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Frank P. Zeidler Memorial Lecture 2012: Jeanne Zeidler | Program |


>>WELCOME TO THE FIFTH ANNUAL FRANK P. ZEIDLER
MEMORIAL LECTURE. JEANNE ZEIDLER HONORS HER FATHER’S LEGACY,
REMEMBERING FORMER MAYOR FRANK P. ZEIDLER ON THE 100thANNIVERSARY OF HIS BIRTH.
THE LECTURE WAS RECORDED ON SEPTEMBER20th, 2012, AT THE MILWAUKEE PUBLIC LIBRARY’S CENTENNIAL
HALL. HERE IS LIBRARY DIRECTOR, PAULA KIELY.
>>GOOD EVENING. AND WELCOME TO THE MILWAUKEE PUBLIC LIBRARY
AND THE ANNUAL FRANK P. ZEIDLER MEMORIAL LECTURE. FRANK ZEIDLER WAS A GREAT FRIEND AND FREQUENT
VISITOR TO THE CENTRAL LIBRARY. USING THE LIBRARY THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE, ENTRUSTING
US WITH HIS PAPERS, WHICH ARE ARCHIVED IN THE FRANK P. ZEIDLER HUMANITIES ROOM AND ENRICHING
OUR ENTIRE COMMUNITY WITH HIS CARE, COMMITMENT AND HUMANITY.
IT IS INDEED AN HONOR TO HOST THIS EVENT. IT IS MY PLEASURE TO BEGIN THE EVENING BY
INTRODUCING KATHLEEN JOHN, WHO WILL INTRODUCE THIS YEAR’S HONORED SPEAKER.
KATHLEEN DUNN IS A SELF DESCRIBED CHILD OF THE 1960’S.
JOINING WGN RADIO AND TV IN CHICAGO, AFTER GRADUATING FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA, SHE
TURNED DOWN HER FIRST OPPORTUNITY TO BE A REPORTER WITH THE STATION INSTEAD OPTING FOR
A STINT IN VISTA, FOLLOWED BY A HITCH HIKING TOUR AROUND EUROPE, AND TEACHING SCHOOL AS
A SUBSTITUTE TEACHER IN THE CHICAGO SUBURBS. SEARCHING FOR A WAY TO IMPROVE THE WORLD,
SHE TOOK HER VOLKSWAGEN BUG ON THE ROAD, LOOKING FOR A JOB IN AN ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL.
WHEN HER CAR BROKE DOWN IN NORTH CAROLINA, SHE FOUND A JOB TO HELP RAISE SOME CASH AT
A COUNTERCULTURE RADIO STATION OWNED BY DUKE UNIVERSITY AND HER RADIO CAREER WAS BORN.
THREE YEARS LATER, SHE JOINED WTMJ, WHERE SHE REMAINED UNTIL 1992.
TODAY, KATHLEEN CAN BE HEARD MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY BETWEEN 9:00A.M. AND 11:00A.M.
ON THE WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO’S IDEAS NETWORK STATIONS.
LEADING BALANCED DISCUSSIONS OF THE ISSUES OF THE DAY AND OF OUR TIME.
A LEADING VOICE IN MILWAUKEE, WE LISTEN TO HER ON WHAD 90.7FM.
PLEASE WELCOME ME IN JOINING KATHLEEN DUNN. [APPLAUSE]
>>AMAZING WHAT YOU CAN FIND OUT ABOUT SOMEBODY THESE DAYS.
I FORGOT ABOUT THAT PART OF MY LIFE. OH, YEAH.
YOU HAVEN’T HEARD HALF THE STORY. WELL, IT’S A PLEASURE TO BE HERE, AND I THINK
THAT MOST EVERYONE IN THIS ROOM HAS THIS IN COMMON AND THAT’S THAT WE CONSIDER FRANK ZEIDLER
TO BE AMONG OUR TOP FIVE PUBLIC SERVANTS AND MOST ADMIRED MILWAUKEE PUBLIC SERVANT.
[APPLAUSE]>>YES, HE WAS QUITE A MAN.
I ALSO CONSIDER IT, AND I MEAN THIS SINCERELY, AN HONOR TO BE HERE CELEBRATING WHAT WOULD
HAVE BEEN HIS 100thBIRTHDAY, HIS DAUGHTER ANITA TELLS ME HE LIKED ANGEL FOOD CAKE, SO
PUT THAT ON YOUR LIST OF THINGS TO DO FOR TONIGHT OR SOME TIME IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS
TO CELEBRATE HIS BIRTHDAY. AND WE ALSO HAVE A CHANCE TO LISTEN TO HIS
DAUGHTER JEANNE ZEIDLER, WHO IS ALSO A FORMER MAYOR AND A MUCH ADMIRED PUBLIC SERVANT.
WE MEET IN THIS BEAUTIFUL LIBRARY AND REMEMBER THAT HE HELPED BUILD BRANCH LIBRARIES IN THIS
WONDERFUL COMMUNITY, AN EVERY TIME I MET WITH FRANK, HE WAS CARRYING HIS LATEST RESEARCH.
GATHERED, I’M CERTAIN, FROM HOURS IN LIBRARIES THAT HE FREQUENTED.
AROUND HIS 80thBIRTHDAY, I THINK YOU WOULD MARK ALL THE DECADES WITH FRANK, HE ALWAYS
CAME A LITTLE EARLY AND WE WOULD CHAT FOR A WHILE AND I NOTICED THAT HE WAS CARRYING,
AS HE ALWAYS DID, A WHOLE LOT OF PAPERS, AND HE HAD SOME MEDICAL BOOKS WITH HIM AND I SAID,
FRANK, WHAT ARE ALL OF THESE FOR, AND HE SAID, ONLY FRANK WOULD BE DOING THIS, I’M STUDYING
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE BODY WHEN IT ENTERS THE NINTH DECADE.
SERIOUSLY, THAT’S WHAT HE SAID. WHAT ARE THE CHANGES THAT TAKE PLACE AND HOW
CAN I STAY HEALTHY. AND ON HIS 90thBIRTHDAY, WHICH MANY OF
YOU, I’M SURE, WERE THERE, WAS A MARVELOUS BIRTHDAY PARTY AT THE ITALIAN COMMUNITY CENTER,
I REALIZED THAT ALL THAT STUDY HAD PAID OFF BECAUSE HE WAS PRETTY VITAL WELL INTO HIS
90’S. THOSE WHO HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF DRIVING HIM
HOME AFTER AN EVENT LIKE A RADIO INTERVIEW, WERE GIVEN A NOT TO BE SURPASSED HISTORY LESSON
OF THE CITY THAT HE DID SO MUCH TO BUILD. TO REMEMBER HIM IN A WAY THAT MOST OF US CAN’T,
BECAUSE SHE GREW UP WITH HIM, JEANNE ZEIDLER IS WITH US TONIGHT.
THE APPLE HAS NOT FALLEN FAR. A VIRGINIA NEWSPAPER PROFILE PIECE ON HER
ASKED THIS QUESTION WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THAT HER UPBRINGING AS THE DAUGHTER OF A RESPECTED
SOCIALIST POLITICIAN IN MILWAUKEE WOULD HAVE PREPARED JEANNE ZEIDLER FOR ELECTIVE OFFICE
IN CONSERVATIVE VIRGINIA? I WOULD SAY THAT THE ANSWER IS STRAIGHTFORWARD.
