Wisconsin Life # 610: Creative Constructions

November 22, 2018


Wisconsin Life host Angela Fitzgerald returns to one of our locations from the first season, the Toy Train Barn in Argyle. Owners Buck and Jan Guthrie transformed their bright orange barn into a must-see destination for train enthusiasts of all ages. Buck says, “When I was a kid, I started out with an idea of a museum, a toy train museum. I was five years old and I just thought that would be really cool thing to do. So, I just started collecting and gathering and bringing it together to put this together.” Jan describes one of her favorite parts. “We have a little man in a swimming pool here. He’s made with a microwave oven motor and magnets” so he moves.

Dylan Jenning is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Anishinaabe and grew up in the very small town of Odanah. Known as hand drum maker, he says “I’ve been making drums, or trying to make drums since I was a little kid.” Dylan also works with a group called Red Feather to mentor young Native Americans on drumming and singing. He explains, “I knew at a young age that teaching in some capacity was going to be a part of my life and outreach specifically and educating people on our way of life.”

Nature was something Babbette Jaquish always enjoyed. When she passed away after a long battle with cancer, her husband Don and daughter Jennifer White planted a sunflower field in her honor. Don says, “Oh, she liked all flowers, but sunflowers are kind of a happy flower, and that was probably her favorite flower.” This touching tribute grew into an annual tradition. Wanting to do more, Don and Jennifer formed Babbette’s Seeds of Hope, a non-profit organization that sells sunflower seeds to raise money for cancer research.

For Gene Wenzel from Wauwatosa, slot car racing brings back happy memories of his father. Gene says, “We built a lot of cars together. We built a lot of tracks together. And it’s just in memory of him.” Racing slot cars is a monthly event for Gene and his friends. “It’s fun to be with everybody that comes over. It’s fun to build this stuff.” Gene likes to use unconventional materials. “Every time I redo a track, I come up with something new to build walls or come up with a different design of how the pits would be. The fencing is rain gutter guard.”

A Milwaukee couple’s love for their special needs dog inspired a 2,000 mile drive to adopt a canine companion… a second blind bulldog. Cassidy Kraus, Brett Weyers and their blind dog Soto made what they call “the worst road trip ever.” Their 36-hour trip to Sacramento was fraught with mishaps from food poisoning to exploding truck tires to a snowstorm. Brett describes the meeting of the two dogs, Soto and Batty. “Here he comes bouncing around the corner and I’m like, “Oh this dog is… This is perfect.’” Cassidy and Brett agree the decision to rescue Batty was “the best chaotic decision we have ever made.”


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