The Story of Two Coats


This single photo of the three of us on our way to the Milwaukee Sports Show has made my mind spin. Taken by a street photographer on a blustery early Spring day, my first thought was, “Oh, I made that camel corduroy coat for Billie.” My second was, “And that’s the mink coat Bill made for me!” So long ago…

Bill was the third generation to join Kroseberg Furs, once located in the LaSalle Hotel, near Marquette on 11th Street. He spent his early years living with his family in the hotel, where his Aunt Betty had her flower shop across the lobby from the fur store. He told me of his school days at nearby Jesu, where he learned that rulers hurt and to genuflect.


The photo, left to right: Aunt Betty, Bill’s Dad, William Sr. and Mom, sister Janet, Grandfather Herman, and Bill. Years passed. Herman’s afternoon card games at the brewery ended with his death, the business relocated to Jefferson Street across from the Pfister Hotel, and Bill’s family moved to a farm in the country, which Brookfield was at the time. After we married in 1960, Bill learned all he could in other jobs – construction, car dealerships and the fertilizer business – before deciding to join his parents in the fur business. His Dad, also Bill, was the consumate furrier, having trained in fine salons in New York before returning to the business in Milwaukee. His son, my Bill, preferred the nuts and bolts of the business, installing temperature controlled storage and learning all he could from the craftspeople who actually worked with the furs – the cutting and piecing of pelts, the differences in quality of genders and types of fur .

This bit of history brings me back to The Coat in the street photograph… An old customer, Ruby Winzenreid, brought her mink coat in to be stored for the summer and ended up trading it in for a new one. Still in fine condition, Bill took it apart, resized it, pieced it, sewed it, restyled it, made a leather belt for it – and surprised me with a beautiful mink coat that his daughter, Betsy, still wears on cold winter days.

There’s a remarkable thing about this – he’s the same man who by himself replaced the springs in his dump truck after Kroseberg Furs, then located in Em Grove, was sold.

Writing in my Big Chiefs

IMG_1160I grew up loving Big Chief tablets. I still buy them wherever I can find them with the old ones becoming scarce and even expensive. Relics of the past. The new ones, if you can find them, retain some of the old characteristics; the paper is similar in texture, but sadly, the covers are brighter and the image of the Chief has been updated. My best find was an old dime store going out of business, where I bought all they had – a stack with their original yellowed price tags on the back so the covers looked pristine.

Now that I’m blogging, I’m grateful to have the old Chiefs. The smooth newsprint pages with lines just right contain a myriad of ideas, ¬†incomplete sentences with words crossed out and replaced, memories. hopes and dreams – plus all the oddities that fill my head in a day.

If you’re interested,I’ve already written a post About Me in my blog, Chuckysueslastdance – so here I’ll just tell you some of my favorite things in no particular order:

Growing up in the ’50s with parents who loved me, being close to two sisters, a man I adored who gave me two sons and a daughter, 5 happy grandkids and a daughterinlaw I love, friendships I cherish, Labradors under my feet, a knotty pine cabin upnorth on a beautiful lake, fine next door neighbors here and up there, pretty ribbons, books and more books to ¬†read, coffee, wine and chocolate and now – happily growing older.

The thought of being able to put into words all the things I feel, believe and know, inspires me to do more than write in my Big Chiefs- which is the reason Chuckysue looks forward to creating posts she would feel honored to have you read…