Tenney Park celebration, Janice Schur, 2019

A short story about Tenney Park and the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood, told by Janice Schur.

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    Interviewer: This is Joe Orman, it is May 9, 2019 and I am here with

    Narrator: Janice Schur, mostly called Jan.

    Interviewer: And, uh, how do you spell your last name again?

    Narrator: S-C-H-U-R

    Interviewer: OK, so Jan, can you tell me, uh, a little bit about, uh, you know, how long you’ve been in the neighborhood?

    Narrator: Well, I think I moved here about forty-five years ago.

    Interviewer: Ha!

    Narrator: I think it was, that would be 1974. And, I remember--I have a house on the lake--and we were going to buy a cottage. and then I saw an ad for a “Gracious, spacious, house on Lake Mendota” and I didn’t even know where Sherman Avenue was, and I thought, oh, it’s probably in Maple Bluff. But then when we got here, we found out it wasn’t in Maple Bluff and we bought it in the middle of winter.

    Interviewer: Hmh

    Narrator: And by the next summer I thought: "What a lemon, who would ever buy this house?" The lake was very bad that year. And in the first years we lived here Lake Mendota was really bad, but it’s so much better now.

    Interviewer: Uh-huh

    Narrator: And, we can, you know, just use it and it’s cleaner and it’s not so smelly, except for the flooding

    Interviewer: Right

    Narrator: Uh, We had about three floods in the time that I’ve lived here and the one time we rode our canoe down our back yard into the lake.

    Interviewer: [LAUGH]

    Narrator: And, I’m not in the flood plain, my house is just above the flood plain, but some of the houses on Sherman are. And, um, also my heating bill [LAUGH], I was--that’s another reason I thought, "who would ever buy this house?" Well, forty-five years later I’m still in the house. And the thing that I wanted to stress was how, um, the neighborhood has changed its image. When we moved here it was considered a student neighborhood. And the house I bought had been a group home.

    Interviewer: Okay.

    Narrator: And, um, so houses across the street were all student rentals and they had Coors signs in the windows, and people didn’t appreciate the value of the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood. And one of the things that happened--and I was instrumental in that, and I was the first person--we invented the Alternate Parade of Homes, which was to showcase older homes as opposed to new homes. And so the first Alternate Parade of Homes was in the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood. And at the time, um, we didn’t charge admission and we had a shuttle bus that ran over to the Marquette neighborhood. We had no idea, and it was so popular. And they sold four houses that day--

    Interviewer: Wow

    Narrator: --That were listed. We told realtors that were going to have this and to list your house and they sold four houses on that day.

    Interviewer: That’s fantastic

    Narrator: And so I think that was sort of the beginning of the turnaround of people beginning to appreciate it as a family neighborhood. And there were--there was one person named Mike Putin who lived on Johnson Street who did a lot of photography and he recently died. But he tried to encourage families to come into the neighborhood. And, um, I can’t remember, we’d have huge fights over keeping the school alive and Tenney Lapham was closed for a while. And Anne Arneson, who was on the School Board, was instrumental in getting the School Board not to sell the building.

    Interviewer: Right

    Narrator: And so now it’s reopened as an elementary school. So I think that’s the interesting part of how--and now with all of the new development and new condos, it’s become even an even more desirable place to live.

    Interviewer: That’s great. So can you tell me a little bit about memories that you have about the park, and, you know, I guess just your time spent in the park as you’ve been here for forty-five years?

    Narrator: Mostly the time I spent in the park was playing tennis.--and my whole family and my friends--and that’s primarily what I did in the park. And I think my children probably ice skated in the park, um, too, but tennis was the main feature for us in the park.

    Interviewer: That’s really great, who did you, uh, play with?

    Narrator: Uh, friends, other people in the neighborhood, my husband, my kids, and would come over usually Sunday afternoons and enjoy the tennis court so much, so.

    Interviewer: That’s really fantastic. Um, I guess, what are your thoughts about, you know, putting together this one hundred anniversary of the park, and I guess how the park’s changed over the years?

    Narrator: Well, I think it’s a good idea, I haven’t looked at too much of what they have done, I’m supposed to be sitting at the history table in a few minutes, but um, I felt so bad for them, when they had it arranged for last year, and then today it rained until exactly the time it started and they wanted to be outdoors. but I think it was wonderful that one of the women who was the main organizers lived across the street from the park for a long time, and um, so. I’ve seen a lot of the renovations of the park and when we played tennis sometimes and when they’d have everything cleared out and they were redoing the prairie and redoing the pond and spending a lot of time on the park.

    Interviewer: That’s great.

    Narrator: So I thought that was money well spent, it looks beautiful now. But last year I have pictures of it when it was all flooded,

    Interviewer: Mmm hmmm.

    Narrator: There were ducks swimming on the tennis court.

    Interviewer: [LAUGH]

    Narrator: So, that was an amazing experience.

    Interviewer: Alright, well that’s wonderful, thank you very much.