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Thursday, August 21, 2014

RVing Friends Gone Home and did you know Steve is "A Machine"??

This morning our RVing pals Mel and Paula pulled out of High Cliff after staying for five days. We had shared a few meals, some shopping, and a nice evening of campfire sitting... I forgot to post this pic of our Two Brawny Lumberjack Men trying to get the campfire going with this one tiny hatchet!  LOL

These two get together and you never know what is going to happen! 

We said our goodbyes and we swiped the rest of their firewood.... because we are going camping this weekend with Steve's Dad nearby at Columbia Park. The motorhome is loaded up now as I type this and tomorrow I will drive it over to the park at noon. (Yes, for the new folks reading this blog, I do drive our 38ft diesel pusher motorhome myself too...)  Hopefully we will have a nice weekend and not too hot or muggy.

One of the nice (and many) gifts that Paula brought to me this week was this old antique light fixture!  It was from her sister's home, and Paula didn't really have a place for it in her house.  So she asked if we were interested in it.  It fits our "home style" perfectly!

Steve already installed it in our main floor bathroom and it looks wonderful.  Thank you so much, Paula!  I am sure your sister would be pleased to see it used and loved.

This evening, our neighbors came over and wanted us to help film their Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS so they could put it on Facebook to pass on the challenge to three of their people.  So Steve and I each held a camera in case one of us would goof up, we would have two separate videos of the same scene.  LOL  We both got a good film, and nobody needed to do a "reshoot" of the event:

And now for the part in my title about Steve being dubbed "A Machine"  ....  well, you can read about it yourself.  I copied and pasted this newspaper article that appeared in Times Villager newspaper about High Cliff State Park-----

