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  • Dr. Tucker's House

    The house was vacant when we bought it in 1969. We were sad seeing it in the shape that it was in, so we decided to adopt it because it had lots of potential. It was a big shack of a place, around 5,200 square feet, consisting of five bedrooms, three fireplaces [one in the master bedroom], four bathrooms, den, dining room with pocket doors, pantry, kitchen and a living room that was 26’x48’. But, for a family with four growing youngsters it was just right. Of course, it needed some work but the price was right and the kids were really ecstatic at the idea of running up the front stairs and down the back.

    Where to start the renovations was the biggest challenge. Should we strip off the painted oak trim which included one of the fireplaces, repaint the living room which had pea green [remember when green was considered a “restful color?”], repair walls? Foolishly, we decided to try everything at once. Then, of course, we had to make the acquaintance of the tradesmen in town, especially the owners of the hardware, lumber and paint stores. That’s when we found out that we really didn’t own the house – Dr. Tucker did!

    From then on in, throughout the ten years that we owned the house, virtually every conversation we had with local tradesmen contained the opening shot - “so, you are fixing up Dr. Tucker’s house – what are you doing with it? I remember…..” And then they would tell various stories about him and his wife. It usually took around an hour to complete a transaction such as buying a pound of nails. Dr. Tucker had sold the house in 1934. He and his wife could not stand living in the house after their son drowned. The older wags would describe seeing the doctor speeding to the hospital in a futile attempt to save him, but to no avail. After a while it seemed that we knew the Tuckers as well as if they were friends. Then it happened.

    One day, around the third year of our tenure in the house, the doorbell rang and when I opened it a stooped lady with a cane smiled at me and said, “I hear that you are fixing up the place. I am Mrs. Tucker and would like to see what you are doing with it.” What a surprise that was, given the fact that we had thought that the couple was long deceased. We toured the house and I got lots of advice about what to do to make improvements, along with many editorial comments about what we had accomplished. When we got to the dining room she pointed to an etched glass window that was near the top of the fourteen foot ceiling. “There used to be a stained glass window there when we lived here. I replaced it when we sold it. I didn’t want ‘that woman’ to have the pleasure of it!” “That woman,” I found out, was the wife of the pharmacist and they were social rivals. We had tea and more conversation, which included lively stories of town when she was a young wife. The son was never mentioned though she did speed past one of the bedrooms without looking in. As she was leaving she told me that the window was in storage with their architect and offered to give it to us if he still had it. Of course I said yes, and we spent a week in eager anticipation of its arrival if, in fact, it was still available.

    It was finally delivered by a man who looked even older than Mrs. Tucker. He was wheezing so heavily from dragging the packing crate up the front stoop that I thought that he was going to have a heart attack. When he finally staggered off muttering about how glad he was to get rid of it we carefully unpacked our treasure. Was it Tiffany glass? Was it leaded? How many colors? Etc. When we finally took off the cloth covering we were greeted with a multicolored fish, looking like a carp, that was almost four feet long. It had large bulbous evil looking eyes that seemed to be accessing us as a possible appetizer. To eat with that thing staring at us would, indeed, be daunting to say the least. And, it was not a Tiffany.

    Well, we dropped Mrs. Tucker a note thanking her for the great gift. We never saw her again and we never installed the window. When we moved to Madison we sold it to a local antique dealer who had fallen in love with it – you can never account for taste.

    On occasion I reflect on the good times we had in Dr. Tuckers’ house. The house had everything that we wanted and it was a difficult decision to sell it. The new owners had a bunch of kids and were locals themselves. They told us that they were honored to own such a house and, so we are told, also made major improvements on it. I am sure that, even these many years later, it is still referred to as Dr. Tucker’s house.

    Panoramic Maps

    The panoramic map, frequently commissioned by either a Chamber of Commerce or real estate agency, was a popular cartographic form used to depict U.S. and Canadian cities and towns during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (1847 to 1929.) Known also as bird's-eye views, perspective maps, and aerial views, panoramic maps are non-photographic representations of cities portrayed as if viewed from above at an oblique angle. Although not generally drawn to scale, they show street patterns, individual buildings, and major landscape features in perspective. The creation of a map required a tremendous amount of detailed labor. The artist would walk each of the streets and sketch in buildings, trees and other significant features to present an accurate landscape. A view of the city would be created as if the artist was at 2,000 – 3,000 feet above.


    A Birds Eye View of the City of Ashland, Wisconsin (1886). Milwaukee WI: Norris, Wellege & Co. Library of Congress:
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