Tuesday, March 21, 2017

News from Tree Restoration Committee of Cooksville

The Tree Restoration Committee received a DNR Grant for Cooksville Urban Forestry and Commons. The grant will be matched with volunteer hours, in-kind services and fund-raising which will help fund or support these components:

  • Tree inventory
  • Professional Tree Management Plan
  • Arbor Day Celebration and Tree Planting
  • Community and Educational Outreach Programming

Future Dates:

Arbor Day Celebration - April 30, Sunday   2-4 pm   Refreshments to follow at the Cooksville Community Center after the proclamation and tree planting on the Commons.

The committee is having a tree inventory work date in late May if anyone is interested in learning how to identify trees, leaves and bark.

June 10 - Art Activity- Tree Art  for all ages on the Commons before and after the Jerry Apps lecture -   Community and Educational Outreach

Friday, March 17, 2017

More “Before and After” Rehabilitations in Historic Cooksville, by Larry Reed

A previous article here told the story of the restoration of historic buildings in the Village of Cooksville through “before and after” photos. These preservation projects re-capture the original historic architectural character of the village’s nineteenth-century buildings—homes, churches, barns, schoolhouse, even out-houses— and have been going on for many decades and continue to this day, helping to retain the significant character of this 175-year-old village.

Such projects are evidence of wise investments, smart re-uses and re-cycling, and the pride owners have in improving their village. And the owners can take very real pleasure and satisfaction in saving a part of Wisconsin’s and America’s heritage.

Here are more “before and after” pictures that help tell the story of preservation and its role in the appreciation and aesthetic enjoyment, as well as the economic benefits, of living in a historic community like Cooksville.
John Seaver House (c.1849) - BEFORE
John Seaver House - AFTER

Some of the village’s houses required major exterior rehabilitation to reveal the hidden original materials and historic architecture from the mid-nineteenth century, This sometimes meant the removal of modern metal or vinyl siding to once more expose original wooden clapboards and old exterior trim underneath, which allowed the symmetrical design elements of the early, simple Greek Revival and Gothic Revival styles to be appreciated. 
Smith House (c.1845-46) - BEFORE
Smith House - AFTER

On occasion, the restorations required only some repairs and minor replacements of missing details or trim work.  Sometimes more extensive work was required to restore original porches or major exterior stylistic features that had been covered over or removed in the past. Usually, early photographs or the discovery of physical evidence provided the needed documentation of original appearances.
Gunn House (c.1852) -  BEFORE
Gunn House, "Breckhurst"- AFTER

Many of the small historic houses required large modern additions, sensitively and carefully designed to provide bathrooms, closets, larger kitchens, etc., which would ensure continued modern use of the original structures. Whether the early houses were small one- or two-room residences or were somewhat larger Cooksville brick structures, they could all be made to easily accommodate modern needs.
Longbourne House (c.1854) - BEFORE
Longbourne House - AFTER

Sometimes the original use of buildings had to be changed to accommodate new uses. This different use served to give new life to the structure, preserving the historic building. Two examples are the village’s one-room schoolhouse that became a community center and an old dairy barn that is now a new, spacious home.
Erickson Barn (1914) - BEFORE
Erickson Barn - AFTER

Cooksville Schoolhouse (1886) - BEFORE
Cooksville Schoolhouse - AFTER

Even a few old village outhouses have been lovingly repaired and re-painted—and even re-used now and then, or converted a new use as a garden shed. Some young and not-so-young visitors have never seen (or used) an original “two-holer” in a backyard!

The Cook Outhouse (c.1900) - BEFORE
The Cook Outhouse - AFTER

As time goes by, these restored buildings will only become more valued as important historic Wisconsin structures—especially as some historic buildings are needlessly and foolishly demolished.

This year, Cooksville celebrates the 175th anniversary of its founding in 1842, and plans have been made to welcome friends and visitors to attend programs and events and tour the historic village.