SHE COULD HAVE BEEN ELECTED ANYWHERE AND HER FATHER COULD HAVE BEEN ELECTED ANYWHERE AS
WELL. [APPLAUSE]
SHE SAID, MY FATHER’S SOCIALISM WAS DIRECTED TOWARD PEOPLE AN SERVICES FOR PEOPLE, AND
THE ISSUES THAT I GREW UP WITH THAT WERE IMPORTANT TO MY FATHER ARE IMPORTANT TO THE PEOPLE OF
WILLIAMSBURG TODAY, PUBLIC SCHOOLS, QUALITY EDUCATION, GOOD LIBRARIES, PARKS, CULTURAL,
RECREATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES, FISCAL CONSERVATIVISM, GOOD TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, AND GOOD PUBLIC
POLICY. JEANNE ZEIDLER WAS MAYOR OF WILLIAMSBURG,
FIRST FEMALE MAYOR, ELECTED IN 198 ATLANTA AND SERVED 12 YEARS, SHE SIGNED ON ON TO THE
U.S. MAYORS CLIMATE PROTECTION AGREEMENT AND HAS SPOKEN WIDELY ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING.
SHE WAS CONCERNED WITH LAND USE PLANNING, RIDERSHIP ON THE BUSES AND BIKEWAYS, WALKING
TO WORK, PUBLIC PARKS, WATERSHED PROTECTION AND OF COURSE, PUBLIC EDUCATION.
SHE HAD BEEN ELECTED TO THE WILLIAMSBURG CITY COUNCIL FOR MANY YEARS, ALSO SERVED ON THE
CITY COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD. PRESIDENT OF THE WILLIAMSBURG ROTARY CLUB,
HOLDS MEMBERSHIPS IN THE NAACP, THE GREATER WILLIAMSBURG AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, SHE
DIRECTED THE EMERGENCE TO NATIONAL PROMINENCE OF A MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTS, FOR
MANY YEARS, SHE HAS WORKED WITH MUSEUMS, CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS.
SHE’S A GRADUATE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN MADISON.
SHE RECEIVED HER MASTER OF ARTS IN HISTORY EDUCATION, FROM THE COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND
MARY. SHE IS CURRENTLY THE PRESIDENT AND C.E.O.
OF THE WILLIAMSBURG, VIRGINIA COMMUNITY HEALTH FOUNDATION, WHICH SUPPORTS NONPROFIT PROGRAMS
LOOKING TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH OF CITIZENS IN THE GREATER WILLIAMSBURG REGION.
SHE IS HERE WITH HER HUSBAND, ED, Ph.D., UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN MADISON AS WELL, AND HISTORY
PROFESSOR, RETIRED FROM COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY, AND ALL OF HER SISTERS ARE HERE.
IF YOU WANT TO WAVE YOUR HANDS. I’VE MET MANY OF THEM TONIGHT.
THEY’RE TERRIFIC. SEVERAL COUSINS ARE HERE AND A NIECE AN NEPHEW.
PLEASE WELCOME MAYOR ZEIDLER. [APPLAUSE]
>>GOOD EVENING EVERYONE. KATHLEEN, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THAT INTRODUCTION.
IT IS QUITE AMAZING WHAT PEOPLE CAN LEARN ABOUT YOU ON THE INTERNET.
BUT I AM HONORED TO PRESENT THE FIFTH ANNUAL FRANK ZEIDLER LECTURE ON TODAY, THE 100thANNIVERSARY
OF DAD’S BIRTHDAY. THANK YOU TO THE COMMITTEE TO REFLECT UPON
MY FATHER’S LIFE AND LEGACY. I HAVE TO BEGIN BY CONFESSING THAT I’M NOT
A HISTORIAN OF MILWAUKEE, FOR AM I AN EXPERT ON URBAN DEVELOPMENT OR AMERICAN POLITICS
IN THE 20thCENTURY. ANY OF THOSE THINGS WOULD BE USEFUL WHEN TALKING
ABOUT FRANK ZEIDLER, BUT I DO KNOW A LOT ABOUT DAD.
I FOLLOWED HIS RECORD OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND HIS RECORD OF PUBLIC SERVICE, AND I FOLLOWED
HIM INTO PUBLIC SERVICE. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY FOR TONIGHT, I AM ONE
OF THE FEW IN THIS ROOM WHO HAS UNLIMITED ACCESS TO THE FAMILY PHOTO ALBUMS.
AND A CENTURY’S WORTH OF PHOTOGRAPHS. SO TONIGHT, I’M GOING TO USE I SAID SOME,
BUT A LOT OF FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS AND A LOT OF IMAGES FROM PUBLIC AND PRIVATE ARCHIVES
TO ILLUSTRATE THIS TALK. I THINK THAT WHILE THE IMAGES THAT I’VE SELECTED
WILL PROVIDE EDITORIAL THE FRANK ZEIDLER NARRATIVE THAT IS FAMILIAR TO MANY OF US, THESE IMAGES
ALSO CONTAIN A FEW SURPRISES. SOME DIMENSIONS OF HIM THAT ARE NOT SO WELL
KNOWN OR APPRECIATED. AND WHY IS THIS VALUABLE IN 2012?
BECAUSE FRANK ZEIDLER BELIEVED THAT OUR NATION’S CITIES, LIKE CITY OF MILWAUKEE, ARE PLACES
WHERE PEOPLE CAN PROSPER AND CAN LEAD FULFILLING LIVES.
HE BELIEVED THAT GOVERNMENT HAS A POSITIVE ROLE TO PLAY, TO HELP CITIZENS ACHIEVE THEIR
POTENTIAL. THE WAY
[APPLAUSE]>>IN HIS OWN WORDS, HE PUT IT THIS WAY.
THE PURPOSE OF A CITY IS SOLELY TO ADVANCE HUMAN PROGRESS.
A CITY SHOULD HELP AS MANY OF ITS INHABITANTS AS POSSIBLE, EVEN TO THE POINT OF BEING SUBSTANTIALLY
TAXED. THIS IS A VIEW THAT WAS NOT UNIVERSALLY SHARED
IN HIS LIFETIME, AND IT’S CERTAINLY NOT SHARED BY ALL NOW.
HOWEVER, IT IS A PHILOSOPHY THAT LED FRANK TO CHAMPION SOCIAL, ECONOMIC, AND RACIAL EQUITY,
TO FIGHT FOR IMPROVED HOUSING, TRANSPORTATION, AND PUBLIC SERVICES, TO EXPAND CULTURAL AND
EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES, AND TO PRESERVE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES ONLY THE CITY’S TAX
BASE. THESE WERE THE VEHICLES HE FOUND TO ADVANCE
HUMAN PROGRESS. AND SO, IN WILLIAMSBURG, OUR GOAL IS, THAT
THE FUTURE MAY LEARN FROM THE PAST, AND SO I HOPE THAT THIS LOOK AT FRANK ZEIDLER’S LIFE
AND LEGACY WILL HELP GUIDE US TO A BETTER, FAIRER, AND A MORE INCLUSIVE FUTURE.
I DO WANT TO THANK THE MILWAUKEE PUBLIC LIBRARY, ESPECIALLY VIRGINIA SCHWARTZ AND THE STAFF
OF THE FRANK ZEIDLER HUMANITIES COLLECTION WHO HAVE BEEN VERY GENEROUS WITH THEIR TIME.
I ALSO WANT TO THANK “THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL” FOR PERMISSION TO USE IMAGES FROM
THEIR COLLECTION, YOU’RE PHOTOS OFTEN DUPLICATED IN OUR FAMILY PHOTO ALBUMS AND I WANT TO THANK
MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS TO ALLOW ME TO USE THE MORE PRIVATE FAMILY MATERIALS.
MOST OF THE PROFESSIONALLY PRODUCED IMAGES THAT YOU WILL SEE TONIGHT, INCLUDING THIS
GREAT ONE OF DAD FROM ABOUT 2001, WERE TAKEN BY “THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL” PHOTOGRAPHERS,
BUT THE PICTURES THAT LOOK MORE LIKE SNAP SHOTS, THEY ARE.
