Bubbler Talk

Aisha Turner

This week’s Bubbler Talk is rooted deep in Wisconsin history... in the story of escaped slave Joshua Glover. Glover fled Missouri for Wisconsin in 1852 and was imprisoned in Milwaukee under the Fugitive Slave Law.

You can see parts of his story driving on Fond du Lac towards Milwaukee’s downtown. A large mural spans the walls of the I-43 underpass. It depicts abolitionists storming the jail, helping Glover escape to freedom in Canada.

Tom Farence

From roughly 1944 until 1954, steam locomotive Number 265 carried load upon load of freight and later folks for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St.Paul & Pacific Railroad. 

However, the locomotive's career bumped up against progress when steam engines were out and diesel was in.

In 1956, the retired locomotive jumped the tracks and the City of Milwaukee replanted it off East Conway Street. And, that's when Number 265 became known as Old Smoky.

David Banks/Getty Images

Certainly, Wisconsin and Illinois have storied rivalries in the sports arena: the Green Bay Packers vs. the Chicago Bears, the Brewers and the Cubs, the Bucks and the Bulls. But a few of our listeners have been wondering if that competitive spirit runs deeper than the action on the field.

One such listener, Jason Gessner, reached out to Bubbler Talk and asked, “Have Wisconsin and Illinois always had contentious relationship or is that a more modern development?”

Courtesy of Paul Walter

It’s listener suggestions that inspire the features that make up our weekly Bubbler Talk segment. But Bubbler Talk itself was the inspiration for a student project that played out earlier this year in the community of Slinger.

Aisha Turner

Imagine you're driving into downtown Milwaukee over the Hoan Bridge. Lake Michigan glistens to the east, the city's skyline rises before you, and then WHAM! A smell infiltrates your car and overwhelms your senses.

If you've experienced it, you know what we are referring to. If you haven't, some people describe the smell like this:

Bubbler Talk question asker Terry wanted us to follow that scent: "What's that rotten egg smell, driving over the Hoan Bridge?"

Milwaukee County Historical Society

The Love Rock holds a special place in many Milwaukeeans' hearts. And for those who have never heard of it, it is a pretty strange story.

“It was one of those Milwaukee curiosities in the '70s and early '80s," explains historian Mark Goff.

For starters, the Love Rock wasn’t really a rock. It was a large, rectangular block of concrete out about a half mile from Lake Michigan's shoreline.  The concrete covered and protected a water works intake pipe. You could get a good view of it from Bradford Beach and from the former Milwaukee Gun Club, which is now a soccer field.

andreykr, fotolia

Bubbler Talk receives a lot of submissions asking about the way Milwaukeeans talk: What’s with Milwaukee saying ‘yet’ in place of ‘still’?, Why do people here say ‘New BER-lin,’ instead of ‘New Ber-LIN,’ like the city in Germany?, What’s with the local saying ‘a horse apiece’?

Michelle Maternowski

Is there some question about Milwaukee that you’ve always wanted the answer to? For Kennan Ferguson, the answer is a resounding yes. That’s why he wrote to Bubbler Talk to ask: “Why are there so many duplexes in Milwaukee?”

It’s a question I couldn’t answer so, I set out to find someone who could. After sending about 10 e-mails, I got a speedy response from Arijit Sen.

milwaukeenotebook.com

What happened to the bathhouses that used to be along the Milwaukee River?

That’s the question listener Laura Hatrich submitted to WUWM’s Bubbler Talk. “I see some structural footprints, but wonder how and why they were removed,” she wonders.

USFWS/Ann Froschauer / Flickr

It was a Sunday night in late May when WUWM listener Josephine Gomez first saw it. 

"I just see something whiz past my head in the living room and I couldn’t fathom this was a bat. I thought it was a bird who got in. You know, I really don’t leave the doors open, so I didn’t really know how it got in. And then I noticed it just starting to fly back and forth and of course I, you know, freaked out," she says. 

It was an ordeal that would end a couple days later, with the bat fleeing her home. 

OZAUKEE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY/THE KUBALA WASHATKO ARCHITECTS

Wisconsin has a nickname. You've seen it on license plates: America's Dairyland. And in Milwaukee, you may have heard this moniker: Cream City.

It intrigues Bubbler Talk listener Anne Bromfield, who asked: "Why was Milwaukee once referred to as Cream City?" The answer might surprise you. It has nothing to do with the dairy industry.

Maayan Silver

Pink Squirrel, Grasshopper, Brandy Alexander, Banshee... Is there something uniquely Milwaukee about ice cream cocktails? 

That's the question Elina Kats of Glendale sent in to WUWM's Bubbler Talk. Elina says she always has been kind of fascinated by the drinks.

So to learn more, we headed into a time warp of sorts. Or, really, we just walked into a Bay View bar.

Mitch Teich

A lot has changed at the Wisconsin State Fair since the 1920s, especially in the categories of foods on sticks, foods that are fried, and foods that are fried and placed on sticks.

Ben Husmann, flickr

Bubbler Talk is supposed to be on its summer break, as we gather more questions and look for more answers to what you’ve always wanted to know about this place we call home. But not long before the hiatus, a question came in that it would be a shame to wait until fall to answer. "Hi, my name is Sarah Richoux, from San Francisco. My question is: Why is frozen custard such a big deal in Milwaukee?"

Bobby Tanzilo

WUWM's Bubbler Talk receives a lot questions from a lot of people about Milwaukee's streets. So, to end this season of Bubbler Talk, we found two 'road' scholars - historian Carl Baehr and OnMilwaukee's Bobby Tanzilo - to answer your questions in a lightning round.

Here we go:

Before jumping into the remnants, here's a bit of history on Milwaukee's Bridge War of 1845 - from John Gurda's book, The Making of Milwaukee:

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