A short story about Tenney Park and the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood, told by Denise Breyne.
Tenney Park celebration, Denise Breyne, 2019
Living History Project
Collection: Tenney Park Century Celebration
Date: May 19, 2019
Narrator: Denise Breyne
Length of audio: 00:05:43
Transcribed by: Brea Adams
01:15—ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN IN TENNEY PARK
01:30; 04:05—CHANGES IN TENNEY PARK AND NEIGHBORHOOD OVER THE YEARS
[START OF RECORDING]
Interviewer: This is Carol Griskavich - we are at the Tenney Park Century Celebration in Tenney Park shelter. Today is May 19, 2019 and we are joined by—
Narrator: Denise Breyne, B-R-E-Y-N-E.
Interviewer: Great. And, Denise, what is your connection to Tenney Park and the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood?
Narrator: I have lived here for twenty-one years, moved here from St. Louis Missouri. My husband got a job in Madison, and-- my--I’ve raised my kids here who are now nineteen and fifteen and it’s, it’s home [laughter].
Interviewer: And, have--obviously raising kids here--have you all spent a lot of time in the park?
Narrator: Yes, yes. Year round, Tenney Park has been, and the beach area too, have been kind of the background of my kids’ childhood, um, it makes me emotional to even talk about it honestly [laughter].
Interviewer: Yeah—there’s been a lot of different types of activities for children here?
Narrator: Yup, yeah so when they were little just playing on the playground and poking around in the water looking for critters, looking for plants and kind of watching as the park has gotten, like, you can hear frogs now—you couldn’t, you didn’t hear frogs 20 years ago in the springtime. But now I can hear them from my house, a block away because it’s, they’ve been doing so many sweeping changes here. And then, you know, and then when they got snowshoes, going to the park in snowshoes for the first time! And skating in the winter, pushing kids’ sleds around, and just, you know, tennis and soccer games, yeah, everything. It’s been a great place to be.
Interviewer: And, so, you came from St. Louis, did you have any connections to Madison before you came here?
Narrator: No, nothing, yeah.
Interviewer: So, I mean, other than your husband’s job, um, what attracted you to the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood specifically?
Narrator: Ah, well really the park, and I, I remember we were house hunting, we were going back and forth, and we were sitting at the beach on a picnic table--kind of backs to the water facing Tenney Park--and like going through our list of all the houses, and we were just like, “This place is amazing!” And then we went through a house on Baldwin Street, and like, it had issues —you know, we walked in and there was plywood instead of boards on—but I don’t know, we walked in and I looked back at my husband like, “This is it.”
Narrator: Like, I know. So, and that, that really, it was, it just felt right. And it has been, I mean our neighbors have been such a close community, you know. Everyone when the kids were little every Friday there were parties in the driveway and we’d all bring drinks or bring food and the kids all played in the backyards together. There weren’t really—we didn’t have fences, and the kids, my neighbors had kids my age, almost exact same age, and then the people next to them, and so we had this--just these tiny little backyards became one big backyard for them, and moms hung out, and the kids played, and it was, you know, I don’t know. They just dug in the dirt and built igloos in the winter and, it’s really a good place to bring up kids.
Interviewer: That’s great. So, you’ve been here for over two decades. Um, other than the frogs, which is amazing, what changes have you seen, ah, in the neighborhood, and more specifically in the park?
Narrator: Ah, I mean the park has become more, just like with the plantings, I mean the plantings have changed, and it’s, I guess there’s that small outbuilding I don’t even know what it is yet, I think it’s some kind of water building, out, closer to the beach area, and that used to be just kind of covered with trees and stuff and that got cleared off and cleaned up and it’s like this pretty little building, mystery building [laughter] I’m not sure what it, what it is.
And just the native plants, and shoreline plants, and they’ve changed, all of the, ah, I don’t know, like places for people to just fish and hang out, made it more accessible it feels like. It’s also--I see a lot more, like, water, flooding and stuff. Not just last year, but just, in general, it seems like there’s more of that also. Yeah, I don’t know, well and the shelter, of course. We’re starting here, you know we’ve come in in the winter to skate, or you know go skating and the kids would change—we had birthday parties in the shelter, and um, then when they were gonna tear it down I was like, “Aww, I kind of like it, this old building.” And now of course [laughter] the new one is amazing, so, it’s been great.
Interviewer: Well, do you have anything else you want to add about the neighborhood or the park?
Narrator: Ahh, I don’t know that I can think of anything else right now.
Narrator: Except that I love it, that’s all [laughter].
Interviewer: That’s great.
Narrator: It's a good place to be.
Narrator: I feel lucky.
Interviewer: Good. Well, thank you—
[END OF RECORDING]