Maureen Connors Badding arrived in Wauwatosa 22 years ago via Buffalo and Phoenix. She's a freelance writer and habitual volunteer who enjoys book clubs, travel, entertaining and cheering for her daughter's swim team.
It’s only natural to love Tosa for the beautiful homes, good schools, and great restaurants and shops, but ya gotta love its more offbeat amenities too. Here are a few that come to mind:
1. Ted’s. It’s a slice of 1950s small-town America. The waitresses really make an effort to get to know your name and usual high-cholesterol order. But the oddball appeal of Ted’s is the unapologetic eavesdropping and free-for-all conversations at the horseshoe-shaped counters.
2. The Wauwatosa Cemetery. Not only is it a great place for a quiet walk, but it’s a veritable who’s-who of early Tosa history.
3. The Goose House. At Hillcrest and 74th Street, good neighbor Carolyn delights young and old with her displays of jauntily dressed cement geese. Best times to check them out: St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and Halloween.
4. Cart Surfing at Metcalfe’s Sentry. I don’t know if this happens a lot or if I just happen to be in the right place at the right time. In the past few years I have seen at least four middle-aged men riding on the back of their grocery carts through the parking lot to their cars. Their inner 10-year-old boy comes out, making them (and me) grin from ear to ear.
5. Brushes with Nature. I think of East Tosa as being pretty urban, so I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see a deer, fox, opossum or hawk. The ubiquitous raccoons are a little less pleasant.
6. Teenagers on the March. I’ve always loved how the Tosa East Marching Band uses our neighborhood streets to practice their parade routine, but a few years ago I found out about an equally charming march: the Grand March before Junior Prom. You know how your teen is dressed for prom, so admit it -- you go to see what everyone else is wearing, right? It’s sanctioned voyeurism at its finest.
7. The World’s Largest Block Party. If you’ve lived in Tosa more than five years, I defy you to stand in the middle of State Street for an hour during Tosafest and not see at least 20 people you know.
8. Hair Art. The Kneeland-Walker Mansion is an absolute gem, with its period furnishings and wallpaper, but they have an unusual piece of artwork in an upstairs bedroom that’s made entirely of human hair (the artwork, not the bedroom). Check it out when the house is open for tours during the Firefly Art Fair, August 7 & 8. (And drop off a donation for their new roof while you’re there!)
Gone but not forgotten:
• Drews, The quirkiest store in the world, Drews was Mary Poppins’ handbag on a much larger scale. I miss it every time we need supplies for school, home office, arts and crafts and sewing projects.
• Leroy the Iguana. In the Riverwest Building on State Street, just before the bridge and across the square from what’s now Café Hollander, was a window dedicated to a very large iguana.
What quirky things do you love about your part of Tosa?