Kenosha, WI

A couple of weeks ago we visited my cousin Don who lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and his mom, my Auntie Pat.  I couldn’t remember visiting Kenosha as a kid, though we often drove from the Chicago suburbs to Wisconsin on one of my Dad’s “drive-abouts”.  Well during our visit this month, the history of Kenosha became apparent…it was a “car town”…having both the big AMC plant and also a plant that made Chrysler motors.  My Dad was into the picturesque escape, not the urban/manufacturing experience.

The plants are all closed and gone, scraped off the landscape totally.  Kenosha is reinventing itself in an interesting way and has become a very nice little city…one my Dad probably would have taken us to, back in the day.  I got sort of fascinated with the story.  My cousin Don lives in a condo on the AMC site, a beautiful site jutting out into Lake Michigan…now filled with parks and bike paths and marinas.

In 1902 Thomas Jeffrey made the second assembly line car, the Rambler (Oldsmobile was first, Ford was third)…a year before the first Ford.  The plant grew on it’s lake-side site with it’s best production years in the 1960’s with over 1 and one half million cars made and over 16,000 people employed.  It looked like this…with the plant on the top left out into the lake…

Kenosha post card


here’s the AMC site after the plant was demolished in the late 1980’s (Don and I found this photo on the wall at Tenuto’s—a terrific Italian Deli—not very clear due to reflections..but you get the idea…)

Kenosha scraped

today it looks like this…

Kenosha harbor

Kenosha park and lighthouse

The plant closed in December of 1988 and the land was cleared, replaced by bike trails, park, marina and condos…


Kenosha marina

Kenosha condos

One reason Don lives here is to be close to the marina, where his boat is moored…the sail boat Kokopelli…named for the trickster god who represents the spirit of music…(and also fertility, but I don’t know about that, Don.)

Don boat

Don himself is filled with the spirit of music, and a tiny bit of a trickster.  By day he owns and runs a company that designs and manufactures instruments that test the heat of metals, he’s a father and a grandfather, a gifted skier and snowboarder…

Don officeDon grandpa

and by night a musician…one half of a duo called Acoustic Soul.  I’d been wanting to see Acoustic Soul in action, and during our visit they played an open mike at TG’s…a session where Don and Rick were joined by Larry on the guitar and Marty on the Mandolin…too much fun!

Done music 1

music 4music 5Music 2

music 1a

But then there was family time too…

Kenosha table top

which included some family photos I’d never seen…my maternal grandmother Irene Leming on the left and her grandmother Susan Petty Young on the right, about 1913…

Nana & Gma

My Mom Martha June Stone, her grandmother Emma Young Leming, my grandmother Irene Leming Stone, and my Mom’s sister Edith Patricia  (the girls were called June and Pat)

photos 7 Mom, Gma, Nana Pat

and this fun shot of Pat and Nana…

Photo 4 nan and Pat

Pat married John Zurmuehlen…mischief maker and favorite of mine…

photos Pat and John

and after WWII they bought a house in Clarendon Hills…a small suburban classic…

photos Calerndon Hills house

and proceeded to raise the roof and make a new room…themselves…

photos Pat roof

Uncle John is gone, and now Pat runs an antique Store in Richmond, Illinois (Solid Brass if you’re out that way), but lives on the lovely Powers Lake…just over the line into Wisconsin.  We had several long visits…

photos Pat 2007

and took a long and wonderful boat ride around the lake…then watched the storm roll in…

PL pontoon boat

PL R reading

PL cloudsPL5PL 4

sirens starting going off and look what was happening back in Kenosha…

Kenosha water spot

but the weather cleared, we had a nice dinner at Twin Lakes, and headed back…

Twin Lakes sunset

One last breakfast, hug, goodbye…

Kenosha birds

We headed on to Chicago, eventually wending our way home….and happy to be here…

Rockin Roger's


  1. I absolutely adore your travel documentaries!!! And your sharing of your family & friends through old and new photos! I feel as if I had a little trip away from home myself. Well done! As always. Thanks.

  2. we had a swell time journeying with you over our breakfast white tea, bonnie. we too found the historical pics and story of kenosha to be interesting. some funnel clouds! lovely old photos you chose of your family also.

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