THEY WERE PRODUCED BY FAMILY AND FRIENDS. THE PHOTOGRAPHIC RESOURCES ARE RICH AND WITH
THEM, I’M GOING TO ILLUSTRATE A LITTLE ABOUT MY FATHER’S BACKGROUND, LOOK AT THE CHALLENGES
CONFRONTING MILWAUKEE WHEN HE WAS MAYOR, FOLLOW HIM AFTER PUBLIC OFFICE, AND CONCLUDE WITH
SOME OBSERVATIONS ABOUT HIS APPROACH TO COMMUNITY AND TO PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.
AND IN SO DOING THIS, I WILL ALSO RECOGNIZE OUR MOTHER, AGNES ZEIDLER, BECAUSE SHE AND
FRANK WERE A TEAM. [APPLAUSE]
>>FRANK ZEIDLER WAS ELECTED MAYOR OF MILWAUKEE ON APRIL12, 1948, OVER A FIELD OF 14 CANDIDATES,
INCLUDING FUTURE MAYOR HENRY MAIER, AND FUTURE CONGRESSMAN HENRY REISS.
THE PARTY AT THE TURNER HALL THAT EVENING WAS JUBILANT.
DAD WAS 35 YEARS OLD WHEN THIS CROWD HOISTED HIM ON THEIR SHOULDERS AND I HAVE TO SAY,
I ALWAYS THOUGHT THIS WAS A STRANGE PHOTOGRAPH, BECAUSE THE FATHER I KNEW DIDN’T GET ON OTHER
PEOPLE’S SHOULDERS. ALSO AT THE PARTY WERE MY MOM, AND MY FATHER’S
PARENTS MIKE ZEIDLER AND CLARA. GRANDPA WAS A BARBER, AND GRANDMA, A HOME
MAKER. THEY ATTENDED THE ZION EVANGELICAL CHURCH,
WHERE MOM AND DAD REMAINED MEMBERS THROUGHOUT THEIR MARRIAGE.
FRANK WAS THE YOUNGEST OF THREE BOYS, CARL, CLEM AND FRANK, PICTURED IN 1924 OUTSIDE THE
FAMILY HOME AT 504 NORTH 33rdSTREET. THE BOYS HAD A YOUNGER SISTER, DOROTHY, WHO
I SUSPECT SNAPPED THIS PICTURE. MERRILL PARK, THE NEIGHBORHOOD IN WHICH MICHAEL
AND CLARA ZEIDLER RAISED THEIR CHILDREN WAS PREDOMINANTLY IRISH AS THE ZEIDLER CHILDREN
WERE GROWING UP AND DAD TOLD STORIES ABOUT BEING GERMAN IN AN IRISH NEIGHBORHOOD.
I THINK THAT EXPERIENCE GAVE HIM THE APPRECIATION FOR CULTURAL DIFFERENCES AND MINORITY GROUPS
THAT CHARACTERIZED HIS WORK ALL HIS LIFE. FRANK WAS A VERY PROUD 1929 GRADUATE OF WEST
DIVISION HIGH SCHOOL. HE WAS 16 YEARS OLD WHEN THIS GRADUATION PICTURE
WAS TAKEN, AND SO WHEN HIS OWN CHILDREN GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL, HE NEVER FAILED TO REPEAT
SOME FORM OF THE JOKE, HOW OLD ARE YOU? 18, ONE OF US WOULD ANSWER.
WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE, I WAS 16, HE WOULD SAY. AT LEAST HE THOUGHT IT WAS A JOKE.
DAD ORIGINALLY WANTED TO BE A LATIN TEACHER. HE STARTED CLASSES BOTH AT MARQUETTE, WHERE
HIS TWO OLDER BROTHERS GRADUATED, AND AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, BUT ILL HEALTH FORCED
HIM TO WITHDRAW FROM BOTH, AND HE NEVER EARNED A FORMAL COLLEGE DEGREE.
INSTEAD, HE TOOK COURSE AFTER COURSE BY CORRESPONDENCE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN EXTENSION
INCLUDING WHILE HE WAS MAYOR. HE IS AN INSATIABLE APPETITE FOR KNOWLEDGE
AND I THINK HE ACCUMULATED AT LEAST 120 CREDIT HOURS NEEDED FOR A NORMAL COLLEGE DEGREE,
BUT SCATTERED AMONG MANY DIFFERENT SUBJECTS TO WHICH HIS CURIOUSITY LED HIM.
ONE SURPRISE FROM THE FAMILY ALBUM IS THE 1929 PHOTO.
THE MAN WHO BECAME KNOWN FOR HIS OPPOSITION TO MILITARISM IS IN AN ARMY UNIFORM, AT FORT
SHERIDAN, WHERE HE WENT FOR BASIC TRAINING. THAT EXPERIENCE ALSO ENDED BECAUSE OF POOR
HEALTH. HE WAS DISCHARGED DUE TO A BOUT WITH RHEUMATIC
FEVER AND ALTHOUGH HE LIVED TO BE 93 YEARS OF AGE, HE LONG SUFFERED FROM WHAT HE TERMED
A POOR HEART. PERHAPS BECAUSE OF THIS ILLNESS.
DURING THE 1930’S, DAD WORKED AS A FARM HAND AND THEN AS A SURVEYOR FOR SMALL BUSINESSES.
DURING WORLDWARII, HE WORKED WITH AN ENGINEERING TEAM ON RAILROAD PROJECTS FOR
THE MILWAUKEE ROAD. PICTURED HERE IN THE FRONT YARD AT 33rdSTREET,
FRANK LIVED ONLY A COUPLE OF BLOCKS FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD LIBRARY.
AND DURING THE 1930’S, HE SPENT HOURS READING AT THE MERRILL PARK BRANCH OF THE MILWAUKEE
PUBLIC LIBRARY. HE STUDIED THE WRITINGS OF EUGENE VICTOR DEBS
AND NORMAN THOMAS, WHICH LED HIM TO JOIN THE SOCIALIST PARTY IN THE EARLY 1930’S.
IN HIS WORDS, HE WAS DRAWN TO SOCIALISM, “BECAUSE OF SEVERAL THINGS IN ITS PHILOSOPHY.”
ONE WAS THE BROTHERHOOD OF PEOPLE, ALL OVER THE WORLD, ANOTHER WAS THE EQUAL DISTRIBUTION
OF ECONOMIC GOODS, ANOTHER WAS THE STRUGGLE FOR PEACE, ANOTHER, THE IDEAL OF COOPERATION,
A FIFTH WAS THE IDEA OF DEMOCRATIC PLANNING IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS.
THESE WERE PRETTY GOOD IDEAS, HE CONCLUDED, SO HE BECAME ACTIVE IN THE YOUNG PEOPLE’S
SOCIALIST LEAGUE AND OTHER GROUPS. ONE OF HIS CONTRIBUTIONS WAS AS A WRITER.
HE DID SOME STORIES FOR THE MILWAUKEE LEADER, THE CITY THAT’S SOCIALIST DAILY NEWSPAPER,
AS WELL AS VERSUS FOR THE SONG THAT A YOUNG PEOPLE’S PEACE CHOIR SANG.
HAPPILY, THAT’S HOW HE MET OUR MOTHER. AGNES, THE DAUGHTER OF LITHUANIAN IMMIGRANTS,
HAD A BEAUTIFUL SINGING VOICE. HERE SHE IS ON WISCONSIN AVENUE IN 1939.
A YEAR EARLIER, DAD WENT TO THE SOCIALIST MEETING HALL ON A DAY THAT MOM HAD ARRIVED
EARLY. AS A GRADUATE OF MILWAUKEE GIRLS TECHNICAL
HIGH SCHOOL, SHE NOTICED THAT THE WINDOWS WERE DIRTY, AND SO SHE DECIDED TO WASH THEM.
