For the better part of a decade, from the mid-’80s to the mid-’90s, I was a contributing editor to Wisconsin Trails magazine, and one of my specialties was documenting things that were gone or on their way out. I trooped across the state documenting the last soda fountains, the small-town bakeries, the independent breweries — which at that time numbered less than half a dozen, with much better days just around the corner — the butcher shops, the cheesemakers, the family-run candy stores, and the old-style supper clubs.
I was young at the time to be chronicling the end of an era, but that sort of thing always fascinated me, and I did my job with gusto (the real gusto of a great light beer, for those of you up on your Schlitz slogans).
I also took pictures, more or less, to accompany my stories, since Wisconsin Trails preferred not to spring for a writer and a photographer when it could get away with one person covering both bases.
One of the stories I covered was an Amish quilt auction near Amherst, Wis., where I lived at the time. I wrangled the assignment and took the photos you see here. If the Amish had a phobia of being photographed, as some people had suggested, it wasn’t apparent here. Everyone took my photographing with good humor, and the story came off well.
Better than the auction, actually. I cleared out just before the skies opened up.
There are still things in Wisconsin that go by the name “Amish quilt auction,” but they’re not what this was.
Enjoy the images. We’ll look at more places that are gone over the next several weeks.