Breaking, broken…Good, bad…Old, new…Global, national, local…Facts, figures, fantasies…Letters, notes, opinions…All the news fit / unfit to post, print, scatter… Norbert Blei – publisher & editor | Monsieur K. – managing editor

door county’s hidden past: people & places (the way it was/is)

Who Remembers…Smoked fish/chubs (smoked and sold) on the ferry dock at Gills Rock? the Brookside Tea Garden; Morris Larson’s Mobil Gas Station; the Choo Choo Restaurant; Cabin Craft—the first high-end gift ship?; Bill Beckstrom’s house, shop, herb garden; Doc Farmer; the Summertime Gift Shop; the first, last, short-lived Chinese Restaurant in Egg Harbor; the original `Rock’; the `original’ Whitefish Dunes/Bay; Sohns Market, Ephraim; Tony’s (first Italian restaurant, in the stone house on Hwy 42); the Barn; Beach Road Market; Happy Herman’s; Salty Joe’s; Pisha’s Restaurant; Don Hatch/furnace cleaning and repair; Gambles; Gibson’s; Sav-a-Buck; Prange’s; K-Mart; the Office; Walgreens; Steve Kastner’s Bike Shop & Health Foods, etc.; Winky’s Ski Hill; the Hotz boathouse and cabin, Europe Lake; FRESH EGGS FOR SALE/the sound of roosters crowing in the morning; Gordie Nelson’s dairy farm; Sedig’s Christmas wreath factory/barn, Ellison Bay; Gust Klenke; the Town Market (now William Caxton Books); Sid Telfer’s Orchard; Clayton’s Supper Club; the town dump; The Marco Polo Restaurant; snowmobile races at Newport; the Ellison Bay School House; Pa (Carl) Carlson (and brother John) Plumbing–& everything else that needs fixing at a fair price and an overwhelming neighborly-ness; the Door Reminder/Ellison Bay/John Kopitzke, ed.and pub.–“Let’s Chat”; the Bookmobile; dirt roads; Harvey `Sheriff’ Olson, fish broker; Al Johnson’s Restaurant–pre-goats (Eddie Valentine, Winky Larson, Bill Bastian, etc,; Bunda’s Department Store; blacksmiths: Ellison Bay/Sister Bay/Baileys Harbor; Chet Mann’s Bait Shop & rooms, Sister Bay; the old Door County Co-Op; Berns Lumberyard; Wes’ Barbershop/Irene’s Beauty Salon (across from Bunda’s); Emma Husby/the old Husby’s Bar (blue collar, local farmers; Bank of Sturgeon Bay (old building); Krist’s Red Owl; Henry Lang, fix-it-man; Howard Mann, fix-it-man; the bus/the bus stop(s); the Shell Gas Station, Sister Bay; the Indian statue/Murphy Park; Uncle Tom; Bahlert’s Store; the old Hotel Du Nord/Keyes Fletcher; Max Fletcher’s homemade helicopter; the old Lutheran Church/Sister Bay; Sister Bay Motors (& Wally Mickelson); Erickson Electric; migrant camps and pickers; Al Smith’s restaurant/Ephraim: Roen Orchards/Larson’s Orchards/Winky Larson; the Pink Landing; the Nor Dor Clinic/Doc Farmer; Wilke’s Furniture Store; the Anderson Hotel; Doc Sneeberger/Ephraim; Anchor Sam Subin; pottery by Kash Yamada; Doris White’s Gallery; Lhost’s Restaurant; Rudy’s Bakery; Andy Redmann’s Common House/Lake Cinema; Art Koser’s Gas Station/ Baileys Harbor; Chief Oshkosh; the Bible Camp; Paul’s Glass Bar; Emma Toft’s house/Toft’s Point; Narz’s art work/gallery in the schoolhouse, Fish Creek; Alibi Bar/Restaurant; Madeline Tourtelot/the Peninsula Art School; a three-party telephone line; plain old lighthouses (before they became tourist charms); whitefish livers; Dynamite Oldenburg and his Appaloosas; Millie Armato’s Red Geranium; the Knudson House, food & lodging/Ephraim; Kellstrom Realty, father & son; Smith’s Gazebo; the Tria Gallery; Glidden Lodge; the old A.C.Tap– Freddie Kodanko’s tractor parked out front…Some things return…remain. Remember. It’s autumn. Everything’s back in place again. –Norbert Blei


  1. Paula Hedeen

    Nice to take a beautiful walk down “I remember when.” The photo takes you peacefully there. Thanks for bringing the memories back to life with a smile for a short moment in time!