TO PROPERLY CLEAN THE OUTSIDE, SHE SAT ON THE WINDOW SEAL HANGING OUT.
DAD PULLED HER IN, BECAUSE HE THOUGHT IT WAS DANGEROUS, AND THAT BEGAN THEIR MORE THAN
67 YEAR PARTNERSHIP. THEY MARRIED IN 1939, AND ANNOUNCED THE UNION
THE FOLLOWING SPRING. EXACTLY WHY THEY ELOPED, I DON’T KNOW, BUT
I BET ONE REASON WAS LACK OF MONEY, AND I BET ANOTHER WAS THAT MOM’S FATHER, EMIL, WAS
NOT EXCITED ABOUT A SOCIALIST, ESPECIALLY IF THAT SOCIALIST COURTED HIS FAVORITE DAUGHTER.
BUT THAT’S ALL ANOTHER STORY. THE MORE INTERESTING QUESTION IS HOW TO EXPLAIN
THIS YOUNG MAN’S ELECTION TO THE MAYOR’S OFFICE EIGHT YEARS LATER.
I THINK MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE THAT DAD BENEFITED FROM SHARING A LAST NAME WITH HIS POPULAR
OLDER BROTHER CARL. THERE IS CERTAINLY TRUTH TO THAT.
CARL DAZZLED. IT’S EVIDENT FROM THIS PHOTOGRAPH OF HIM AND
DAD ON THE PORCH SWING AT THEIR FAMILY HOME. CARL WAS TALL, HANDSOME, BLONDE, HAD A BEAUTIFUL
SINGING VOICE, HE WAS SUCCESSFUL, ATHLETIC AND HE WAS A BACHELOR.
HE JOINED EVERY POSSIBLE ORGANIZATION IN TOWN AND BY ALL ACCOUNTS, HE LIT UP THE ROOM WHEN
HE ENTERED. PICTURED HERE, GIVING HIS INAUGURAL ADDRESS,
CARL WAS ELECTED MAYOR IN 1940 AT AGE 32. HE DEFEATED DAN HOAN, A SOCIALIST, WHO HAD
SERVED FOR 24 YEARS. THEN TWO YEARS LATER, TWO YEARS INTO CARL’S
FOUR YEAR TERM, HE RESIGNED TO JOIN THE WAR WITH SERVICE IN THE NAVAL RESERVE AND SIX
MONTHS AFTER THAT, HE WAS LOT AT SEA WHEN LOST AT SEA WHEN THE SUPPLY VESSEL HE WAS
DEFENDING WAS TORPEDOED. THERE WAS AN ENORMOUS SENSE OF LOSS POTENTIAL
AND IT LINGERED A LONG TIME. SO BEING CARL’S YOUNGER BROTHER WAS AN ASSET
FOR THE 1948 CAMPAIGN, BUT NOT BECAUSE VOTERS THOUGHT THEY WERE GETTING CARL AND FRANK.
AS HISTORIAN JOHN GURDA POINTED OUT, CARL AND FRANK WERE VERY DIFFERENTLY.
DAD WAS A SURVEYOR, NOT A LAWYER. HE WAS A SOCIALIST AND CARL WAS NOT.
MOREOVER, CARL, AS GURDA WROTE, WAS THE ULTIMATE EXTROVERT, WHILE FRANK SEEMED TO ATRACK TERMS
LIKE BOOKISH AND BESPECKLED. SO I THINK ATTRIBUTING FRANK’S VICTORY JUST
TO CARL’S LEGACY IGNORES SOME IMPORTANT FACTS. ONE IS THAT DAD HAD THE SUPPORT OF A STRONG
GROUP THAT CAME TO BE CALLED THE PUBLIC ENTERPRISE COMMITTEE.
AND I LIKE THAT NAME. IT CONVEYS AN IMPORTANT PART OF DAD’S POLITICAL
PERSPECTIVE. PRIVATE ENTERPRISE IS IMPORTANT TO A STRONG
ECONOMY, BUT WHEN IT CANNOT OR WILL NOT MEET THE NEEDS OF A COMMUNITY AND ITS PEOPLE, PUBLIC
ENTERPRISE MUST STEP IN. ATTRIBUTING TOO MUCH TO CARL’S LEGACY
[APPLAUSE]>>ATTRIBUTING TOO MUCH TO CARL’S LEGACY,
ALSO IGNORES SOME NOTABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF MY FATHER.
DAD WAS A VERY ABLE POLITICIAN, AND BY THE TIME THIS 1948 CAMPAIGN PHOTO WAS TAKEN, HE
HAD ALREADY RUN FOR OFFICE MULTIPLE TIMES. INCLUDING WINNING ELECTION AS THE COUNTY SURVEYOR
AND TWO TERMS ON THE SCHOOL BOARD. PICTURED HERE AFTER HIS LAST THE LAST MEETING
OF THAT BOARD, FRANK ZEIDLER HAD MADE A NAME FOR HIMSELF IN PUBLIC SERVICE.
IN 1948, THERE WAS LARECORD FOR VOTERS TO JUDGE.
DAD MAY NOT HAVE BEEN THE ULTIMATE EXTRA UNIVERSITY, BUT EXTROVERT, BUT HE HAD OTHER ATTRIBUTES
THAT WORKED FOR HIM. HE WAS AN EFFECTIVE PUBLIC SPEAKER.
HE OFTEN SPOKE WITHOUT NOTES, BUT NEVER WITHOUT A MESSAGE.
ONE BIT OF ADVICE HE GAVE ME, AS I TOOK PUBLIC OFFICE, WAS NEVER TO STAND AT A MICROPHONE
WITHOUT SOMETHING THOUGHTFUL TO SAY. FOR HIM, PUBLIC SPEAKING WAS THE OPPORTUNITY
TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC ON ISSUES AND DOING THAT PROMOTED A HIGHER LEVEL OF COMMUNITY
ENGAGEMENT. FRANK WAS ALSO A PROLIFIC PUBLIC SPEAKER.
HE GAVE SPEECHES ALL THE TIME ALL OVER THE PLACE.
BEING VISIBLE AND ACCESSIBLE IS IMPORTANT IN CAMPAIGNS, BUT DAD CONTINUED THAT PATTERN
THROUGHOUT HIS TIME IN PUBLIC OFFICE AND FOR MANY DECADES AFTERWARDS.
WHEN HE WAS MAYOR, THE 4th OF JULY WAS THE SUPER BOWL OF HIS ANNUAL SPEECH MAKING.
ON THAT DAY, HE STARTED EARLY, GOING BY MOTORCADE TO PUBLIC PARK AFTER PUBLIC PARK, FOR NEIGHBORHOOD
CELEBRATIONS. AND AT EACH, HE BROUGHT A LITTLE DIFFERENT
MESSAGE CUSTOMIZED TO THAT PART OF THE CITY. ONE OF FRANK’S STRENGTHS WAS A GREAT SENSE
OF HUMOR. HE COULD DELIGHT AN AUDIENCE THROUGH LAUGHTER,
BUT HIS RULE ABOUT JOKES WAS ONLY TO MAKE FUN OF HIMSELF, NOT OTHERS.
SO HERE IS MY FAVORITE OF HIS SELF DEPRECATING JOKES.
ONE DAY WHEN TAKING THE 3rd STREET BUS TO WORK AT CITY HALL, SEATED IN FRONT OF HIM
WERE TWO CITIZENS ENGAGED IN VIGOROUS CONVERSATION ABOUT HIM.
THAT ZEIDLER, ONE OF THEM SAID, HE IS HIS OWN WORST ENEMY.