For more information about the 175th Celebrations, see the schedule of events posted earlier in this Cooksville New Blog Spot.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Chris Beebe's Memories of Race Car Driving

A lot of interesting people have called Cooksville "home" over the years.  The following is an inside-the-body look at what it's like to drive a race car.  Chris lives, works on cars, draws and plays music just north of Cooksville on Leedle Mill Road along the Badfish.
The car that beat me at Road America (see end notes)
Many auto enthusiasts seem to know the power and traction required to propel a car up to 60 mph from a stop,  0-to 60 mph, requiring so many seconds.  My 1000 lb, 165 hp Lotus Super 7 has a spec of O-to-60 mph in just over 4 seconds, 0-to-80 in about 5.5.  That's up there with Corvettes.
 I wonder what you might think.  How short a period of time (in seconds) it takes a 'Can-Am' race car from a stopped position, launched up to 100 mph and then back to stopped (0-to-100-to-0)?  Realize that the brakes are terrific and the tires are wide and sticky for grip, besides the 850 horse power propelling the rig.  I'll leave the answer till later so you can mull it over. 
I was offered to drive this Can Am car in a race and these thoughts came up first. I had to stay quite fit to be competitive driving the Lotus or Tiga,  so what would be needed to be capable of tolerating these sort of loads?   I remember watching the Can Am cars shoot up the hill from turn 14 up the hill toward the start/finish at Road America. The sight of Jerry Hansen and Jack Hinkel come to mind, looking nearly sling-shot.   That had me worry about the ability to drive such a powerful car.    What does the body go through?  What was the condition and history of the car?  What had it been through?  What maintenance had it had?

As for the driving speeds of race vehicles,  I think driving a race car at 200 mph isn't as exciting as one might think, really.  The scenery just whisks past quickly.    What is impressive and hard on one's body is getting up to high speeds and down from them so quickly.  All road-course racing cars are driven as hard as the car and driver are capable to be competitive, drive as fast as the power will take you and slow as quickly as possible to deal with corners, having to accurately down-shift,  (not using the clutch is most efficient), and prepare the chassis for something completely different from the momentum carrying you.  Along with this is the human body trying to tolerate these changes, requiring all these changes to take place yet be kept mentally cool and alert enough to manage these violent up-heaving changes. 

 I don't need glasses for
driving. I can pass an eye test, but use them for racing.  A problem I had was under braking hard in this Lola race car.  Keep in mind these cars have wide (29") and sticky tires, brakes from a jet fighter and the light-weight car is easily pulled down from high speeds repeatedly,  corner after corner, with straight shoots between them.  As hard as I tried, I couldn't squint hard enough to hold and contain my eyes from protruding out of their sockets and making contact with my glasses.
               So, ...   from O to 100mph and then back to O,  ...  in just under 6 seconds.                              Just imagine what the body goes through    ...  !   
               Lap after lap,  and so many laps, left, right turns and many slowing from near 200 to 60 for some corners,    ... 
                                                                                                                                                     Unsure I'd like to do that again.
That eye-pain is my threshold of braking in a car this powerful.  I would modulate to find that tiny G-load that is just shy of eye-contact and just where my focus isn't THAT altered. More than that, my judgement is just unable to make those minuscule maneuvers that make for a correct and smooth transition so the chassis isn't surprised or 'up-ended' enough to have 'messed up' a corner. 
                                                                  Gotta rest my two fingers now...
And later he writes,
I suppose it was during a period before there was E-Mail and I was not writing or drawing much.  It was when I was in an extreme low and worn period of my adulthood.  I then took the very foolish attitude of "I don't care anymore" and accepted the challenge of driving this old powerful car offered me. It's owner was a fella who also has a Lotus Super 7, but a series 4, a model newer than my racing Lotus Super Seven.  The owner  approached me after a race, claimed, "You whooshed right past me on the straight at Elkhart."  He asked if I would work on his car so that it would at least keep up with me on the straights. It already had a professionally built 1600 twin-cam Lotus engine but I still roared right by him with my smaller engined Lotus. After spending one winter on his car he found the changes I made were terrific,  and it was after the last race of the season at Elkhart when he offered this Lola Can Am car for me to have a go at. I delightedly accepted,  but asked him to let me think it over, ... over winter.  "We'll keep in touch."   E-Mail wasn't yet known to me.

