Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 201

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 201

…”I can open it,” Constance reaches into her purse, acquires the proper tool-of-her-trade and it gives way easily…

From their home base in the Town of Eagle, Constance and Ace Bannion head off to meet their tour guide from Milwaukee, a lower level Armour executive that has access to Danforth through his ongoing financial dealings with Patrick Anderson Valentine II. The younger Valentine has no tangible need for the once vibrant P.D. Armour Estate. The upkeep is killing him.

The previously immaculately kept grounds are now overgrown and undistinguished. The 75+ room mansion has been stripped of its appointments by Armour and Valentine relatives who did not share in the ten million dollar will/estate of either family bequeathing.

But as cavernously empty the building is, there seems to be something or someone lingering about. No, it is not that bitter coldness that Pentateuch has need of, or his lingering smell of burning hair & flesh, but there is definitely some sort of “presence”.

“Has anyone ever told you, or have you heard, that this place is haunted,” her investigative skills kicking in, Constance steps lightly through room after room, until on the third floor. She nears a particular room. That isDark locked, “Here, in here!”

“I have no idea what is in there, but the door is locked,” the guide explains. “I believe this was Mrs. Valentine’s sewing room.”

“It’s only a skeleton (key), I can open it,” she reaches into her purse, acquires the proper tool-of-her-trade and it gives way easily. The unused and un-oiled door opens slowly, revealing a room that has not been touched in decades. Cobwebs drape from wall to ceiling and ceiling to furnishings. There is a cradle in the corner, which appears to be rocking back and forth, empty and dusty.

The rooms natural light is short and outside noises are squelched by heavy drapery, yet there is single shaft of light, seemingly without origin, streaming onto a large book….

question mark

“What’s in the book?”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Stay tuned-001

Forever Mastadon


page 169

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 200

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 200

… I would have been foolish not to take advantage of the name branding of my family…

The newest visitors to SE Wisconsin have allotted one full day of getting familiar with the lay of the land (and lakes) and several varied combinations of Polly Pabst meals and country wisdom. Over liters and quarts of caffeine fortified coffee, they get answers to their most prominent questions…

“The name “Pabst” is everywhere around here, are you…” Connie begins to place people to places and places to history.

“Yep. I used to run away from it, unlike my brother Davey, who loves the family business and racing cars. But when I opened this diner, I would have been foolish not to take advantage of the name branding.

“I saw the Pabst Blue Ribbon neon sign in the window.” Ace has been known to sample adult malted beverages on occasion, so Pabst Beer has passed by his lips before.

“I don’t live out at the mansion. I have a small house nearby.”

“We took a long drive,” he uses hand signals, “counterclockwise around Oconomowoc Lake and Pabst Farms is the first thing you run into. You know, I didn’t know that cows made beer.”

“What else do you do with 1200 acres, Ace? Hops do not grow well above the 40th parallel, but corn and dairy cattle do nicely.

“There isn’t a better area in the country, it has it all; fresh water, oak forests, fertile soil, friendly people and all this only 30 miles from a major city like Milwaukee.”

“God certainly outdid Himself here, that is for sure,” adds Constance from her two day perspective. “I don’t know if we mentioned it, but we are going to get a tour of Danforth Lodge tomorrow. I hear that it is magnificent.”

Polly has perspective of her own, having grown up in a moneyed family, with a long storied legacy, “That is a good example of what happens when the patriarch senior, then junior get older and all that ostentatious construction makes less and less sense; the kids sell off and divide up the riches, without mom or dad to make a fuss. After Valentine took over Danforth, the luster of the Roaring Twenties and the money island that brought them through the Depression had faded into the past. Property like that just doesn’t make sense any more.”

“You are a bright woman, Polly, I’m impressed. What keeps you tucked away in Eagle?”

“I am tucked, but productive. You may not realize it, but we cater far more food, to wedding and banquets, than we serve out here. There are twenty people in the back getting ready for a party this weekend.”

“This building must be bigger than it looks!”

“It used to be a textile factory, an example of the shrinking manufacturing base in the United States.”

She may be tucked away, but an entrepreneurial treasure nonetheless.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 168

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 199

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 199

…”Ajax Caraway, that definitely has a ring to it,” therein lays the root of Constance still being single…

“What is the Saturday Special?”

