Briggsville, a neat place to visit

Wisconsin is blessed with wonderful towns and villages. Some are so small you have to pay attention or you'll miss them. Many I have seen, however, are a nice, small size but are struggling to survive. As part of that struggle, the residents and others are working very hard to reincarnate their towns and show off their touch of class. Briggsville is one of those. I happened into it quite by accident, but I'm going back to be sure. Every time I stop at a town like this, I learn something --- one is that Wisconsin is truly God's country. That's uplifting.

November 6, 2009

Driving around one day, I ended up in Briggsville in southwest Marquette County, north of Portage in Columbia County. This was a neat place.


Briggsville is located in the Central Plains Geographic Province and is on the eastern side of Mason Lake, a lake which crosses to the west into Adams County.



It was a gorgeous day, and it seemed like the area enclosed by the yellow circle was where most of the action was in what I found to be a marvelous little town.


It was Sunday, May 24, 2009, people have the day off, and they're out with their families sunbathing and fishing.


This is Wisconsin living at its best, families out, walking around, sitting around, and in some cases fishing around. Those two young girls walking to the left both have fishing poles, so this must be a town-wide pastime.


The beauty of fishing on this day is that two guys can hash through all the great issues of their lives, in peace, and privacy.


Lots of fishing activity going on over here.


Adjacent to the fishing and dock area was a small grocery store, Joyce's Mason Station, with an American flag proudly displayed.

A former Marine, now a member of American Legion Post 329, Briggsville, stood out front, selling the traditional poppy flower to support various causes.

I chatted with him for a while --- wonderful man; thought I wrote down his name, but I guess I did not. Recall that I was in Briggsville on May 24, only one day away from Memorial Day 2009, which is why he was out there.

It's worth remembering that Memorial Day is a "Day of Remembrance" for those who have died in our nation's service. It is always on the last Monday of May. That is as opposed to Veterans Day, which is always on November 11 and is intended to honor and thank all our military people who served their country in all wars.

I am compelled to digress.

The first such Day of Remembrance now known as Memorial Day was proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and held on May 30, 1868 for the first time. People placed flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The northern states that fought for the Union recognized this day, while the southern states of the former Confederacy did not, until WWI. Some of these southern states still have a separate day to remember the fallen from the Confederacy. I think that is good. The Confederate soldiers fought with great valor, as did their Union opponents.

Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote what became one of the most popular poems of the era in 1915, "In Flanders Fields." In that poem he talked of the fields of poppies. It is short:

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

"We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.
"Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. "

A lady named Moina Belle Michael, a teacher, responded to Colonel McCrae's poem with her own:

"We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies."

She then had the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day, and sold them to friends and colleagues, using the money to benefit servicemen in need. The tradition grew and spread to Europe.

Ms. Michael wrote a book about the poppies, The Miracle Flower, the story of the Flanders Fields Memorial Poppy. It was first published in 1941.

An extract from Chapter VIII is available on the web. I commend it to you.

So good, that was a nice review and serves as a note of thanks to that Marine who stood at Joyce's Mason Station in Briggsville, Wisconsin on May 24, 2009 selling poppies. He represents what our country is all about --- ordinary people doing the extraordinary.


It was not a real hot day, but it was warm. After talking with this ex-Marine, my head started swiveling about and as always happens, my eyes dead-on found a marvelous little pub, Foxy's Sportsman's Bar.


At first glance, having spent much time in Europe with the Air Force, it looked like an English pub. Unfortunately, I had to drive back to Wausau or I would have gone in there to pound down a few --- what do they say, one's too many and ten's not enough? So with enormous discipline, I hopped in my car and started to head out of town --- Argh!


But first, I bumped into the Pheasant Inn and Motel.


They have everything here --- First, it is a motel. They serve breakfast on Friday and Saturday, lunch every day, and dinner on Wednesday, and Friday through Sunday. Had my wife been with me, I would have stayed to enjoy this terrific small community on such a marvelous Wisconsin day.


Of course, you've got to have a post office, and this one is a beauty --- Zip Code 53920.


The art posted on the front window of this post office says a great deal about the people of Briggsville --- they teach their children patriotism, and the meaning of service and sacrifice in war.

I left Briggsville feeling very good, but boy oh boy, I sure would have liked to stop in at Foxy's. Next time.


The landscape outside town just confirmed that I was in God's country. Thank you God.