By Brian Roebke
Editor |
High Cliff State Park in Sherwood observed its 50th anniversary as a state park last week, and the most amazing story told by the 11 speakers at the ceremony was told by Wilmer Schulz, the longest-serving superintendent in the park.
Now 85 years old, Schulz told his story from the time he was approached by the government to the anniversary ceremony.
Schulz’s opinion of the park has changed 180 degrees from the first day he was approached about selling his land.
After the land for the park was purchased by the Wisconsin Conservation Commission, which later became the Department of Natural Resources, there was some turmoil.
Wilmer Schulz took over the family farm from his father in the early 1950s and was excited to make a living on the farm and use the big 40-acre woods to make maple syrup.
“We had 600, 700 pails out and cooked 120 gallons on syrup every spring, sometimes 200,” he said. “Cook and Brown was one of our biggest customers, and they would take 20 or 30 gallons a year.”
That syrup would be given to their office staff for an Easter present.
A gentleman from the DNR named Clyde Smith drove into his yard one day with something that would change his life forever: a request to purchase his woods.
Schulz told him, “Sir, it isn’t for sale, I just bought it.” Smith said, “No, we want it.”
He repeated that it wasn’t for sale and Smith told him the state would condemn it.
In the end, Schulz worked with the state and sold the land for $300 an acre, noting that land would be worth $8,000-$10,000 an acre today.
“I sold it to them and I was bitter,” he said. “Two of my neighbors were condemned, Schwabenlanders, Zehringer, farms were condemned because they didn’t want to sell, but they had to sell.”
One day Smith stopped to buy some maple syrup from him and said he wanted four or five gallons to bring to his friends in Madison. He bought even more the next year and told him they could use some part-time help at High Cliff.
He was asked if he could run a chain saw, tractor, and small Caterpillar.
Schulz was asked to talk to Andy Friedauer, who was the only employee from Western Lime that the state wanted to work at the park.
“Andy came up to me and said, ‘why don’t you work when you can, take a day off here, take a day off there,’ and that’s how I started working for the DNR,” he said.
As the park grew, he worked more and more until Smith told him he wanted to make him a park ranger.
“I told him if I get to be park ranger I will sell my cows and work full time,” he said.
He saw a newspaper ad the next week advertising for a park ranger at High Cliff, and Schulz was puzzled.
He called the park manager, John Franzen, who told him he had to pass a civil service test first.
“Luckily I graduated from high school,” he said. “Back in those days you didn’t have to go to high school if you didn’t want to, but you had to go until you were 16.”
He loved school, so he stayed. The school wanted him to go to college but his dad told him he would be a farmer.
He passed the test and was hired.
“I put the cows up for auction and I was still bitter,” he said. “Believe it or not, I was still bitter.”
When he started working, two men from Madison came up and said they wanted to purchase 40 more acres.
“I was crop farming and working here doing service, I was a fool to work,” he said.
They did purchase that work land for $600 an acre, much less than the $10,000 an acre his neighbor sold his for last year.
At that time, the park was in disarray, Schulz thought, since the park superintendent didn’t want to work weekends. The park was wild at that time because of the lack of control. Monday mornings were spent cleaning up the litter, bottles, and cans.
“It got so bad the state troopers would not come in to work anymore,” he said.
Schulz told him they had to talk to people above him and a couple weeks later staff was working seven days a week.
The park manager was promoted and Schulz was named acting superintendent. He passed another test to become the superintendent and was told to clean up the park and make some money.
“We were known as the rear end of the park system, that was not nice to hear,” he said.
They told him they were taking in less than half their expenses because they weren’t working Sundays and selling stickers.
“They said, ‘we want you to straighten out this park, get it to be a family park, and we want to make some money,’” he said.
His challenge couldn’t be done without some more help, so the state gave him another ranger, a naturalist, and hired Mueller as a seasonal worker and Janet Deprey as a secretary. He said they worked together beautifully.
“We started taking reservations for the campground,” he said. “We did it all in the office and the first year we had help from Kettle Moraine and Point Beach.”
The rangers would come on Sunday, with as many as eight rangers in the park. They wrote out 660 citations the first year, something Schulz wasn’t proud of, but felt it had to be done.
“When I retired 11 years later, we wrote out 60,” he said.
He believes he hired good people who turned the park around. Four people came through who moved on to superintendent positions at other parks.
He visited the park two years ago and went home almost crying. “It didn’t look good,” he said. “It looked bad.”
When he came back last week to talk to Linda Gulig, he said it looked a lot better.
She credited her maintenance worker Steve Pfundtner for being   “a machine.”
Someone asked him why he groomed the park like a city park and he told them, “You have to give in order to get.”
He believes a good product will result in people coming to that product.
“That’s why High Cliff got to be the (day) use area it is today and it was back then,” he said.
When he retired, he was proud of what he did and is glad the workers who came through the park are superintendents today and the boss, Jerry Leiterman (Northeast District Park Supervisor), is one of the nicest young men he had working for him.
“Now he’s Linda’s boss,” he said.
He talked about his buddy Joe Diederich, who lived across the road from him.
When Diederich got his driver’s license, he wanted to go to Kaukauna to the movie in his Pontiac coupe.
“We come down that hill, you know the hill it used to be, and he had it in high gear,” Schulz said. “Well I never had a ride in my life … we hit the railroad tracks down there and we went airborne about 3-4 feet and shot across the road and I said to Joe, ‘I want to go home.’”
They did go to the movie but he held his breath all the way to Kaukauna.
He said his heart is in the park but he didn’t want to be part of the Friends group telling people what to do.
“The High Cliff Association, when I was here, helped us a lot,” he said. “I found after I got in the files after I became superintendent and found out they helped pay for some of the land they bought from me, which I didn’t know.”
He said the Friends are important because the state doesn’t provide enough money and enough help to run the property like it should.
“At one time I was so bitter when I sold the land but at the same time, I was proud when I left here,” he said. “I’m not bitter anymore.”


  1. From watching that Smokey Bear video a week or so ago I think you are living with a 'Smokey Bear Machine' :))

  2. Steve can be proud of what he has accomplished there. I'm glad someone else recognizes his work as well.

  3. Don't tell me you didn't know that until you read it in that article... :c)


  4. You have got to be kidding......what do you mean a machine.....STEVE NEEDS TO BE EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR THIS YEAR AND ONGOING !!!! We all know that ....... Does the boss realize, STEVE IS ONE IN A MILLION !!!!!!


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