Bubbler Talk

What’s got you scratching your head about Milwaukee and the region? Bubbler Talk is a series that puts your curiosity front and center.

How it works: You ask, we investigate, and together we unveil the answers.

Ask away: What have you always wanted to know about the Milwaukee area's people, places, or culture that you want WUWM to explore?

Participate in the process and submit your question below.

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Emily Files

Have you ever noticed a place name on your Google Maps or GPS, and thought, "I wonder what that is?"

That's what happened to South Milwaukee resident Mary Holtz, when she was driving near Bay View.  

"My husband and I were interested in something we spotted on our navigation screen called the Town of Lake," Holtz told WUWM’s Bubbler Talk. "We were curious about its history. Does it actually exist anywhere other than this digital navigation? What happened to it? Where'd it come from? Where'd it go?"

Courtesy of TJ Meyers-Jansky

Every summer on Father’s Day weekend, a huge festival used to take place in West Allis. It was called “West Allis Western Days.” It started in 1964 and saw its heyday in the '80s and '90s. Its signature event was an elaborate parade that included up to 500 horses and dozens of marching bands.

And then one day, it just ended.

Phil Reimer grew up going. He still wonders what happened to the festival, so he reached out to Bubbler Talk to find out.

Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Flickr

When you look at a map of Wisconsin, it’s covered in names that remind us of this country’s original inhabitants. Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Waukesha, Kinnickinnic — all words derived from Native American languages.

Another is Oconomowoc, about 30 miles west of Milwaukee. This week’s Bubbler Talk questioner, Jeff Dittel, moved there about two and a half years ago.

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.

seven-mile-road-wisconsin-racine-bubbler-talk-milwaukee
Lauren Sigfusson

There are three types of people in this world: Those who notice nothing. Those who notice but don’t care to question. And then there are those who ask why. David Wagner is the last one.

David reached out to Bubbler Talk — our series where you ask, we investigate, and together we unveil the answers — to learn about a road he often passes.

What is Seven Mile Road 7 miles from?

Audrey Nowakowski

Milwaukee is known for a lot of architectural gems — cream city brick, the Calatrava, Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes, and on a smaller scale, its bungalows. This style of house can be found all over the Milwaukee area and typically have one, or more, classic stained glass window incorporated into its design.

Katie Meissner

On Dec. 25, Santa Claus will have shimmied down many chimneys and left presents under the tree. But on Dec. 6, some families celebrate another holiday, a tease of sorts until that day comes: St Nick's Day!

Depending on where you are in the world, St. Nick has many names, but the story is the same. In the U.S., he's celebrated in places with German or Dutch influence — like right here in Milwaukee.

So, who's St. Nick and where did this holiday come from? Dawn Omernik-Nimmer reached out to Bubbler Talk to find out.

Image courtesy of Matt Zumbo

Editor's note: This piece was originally published on Feb. 16, 2018.  

Pikosso, Chicken a la Koss, Rebel with a Koss. If you’re familiar with the iconic billboard for Koss Corporation along I-43 in Milwaukee, you may have seen one of these ads — or even have a favorite design or catchphrase of your own.

Community member Michael Croatt wanted to know more, so he reached out to Bubbler Talk:

CJ Foeckler

Do you love going to concerts? Or seek out live albums from your favorite bands or artists?

If you're anything Zack Biernat, you really dig live shows.

"I love listening to live music and I love going to see shows. I found there's a lot of live albums available now on Spotify or YouTube, so I've been listening to a lot of my favorite bands, and I always enjoy that," he explains. 

But Zack also wants to know what live albums were recorded in Milwaukee. So, he reached out to Bubbler Talk:

Courtesy of Jim Mitchell

The 1960s and '70s were a time of great change in the United States. The counterculture was well underway.

Amidst all of this, Jon Cervantes was a 15-year-old kid living in West Allis, Wis. Going to record shops and checking out "comix" was what he did religiously. But these weren't your typical family-friendly comics. These comics addressed daring themes like sex, drugs, and the Vietnam War. Which was exactly what Jon and others like him wanted.

west-allis-wisconsin-water-tower
Lauren Sigfusson

Have you ever wondered about the stories behind the names of some buildings and streets and even cities you encounter?

A lot of you have written to Bubbler Talk asking about the origins of West Allis. Whether there was ever an east, north or south Allis. And why the city is called West Allis if there is, in fact, no Allis to be west of.

Susan Bence

Imagine you’re rushing to catch a flight at Milwaukee County's General Mitchell International Airport — maybe for business or a long-anticipated vacation. What's on your mind? If you’re Dan Schley, you’re wondering: What’s the story behind the floor mosaics?

"It caught my attention and I thought, 'I’m just going to ask this,' " the Bubbler Talk question asker says.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

How far would you go to get your favorite band to come play in your town? For Milwaukee radio personality Tim 'The Rock 'N' Roll Animal' it involved going out on a ledge.  

That ledge-endary sit sticks out in Mike Crowley's mind, so he wrote to Bubbler Talk to learn more about it:

"How long did WQFM DJ Tim 'The Rock 'N' Roll Animal' camp outside of the studio in order to entice The Who to play Milwaukee in 1982?"

Mike, the answer is: two weeks. Now let's tell the story.

Chuck Quirmbach

Cold War fallout shelters are still around the Milwaukee area. You can still find some if you look for the signs, but many have fallen out of use.

Whitefish Bay resident Tom Fehring reached out to Bubbler Talk to learn more about these shelters:

“There are at least three buildings in my neighborhood that host fallout shelters. Do these shelters have a functional purpose today?”

Is Milwaukee's Coffee Scene Unique?

Aug 23, 2019
Cassidy Schrader

If you take a look around Milwaukee and its surrounding communities, you may have noticed that coffee shops are kind of the new corner stores. From international chains like Starbucks to local roasters like Stone Creek, coffee seems to have taken over the city.

But this didn't happen overnight. In fact, Milwaukee's coffee scene has been growing for decades to become the powerhouse it is today. But how did this happen? And is Milwaukee's coffee scene unique compared to similar-sized cities?

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