Where July Fourth Doesn’t Happen
River Hills and West Milwaukee are the county's only communities without a July 4th celebration.
The annual list of Fourth of July events in Milwaukee County always saddens me somewhat since two county communities do not organize Independence Day activities for their citizens. No wonder Socialism is on the rise.
The two communities could not be more disparate. West Milwaukee’s factories once made it a working-class tax haven; Not only does River Hills lack any factories, it has absolutely no commerce whatsoever. It is a place to live for people who used to own factories in West Milwaukee.
West Milwaukee might be forgiven for failing to sponsor its own Independence Day festivities; it’s lost some of its civic identity along with its factories and their tax revenue.
The Village contracts with the City of Milwaukee for fire protection for its 3,973 residents, and has merged its school district with that of neighboring West Allis. This practical community operates its own water distribution system, but buys water from Milwaukee, and hires that city to handle the billing. At 1.12 square miles in area it’s the dinkiest Milwaukee County community, but it still has the 21-acre county-run West Milwaukee Park, so there should be some room to assemble a parade. But with all those brownfields, it might be still too dangerous a place to let off fireworks. Just look what happened to the bacon plant in Cudahy.
River Hills is five times larger than West Milwaukee, but its 1,612 residents have no public space to call their own. Depending on how you view Urbanism, this is either worth the extra price for its privacy or pathetic for its lack of community-building — the true “society,” in the minds of many.
According to WTMJ 620 AM News Talk Radio, the River Hills celebration this year will be a “combined” one with neighboring Glendale, which always has a Fourth of July party at Kletzch park, anyway. But the River Hills website makes no mention of any such event, and the Glendale website does not mention River Hills. A call Wednesday to the City of Glendale offices brought confirmation: this is not a joint event between the communities. Who comes up with these things?
Anyway, everybody knows that the real River Hills fireworks take place at the Milwaukee Country Club and will be visible to any member of the public who might be in the vicinity. But please remember, there is no parking on any Village of River Hills street, so please keep moving and happy Independence Day!
Cass Street Old Timers Baseball Game
The Sons of Sicily will choose up sides and play ball at Cass Street Park on July 14th, as the Brady Street Gang gets together again. First pitch is at 1 p.m.
When he was a kid, Felix Glorioso says, he used to be able to field a team at Cass Street “in 15 minutes, just by yelling at some doors.”
Now he needs committees and organizational meetings to put together the annual event, which he, John Torres and other Brady Street lifers have turned into an urban Milwaukee classic. Glorioso says there are about 62 team members, mostly on the active list. The old timers went to Cass Street or St. Rita’s school, right across from the playground located between N. Cass and Marshall and E. Pleasant and Kewaunee streets. Most lived in the neighborhood, which was densely packed with the big baby boomer families of a largely immigrant and second-generation population.
The ethnicity of the old timers underlines the demographics of that neighborhood’s era, as Glorioso reveals: “We had a couple of Puerto Ricans, two Jews, about four or five Northern Italians. The other 50 or so of us were Sicilians.”
Felix Glorioso operates Glorioso’s Italian Market along with his cousin Michael Glorioso, but their fathers, Joe and Ted, continue to own the business, so the cousins, now in their 60’s, are both old timers and kids.
Joe has retired from active participation in the store itself, but continues to crank out the store’s signs at an astounding rate, sometimes dozens in a day. He works out of his home, on the same block as the store, a block away from the playground, in the home where Felix grew up.
His works, executed in flawless penmanship, can be found in every department of the store, and have been since he opened the place in 1946 after serving in the army. The most recent pair are on the front door of the market: “Closed July 4th.” “Have a Nice July 4th.”
The Pedophile Priest Files
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has reluctantly released its files on 45 priests removed or restricted from professional activities due to substantiated evidence of sexual activity with minors. The names were released in 2004, but the additional data provides much new information, including some on the inner workings of how a church can delay and thwart justice. Among the priests’ names was that of S. Joseph Collova, who served as a priest at St. James Church in Mequon under the pedophile pastor Edmund H. Haen in 1976 and then at another St. James (this one in Franklin) where he was accused of molesting a boy in 1980. By 1985 he was transferred to St. Rita’s Parish, 1601 N. Cass St. where he lived in the rectory around the corner at 700 E. Pleasant St. until he was removed in 1993.
During some of that time I was living on N. Cass St. with the church in full view of my home. I remember very clearly that the priest was a strange, uncommunicative, morbidly obese person, and I frequently saw him enter the rectory with teenage males. Apparently, so did the nuns and alert parishioners, as a review of the documents released in his case reveals. I now know that he was a petulant, manipulative jerk in addition to everything else I didn’t like about him. He was replaced by Rev. Timothy Kitzke, to the great relief and benefit of the congregation and its parishioners, not to mention of the neighbors and their children.
I set these documents forth here as an example of the data that is available for those who care to follow the bankruptcy and sexual abuse scandals of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Perhaps you have your own memorable priest / neighbor on the list.
Collova died in January, 2013, which I have not seen previously reported.
The rectory of St. Rita’s, now a part of Three Holy Women Parish, was sold by the church and was converted into apartments in 2011-2012. The convent of St. Rita’s, in the 1600 block of N. Cass St., immediately south of Cass Street School, squeezed in between it and the church, is vacant, and would make a lovely bicycle hostel.
Its grounds are gardened by community volunteers who donate the produce to the Riverwest Food Pantry. It also has a community compost pile fueled by coffee grounds from Coffeetails, along with neighborhood contributions. The church itself is doing a booming business, with baptisms and marriages now outpacing funerals, which for years was the mainstay at St. Rita’s.