NOT WHILE I’M ALIVE, THE OTHER ONE SHOT BACK. BEYOND PRESENTING THOUGHTFUL AND ENGAGING
SPEECHES, DAD WAS EFFECTIVE BECAUSE HE DID WHAT HE NEEDED TO DO TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE.
HERE, BLOWING UP BALLOONS WITH CHILDREN, ON JULY4, BUT ALSO, YEAR ROUND AT COMMUNITY
EVENTS, LIKE GERMAN DAY. HE SPENT TIME TALKING WITH PEOPLE, LISTENING
TO THEIR IDEAS AND CONCERNS, WRITING DOWN NOTES TO FOLLOW UP IN THE LITTLE NOTEBOOK
HE ALWAYS CARRIED, AND TODAY, WE CALL THAT GOOD CONSTITUENT SERVICE.
OR IN THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, HE COULD BE GOOD WITH PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES.
IN 1956, WHAT BETTER PLACE COULD A CANDIDATE LOOK FOR VOTES IN MILWAUKEE THAN A BOWLING
ALLEY? A COUPLE OF OTHER IMAGES I CAME ACROSS HOWEVER
ARE HEAD SCRATCHERS. THIS ONE FOR EXAMPLE.
I HAD TO REALLY STUDY IT TO CONVINCE MYSELF IT WAS DAD.
THE MAN WAS SO ANTI GUNS AND VIOLENCE THAT TOY GUNS WERE NOT WELCOME IN OUR HOME UNLESS
IT WAS A WATER PISTOL AND HE DIDN’T LIKE THEM EITHER.
I HAVE NO IDEA THE CONTEXT FOR THIS PHOTOGRAPH. AND THEN THERE’S THIS ONE.
FRANK RIDING A DONKEY ON THE 4th OF JULY, 1948, AND THEN, THIS ONE, ALSO 4th OF JULY,
1948. IT WAS CLEARLY A DIFFERENT TIME.
AND I DOUBT HE’D THINK MUCH OF THIS ONE NOW, BUT THESE ARE THE SILLIEST OR, I THINK, MORE
ACCURATELY, THE MOST SURPRISING OF THE PUBLIC IMAGES OF THAT UNASSUMING YOUNG MAN WHO WAS
BOOKISH AND BESPECKLED. NOT SO SILLY ARE IMAGES LIKE THIS ONE, WHICH
DEMONSTRATED HOW ACCESSIBLE HE WAS TO THE PRESS, NOT ONLY BY RESPONDING TO ALL QUESTIONS,
BUT EVEN BY WRITING PRESS RELEASES TO MAKE THEIR JOB EASIER.
HOWEVER, IN 1948, ONE OF FRANK ZEIDLER’S MOST POTENT CAMPAIGN ATTRIBUTES WAS HIS FAMILY.
WITH SIX YOUNG CHILDREN, THE ATTEMPTS BY OTHER CANDIDATES TO MAKE AN ISSUE OF DAD’S SOCIALISM
DIDN’T GET TOO FAR. THE ZEIDLER FAMILY SIMPLY DID NOT PROJECT
A SCARY IMAGE. AFTER WATCHING THE SPEAKERS AT THE REPUBLICAN
AND DEMOCRATIC CONVENTIONS RECENTLY, AND THEY ALL RECOUNTING THEIR HUMBLED ORIGINS, I SEE
THAT MY PARENTS WERE AHEAD OF THEIR TIME AGAIN. THIS PICNIC TABLE WAS REALLY THE KITCHEN TABLE
FOR THE KIDS IN 1948. BUT THE WINNING CAMPAIGN PHOTO WAS THIS “MILWAUKEE
JOURNAL” PHOTOGRAPH OF THE FAMILY, WALKING DOWN THE STREET, IN THEIR NEAR NORTH SIDE
WORKING CLASS NEIGHBORHOOD, KIDS HOLDING HANDS, PARENTS WITH THE SMALLEST CHILDREN IN THEIR
ARMS, THERE’S REALLY NOTHING THREATENING ABOUT THIS FAMILY MAN.
THE FAMILY THEME WAS USEFUL IN OTHER ELECTION CAMPAIGNS.
HERE’S MOM, PHOTOGRAPHED IN FOR THE 1952 CAMPAIGN, IRONY.
AND AT THE REFRIGERATOR AND TAKING FRESH BREAD FROM THE OVEN.
BY THE 1956 CAMPAIGN, THE CHILDREN WERE ALL OLDER, SO THOSE PHOTOGRAPHS INCLUDED DOROTHY
TAKING THE BREAD OUT OF THE OVEN. CLARA HELPING MOM WITH THE WASH IN THE BACKYARD.
AND ME AND MARY SNEAKING COOKIES OFF THE TOP SHELF WHERE MOM HID THEM.
MY POINT HERE, DAD KNEW HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGN.
AND I LIKE THIS IMAGE AS AN EXAMPLE OF THAT. THESE RECALL THE CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR IN 1956.
IT WAS A BITTER, HOTLY CONTESTED ELECTION THAT INCLUDED PERSONAL ATTACKS AND UGLY RACIST
WHISPERING CAMPAIGN. DAD WAS EVEN CRITICIZED FOR NOT BEING A TEAM
PLAYER, BECAUSE HE REFUSED THE SALARY INCREASE WHEN THE COMMON COUNCIL ACCEPTED ONE.
BUT IN THIS PHOTOGRAPH, THE ONLY CANDIDATE WHO LOOKS APPROACHABLE, ENGAGED AND NOT GRUMPY
IS FRANK ZEIDLER. SO OUT OF THAT GROUP, WHO WOULD YOU VOTE FOR?
DAD WAS MODEST IN HIS ASSESSMENT OF HIMSELF. LATE IN LIFE, TALKING ABOUT HIS ELECTION IN
1948, HE SAID, PEOPLE VOTED FOR THE PERSON WHO COULD BEST MOVE THE SNOW OUT OF MILWAUKEE.
THAT SIMPLE STATEMENT IS A GREAT AFFIRMATION OF THE APPROACH TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT THAT EARNED
THE MILWAUKEE SOCIALIST THE MONIKER, SEWER SOCIALIST.
ORIGINALLY A TERM OF DERISION, COINED BY OTHER LEFTISTS WHOSE POLITICS WERE MORE REVOLUTIONARY,
MILWAUKEE SOCIALISTS LIKE FRANK ZEIDLER EMBRACED THE TERM SEWER SOCIALIST, BECAUSE IT ACKNOWLEDGED
THEIR COMMITMENT TO DELIVERING QUALITY MUNICIPAL SERVICES TO ALL.
IN FACT, THE SEWER SOCIALIST VOICED SOME DESDANE FOR THEIR LEFTIST CRITICS, SCOFFING THAT THEY
COULD NEVER GET ELECTED TO ANY PUBLIC OFFICE. THE OTHER TRUTH IN FRANK’S COMMENT ABOUT SNOW
REMOVAL WAS THAT HE PROBABLY WAS THE BEST CANDIDATE TO GET THE SNOW OUT.
AFTER ALL, HE DID COME WITH A PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE OF SERVING AS COUNTY SURVEYOR, OF WORKING
FOR SMALL BUSINESS AND FOR THE MILWAUKEE ROAD AND HE WAS WELL INFORMED ON URBAN ISSUES.
MAYOR ZEIDLER FOUND A HOST OF ISSUES CONFRONTING MILWAUKEE IN 1948, PERHAPS THE MOST URGENT
WAS TO UPGRADE THE CITY’S NEGLECTED INFRASTRUCTURE. MORE AND IMPROVED HOUSING TOPPED THE LIST,
BUT NOT FAR BEHIND WAS IMPROVED TRANSPORTATION, MODERNIZED UTILITIES AND PUBLIC SAFETY.
DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND WORLDWARII, LIMITED RESOURCES RESULTED IN THE DETERIORATION
OF OLDER HOMES, LIKE THESE ON WALL NET STREET. THE WAR PUT ADDED PRESSURE ON HOUSING AS THE
CITY’S MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY GEARED UP FOR THE WAR EFFORT AND ITS WORKFORCE NEEDED HOUSING.
AFTER THE WAR, RETURNING VETERANS SWELLED THESE NUMBERS EVEN MORE.
MY OWN PARENTS COULD NOT FIND HOUSING FOR THEIR GROWING FAMILY IN MILWAUKEE.
AND IN THE EARLY 1940’S, THEY RENTED A HOUSE IN WATERTOWN.
MOM AND THE CHILDREN STAYED THERE AND DAD TOOK THE TRAIN INTO MILWAUKEE ON MONDAY, RETURNING
ON FRIDAY. THIS IS NORTH WATER STREET, IN A PHOTO TAKEN
FOR A BLITHE ELIMINATION PROJECT. IT SHOWS THE CONGESTED LIVING CONDITIONS IN
THE INNER CITY, EVEN NEAR CITY HALL. SO FRANK ZEIDLER CAME IN TO OFFICE, PROMISING
TO ADD 10,000 NEW AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS, AND THREE PROJECTS FOR VETERANS WERE BUILT
BETWEEN 1948 AND 1953. NORTH LAWN, BARRY LAWN AND SOUTH LAWN AND
ONE PROJECT FOR LOW INCOME RESIDENTS, WEST LAWN, SHOWN HERE AT THE GROUND BREAKING.
IN 1948, MILWAUKEE DEVELOPMENTERS CAST A BOND REFERENDUM TO BUILD THOSE THREE PROJECTS FOR
VETERANS, BUT PUBLIC SENTIMENT QUICKLY SHIFTED. VETERANS PROJECTS HAD SUPPORT, BUT LOW INCOME
HOUSING DID NOT. SOME FEARED THAT PUBLIC HOUSING ATTRACTED
NEW RESIDENTS WHO WANTED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT SOCIALIST HOUSING.
AND SOON, THIS ISSUE BECAME ENTANGLED IN THE RACIAL POLITICS OF THE TIME AS AFRICAN AMERICANS
MOVED INTO THE CITY FOR EMPLOYMENT IN THE ROBUST MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY.
THIS PHOTOGRAPH DEPICTS MAYOR ZEIDLER PRESENTING THE KEYS TO NEW HOMES IN THE HILLSIDE HOUSING
PROJECT. NOTABLY, THE NEW RESIDENTS ARE BOTH AFRICAN
AMERICAN AND WHITE FAMILIES, DAD WOULDN’T ALLOW PUBLIC HOUSING TO BE SEGREGATED.
BUT MOMENTUM AGAINST PUBLIC HOUSING EVENTUALLY BLOCKED FRANK’S AMBITIOUS HOURSING GOALS FOR
LOW INCOME AND MIDDLE CLASS WORKING FAMILIES. ANOTHER ISSUE WAS TRANSPORTATION, AND THIS
PHOTOGRAPH ILLUSTRATES THE PROBLEM. IT WAS TAKEN RIGHT NEAR COUNTY STADIUM AND
ITS CAPTION IS REALLY TELLING. HAWLEY ROAD LOOKING NORTH, NONBALLGAME DAY,
TUESDAY, MAY 5, 1953, 4:59P.M. TWO THINGS ARE REVEALED IN THIS PHOTOGRAPH.
MORE AND MORE WORKING PEOPLE HAD ACCESS TO AUTOMOBILES FOR PERSONAL TRANSPORTATION, AND
MORE AND MORE FAMILIES WERE MOVING TO THE EDGE OF THE CITY TO FIND HOUSING.
HERE IS THE THIRD STREET SHOPPING DISTRICT, ABOUT 1950.
AND WISCONSIN AVENUE, ABOUT THE SAME TIME. IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THESE STREETS WERE PLANNED
FOR AN EARLIER ERA OF HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGES AND FEW CARS.
DAD, OF COURSE, WAS A LONG STANDING ADVOCATE FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.
HE NEVER DROVE A CAR AND HE USED CITY BUSES REGULARLY, UNTIL HE WAS NEARLY 90 YEARS OLD.
BUT HE WAS ALSO A REALISTIC PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR, WHO RECOGNIZED THAT CHANGES WERE OCCURRING
AND SO EARLY IN HIS TENURE, HE EMBRACED THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE MILWAUKEE FREEWAY SYSTEM.
THE PEOPLE’S HIGHWAY, HE CALLED IT. HE BELIEVED IT WOULD HELP GET WORKING PEOPLE
TO THEIR HOMES AND THEIR JOBS SAFELY AND EFFICIENTLY. MILWAUKEE ALSO IMPROVED ITS MASS TRANSIT SYSTEM,
ENCOURAGING ITS USE AS A CONVENIENT AND LESS EXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE FOR SOME, WHILE MILWAUKEE
ALSO ACCOMMODATED INCREASING NUMBERS OF AUTOMOBILES, BY INSTALLING PARKING METERS, CREATING PARKING
LOTS AND BUILDING PARKING STRUCTURES. SIMPLY PUT, WHEN FRANK ZEIDLER WAS IN OFFICE,
THE CITY OF MILWAUKEE MODERNIZED. THESE HORSE DRAWN GARBAGE WAGONS WERE RETIRED
AND REPLACED BY MODERN VEHICLES. GROUND WAS BROKEN FOR A NEW SPORTS ARENA,
CONSTRUCTED NEXT TO THE CIVIC AUDITORIUM. NEW LIBRARIES WERE BUILT.
THE MAIN LIBRARY ON WISCONSIN AVENUE RECEIVED A MAJOR ADDITION.
DAD CALLED LIBRARIES THE PEOPLE’S UNIVERSITY, FOR THEY OFFERED RESOURCES FOR SELF EDUCATION.
A NEW PUBLIC MUSEUM BUILDING WAS PLANNED. THE WAR MEMORIAL, ART CENTER WAS CONSTRUCTED
ON THE LAKEFRONT, AND TO ACCOMMODATE THE EMPLOYEES OF A GROWING CITY, A NEW MUNICIPAL BUILDING
WAS BUILT. AND YEARS LATER, IT WAS NAMED FOR FRANK ZEIDLER
AS SHOWN IN THIS PHOTOGRAPH. BUT MOST EXCITING OF ALL IN THE 1950’S, THE
BOSTON BRAVES MADE MILWAUKEE ITS HOMETOWN IN 1953.
AND DAD WORKED HARD TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN. NOW, HE PLAYED A ROLE IN THE CONSTRUCTION
OF COUNTY STADIUM AS THEIR HOME FIELD. PARADES WELCOMED THE TEAM AND CELEBRATED THEIR
VICTORIES. THE MILWAUKEE BRAVES ARE STILL LEGENDARY,
BECAUSE OF THEIR MANY RENOWNED PLAYERS, INCLUDING BATTING ACE HENRY AARON.
THIS TEAM ADDED IMMENSELY TO THE CIVIC PRIDE AND NATIONAL REPUTATION, ESPECIALLY AFTER
THEY WON THE WORLD SERIES IN 1957, AS RECOGNIZED IN THIS TRIBUTE ON CITY HALL.
DAD WAS A STRONG SUPPORTER OF EDUCATION, K 12 AND BEYOND.
PICTURED HERE IS THE EXCHANGE OF LAND AGREEMENTS THAT BROUGHT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN EXTENSION
FACILITIES TO DOWNTOWN. THAT MOVE MADE ITS PROGRAMS MORE ACCESSIBLE
FOR CITIZENS, AND POSITIONED THE EXTENSION TO ENGAGE WITH THE CITY IN ADDRESSING PRESSING
URBAN ISSUES. BUT ONE OF HIS PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS WAS
BRINGING A FULL FLEDGED, FOUR YEAR PUBLIC COLLEGE TO THE CITY.
