Madison's Past


Public Programs

Historical Research



Order Form

Site Map


only search HMI

Louise Marston

Louise Marston, Society Editor Wisconsin State Journal (4/4/49)

Wisconsin Historical Society Image ID: WHi-58583

Louise Marston

The following is an excerpt from an interview conducted with Louise Marston in 1986. Louise was the long-time society page editor of the Wisconsin State Journal.

When I was in the University of Wisconsin, I believe that there were eight or nine thousand students. I was here from 1929 to 1931. It was the Depression. Nobody had any money at all. But I want to tell you something: Depression or not, we dressed so much better in those days, in better, more appropriate taste, than they do now that I can't get over it. I realize I'm seventy-six years old and an old fuddy-dud, but I never cease to be shocked over the way I see the students on Langdon Street, Park Street, and on the campus. To me it is unbelievable! I always laugh and say my mother would never have let me out of the house in about ninety-eight percent of the outfits that I see day after day on Langdon Street.

I think that nearly everybody, especially in my age group, is just horrified when they go on the Square or go around to the malls and see the informality of dress that has taken place in Madison over the years. Now, everybody tells me that this is nation-wide, and I'm sure that it probably is. I can only be annoyed over what I see in Madison, the city that I love so much. For example, when I see obese men and women who shouldn't be caught dead in such attire, parading around the Square and in the malls in all-too-brief shorts and unbelievable tee-shirts and what-not, I just can't get over it. Somehow or other human pride seems to have vanished. This all-too-casual informality just simply horrifies me.

Since I have lived at 1 Langdon all of my residency in Madison and haven't driven a car since 1934, I am obviously a Capitol Square person. My heart just bleeds for the changes, when you think about Simpson's Store, Baron's, Manchester's, Olson & Veerhusen, the Crescent Men's Store, Wolff, Kubly & Hirsig. I can just go on and on and on. The old Western Union office, Copp's Cafe. It's just such a change that it breaks my heart. You must remember I came here on my job on January 9, 1934, for $12.50 a week, and these were the days of the Depression. That was my salary: $12.50 a week or $50 a month. Every single lunch I went around the corner to Copp's Cafe, which you probably are too young to remember. I would have wonderful cream of tomato soup, homemade vegetable soup - Copp's always had a wonderful, wonderful homemade-type soup - and a grilled cheese sandwich for twenty cents, day after day when I was working. Young people always say to me, "How did you manage to live on $12.50 a week?” I always say to them that it's just a matter of degree. I ate my lunch for twenty cents, whereas you eat yours for two dollars or two and one-half dollars. I had my hair done every week for seventy-five cents, shampooed and waved, seventy-five cents, whereas now I plunk down a ten dollar bill and leave it at the end of the beauty treatment. It's all a matter of degree. Frankly, we lived quite well on modest salaries.

Mark Gajewski