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An appeal on behalf of Lake Geneva history

June 13, 2013

Times change. And so do the keepers of Lake Geneva’s unique history. In the 19th Century, the keeper of Lake Geneva’s history was James Simmons, but he passed away as the century was ending.
We are fortunate that his superb, unsurpassed history of Lake Geneva in the 19th Century, “Annals of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 1835-1897”, survived and was reissued in a new format by the Geneva Lake Museum last year. Simmons’ successors as keepers of Lake Geneva’s history,
Eva Seymour Lundahl and Alice Denison Hackett, are also gone. Eva Seymour Lundahl was the granddaughter of Moses Seymour, who came to Geneva from Vermont with James Simmons in 1843. Alice Denison Hackett was the daughter of E. D Denison, for whom the Central-Denison School is named, and was the granddaughter of John Burton, one of Lake Geneva’s most well-known 19th-Century businessmen.
Recently Lake Geneva has lost several more keepers of its history, including Gretchen Allen, Wilma Habacker Bailey Jacobson, Sam Gonzalez, Ken Schneider, Larry Magee, and John Fedorovich. It also lost the owner of the Breadloaf Bookstore, Kevin Vail, who was very interested in Lake Geneva’s history.
With the passing of these and other individuals, Lake Geneva’s collective historical memory has been greatly diminished. Fortunately we still have Ken Etten, Ginny Hall, John Halverson, Bruce Johnson, Vern Magee, Burly Brellenthin, and Doug Elliot, among others, as well as the many volunteers, who, under the leadership of Karen Walsh and James Gee, sustain the Geneva Lake Museum.
But as times change and the keepers of Lake Geneva’s history pass away, we who remain, as well as future generations of Lake Geneva residents, will necessarily have to rely even more on the published and unpublished historical documentary records of Lake Geneva’s history held by the Lake Geneva Public Library, the Geneva Lake Museum, the Wisconsin Historical Society, and the Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Library.
Among the most useful documentary historical sources held by the Lake Geneva Public Library are the microfilmed copies of Lake Geneva’s newspapers and the yearbooks of the Lake Geneva High School and Badger High School. But sadly, many LGHS and BHS yearbooks are missing from the collections of Lake Geneva Public Library and the Geneva Lake Museum.
I am therefore appealing to readers of the Lake Geneva Regional News to rectify this lamentable situation by donating old LGHS and BHS yearbooks in their possession to the Lake Geneva Public Library and the Geneva Lake Museum in order to fill the gaps in their invaluable collections of Lake Geneva High School and Badger High School yearbooks.
Another excellent source for Lake Geneva’s history would be the compilation of oral histories of Lake Geneva based upon the memories of longtime Lake Geneva residents. Perhaps Bruce Johnson could be persuaded to conduct oral history interviews with such longtime Lake Genevans as Burly Brellenthin, Sturg Taggert, Muriel Malsch, Buzz Braden,Vern Magee, Doug Gerber, and Clyde Boutelle, just to mention a few people with superb memories of Lake Geneva’s history.
Copies of these oral histories could be deposited at the Lake Geneva Public Library and the Geneva Lake Museum, where future residents of the city would find them to be invaluable historical resources.
But filling the gaps in Lake Geneva High school and Badger High School yearbooks held by the Lake Geneva Public Library and the Geneva Lake Museum is the most urgent priority if we wish to preserve Lake Geneva’s history for future generations. The Lake Geneva Public Library is missing Badger High School yearbooks for the years 1970, 1976, 1977, 1982, 1984, 2011, and 2012.
The situation with Lake Geneva High School yearbooks is even more egregious. Rather than listing all of the missing LGHS yearbooks, suffice it to say that the Lake Geneva Public Library would greatly appreciate the donation of any LGHS yearbooks between 1958 and the date that the first LGHS yearbook was published, which was around 1911. The LGPL will offer any duplicate yearbooks it receives to the Geneva Lake Museum.
I really do hope that the readers of the Lake Geneva Regional News will respond to this appeal and donate LGHS and BHS yearbooks to the Lake Geneva Public Library. I issue this appeal not only on behalf of the Lake Geneva Public Library (and the Geneva Lake Museum), but on behalf of Lake Geneva’s history and the records that document it.