“Hasenpfeffer stew,” counters Polly Pabst.

“What kind of stew is that?”

“German for good, let’s go dear, it’s…I’ll explain it in the car…we’ll be seeing you again Polly.” Ace predicts that they will be back. “Did you ever have a pet rabbit?”

“No, we had a parakeet.”

“Then order the meat loaf, if they have it”Luft's-001

Not far down the road, tucked into a lightly forested foothill, they locate Luft’s Route 67 Inn. It is a “motel” by every definition: 10 or so rooms on ground level, each with their own door.

The kindly innkeeper takes their money and passes a register Ace’s way. Mr. and Mrs. Caraway are now official, if not unofficially married guests in Eagle, in the short time before heading into Cooney (Oconomowoc’s  odd nickname).

“Ajax Caraway, that definitely has a ring to it,” therein lays the root of Constance still being single. If she could figure out a way to keep her surname, maybe she could bridge that commitment disconnect.

Once you wing your way north out of Eagle, the terrain flattens out, carved smooth by ice age glaciers. The forests thin out, exposing acres of corn fields and large fenced in pastures that nourish hundreds of Holsteins, the four-legged machines whose milk help make this America’s Dairyland.

pabst-farms-signIf your destination is Oconomowoc Lake, you never do make it to the city proper, having to veer off of Hwy. 67 to less obvious road choices. Bodies of water dictate where roads go and if you come upon a fork in that road, you are given the opportunity to make a wrong turn.

To the right, you will pass away from the lake and the fields of Pabst Farms, 1500 acres of working agriculture that acts as a buffer zone; the Pabst family and Al Capone’s lawyer are tucked away on sprawling acreage.

Hang a left and you will soon see the waters of one of the cleanest fresh water lakes in the state. Sure, the winter’s ice is still floating off shore, but the Caraways can understand why this hidden gem is the destination for meat packers, brewery owners and gangsters; Armour, Miller, Uihlein and Capone; mansion after mansion line the hills along Beach Road, which runs along the western shore.

Right before you round the corner again, just as Ace’s friend’s directions say, P.A. Valentine’s Danforth Lodge sits high above, the royal landlord to the rest of the lake’s residences.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Oconomowoc Lake Club

Forever Mastadon


page 167

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 197

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 197

…they traverse the un-glaciated sliver of land named the Kettle Moraine State Park; bluffs, hogbacks, escarpments and kettles…

ROAD TRIP-001Thanks to a State Farm Travel Atlas and Ace’s keen sense of direction, they do not get lost on the twisting 130 mile trail through the Dairy State. Once they pick up Highway 67 outside of Lake Geneva, all signs count down the mileage remaining until you reach the city with the 5 letter Oconomowoc-001‘O’s in it. The road sign reads:

There are only 3 towns of note on this two-lane highway, an indication that there isn’t much else along the way. “You don’t go to Yellowstone Park to see skyscrapers,” the driver makes an analogy.

But not before they traverse the un-glaciated sliver of land named the Kettle Moraine State Park; bluffs, hogbacks, escarpments and kettles give it an out-of-place feel. “Are we still in the U.S.?” asks the passenger, even though she is the wiser.

Pabst Diner-001“Can we stop for a cup of coffee?” At 108 miles out of they have reached the inconspicuous berg named Eagle, 500 some odd folks who thrive on people traveling by automobile, hence the two filling stations, a general store and the Blue Ribbon Diner.

“I bet you that restaurant has coffee and a good home Pabst Diner Menu-001cooked meal,” Ace guesses. “Liver and onions, that’s what I’m hoping is on the menu.”

“Eeeuuwww!” Connie holds her nose. “I’ll settle for meatloaf and mashed potatoes.”

They stroll through the wooden screen door and discover a place frozen in time, like it hadn’t changed, even the stools at the lunch counter, since the 1920’s.

Wouldn’t you know, both of their menu wishes are not a part of the handwritten chalkboard list that includes homemade: chicken soup, pot roast, clam chowder and today’s special, the Friday Fish Fry.

“Liver and onion Special is on Sunday,” the cook (with long ears) reports from the back.

