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Sweet and Sour Pie

A Wisconsin Boyhood

Dave Crehore

Publication Year: 2009

As a young boy, Dave Crehore moved with his parents from northern Ohio to the shipbuilding town of Manitowoc on the shores of Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan, where the Germanic inhabitants punctuate their conversations with “enso,” the local radio station interrupts Beethoven for commercials, and the outdoors are a wellspring of enlightenment.
    Crehore’s stories of his youth in 1950s Wisconsin are peppered with engaging characters and a quiet wit. A grouse-hunting expedition goes awry when an eccentric British businessman bags an escaped bantam rooster with a landing net. Crehore's great-grandfather gets in trouble one Christmas when he sneaks a whoopee-cushion under a guest’s seat. The elderly Frau Blau gets trapped in an outhouse by a shady auctioneer during a farm sale. Through all the adventures—and misadventures—in a small town and in the great outdoors of Wisconsin, family is always at the center. This gently humorous look back at a baby-boomer’s awakening to adulthood will be appreciated by members of any generation.
Honorable Mention, Kingery/Derleth Book Length Nonfiction, Council for Wisconsin Writers

Finalist, Humor, Midwest Book Awards


Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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p. vii-vii

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pp. ix-x

Readers of this book will ask themselves how a kid managed to remember so much. The answer is that Mom and Dad did most of the remembering. My recollections of the fun and tribulation of our early years together—our Christmases and Thanksgivings, our hunt-...

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Beans for Breakfast

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pp. 3-21

Let’s find a church that looks like it’s paid for,” Dad said. “An old one without a mortgage."
Tuesday, August 15, 1950, was our second day in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Mom, Dad, our beagle, Rip, and I were scouting the town in our Studebaker Champion; Dad drove while Mom paged...

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The Fannie Farmer Mystery

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pp. 22-31

When you buy an old house on the outskirts of town, there’s a good chance that some resident wildlife will be there to welcome you. At least, that was our experience.
A couple of days after we moved into our place on River Road, Mom was cleaning kitchen drawers before stowing away the silverware and utensils. ...

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The Viggle Years

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pp. 32-39

I can’t remember the first fish I ever caught. It was probably a bluegill or perch that fell for an angleworm.
But I do remember the first largemouth bass. I could take you to the same lake tomorrow, find the same little bay, and cast to the same lily pad. ...

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The Christmas When a Lot Happened

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pp. 40-72

Our Christmas of ’52 began late in the evening on Monday, December twenty-second, lasted until the twenty-ninth, and was beyond a doubt the most action-packed week of my life up to that point. Events tumbled after each other so rapidly that when remembering them in later years, Mom, Dad, and I had to divide them into episodes. ...

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The Digging Out of Nip

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pp. 73-80

It’s funny how you find out about life.
You pick up a lot from your mother, your dad, and your wife, of course. It’s their job to teach you things. But it pays to keep your eyes and ears open all the time. You learn some of the most important lessons by accident. ...

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The Century Run

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pp. 81-92

In my dream I was in a belfry. The bell was ringing, and from the bottom of a long ladder, someone was shouting my name.
Then I woke up. My windup alarm clock was clattering and Dad was calling me from the foot of the stairs. ...

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Sacrificing Sweet Sixteen

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pp. 93-96

Out in the woods, a bird hunter lives in the past, the present, and the future at the same time. In the thick of a cover, he lives for the moment. But when he stops for a breather, he thinks of old times and old dogs and looks forward to puppies and seasons to come. ...

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The Fine Art of Forgetting

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pp. 97-101

We all do dumb things.
What matters is what we do afterward.
The temptation to be stupid keeps coming around; eventually most of us learn to resist it about half the time, and that’s what’s known as growing up. ...

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The Secret Smallmouth Lake in the U.P.

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pp. 102-109

The story of the secret smallmouth lake in the U.P. began in the White House Lunch on a June noon in the mid-1950s.
The White House Lunch was on the north bank of the river, surrounded by the shipyard and the White House milk condensery. ...

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The Butternut Buck

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pp. 110-116

When I was a boy in the 1950s, my Grandpa Crehore gave me three gifts that weren’t toys or books: a faded photograph of himself carrying a whitetail buck, the buck’s mounted antlers, and a story that went with them. The photo and the old rack are going to stay in the family, but here’s the story. ...

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The Celebrated Water Witch of Door County

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pp. 117-125

Great Godamighty,” Clifford said, in a tense whisper.
“Great Godamighty there’s water right under me here I can feel it dammit look at the willow rod go down!” ...

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Lucky Thirteen

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pp. 126-130

Into each life the thirteenth year must fall.
It’s a year of change. At thirteen, kids plunge headfirst into the whirlpool of adolescence and their parents are demoted from demi-gods to ordinary people. With so much going on, the potential for family melodrama is high. ...

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How Now, Frau Blau?

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pp. 131-140

I don’t believe it!” Dad exclaimed.
I followed him around the corner of the old farmhouse to see what was up.
“Look at the privy back there,” Dad said. “Mrs. Blau is in it. Sousa doesn’t know it, but he’s got her trapped. ...

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The Dorking Rooster-Catcher

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pp. 141-151

Back in the 1950s, telegrams and long-distance calls usually meant trouble. We got one of each on a quiet Thursday evening in October 1956, when I was thirteen. They were the opening guns of our first and only day of hunting with an Englishman. ...

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The Man of Action

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pp. 152-160

Jeez, you should see the shiner my old man’s got! He was in a fight in the tavern last night, and he really caught one. But he knocked the other guy down so I guess he won." ...

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No Fair!

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pp. 161-171

On a wet Sunday afternoon in early June 1957, I was sitting at the dining room table in our old house on River Road, drinking a glass of milk, and paging through the Milwaukee Journal comics section. ...

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The Wanderer

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pp. 172-182

Tuck was the dog that came in out of the rain.
He moved firmly into our lives on a wet Monday night in April 1959. Five months later, on an evening in early autumn, he moved on. ...

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Sweet and Sour Pie

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pp. 183-189

The first Thanksgiving I can remember was in 1949, a year before Mom, Dad, and I moved to Wisconsin. It was the Thanksgiving when we had rabbit and french fries. ...

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pp. 190-192

I drove down to Manitowoc Rapids on a Saturday afternoon last January to have a look at the old schoolhouse. There have been a few changes. ...


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pp. 193-205

E-ISBN-13: 9780299230630
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299230609

Page Count: 205
Publication Year: 2009

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Subject Headings

  • Crehore, Dave -- Childhood and youth.
  • Manitowoc (Wis.) -- Biography.
  • Manitowoc (Wis.) -- Social life and customs.
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