Me waving to friends at the end of the race.
Here I was in this difficult and low period,  thrown into the mess was this amazing offer,  mulling over just driving such an old powerful car, and further yet, possibly racing it.  The more I learned of this particular car, I realized how foolish accepting the offer would be.  It was a car that I viewed as having had a new heart but an old and fragile body, bones ready to break when loads were given.  It had a new and more powerful engine, brake pads, tires, etc, and I learned the 'chassis' (monocoque design)  had been re-skinned over the old skin. It was prepped by a firm that had great Can Am car background so my accepting the car in October had it being readied and fit to me (though I never saw the car) over winter.  It was this 'not caring for my well-being' attitude that had me question myself for those 5 months, right up to mid-April, the arrival of the test day held in Michigan, at Grattan Raceway.  Though I knew the track well (still hold the lap record in my Lotus' class),  I worried about all of that power and how I might adjust to it.
When we arrived it was just being rolled out of the semi-tractor trailer, and it looked long and yellow, had a hideous teal-colored wing at the back.  I sure was doubting my abilities just looking in the cockpit.  I suited up wearing the tattered suit, worn and thin underwear, tattered gloves and crummy helmet.  The adjustments took a while... moving the pedal assembly to the best place for me sitting as recumbent as I do, (The seat does not move.),  strapping myself in with assistance from a crew of fellas I didn't know.  They knew of the help needed to adjust and buckle-up all of the harness, arm and helmet restraints.   It's a job a driver can't accomplish alone.
The engine fired up with a huge blast of raw power, even easing the throttle made for more response than intended. I wended my way onto the track at the end of the pit row, very uneasy about what I had taken on. I found it required extremely high effort to steer around all of Grattan's clever and difficult corners, set amongst the rolling hills in Southern Michigan. It's a course intended for much smaller and more nimble vehicles, like my Lotus Seven.   It did have one very long straight, and early on I (wrongly) found this was the easy part of the track, because I hadn't given it full throttle. The variety and number of off-camber corners, short but sharp hills, dips and decreasing-radius turns had me work very hard at the wheel before I was able to figure out how to use the engine to assist the strength needed to steer the wide-tired chassis. I was finally getting the enormously wide rear tires to break free and that would lessen the input I was otherwise required to put into steering through each corner. As wide and sticky as those tires were, that engine could separate them from the pavement almost anytime wished for.  That controlled loss of adhesion at will left me awe-struck. Learning this took a better part of an hour, lap after grueling lap.   The loads were so great on my body, I had to pull into the pits and threw up.
Just before the start of the race at Elkhart Lake's Road America.  See end notes.

Shifting that huge transmission was wonderful, though I was taken aback at first as the car was right-hand drive (which I'm used to) but the gear lever was to the right. It was set onto the chassis sill cover, tucked under the body skin to the right of the steering wheel.  My Right arm is much stronger than Left and I needed that strength to steer the car. Shifting had to be completed before, after and away from the corner so as to not upset the chassis and allow the use of two strong arms. The ease of matching the engine/gears was easy for me, the lightweight flywheel and clutch-pack allowed the powerful and over-willing engine to rev free and respond quickly to throttle conditions, on and off, and the timing of gear selection came naturally for me kept in practice from years of racing British cars that lost their clutch operation during races.  I became quick, efficient and accurate with every shift, much quicker when not using a clutch.