The would-be diners look at each other and say jointly, “We’ll have the fish fry.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Kettle_Moraine

Forever Mastadon


page 166

How Beer Changed the World – WIF Fun Historical Facts

Leave a comment

How Did Beer

Change the World?

Beer Video Below

Hybrid cars, computers, those terrible smartphone games everyone’s hooked on: humanity has come a long way since our cave-dwelling, hunting-and-gathering, Quasimodo-looking forefathers. But why? What drove all of these fantastic exhibitions of human achievement?

But first please indulge me.

I have featured beer in other articles over the years:

This would suggest that I am a consumer of said product. To support my claim of partaking in this addictive amber alcohol bubbly beverage, I spent the first 40 years of my life in Wisconsin. That should be ample proof in itself.

Whether it is because of the brutal winters or the proximity to hops & Barley or the immigration of German brew masters to Milwaukee, WI is a beer hotbed.

True Confessions

If I could reach back into time and speak sound advice to a younger meI would recommend abstaining from acquiring a taste for it.

But the ability to change the past is currently unknown or unavailable to us here in 2017 and the horses are already out of the barn.

The key to drinking is not to get drunk. Moderation is a highly underrated state-of-mind.

  1. Sip – don’t Guzzle
  2. Savor the Flavor
  3. Consider the Consequences

This did not start out to be an advice column. Please feel free to chime in & direct your comments to Gwendolyn Hoff c/o Writing Is Fun-damental (the blog you are reading). Perhaps I have missed my calling.

Or perhaps I have changed the course of someone’s life somewhere out there. “Dear younger you.”

–  Gwenny


How Beer Changed the World –

WIF Fun Historical Facts

Hiking Wisconsin – WIF Travel

Leave a comment

 5 Hikes

to Make

In Wisconsin

The truth is, we have a hard time imagining that you’d only ever hike five of Wisconsin’s gorgeous trails. The unparalleled beauty of Wisconsin deserved to be explored on foot, so lace up your hiking boots, and start with these five trails. We have a feeling that once you hike these, you’ll be hooked…and will be game for even more!

The creator of Writing Is Fun-damental is from Oconomowoc… no hiking trails but lakes, lakes and more lakes.

5. Trails at Rib Mountain

Hiking in Wisconsin

– WIF Travel


THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 180

Leave a comment

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 180

…Scott Walker mentioned that his daughter is looking for a way out of “Toilet Paper Politics” in Wisconsin…

Candidate Crippen has already set the wheeloffortune in motion, having Image result for wheel of fortune gifcontacted her Chief of Staff, “Would you call your boss and tell her to meet me in Milwaukee, at the Pfister Hilton, Mason Street Grill tomorrow night at 7P? Tell her that it has to do with the White House.”

“If you didn’t know, the Hilton is a casino… and how do you know anything about where we’re staying in Milwaukee?” Even though she can’t know everything her husband does, doesn’t mean she wouldn’t like to know.

“I met her father there a month ago, he being some sort of expert on work-fare and it’s funny, but he mentioned that his daughter  is looking for a way out of “Toilet Paper Politics” in that state. I don’t know why I didn’t press him on the subject, but he did mention she goes deer hunting in late November, bragged about teaching her how to be a sportsman.”

Speaking of the devil, his phone ringtone blares Sputnik-bleeps, “Roy Crippen,” Thity Point Buckhe chimes in.

“Charlotte Walker, Roy, my dad told me he met you a while back, congratulations on your nomination. I would have been in Chicago, but I had an appointment with a 30 point buck… that’s an exaggeration AND a song up here.”

“Can you meet us in Milwaukee? I promise to make it worthwhile.”

Wisconsin License Plate Art by DeAnna Roose

“I got the message, I love the Mason Grill. I will see you there.”

The impromptu call ends and so may that nagging 130 {or so} pound Veep-issue headache.

“Now that you have this notion in that one-way brain of yours, I cannot argue with you on the issue of compatible VP choices. But I’m not sure the party faithful will agree.”

“Well it can’t be another Texan and it can’t be another space guy, so why not a rifle-toting, rock’em-sock’em reformer from America’s Dairyland.”


THE RETURN TRIP

America’s Dairyland

Episode 180


page 216

Contents TRT