HIS PRIDE IS EVIDENT WHEN HE RECEIVED THE FIRST HONORARY DEGREE FROM THE UNIVERSITY
OF WISCONSIN MILWAUKEE. IN 1959, THE OPENING OF THE ST.LAWRENCE
SEAWAY WAS A MAJOR INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS. IT SUPPORTED MILWAUKEE’S ECONOMIC HEALTH FOR
DECADES. AND AT THE OPENING EVENT, MOM AND DAD WERE
INTRODUCED TO QUEEN ELIZABETH AND PRINCE PHILLIP. THE NEWSPAPER REPORTED THAT WHEN DAD SAID
HE WAS FROM MILWAUKEE, PRINCE PHILLIP ENTHUSIASTICALLY REPLIED, THAT’S WHERE THEY MAKE BEER.
I DO NOT KNOW HOW MY NONBEER DRINKING, TEE TOTALING DAD TOOK THAT.
PUBLIC SAFETY WAS MODERNIZED, EVEN ADDING A NEW FIREBOAT TO PROTECT MILWAUKEE’S EXTENSIVE
LAKE AND RIVER FRONT. THE CITY ALSO LAUNCHED PUBLIC INFORMATION
CAMPAIGNS, URGING PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR HEALTH AND SAFETY.
THIS ONE IS FOR SAFE VEHICLE AND PEDESTRIAN TRAVEL.
BUT DAD’S CONCERN FOR PUBLIC SAFETY CAME PARTLY FROM HIS EXPERIENCE.
A FAMILY MEMBER WAS KILLED BY A CAR WHEN DAD WAS YOUNG.
MOM’S MOTHER WAS HIT BY A HIT AND RUN DRIVER KILLED BY A HIT AND RUN DRIVER JUST AFTER
THE BIRTH OF HER FIRST GRANDCHILD. AND THAT GRANDCHILD, MY SISTER CLARA PICTURED
HERE IN A HOSPITAL BED, WAS HIT BY A CAR A BLOCK FROM HOME IN 1949.
THAT SAME YEAR, AS THE ZEIDLER FAMILY BENEFITED AGAIN FROM MILWAUKEE’S FIRST RESPONDERS WHEN
AT CHRISTMAS, I SET THE TREE ON FIRE. CONSUMING ALL OF THE PRESENTS AND CREATING
THE MESS THAT DAD IS EXAMINING. GUN CONTROL WAS ALSO PART OF THE PUBLIC SAFETY
PROGRAM AND HERE, MAYOR ZEIDLER EVEN ENLIPSED THE LONE RANGER TO HELP DELIVER THE MESSAGE.
THE. PUBLIC SAFETY BECAME A CRUSADE OF FRANK ZEIDLER’S
FOR ANOTHER REASON. HE TRAVELED TO NEVADA TO WITNESS THE DETONATION
OF A BOMB AND IT MADE A TREMENDOUS IMPRESSION UPON HIM, MAKING HIM VERY AWARE OF HIS RESPONSIBILITIES
AS MAYOR. THIS WAS THE COLD WAR, AND DUE TO ITS LARGE
MANUFACTURING BASE, HE BELIEVED THAT MILWAUKEE WAS A PRIME TARGET.
HE EVEN OVERCAME HIS AVERSION TO FLYING, SO HE COULD STUDY EVACUATION ROUTES.
DAD BECAME A RECOGNIZED LEADER IN CIVIL DEFENSE PLANNING, TESTIFYING BEFORE CONGRESSIONAL
COMMITTEES IN WASHINGTON. IN THE CITY WERE SIGNED EVACUATIONS, SHELTERS
IN PUBLIC BUILDS, DUSK AND COVER DRILLS IN SCHOOLS AND STEEL IDENTIFICATION BRACELETS
THAT ALL ZEIDLERS WORE AND I THINK MOM HAS HERS ON HERE.
BUT FOR MILWAUKEE TODAY, THE LASTING IMPACT OF FRANK ZEIDLER’S A LASTING IMPACT OF
FRANK ZEIDLER’S 12 YEARS AS MAYOR WAS HIS AGGRESSIVE PROGRAM OF LAND ANNEXATION THAT
DOUBLED THE SIZE OF THE CITY. DEEDS FOR LAND WERE TRANSFERRED TO THE CITY
AS RECORDED IN THIS PHOTOGRAPH. WHY?
THERE WERE SEVERAL GOALS. ONE WAS TO CREATE NEW NEIGHBORHOODS TO ALLEVIATE
INNER CITY CROWDING AND PROVIDE HOUSING FOR THOSE DISPLACED BY URBAN RENEWAL.
ANOTHER WAS TO KEEP AFFLUENT CITIZENS IN THE CITY.
A THIRD WAS THAT MILWAUKEE’S INDUSTRIAL BASE NEEDED THE OPPORTUNITY TO GROW AND TO MODERNIZE
AND GROW WITHIN THE CITY, WOULD KEEP GROWTH WITHIN THE CITY WOULD KEEP THE JOBS AND THE
TAX BASE FROM PRIVATE INDUSTRY AS A CITY RESOURCE. MORE LAND WAS NEEDED TO ACHIEVE THESE GOALS,
AND THE CITY NEEDED TO GROW TO PROSPER. MILWAUKEE’S MOST POTENT WEAPON TO ATTRACT
AREAS TO ANNEX WAS THE PROMISE OF EXCELLENT CITY SERVICES ESPECIALLY WATER, BUT ALSO INFRASTRUCTURE
IMPROVEMENTS LIKE THESE AT 76thAND APPLETON AVENUE.
BUT FOR FRANK ZEIDLER, ANNEXATION WAS ALSO A PART OF THE CIVIL DEFENSE STRATEGY.
DISPERSING RESIDENTIAL, COMMERCIAL, AND INDUSTRIAL SITES THROUGH PLANNING AND ZONING MEANT THAT
ENEMY BOMBS COULD DO LESS DAMAGE. SO BETWEEN 1948 AND 1960, MILWAUKEE DOUBLED
IN SIZE TO MORE THAN 95 SQUARE MILES. DAD’S VISION WAS FOR ONE COHESIVE MUNICIPAL
GOVERNMENT WITH A DIVERSE POPULATION AND A STRONG ECONOMIC BASE.
WHILE THAT WASN’T FULLY REALIZED, IN 1960, DUE TO THE SUCCESS OF ANNEXATION, MILWAUKEE’S
POPULATION WAS AT AN ALL TIME HIGH OF MORE THAN 740,000 RESIDENTS.
FRANK ZEIDLER WAS A VISIONARY LEADER, AND NOT JUST A CAR TAKER MAYOR.
[APPLAUSE] FOR ALL THE IMPROVEMENTS, EXPANSION AND MODERNIZATION
OF MILWAUKEE, PROBABLY THE MOST ADMIRED CHARACTERISTIC OF DAD’S ADMINISTRATION IS IT SUMMED UP IN
THE WORDS CLEAN GOVERNMENT. THIS PHOTOGRAPH WAS TAKEN DURING THE 1956
CAMPAIGN, AND CLEAN GOVERNMENT WAS CERTAINLY A THEME.
HE WAS UNFAILINGLY HONEST AND ABOVE CORRUPTION. AND EVEN HIS POLITICAL OPPONENTS KNEW IT.
DAD SAID THAT MILWAUKEEANS WANT THEIR REPRESENTATIVES TO COME IN TO OFFICE POOR AND LEAVE PENNYLESS.