It was surprisingly difficult for me to have the guts to try full throttle, only once having tried it a bit on the straight and I recall thinking, "Yikes, that was just too much." Those in the pits, watching my slow learning curve, realized I was at my personal limit, in a comfort zone.   I wasn't aware but they decided to do something to break me of myself.
The view to the rear of the very wide Lola was insufficient through the two little spot mirrors on the front fenders. They only offered a great view of the enormously wide, distractedly brilliant, teal-colored stabilizing wing over the tail.  They were nearly worthless to see rearward but they were all I had, aimed to the rear corners of the car, just outside of the big wing.  There were others setting up and testing their vehicles on the track this day but we staged our time on the track.   Occasionally overlapped occurrences would have a car appear suddenly,  startle me as they came out of seemingly nowhere, and suddenly be along side.  During an unusually calm many laps, I was SHOCKED and quite shaken when a formula 5000 Lola roared pass me on the straight. The surprise, the speed and noise as it passed really shook me.  I quickly absorbed what had just happened!  I recognized the driver and realized the reason he was there.  This is exactly what I needed. I thought,  picked up my pace, and the chase was on.   It's that mechanical rabbit a race dog instinctively chases.  Here was something I could chase.   I found what a different and raging animal that engine turned into when full-throttle was given. It was STUNNING !

 I'm one to dislike using the trite term turned so commonly used for putting a dish  away or picking something for someone.  But that raw, raging and raucous power is simply awesome.

Full throttle brought the high G-loads.  They pulled my facial skin right back filling up any voids in the rear of my loose helmet.  My eye-balls flattened and were recessed in their sockets making focus difficult.  The skin on my arms rammed back toward my shoulders.  Breathing was only available when shifting.  I heard in my helmet loud groaning and grunts I was making as I dealt with these extreme loads.  No longer was the 'straight' a place of comfort.  After some laps I realized I had control of that powerful thing back there, and managed the direction of the seemingly too-wide chassis on this narrow and clever track. I even had command of on-demand control, mastered the loss of adhesion from those massive and sticky tires.   That was a key to getting me out of my comfort zone, that and loss of fear for myself.   After some lively laps I found I was keeping up with the 'rabbit', and was ultimately able to catch it!   It took a lot of driving and mental effort but after quite a few laps, I was able to pass it. I terrifyingly breached that level of comfort by a great amount, that instinctive personal protection we all are given, wish to stay within, and rely on.

Getting out of the car in the pit lane I was met by a cheering crew of people , most I had never met before that day.  Apparently I had caught and passed Bud Bennett, a star driver in his very capable Lola F5000.  I looked down, over my driver suit, glancing across my shoes, legs and stomach and arms, ...   nothing showed to out of order, muscles still capable to hold me in the standing position though still shaking quite a bit.  I was so taken by the stress a body can withstand, the tolerance of all of that abuse.  Yet absolutely everything on my body still functioned! I saw no leakage, no blood nor urine, no messes to clean up after.   Yet on the track where I was pushed so hard, where I was being shoved, squeezed and tugged at in such high levels, I was certain I no longer was able to manage or monitor anything in my body but basic muscular input. I was, and am still, amazed. I have the 'chills' as I write this. This crew of folks realized I broke the fear factor my body I had been stuck in, the preservation of self we are all given.

This Lola T-163 was raced in its early years by Wilson, if I remember correctly.  Was it Gary Wilson?  Back then it was fitted with a 'big block', claimed to have more than 1000 horse power.  I'm glad I didn't have that to deal with. 

Additional notes on the pictures:
 Above are pictures showing the car I raced, the British made Lola T-163.    The first photo is the car that beat me at Road America (Elkhart lake), driven by Denny Hulme (seen in this photo) of New Zealand, the car is a McLaren (M-8, I believe

The middle photo is me waving to friends at the end of the race.    Denny Hulme died the very next race in the Tooheys 1000 from Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia.    A link to his fabulous history follows: https://www.google.com/search?q=denny+Hulme&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8 

The last is one just before the start of the race at Elkhart Lake's Road America,  the two pace cars pulling off to allow us on our own.  I'm 4th in the only yellow car that has a teal-colored wing. I qualified 4th and am in some terrific company, the quite famous red 'Simonize Lola' directly in front, Charlie Gibson in the lead position in his well-driven and capable car (white w/red stripe), the very famous UOP Shadow next to me, then David Hobbs (from England)  in a newer Lola behind it and another Lola behind me.  Denny Hulme ( the orange car directly in front of another orange car in about 11th place) won the race, I was third and Charlie Gibson was second.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Historic Cooksville Buildings: Before and After Restoration, by Larry Reed

The story of the Village of Cooksville in the 21st century is, in many ways, a history of “self-preservation.”

