Bubbler Talk

What's got you scratching your head about the Milwaukee area? What have you always wanted know about Milwaukee and the region?

WUWM News reporters and Lake Effect producers have started investigating and answering your questions.

Participate in the process and submit your question below:

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Ways to Connect

USFWS/Ann Froschauer / Flickr

It was a Sunday night in late May when WUWM listener Josephine Gomez first saw it. 

"I just see something whiz past my head in the living room and I couldn’t fathom this was a bat. I thought it was a bird who got in. You know, I really don’t leave the doors open, so I didn’t really know how it got in. And then I noticed it just starting to fly back and forth and of course I, you know, freaked out," she says. 

It was an ordeal that would end a couple days later, with the bat fleeing her home. 

OZAUKEE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY/THE KUBALA WASHATKO ARCHITECTS

Wisconsin has a nickname. You've seen it on license plates: America's Dairyland. And in Milwaukee, you may have heard this moniker: Cream City.

It intrigues Bubbler Talk listener Anne Bromfield, who asked: "Why was Milwaukee once referred to as Cream City?" The answer might surprise you. It has nothing to do with the dairy industry.

Maayan Silver

Pink Squirrel, Grasshopper, Brandy Alexander, Banshee... Is there something uniquely Milwaukee about ice cream cocktails? 

That's the question Elina Kats of Glendale sent in to WUWM's Bubbler Talk. Elina says she always has been kind of fascinated by the drinks.

So to learn more, we headed into a time warp of sorts. Or, really, we just walked into a Bay View bar.

Mitch Teich

A lot has changed at the Wisconsin State Fair since the 1920s, especially in the categories of foods on sticks, foods that are fried, and foods that are fried and placed on sticks.

Ben Husmann, flickr

Bubbler Talk is supposed to be on its summer break, as we gather more questions and look for more answers to what you’ve always wanted to know about this place we call home. But not long before the hiatus, a question came in that it would be a shame to wait until fall to answer. "Hi, my name is Sarah Richoux, from San Francisco. My question is: Why is frozen custard such a big deal in Milwaukee?"

Bobby Tanzilo

WUWM's Bubbler Talk receives a lot questions from a lot of people about Milwaukee's streets. So, to end this season of Bubbler Talk, we found two 'road' scholars - historian Carl Baehr and OnMilwaukee's Bobby Tanzilo - to answer your questions in a lightning round.

Here we go:

Before jumping into the remnants, here's a bit of history on Milwaukee's Bridge War of 1845 - from John Gurda's book, The Making of Milwaukee:

Rachel Owens

Update:

After WUWM’s story about the flame atop the Wisconsin Gas Light building aired, Sue Riordan emailed Bubbler Talk to share how original version the flame poem actually ended.

(For those curious, the final stanza of the original poem was: “When the flame’s in agitation, expect precipitation” and was later changed to “When there’s a flickering flame, expect snow or rain.”)

Marge Pitrof

This week’s Bubbler Talk question comes from John Koeppen: What Milwaukee building was used as the military induction center for draftees and enlistees, during the Vietnam War?

"It’s completely different than what it was back in 1968," he says.

Maybe you can tell, John knows the answer- at least part of the answer. He's a Vietnam veteran. The Milwaukee building he’s talking about is in the now fashionable Third Ward - the white building across the street from the Milwaukee Public Market.

Rachel Morello

Why are so many schools in Milwaukee named after streets? That’s our Bubbler Talk question for the week, submitted by Sarah Neilsen. Seems like a pretty straightforward topic – but as it turns out, there’s quite a complicated history behind the answer.

“Naming of schools has always been a challenge in Milwaukee, and at times a controversial one,” says Steve Baruch, a retired MPS administrator.

Dan Mullen, flickr

Phil Lapayowker has noticed a distinct lack of what some people unkindly call ‘flying rats’ in Milwaukee.

"I was listening to a podcast and they were talking about animals in cities and stuff, and they ended with 'Do you know what color a pigeon’s eyes are?' and I was like, I have no idea!" he says. "So I’ll go look for one, or when I’m walking I’ll see one I’m sure. And I’ve never run into one in Milwaukee… I mean it’s kind of crazy. You go to other cities like Chicago and they’re everywhere."

Courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library

This week's Bubbler Talk inquiry takes us to Milwaukee's lakefront. It has just a few buildings, such as snack bars and a place to buy a kite. Yet there's an imposing structure on the north end of Lincoln Memorial Drive, which is a mystery to many.

California native Liam Callanan says the building has intrigued him since he moved here. "It kind of looks Spanish Californian, it's got the Spanish red tile roofs, kind of the beige stone exterior," he explains.

Michelle Maternowski

Sometimes we come across questions that confound us. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Do we truly have free will? And this week’s profound Bubbler Talk question: What’s up with ham and rolls in Milwaukee?

“I think it’s more of a Milwaukee southside tradition," Carl Canfora says.

He and his wife Rosalba own Canfora Bakery in Bay View.

Courtesy of Tetra Tech EM Inc.

Update:

A bankruptcy judge Tuesday approved the sale of the former Milwaukee Solvay Coke & Gas Company site to Wisconsin Gas LLC, a We Energies affiliate. It was the only bidder, offering $4 million for the 47-acre parcel.

We Energies is among several businesses that are responsible for the site's environmental cleanup. The utility used to operate a gas works there years ago.

Before previous owner Golden Marina filed for bankruptcy, it had hoped to create housing and a marina there.

Rachel Owens

Almost 20 years ago, Milwaukee was 'invaded' by three six-foot-tall ladybugs. They latched on to a downtown building and have been there ever since. 

For years, Nancy Leafblad of Brookfield has wondered about the enormous bugs, so she turned to Bubbler Talk to learn more.

Library of Congress / Wikimedia

The City of Milwaukee has dozens of neighborhoods. Each with its own distinct name. And if you’re like Glenda Puhek, you may have wondered how those names came to be.

Glenda was born in the city and currently lives in Riverwest - a neighborhood name she thoroughly understands. It is, after all, west of the river. When revisiting some of the Milwaukee neighborhood posters created by the city in '80s, she started wondering about who decided what should be included on them? Who really defines Milwaukee's neighborhoods?

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