  2. Marty Robinson


    As an outlander who’s been coming up every Summer for almost four decades, I remember almost half of them. Thanks for the memories.


  3. Stephen Kastner

    Baldy and Gloria Bridenhagen, The Friedman Estate, Doug Butchart’s Scuba Dive Shop and driving range, Cooney Fish custodial resident of the Fish Creek dump. Hudson and Lennie, Norm Stenzel’s Garage, Dorothy Alwes’ anklets, The Schrieber brothers, The Hobby Horse Gift Shop, Vera Sauer the Ephraim librarian who defied the Village by painting her house gray, Lapp’s Bakery, Pudge Logerquist, Mike Lapp and Ernie Anderson, The Battershell’s from England, Lanny Nelson and the bullet holes in the ceiling of the Baileys Harbor Saloon, Big Red the awesome tall barkeep, Uncle Tom, The Parkway, Herbi Hardt, Cornils Riding Stables, Al Johnson’s Swedish waitresses including one who became a Playboy centerfold, Kris Christl’s Beauty Salon, Wally Ohnesorge, Roger Lent the milkman, the original Penn Pub, Chief OshKosh, the totem pole, the Twelve Apostles and one-way gravel roads throughout Peninsula State Park, Marge and Bibbs selling cans of Door County air at Wilsons, Whitefish Dunes beach when it was clothing optional, Bob Brandriff and his dogs, April Peterson in a Flying Scott, PO Peterson aboard his Vanguard sloop, the remains of a burned out mansion on Horseshoe Island, Madeline’s XKE Jaguars, weekly movies at the Ephraim Town Hall, Dean Anderson’s extraterrestrial friends, Eva Klingbeil’s gas and grocery in Juddville, Daffodil Bob Hastings, Big Ray’s Bayside Tap, Ruth and John Riza’s Sandwich Bar (my grandparents) across the road from Morris Larson’s Gas Station, Famous Peninsula Players: Basil Rathbone, Dennis Kennedy, Amy MacKenzie, Richard O”Donnell and costumer Bill Wedepohl (first person I ever knew to die of AIDS), the ice storage barn across the road from Anderson Store in Ephraim, artist Pam Berns, Statham Enamels… and a place in Fish Creek called The Omnibus.

  4. George Bisbee

    Ah, yes! I do miss Freddie’s tractor out in front of the A.C. Tap and at Greenwood. I miss his boom box and his dancing. I miss the talks we had at his place while he made his crates. Most of all I miss his stories.

  5. Ralph Murre

    With you about 99% on these, and could fill in a few gaps south of the Fish Creek – Baileys Harbor line . . . fun to remember the old places, the people . . . especially the ones who could fix, invent, cobble together, absolutely anything, from a cherry pie to a cherry picker to a wedding reception, from whatever bits of stuff were lying about. If it was easy, it would cost a six-pack, maybe. If it was hard, a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
    Of course, you weren’t expected to pay right away.

  6. Bobbie Krinsky

    nb, I love the old names, that you made this list — I have one for Milwaukee and I’d still sell my soul for the recipe for the fudge from the Womens Exchange. Oh — and today, who would name a shop, “the Womans Exchange”! [Or make fudge from scratch.] Question — that gorgeous photograph: please give the photographer credit! XX, BK

  7. steve fortney

    recently returned from vermont. on the 2,702.2 mile trip through the midwest the timing allowed several fall color experiences. the picture captures. gorgeous. all of it.


  8. steve fortney

    recently returned from vermont. on the 2,702.2 mile trip through the midwest the timing allowed several fall color experiences. the picture captures. gorgeous. all of it.

