Project Memories preserves first hand accounts of the past for future generations.
Project Memories is primarily the work of Stoughton Historical Society members and dedicated volunteers Kathy Thode and her husband George.
Kathy interviews local senior residents about their childhood, youth and teen years in or around Stoughton. These personal accounts provide invaluable insight into a history few books expound upon. Though admittedly biased by personal perspective, these narrations also express the individual feelings and temperament of the moment.
Documented with both pen & paper, and tape recorder, the story formats are blended together into a cohesive historical accounting as they are transcribed into a computer record. Before finalizing, the person originally interviewed has the opportunity to review, edit and augment their story. Once finalized, a copy is provided to the interviewee and two copies are kept in the Stoughton Museum’s permanent files.
Video interviews are also being added to the collection. These videos are shown periodically on Stoughton Channel 12 local cable network and are available for viewing at our museum.
Over the past several years there have been over 100 audio interviews plus a half dozen video conversations. A number of accounts have also been contributed by persons now living in other parts of the country who were once Stoughton residents
The long range plan is to compile a booklet, or book, to permanently preserve these accounts and make them available to the public at large.
Anyone interested contributing their notes or being interviewed can contact: George and Kathy Thode, 873-9851 or send your memories to: 300 Severson Lane, Stoughton, WI 53589.
E x c e r p t s:
"When I was in third grade, I and two neighbor boys walked by Bobby’s house at the corner of Hamilton and North Monroe Streets. He was out on the porch and saw that we weren’t going to include him in our plans, so he hollered “I got a pony! I don’t care if I play with you guys or not.” We were skeptical, so we challenged that. “Where is it?” we asked. “In the house,” he answered. “Well, bring it out. We want to see it,” we challenged. He was gone quite a while and when he came out he had no pony. “Where is it?” we asked. “It’s under the bed and it won’t come out!” he said. Well, we weren’t sure if it was or not." — Douglas Pfundheller
Rooms under sidewalks
151 E. Main Street - The bowling alley in the basement extended the room under the sidewalk. It had a cement floor. Wooden lockers were kept in there for the bowler’s use. (Earl Linnerud Jr.)
183 E. Main – When Wendt’s Photography was there, they used it for storage. It was nice and dry – heated from the store so snow removal was easy. It had cement walls, and an old door with a glass transom on the top.
"During the Harrison-Tyler administration, the years 1840-45, the land of the Northwest Territory was put for sale. Daniel Webster, who was then Secretary of State purchased a large portion of Southern Wisconsin; some say because he admired the great mill power it offered, but that is doubtful. Soon after he sold this land in sections.
In 1847 Mr. Luke Stoughton bought a part of the land from one of these purchases and platted the town of Stoughton. In 1850 he brought his family from Janesville, and built a frame
House." From the Early History of Stoughton, Ada McKnight
"One of the duties of the telephone operator was to activate the siren for all fires and at AM, noon and 6PM everyday. The purpose of the 7AM etc., was to make sure the siren was working properly….." Eeeda Lumly - One of the Hello Girls
"We always had chickens, just enough to give us eggs. When I was a kid, when I got a craving for chicken, I would chase one out in the road to get hit by a car and we’d have chicken for supper….." Iver Wersland
Stoughton’s Main Street of 50 years ago.….. By Dr. Victor Falk in 1932
"We had many independent grocers such as Leng’s, on the NE corner of Main & Water Streets, Howe’s, Hoel and Horn and others. There was only one chain store which was viewed with some degree of suspicion and the son of the owner was called Johnnie Red Front." (It was an A&P Store.)
"Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 changed our lives completely. All Japanese in California were under curfew in our own homes. We did not fight or object but just went along with it. We were called the “Quiet Americans”. We just obeyed. The Governor said the Japanese were against America. That was so untrue of us as we were all American citizens. Of course Mom got her citizenship after the war but we children were all born here. (The fear was that the Japanese people here would help them invade the West Coast.)………. Aiko Kawamura
"I remember what we, as children, did in our spare time. After supper the boys and girls would run to the south side school yard. There we would divide into groups and play “Run My Good Sheep Run,” “Scoot Ahead,” and “Star light, Star Bright.” There were other games, too. At nine o’clock we scattered for home. That was a time when we obeyed all the time. If we didn’t, there would be no play for us the next time….." Alice Christensen, Step-daughter of Per Lysne
We had lots of horses on our farm and when one died, my folks made a blanket out of the hide, but it wasn’t scratchy as mother put a soft cover over it. We’d snuggle under that in the drafty cars in winter. There are many good memories of the old days, but I’d never want to go back to the days of outdoor plumbing…..( Bits and Pieces Around A Kitchen Table)