Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.
After we left the Mars Cheese Castle, Day One of our road trip continued up the road north to downtown Milwaukee, through which flows the Milwaukee River, around which the city designed the Milwaukee Riverwalk. It’s all a very logical progression. A couple dozen statues and sculptures dot the landscape along either side of their Riverwalk, including one that my wife specifically wanted to see: this locally crafted homage to Arthur “the Fonz” Fonzarelli, as played by Henry Winkler on ye olde sitcom Happy Days.
For the record, the Fonz was already wearing leis when we got there.
As we covered a few months ago, we’d previously seen three other TV Land statues in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Manhattan. I was under the impression the Fonz was not one of their officially sponsored markers, borne out by the fact that his statue bore no TV Land official imprint in its base like the other three did. As of this writing, TV Land’s Wikipedia entry claims it as one of theirs anyway. I’ll leave that one to Wikipedia to sort out.
The Riverwalk also hosts another series of 1997-1999 statues centered around a famous 1945 news story involving a duck named Gertie who laid her nest under the Wisconsin Avenue bridge, whose much-needed repairs were delayed so Gertie’s eggs could be given time to hatch. Her plucky story of determination and birthing rights apparently gave much-needed hope to a city in need of happy news in the wake of WWII.
Gertie’s not alone on the Riverwalk. Of her nine eggs, six hatchlings survived. All are now commemorated like dear old Mom. This one is either Dee-Dee or Pee-Wee. Our info said both should have been on the pedestal alongside Gertie, but I saw only the one…
Millie stands on the east riverbank as a greeter on your self-guided Riverwalk tour.
Freddie tries to lay low and act inconspicuous. It’s no use, Freddie — you’re a statue. We can see you not breathing.
Rosie appears humble yet compliant.
Black Bill appears to be either quacking at boaters or tossing his cookies. Poor, temperamental Black Bill.
The 2007 steel sculpture called “Gertie Gets Her Ducks in a Row” recounts the tall tale in which, according to secret legend, Gertie and her children would later form their own international rowing team. Their efforts won them several competitions, including a decisive victory in the 2008 Beijing Olympics against the Winklevoss twins.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]