    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

  9. David Dix

    My 2 cents worth:

    When the roads through Peninsula Park were dirt, the outhouses wooden, the raccoons and porcupines rampant ; The Pioneer Store for vitttles when camping at site 4 (our favorite) at Newport; Uncle Tom’s Candy store and his museum of testimonials tacked to the walls; also when Cave Point was a place you had to know how to get to, also on dirt roads poorly marked by today’s standards – a daunting, secret and dangerous place where you tempted balance and gravity or die………….

  10. David Dix

    I should add –
    ….and the sudden emerging from the winding, wooded, snaky road fo find it IS land’s end, and the gaping maw of Death’s Door twixt you and the next terra affirmative…..

    Who can put a descriptor on that?

    And only the mere awakening of the ‘exquisite’ target site for gift shop after gift shop lining Rt 42, with the stark flat farms holding forth counterpointedly, originally, in the then and still yet untrammeled eastern lands?

  11. Robert M. Zoschke

    It IS autumn…but everything is NOT back in place again. And that much is certain, here at the typer as the last Northern Door County pier fisherman still casting who learned how to fish here when The Yacht Club at Sister Bay was still the discarded foundation of The Old Lumber Yard, the yard’s wooden piers into the harbor such a wonderful place for the native crawfish to live (the crawfish gone for good now thanks to the foreign invasive species decimating our harbors after being carried here by the ocean going freighters allowed on the Great Lakes)…the crawfish such a wonderful link in the ecosystem food chain that nourished not just the smallmouth bass but the perch and rock bass, the perch and rock bass that are damn near entirely gone now, thanks to the foreign invasive species. Yes it IS Autumn…but everything is NOT back in place again…after the worst spring brown trout fishing in over 35 years, the worst Autumn salmon fishing in over 35 years…despite a double-quantity fingerling plant at the Sister Bay Town Marina and the Ellison Bay Town Marina three years ago. And why has the spawning return of salmon to Sister Bay and Ellison Bay been so damn near non-existent? According to the one DNR official who would speak, off the record, to my lifelong fishing bud from Green Bay (who runs the fishing dept. at Fleet and Farm), the answer is…because the DNR has finally admitted to itself and certain others, though they will never say it publicly, that in addition to the foreign invasive zebra mussels and Gobie fish, the Cormorant birds (another foreign species not native to our area, inflicted upon us by the DNR when they thought we had an alewife problem a couple decades ago) are reaping devastation. The Feds won’t allow the DNR to shoot the adult birds, and the DNR dragged their feet for three years after getting approval to poison Cormorant eggs, and now the DNR admits the Cormorants pretty much eat up the majority of the fingerling plants at secondary plant sites (Sister Bay, Ellison Bay, Fish Creek, Baileys Harbor) where the planted quantities are not massive as they are in Gills Rock and Sturgeon Bay and Kewaunee (where, of course, the concentration of Tourist Dollar Impacted Trolling Boat Charter Fishing Industry representatives launch and troll with their tourist guests). The DNR now plants salmon fingerlings at the secondary sites UNDER THE ICE IN SPRING TIME in the admittedly weak hope that a majority of the fingerlings will survive/grow/leave the shallows while the ice is still on the water…after “conditioning” the fingerlings to accept the frigid water temps rather than the late summer temps. the fingerlings have naturally accepted for over 35 years… And. And and and and and. The DNR confirms…off the record, of course….that The Yachters Consortium has pressured every facet of municipal government and bureaucratic agency into NOT planting trout and salmon fingerlings at the secondary sites, because The Yachters Consortium doesn’t like pier fisherman on the public town docks thought of by The Yachters, of course, as THEIRS. The Yachters Consortium doesn’t like the autumn harbor waters full of spawning salmon and trout, while they pummel the public harbor waters with THEIR sewage bilge from THEIR Yachters Septic Tanks. The word has been passed by the DNR, off the record, to the last few pierfishermen…don’t ever expect the autumn fishing to get any better than how bad it is now…don’t ever expect the spawning autumn fish to be back in place like always before ever again…which is an eerie coincidence when searching the offered list of historical Door County places and not seeing one in particular…Mac’s Sport Shop, a stalwart for decades on Old Main Street in Sturge (and now a pizza parlor) and a stalwart in Sister Bay too (now a clothing/gift shop). Mac’s Sport Shop–the place where the old-timers who worked the assembly-plant and lumber yard and factory shifts went for their pier fishing gear, often before heading out to fish in the morning, after their morning equalizers at the local tavern, back in the day when those taverns (including ones on the offered list) opened in the morning for a reason…when there was a reason to make sure the fishing gear was in place for autumn…when the last few pier fishermen still casting were young boys, falling in love with Door County, where everything USED to be back in place again come autumn.