Many of the historic buildings in this small rural village have been preserved, rehabilitated and restored over the past four decades, undergoing its own “self-preservation,” with the community working to rehabilitate and retain its special historic built-environment— and celebrating and sharing it.

These “before and after” pictures help tell that story.

Cooksville Congregational Church - BEFORE
Cooksville Congregational Church - AFTER
Cooksville’s story— its history— is its mid-19th century architecture and rural setting, all part of the heritage of its pioneering settlers of 175 years ago when the Cook brothers, John and Daniel, founded the village in 1842.

Cook House - BEFORE
Cook House - AFTER
The restorations and rehabilitations have included the settlers’ first homes, two churches, three barns, a schoolhouse, a general store, a large public square or commons, and a cemetery. They are all are part of the Cooksville Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and 1980. Just outside the village are eight other historic buildings and sites also listed in the National Register.

In addition to the state and federal recognition, the local government— the Town of Porter— established a zoning designation for the Cooksville Historic District to ensure that future building or demolition projects in the village did not harm or destroy the valued and irreplaceable historical heritage of the community.

Betsey Curtiss House - BEFORE
Betsey Curtiss House - AFTER
Since these official actions, the Cooksville underwent a “boom” in the recognition, appreciation and rehabilitation of its heritage of early buildings, Attention was paid, and owners and residents began spending more time and effort restoring and caring for its history. Preservation became a tradition and a principle for many local property owners.

Projects included adding new, appropriately-designed additions to the historic houses, removing inappropriate metal or shingle siding, repairing or restoring windows and shutters, restoring or re-opening closed-up front porches, re-using and rehabbing old village barns, and restoring church bell-towers.

Van Vleck House - BEFORE
Van Vleck House - AFTER
As long ago as 1911, when Ralph Warner arrived in Cooksville, people learned from his early preservation example to appreciate the well-designed, well-constructed, charmingly “quaint” old buildings. Warner created the “House Next Door,” turning the old Duncan House into a show-piece of 19th-century antiquity. His “antiquarian” home-making—his antique-filled old brick house, his old-fashioned flower and vegetable gardens, his sharing of his home with visitors—brought local and national attention to the little village and opened the eyes of others to the possibilities of re-using and retaining the old, sturdy brick and wood-framed buildings from another era.

Fortunately, many other Cooksville citizens also became interested in preserving and rehabilitating its architectural heritage. And, again fortunately, the village had a resident architect named Michael Saternus who also was very interested in preservation—and was also very talented and energetic during the thirty years he lived in the village.

Van Buren House - BEFORE
Van Buren House - AFTER
Owners of the old historic buildings turned to Saternus for advice and assistance as Cooksville underwent its 20th century renaissance. The historic preservation programs of the Wisconsin Historical Society also assisted in many of the restoration projects. (For information, contact www.wisconsinhistory.org.)  Residents and visitors noticed, appreciated, and realized the possibilities of preservation— that it was economically worthwhile as well as culturally important to save and re-use these older, important, re-usable buildings from the past.

William Porter House - BEFORE
William Porter House - AFTER
Cooksville was also fortunate to have had a series of local historians in the 20th century who had gathered and preserved many historic documents and photographs from the past 175 years of the village’s existence. These were used to document the old buildings and assist in restoration projects., as well as to tell much more of the story of this early village.
Blackman-Woodbury House - BEFORE
Blackman-Woodbury House - AFTER
Graves Blacksmith Shop- BEFORE
Graves Blacksmith Shop - AFTER

The “before-and-after” photographs of some of the projects illustrate this commitment of residents to preservation over the years. Some projects involved the entire building; some only addressed a portion, like a steeple; and some also involved the outhouses and the landscape.

Cooksville Lutheran Church steeple - DURING
And the work to preserve and enjoy the Village of Cooksville’s heritage continues, as it celebrates 175 years since it was established in 1842.

#   #   #