Old Madison preserved in popular Facebook pages

Olsen & Verhusen, “Snowball,” Ragatz Shoes, “Hungry, Hungry,” Rusty’s on University Avenue, Big Sky Drive In, Hoffman House, Peppermint Park, Shuffle Inn, East Side Businessmen’s Festival, Rennebohm’s drug stores, Clyde Coffee. If any of those ring a bell with you, you probably grew up in Madison.

With nearly 7,000 members, “If you grew up in Madison you remember …” is one of several Facebook groups that reminisce about such things as the day Elvis broke up a fight in a service station at the corner of East Wash and Stoughton Road. Even if you didn’t grow up in Madison, you should know that story.

Similar Facebook groups are “Historic Madison, WI Photo Group” (2,237 members), “Lost Madison (Wisconsin)” (more than 10,000 members), and “You’re probably from Madison if you remember …” (1,998 members).

Posts tend to range from nostalgic to irreverent:

  • Who remembers the weather light on John Nolan Dr? When flashing red, warmer weather’s ahead. Flashing blue, cooler weather’s due. When flashing green, no change foreseen. When the colors are a steady glow, it’s gonna rain or snow. And yes, I’m a nerd.
  • Can’t remember where I left my keys today, but the jingle for Empire Gas still runs through my head. “ALPINE 5-4-5-3-6, This, year, and every year, fire with Empire.”
    What does that even mean? And is Empire still in Madison?
  • My friend and I saw Bob Kasten [U.S. senator who had received a DUI citation] drinking a pitcher of beer at the Union, and when we walked by his table she yelled, “Drive carefully, Bob!” He didn’t know whether to sh** or wind his watch.
  • Pinball. Every bar, restaurant, gas station, etc. in town. Hearing that loud “POP” that signified a free game, or that you had rolled over the analog counter to all zeroes again. By the time The Who made “Tommy,” pinball was already a major “thang” It was every bit as huge as video games are now, plus you could always put a little “body English” on the pinball machine as long as you didn’t make it “TILT.” Oooooooh, bummer!
  • [Radio Jingle] “Shopping’s easy at Westgate, Convenient at Westgate,
    Shop Westgate for all your family needs.
    Thirty stores, new and bright, Plenty of parking day and night,
    It’s easy at Westgate, So easy to shop Westgate.”

Some Madison folks take their Facebook etiquette seriously, as this thread illustrates:

Andy: I love this site, and have learned a LOT from it. But, I find a couple of things really frustrating. Although I am not a moderator, I have come up with two guidelines that I think will make this site a lot more straightforward …

First, before you post, please do a search to see if your topic has already been discussed. You might find your answers there, and then there won’t be multiple posts on the same topic.

Second, please don’t hijack other people’s threads. For example, if someone is discussing, say, McDonald’s, don’t jump in there & start discussing Treasure Island.

Thanks for reading this. In my opinion, I believe if people follow these guidelines, this site will be even better!

Paul: That happens when ya get old.

Raymond: I understand what his topic point is but then too each time a topic is repeated new people add new perspectives to it. As for changing the subject. People treat this page like an open discussion and the topic or discussion made them think of something else so they mention it. At any time the next commenter can take it back to the original topic.

Colleen: Raymond! Facebook high five!!

George: Colleen, did you search to see if any Facebook high fives were already handed out in the last 30 days ?????

Colleen: George, I forgot!! Awww dangit!

Dan: WOW, I love it, U guys crack me up….. And not through a pipe…….

Steve: Okay, ok; There’s been enough fun had here. It’s time to get back on-topic. Anyone remember what that was? Anyone care?

George: If memory serves me it was the Eastside Businessmen’s Association fair

Eric: Does anyone remember the ESBMA fair?

Steve: Now Eric, this exactly what upsets some folks (the very topic of this thread). Not only off-topic, but something which has been discussed to the death already. Not to say that new input isn’t desirable, but at least it should be introduced as a ‘topic’ rather than brought up in a posting about something else.

So glad you’re here, and please do post something, but why not go to the Page and see what’s there for starters?

Eric: Does anyone remember Rennebohm’s?



Steve: Eric, oh Eric. Those topics are, right now, being discussed elsewhere. If you want to start a new discussion, please do so. The idea of a comment thread is to discuss THAT subject, not others. C’mon, you know that! You’re just messin’ with us, right?

Eric: Yeah Steve, I’m messin’ with ya. If I had a nickel for each time these subjects have been discussed, I’d be richer than the Koch brothers!

Jeff: Heaven forbid someone posts something that’s been discussed, WTF. How about East Towne Mall.

Barbara: I read Facebook like I watch TV news & used to read the paper=ignore or skim over the stories I’ve already heard/read. I’m not complaining @ all about my phone Facebook experience. (Like you, Colleen) I was just pointing out Facebook access/experiences are as varied as people!

We should observe a bit of tolerance.

Paul: That happens when ya get old.

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