Patrick Quinn is a Lake Geneva native who is University Archivist Emeritus at Northwestern University.

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10 years of sharing, 25 years of helping

June 13, 2013
This week is our 10 year anniversary of sharing the charitable works of The Time Is Now to Help. Together we have changed the lives of many. Hunger, homelessness, living without utilities, toiletries and household necessities, lack of transportation and many other pains of poverty have been removed. The children we assisted 10 years ago are now hopefully grown and healthy thanks to our caring and sharing. Some of the senior citizens we assisted are no longer here with us, but their last years were spent knowing someone cared enough about them to make sure they had food to eat, a place to call home and people in their life that cared. Together, we assisted in removing pains of poverty through our faith, our driven conscious to do good, a pride to do what is morally right, following a path led by God, our love for our fellow creations. Our purpose continues to stand strong; we will not sit back and ignore our fellow creations suffering in poverty. The emotional pain of witnessing firsthand the pains of poverty takes a toll on our existence. The only way to ease the pains of witnessing poverty's injustices is to bring compassionate relief as fast as we encounter the affliction of poverty. My dear friends in God, these last years have been much more rewarding and less painful knowing you were there beside us, knowing together we accomplish so much more. In 10 years time we have provided assistance to over 5,000 of our fellow Americans in desperate need. When you realize this is all due to one man's dream 25 years ago to found a charity that did not spend its donations on overhead and salaries, it is an amazing journey. My longing to provide assistance when and where it was needed most, to the most overlooked fellow creations, the homeless, the struggling women and children, the senior citizens living cold and hungry, the handicapped without access to basic necessities, the tears my own dear mother shed while she was enduring the pains of poverty, were the motivation to found The Time Is Now to Help. As more and more of you heard the stories of those we helped, through the newspapers, People magazine, Readers Digest, the Associated Press, the Hallmark Channel and many other news outlets, the more you wanted to help. We realized the news media was the way to spread the word of real poverty in our own home towns throughout our great country. This was poverty you could see, feel and grasp, not in other countries but right in the homes you drive past each day on your way to work. Children you see in schools or the elderly invisible to us suffering behind closed doors. That was the beginnings of our column called The Time Is Now to Help. Since then our story has spread to WGN, CNN, CBS and Fox news. How it spread from there continues to amaze all of us here every day. The truth is you want to know the facts, what is happening and who is hurting. You want to know how we help. You want to be part of removing the suffering of poverty and providing relief. Removing the terrible feeling of true hunger, providing utilities for those living without light, heat, water ... Our communities have much less homelessness due to all of us preventing the fear and shame of living without shelter. Together, we have lifted the lives of many by providing what we all treasure, a place to call home. Whenever we conclude a matching grant we provide a complete breakdown in how every penny of every donation was spent to provide poverty assistance. Together, we helped over 5,000 in desperate need who would have gone without. Together, we provided rent, utilities, food, auto assistance, household necessities and toiletries. We also provided assistance with wheelchairs, home repairs, clothing, beds, school supplies, medical assistance, dental care, veterinary care, furniture, special education needs, emergency shelter and much, much more. Together, we have opened food pantries. We helped other organizations that provide true assistance to the poverty stricken. Does it make a difference to you or I that all these people were helped? Absolutely. We are in a war against poverty, the evil that inflicts mental and physical pain, causing great suffering to our fellow creations. I can still hear the crying and sobbing of those suffering as I pray for God to show us the way to help over and over again. I also feel the relief we, all of us together, have provided over the years. Sometimes the pain is not as obvious as the elderly woman that fell in front of me.

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