they can see - which is nothing.

Some time passes and there is another really loud banging on the door, which puts the women's hearts in their throats. This time it is an Eau Claire Sheriff's deputy who tells them that the felon has been captured and everything is all clear.

Today's Eau Claire Leader telegram ran the story as the lead story. (There is a brief story on the incident at the following link:


Here's some quotes from the Leader Telegram:

Law enforcement officials from several Wisconsin and Minnesota agencies were on hand when 20 year old Quyumba Ontario Wilson of Minnesota was apprehended wednesday near Hobbs Road in the town of Washington. Wilson, a Mankato State University student was wanted on multiple felony charges. He was taken into custody after a pursuit that reached speeds of 100 mph. To view more photos go to leadertelegramphotos.com.

Wilson is accused of stalking, raping, strangling, and holding against her will, a woman student from Mankato State.

Kim wants to express her thanks to all the agencies involved, especially the Eau Claire Police and Eau Claire Sheriff's Department for being so quick to respond and warn everyone in the neighborhood.

For photos of the incident go to: leadertelegramphotos.com


Saturday, October 9, 2010


Kim and I spent some time at Ottowa House Books (aka Wax Paper Etc.) on water Street just past Fifth. If you love the smell of aged books as much as I do, and a chance to browse a great variety of topics, you really should stop in and meet the very fascinating proprietor, Charlie VandenBreul.

Tell him what you like to read and he will steer you to some appropriate titles. I always enjoy his company as I browse. Do stop in!


I received this next writing from my first cousin Ray Kondrasuk who certainly has done the research on the Wetzels!

Gilman's SS Peter & Paul Parish is celebrating its centennial October 17th; I've been asked to provide stories about its oldest member. This is what I've gathered so far; your own memory-jogging anecdotes will be quickly embraced.




Lucille was the firstborn on April 24, 1911, to Lew and Belle (Vincent)
Wetzel on their homestead three miles southeast of Beulah, North Dakota.
Often, the five dollars Lew might earn playing his violin at Saturday
night dances would be the only reliable income to feed his family. With
but an eighth-grade education himself, he did pass the state teacher
exam and taught the children of newly immigrated Russian farmers in a
one-room school.

After seven crop failures in thirteen wildly unpredictable growing
seasons, Lew surrendered to the uncertainties of drought, late-spring
killer frosts, prairie fires, locusts, wheat blight, and hailstorms. He
moved the family to Wisconsin in 1923, spending a year in Chelsea near


Lew invested his musical talents well, teaching Lucille piano and her
sister Alice violin. Their brother Francis learned the alto sax, sister
Gladys the trumpet, younger brother Raymond the tenor sax, and youngest
child Gertrude also the alto sax. Gert was also the vocalist, doing a
crowd-favorite impersonation of the 1940's pop singer, Wee Bonnie Baker, with her
spot-on mimicking of "Oh, Johnny!" and "Ma, he's makin' eyes at me!"

The family dance band made a cross-country tour to the west coast after
Lew wrote innumerable winter letters to municipalities arranging a
schedule of summer play dates en route.


Lucille and her sisters Alice and Ruth followed their father's early
lead and became grade-school teachers themselves; each sister later had children
who also taught.

Lucille wed a handsome Polish-born mechanic named John Kondraszuk even
though she knew she would have competition for his attention because of his ongoing
affections for embraceable members of the Winchester and Pflueger families.
That distraction became dramatic one night in November, 1943, when Lucille's
contractions began while John was away and isolated at deer camp. (Venison, yes; Verizon, not yet). A friend answered her urgent appeal and drove her to the hospital. Several years
later, that friend nervously paced the waiting room other times for the births
of his own Butch, Kenny, and Mike & Margie. Lucille's next infants, Jennifer (four years later) and Bob (five years) were born in February and September, so their father was present because they were "out of season" deliveries. But Lucille and John's firstborn, Ray, owes a safe and timely arrival to that "other John".


John Kondrasuk (the family dropped the "z" so no one would suspect they were Polish) made "deliveries", too. He did the "emptying".... the first-graders poured from his school bus along with their older siblings who guided them down the hall for a "filling" of minds in front Lucille's alphabet-topped chalkboards with those charts of smooth, correct cursive so quickly mastered by
fine feminine fingers, but a were challenge to little hands ever ready to swap a pencil for a Swiss army knife.


Fine feminine fingers caressed the SSPP organ, too... Lucille's keyboard up in the choir loft at the back of the church faced away from the altar, so she gave pitched cues for father's next "Agnus Dei" by glancing into a rear-view mirror on the music rail. For fifty years, Lucille directed and accompanied the St. Agnes Choir's sincere renditions traditional hymns, Latin high Masses, and even the "Lulajze Jezuniu" lullaby to the Nativity.

My mother was the Alice referred to in the story. Music goes back a long way in my family.


Monday, October 4, 2010


What a great Homecoming! Kim and I got an early start and went down to First Avenue to watch the Homecoming Parade, the highlight of which was the Blugold Marching Band. If you haven't been to a home game this year you really should avail yourself of the opportunity, as not only are the Blugolds playing some excellent and exciting football, but the marching band is giving the UW Madison band a run for the money.
We hooked up with Dr. Wil and Dr. Judy and Dr. Judy's brother, Jimmy. for tailgating at Carson park. I bought some Festival Foods Italian sausage and buns and Wil brought the condiments.

Festival makes great home made sausages in a variety to please every palate.
Fortified with sausages and beer, we made out way to our reserved seats. The game was a real barn burner - went into overtime and the Blugolds pulled it out with a screen pass to Joel Sweeney, who expertly followed his blockers in for the score.
After the game, Kim and I met Judy Willink at Grizzly's for dinner and we bumped into Blugold's receiver David Goodman and his parents as they were leaving.