In the month of March, near Eagle, Wisconsin, a big black horse with a rider made wide strides to cross the road down from my van. This was the first time I had stopped a stranger to ask for a Spotting Wisconsin interview. Cyndi Merka eagerly met me at the nearby stable to talk about her beloved horse, Ziglar. A year earlier around the corner from the stable at Old World Wisconsin, I had recorded Nancy Osterhaus with her two Clydesdales, Lou and Hank. Do horses have personalities? What do they like and need? Get up close with three huge horses and their devoted humans.
In the spring of the year, rural Port Washington, Wisconsin, I waved up a long driveway to two silhouettes beside an old farmhouse. A wave back drew me up to hear about fixing trucks, farming and friendship and to contemplate waving to people.
In this episode, Bill Powell of the Bay View neighborhood in Milwaukee chats with me about waving to people. The interview that follows began with a wave to Alan Kultgen and Ron Holtslander, who are in their mid-twenties and best friends for ten years. Be one of the guys under the hood of Ron’s big truck for this conversation. Together, they purchased a 1976 Lincoln Continental to restore and take out cruising. (Click on the words in blue to see additional photographs.) Thanks to Conner Going for the Spotting Wisconsin theme music.
As I drove by a house in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, “a town with just the right speed,” I spotted a woman raking leaves in red, rubber boots. Recorded in the yard of Chris and Joy Krogstad, this interview takes us back to Joy’s childhood, through Chris’s challenge to get his degree, to the parenting of a son with a cognitive disability. With four children from seven to twenty-one, this family lives Joy’s favorite quote, “If you believe, you receive,” not only at Christmas but always.
I headed to a small town simply because the name, Ladysmith, Wisconsin, intrigued me. I ended up recording a glimpse of the guarded memories of a WWII vet who had been wounded in the jungle of New Guinea, one year to the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. When I sat down at ninety-four-year-old Clarence Stine’s kitchen table, I had no idea what this quiet man was about to share. Clarence’s wife, Irene, had always wanted the story to be recorded. (Listen between the sentences to what is not shared, to what it must have been like for the 21 year old.) I was led to the Stines by a chance meeting at a military veteran’s mural that had just been installed a few days before I happened to drive down that street in Ladysmith, Wisconsin. (Click the words in blue to see photographs of the mural by artist Kelly Meredith. Clarence Stine’s great, great niece Neveaha Wicke stands under the image of Clarence in his uniform.)
In starkly contrasting audio environments, two men at opposite sides of the state are spotted hauling ‘cargo.’ The out-of-the-ordinary visuals spark conversation to learn, “there’s ways” . . . to be friendlier to the earth. Meet Pastor Steve Minnema from La Cross, Wisconsin and Lindsay Dahl from Milwaukee. Minnema’s photograph is in the very first episode of Spotting Wisconsin. Scroll down to see that. Listen to this story below. Theme music by Conner Going.
When Bethany was eight, her parents moved to a Baraboo, Wisconsin area farm. The barn that held the future for the young family would too soon, tragically, fall silent. But, this September at dusk, lights sparkled and glowed in loops from the rafters in preparation for a long-awaited celebration. Meet Bethany Neuman and Matt Miller. Banjo music by Dan Rass of Wisconsin’s Fairland Bluegrass Band. Theme music by Conner Going.
SPOTTING WISCONSIN is a free podcast. In a few weeks, the first episode will be released. Join Nancy Camden on this journey to discover the human heart in the heartland through on-the-spot interviews with randomly spotted strangers. Camden bikes trails and wanders streets and roads of cities, small towns and the glaciated landscape of rural Wisconsin. Follow by subscribing in iTunes or by ‘liking’ and checking ‘get notifications’ (drop down menu under ‘like’) on the Spotting Wisconsin Facebook Page.