  12. Barbara Larsen

    And how about Rainbow Cottages, where each cottage came with a rowboat painted the same color as the cottage and Ernie Isaacson would always know when to come down to the shore and pull in the boats way before the weather reports said storm coming. (Cost: $75.00 per week incl. kitchen)
    Also taking the kids to Peninsula Park after dark to shine headlights on the raccoons raiding garbage cans and deer grazing in the meadows. Their favorite entertainment.

  13. Jerry Bitts

    I don’t remember any of that, but I would like to walk down that road and around the corner–not to see where the road goes but to see what other pictures are there.


  14. Lisa Olson

    Thanks for remembering Grandpa Harvey Olson but lets not forget Doc Farmer

  15. Laurie Olson Barz

    One of my fondest memories is of my Grandpa Harvey Olson sitting on a lawn chair on the end of the the pier in Ellison Bay watching my twin sister and I swim. I didn’t really swim, I just liked to dive into the water. Oh, that feeling of my skinny little body sliding through the cool waters of Lake Michigan and then up I would pop with a little squeal of ecstasy. No sooner would my head appear when I would be climbing up on one of the big rocks to do it all over again. I could spend hours and hours jumping in and out of the frigid waters. My sister (Lisa Olson) on the other hand never could figure out how to jump in head first. LOL Everytime she would take her diving stand, lean over and then plug her nose and jump in feet first.Grandpa must have been quite amused!

  16. Shannon Daubner

    Can’t forget Steve Daubner Sr. mailman with the woodgrain station wagon and the Lolipops for the kids. I miss fishing on and jumping off of Olsons’s dock, now it is some kind of gated community

  17. Jon L. Olson

    When you think of all the people, real people who populated Door County during an age unlike any other; it was an amazing time. Thank you for the memories, and I miss that time in my life.

  18. Liz Wedepohl Wilson

    I remember 99% of all those places. Brookside Tea Garden was ours…..My aunt and uncle had the AC Tap. I’m making memories with my grandchildren….might not be the same as mine but they love ‘Pebble Beach’ and when they get older there will be more. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

  19. Liz Wedepohl Wilson

    And to Steve Kastner… brother Bill Wedepohl was the first person I knew too that died of AIDS. Lapp’s bakery, I remember that! How about your parents, Ruth and Gene Kastner……I loved your mother!! She gave me goat milk one day, it was horrible! But I drank it!

  20. April Peterson Shurgar

    Steve Kastner, by coincidence I read your wonderful memory list, of which I have so much to add to. Now almost five years later I wonder if this will find you. How powerful is the mind of words to learn Norbert has gone , his words like leaves trailing behind and I am just discovering this conversation. Hope all is well in Door County which I remember so well, so sweet to be remembered. Thanks, April

  21. Mary Elyn Bahlert

    Yes, I remember so many of these, so very well. When I make it back, I do miss the Door County I knew years ago. I know the roads “like the back of my hand,” I like to say. My uncle was Fritz Bahlert of Bahlert’s Store; we stayed with the family, above the store, many times. The Bahlert’s are not well known or remembered, but that’s where Ginter and Martha (nee Johns, also from Sister Bay). raised their children. Most are buried there, in Little Sister Cemetery or at the Sister Bay Moravian Church, where my folks were married. As a kid, I loved Bunda’s Store. And I spent some evenings in Husby’s, playing bar dice with a cousin from Door County. I still go back every two or three years (I live in Northern CA), which I told myself I would, when I was young.

  22. Michelle Bastian

    Lots of fond memories here, from my Godfather Bill Bastian to my special “uncle” Bill Beckstrom to the names of old friends my dad (Robert *Murphy* Bastian) spoke of so fondly over the years. I cherish memories of many of these places from childhood and beyond. I am so happy to have been born in Door County. It will always be a magical place to me.

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