Sunday, May 27, 2007

Now & Then Side-by-Side

Yesterday while attending the re-dedication of a veterans memorial in La Crosse's Campbell Cemetery I spotted this 1860s photographer impersonator using a small digital camera between shots with his large view camera. Watching him use the two cameras was a real lesson in how photography technology has changed in 140 years. We have it easy as pie today. American Civil War photographers like Matthew Brady could not have imagined today's digital cameras in their wildest dreams. And just think of the photos Brady could have captured had he had a digital camera or regular film camera of today. Those old view cameras as shown here needed lots of light and long exposures so action photography was nearly impossible with them. No wonder there are no Civil War action photographs.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Rain Rider

Yesterday it was pouring rain so instead of riding my bicycle to work as I normally do I took the city bus. Along the way I was shamed when I noticed this poncho wrapped bike rider tooling along in a heavy downpour (photo taken through rain covered window of the bus). In my defense, I have tried riding in the rain wearing a rain suit but it caused me to get drenched with sweat which wasn't much better than getting rained on. Would a poncho keep me cooler and drier than a rain suit? Do I even want to try a poncho? On the plus side, I do have fenders on my bike (Mr. Poncho did not) which come in handy when the pavement gets wet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mad Mom Land

On Saturday, May 19, 2007, while on a bike ride I came upon this basketball fest (for youngsters and teens) taking place on the parking lot of the La Crosse YMCA. While stopping to take a few pics for the local history record I was annoyed to hear a mother on the sidelines screaming her head off at her son who looked to be about 10-years-old. Shouts of "Jason (name changed to protect the innocent), get your act together!!!" and "Jason, guard the ball, what are you doing?!!!" filled the air. Needless to say, Jason did not look like he was enjoying the attention from his mother. Gee, Mom, lighten up and let your kid have some fun. After all, this was practice basketball, not the NBA Finals.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bike to Work Week

The week of May 14, 2007, was "Bike to Work Week" in La Crosse but I think it was a bust as I did not see more bicyclists than normal (which is few) on city streets. A good example is this bike rack with three bikes at La Crosse's Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center . . . a large complex that employs thousands of people. Beyond the bike rack can be seen a small section of a huge parking lot for medical center employees and visitors. I would say the ratio of cars to bikes here is like 300 to 1 which is par for the course in car crazy America. For most adults in and around La Crosse, "Bike to Work Week" might as well been "Nude to Work Week" . . . something they would never-ever take part in.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Old-Fashioned Phone Booth

Snapped this photo the other day of my young great-nephew pretending to make a phone call from a pay phone booth in La Crosse's Myrick Park. With so many people now carrying and using personal cell phones I wonder how much longer old-fashioned phone booths like this one will remain in service? This glass booth with accordion doors is the last of its kind in the La Crosse area as far as I know. A real relic . . . the kind Superman used to use to change into his super hero outfit.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Boathouses such as this metal structure are quite common along the Mississippi River and its backwaters in La Crosse. Originally used to store small fishing boats, many of these boathouses are now used as floating cabins for get-aways during summer evenings and weekends.

Old Shoemaker's House

This old brick house at 830 S. Second St. is located on the edge of La Crosse's downtown area in what is mostly a commercial business area with very few houses. Just out of curiosity I checked a La Crosse city directory from 1907 to see who lived here 100 years ago and it listed a "Mary Leisgang, widow of John." Further research found that John Leisgang was a shoemaker who lived at this location as early as 1873. He died in the 1880s and Mary died on Jan. 16, 1914, at age 79.
Postnote: I was disappointed in the fall of 2007 to discover this house had recently been razed but at least I have a photo record of the place.