To the editors:
In response to your "These Parts" article on Manitowoc, Wisconsin [May 22], and especially to its accompanying feature story on the social misfortunes and artistic suppression of John Shimon and Julie Lindemann--
I'm from Manitowoc. I know it well. And I, along with every other "Manitowocean" with whom I shared your article must admit surprise and disappointment with your perspective. Through the eyes of John Shimon and Julie Lindemann, you really missed a big piece of the big picture.
What makes Manitowoc most unique is its heartfelt pride, its strong sense of community and its very positive attitude. The people of Manitowoc don't focus on how decay appeals to their aesthetic sense. They celebrate their new police and fire station, and their fabulously revitalized lakefront and marina. They celebrate every inch of progress they make in refurbishing and upgrading their Lincoln Park Zoo. They celebrate the local high school teams' victories, and they celebrate the civic accomplishments and commitments that allow Manitowoc to boast one of the best school systems in the nation which, by the way, does not practice prayer.
Perhaps it's "Schmindemann's" lack of these qualities combined with what seems a tragically hipper-than-thou sense of self that may be keeping them from enjoying real life in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Remember, what goes around comes around.
And as a summer destination, Manitowoc has a lot to come around for. Jeffrey Felshman covered a lot, but he failed to mention that during the summer, Manitowoc has "something" going on almost every single weekend. From competitive bicycle races to Jet Ski races, craft and art fairs, tractor pulls, music festivals and city picnics--there's a lot more to do in Manitowoc than pick through rummage sales.
Jeffrey also overlooked the safe, clean and beautiful Point Beach State Park, just north of Two Rivers. It offers an unparalleled opportunity to camp or spend the day enjoying the wild, rustic beaches and shoreline of Lake Michigan. And for those who like to reach beyond the shoreline, there's a thriving charter fishing and pleasure boat network offering full and half day experiences at bargain prices (compared to Chicago). If you're a land lover, there are plenty of excellent and easily accessed public tennis courts and golf courses.
Manitowoc worships its lakefront. For a lovely and moving experience, pull into any of the well kept wayside parks along the lakefront at about 5:30 AM and watch the sun rise over the lake. Chances are good you'll have miles of beach all to yourself with no risk of being robbed at knifepoint. It's a great way to start the day.
The art scene doesn't end with John, Julie and Dr. Rotter either. Renowned Wisconsin watercolor artist Ron Stokes's Gallery East is located directly across the street from Dr. Rotter's Museum of Sculpture. It houses a unique, affordable and changing collection of paintings and ceramics by a variety of Wisconsin artists. Nearby Mishicot's River's Edge Gallery is also well known for a great selection of great work--just check the Tribune's gallery guide, they're featured regularly.
Antiques are big too. There's a great antique bazaar right in the middle of downtown plus lots of auctions, estate sales and shops with names like Wheelock's Wheel 'N Deal. All offer treasures and curiosities with prices just a fraction of what you'd pay on West Belmont.
Fridays are famous for fish frys at hundreds of dinky corner taverns and restaurants, so get there early and start your weekend right. At last count, Manitowoc had the most number of bars per capita than anywhere else in the USA, and an eight-ounce tap beer really does average about 30 cents.
So as Jeffrey Felshman says, the low cost might be the engine, but it's definitely not the whole train. With an upbeat attitude, a sense of humor and a kind disposition, you can have a great time and a great life in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
Nan S. Hallock
PS: If you're reading this and wondering, "Hmmm . . . if she likes Manitowoc so much, why did she leave?" the answer is simple. I'm a greedy capitalist and I can make more money in Chicago.