I DON’T KNOW ABOUT POOR AND PENNYLESS, BUT I DO KNOW THAT FRANK ZEIDLER WASN’T IN PUBLIC
SERVICE FOR WHAT IT COULD PROVIDE HIM OR HIS FAMILY.
THE OTHER OVERRIDING CHARACTERISTIC OF MY FATHER’S TENURE AS MAYOR IS THAT HE CONSISTENTLY
CHAMPIONED EQUITY AND DIVERSITY AND I AM VERY PROUD OF THAT.
[APPLAUSE] FRANK ZEIDLER LEFT OFFICE IN APRIL OF 1960.
AS THE SIGN ON CITY HALL INDICATED, THERE WAS A CIVIC TRIBUTE TO HIM, AND I THINK ALSO
TO OUR MOTHER. AGNES WAS A FULL PARTNER.
WHETHER AT OFFICIAL FUNCTIONS LIKE THIS HOSPITAL CELEBRATION, WELCOMING CELEBRITY VISITORS,
SUCH AS ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, SHE ALSO VISITED PATIENTS AT THE VETERANS HOME, TOOK HER GIRL
SCOUT TROOPS CAROLING, SERVED AS PTA PRESIDENT, WORKED WITH THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS AND
CHURCH WOMEN UNITED. SHE CANVASSED DOOR TO DOOR FOR THE MARCH OF
DIMES, WHILE DAD GAVE VISIBILITY TO THE SAME CHARITY ANOTHER WAY.
WHETHER IT WAS APPEARING AT CIVIC AND COMMUNITY FUNCTIONS OR TAKING RED CROSS FIRST AID TRAINING,
MOM WAS A GREAT ASSET. SHE COULD EVEN USUALLY COAX HER KIDS INTO
SMILING FOR A CAMERA, EVEN THOUGH THEY KNEW THEY’D BE TEASED AT SCHOOL WHEN THE PICTURE
APPEARED IN THE NEWSPAPER. AND FRANKLY, SOME OF THOSE PICTURES ARE PRETTY
EMBARRASSING. THIS ONE APPEARED IN NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC.
OR WORSE, THIS ONE FROM “THE MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL” ON THE MORNING AFTER THE 1956 ELECTION
WHEN THE PAPER WANTED THE PICTURE AND THE KIDS WERE LATE FOR SCHOOL.
BUT MOM WAS WARM, POSITIVE, GENEROUS, APPROACHABLE, AND SMART.
SHE WAS ANOTHER PAIR OF EYES AND EARS FOR DAD AND SHE RAN HIS CAMPAIGN OFFICE.
THEY ALSO SHARED RESPONSIBILITY AT HOME. DAD ASTONISHED PEOPLE FREQUENTLY BY ANSWERING
THE FRONT DOOR, WEARING ONE OF MOM’S APRONS OVER HIS SUIT PANTS AND WHITE SHIRT BECAUSE
HE WAS DOING HOUSEWORK AND I WISH I HAD A PICTURE OF THAT.
FRANK ZEIDLER WAS 47 YEARS OLD WHEN HE CHOSE NOT TO SEEK REELECTION.
HE SAID HE WAS TIRED, YET AS A PRIVATE CITIZEN, HE DIDN’T STOP SERVING THIS CITY OR BEING
A CHAMPION FOR THE CAUSES HE CARED ABOUT. HE TAUGHT US ABOUT COMMITMENT, THAT INCLUDED
PERSISTENCE, LOYALTY, COURAGE, AND SELFLESSNESS. DAD, HERE AT THE GRAVE OF EUGENE DEBS REMAINED
COMMITTED TO THE SOCIALIST PARTY WITH ITS IDEALS OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL JUSTICE AND
WORLD PEACE. THE IDEALS THAT INSPIRED BOTH OF OUR PARENTS
IN THE 1930’S. HE SPOKE AT THE SOCIALIST PARTY’S 100thANNIVERSARY,
AWARE THAT HE HAD PAID A PERSONAL PRICE FOR HIS ALLEGIANCE.
FOR  FOR ONE THING, IT COST BOTH MY MOTHER AND FATHER EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
AFTER THE 1950’S. BUT THESE WERE GOALS NOT TO ABANDON BUT TO
CONTINUALLY STRIVE FOR. FRANK AND AGNES ZEIDLER WERE COMMITTED TO
MILWAUKEE, TO WORK TO MAKE THIS THE BEST POSSIBLE COMMUNITY FOR ALL CITIZENS.
AND THAT MEANT COMMITMENT TO THE CITY’S SOCIAL, POLITICAL, CIVIC, AND RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS.
DAD NEVER GAVE UP HIS SUPPORT OF THE LABOR MOVEMENT.
IN THIS PHOTOGRAPH WITH PRESIDENT HARRYTRUMAN ON LABOR DAY, 1956.
AND IN THIS ONE, 40 YEARS LATER, WITH MY SISTER DOROTHY, A UNION MEMBER, AT LABOR DAY 1996.
HE APPEARED EVERY YEAR AT THE COMMEMORATION OF THE BAY VIEW MASSACRE TO HONOR THE WORKERS
KILLED IN THE STRUGGLE FOR THE EIGHT HOUR DAY.
HE SUPPORTED THE INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE, WHOSE WORK FURTHERS APPRECIATION AND UNDERSTANDING
OF OTHERS. [APPLAUSE]
FOR DECADES, HE CHAIRED THE LOCAL UNITED NATIONS CHAPTER, AS A WAY TO PURSUE WORLD PEACE.
HE WAS PROUD OF MILWAUKEE INSTITUTIONS LIKE THE TURNERS AND JOINED IN THEIR CELEBRATIONINGS.
HE WAS AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE WEST DIVISION ALUMNI ASSOCIATION UNTIL THE END.
AND HE ENJOYED COMMUNITY EVENTS, SUCH AS GERMAN DAY.
THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE LIST. THERE ARE MORE ORGANIZATIONS, THE INTERFAITH
COUNCIL FOR ONE, THE WORLD FEDERALIST FOR ANOTHER, THE PUBLIC ENTERPRISE COMMITTEE.
I JUST CAN’T BEGIN TO NAME THEM ALL. COMMITMENT TO MILWAUKEE ALSO MEANT COMMITMENT
TO THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD. THEY LIVED IN THE SAME, NEAR NORTH SIDE HOUSE
FOR MORE THAN 60 YEARS, BECAUSE IT FIT THEIR VISION OF A FUTURE MILWAUKEE.
THAT VISION IS ONE WITH RACIAL AND ECONOMIC HARMONY, BUT IT’S ALSO A VISION OF AN URBAN
COMMUNITY THAT WORKS. THAT NEIGHBORHOOD STILL HAS EASY ACCESS TO
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, IT’S LOCATED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NEARLY A DOZEN PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS.
THE LIBRARY BRANCH IS A BLOCK AWAY. THE FIRE AND POLICE STATIONS, NOT MUCH FURTHER.
MY PARENTS NEVER GAVE UP THEIR DREAM FOR MILWAUKEE. AND SO IN 1960, MOM AND DAD JOINED WITH NEIGHBORS
TO FORM THE NORTHCENTRAL COMMUNITY COUNCIL, WHICH STILL MEETS TODAY AND WORKS ON BEHALF
OF THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD. [APPLAUSE]
AND FINALLY, COMMITMENT TO MILWAUKEE MEANT COMMITMENT TO FAMILY.
PERHAPS A FEW OF YOU KNOW THAT THE HOME MY PARENTS LIVED IN WAS OWNED BY MY GRANDFATHER,
MICHAEL ZEIDLER, UNTIL HIS DEATH IN 1970. THE RENTS THAT MY PARENTS PAID ENSURED THAT
GRANDPA HAD A STEADY INCOME WELL IN TO HIS 90’S.
BUT AS PUBLIC PARENTS, MY FATHER AND MOTHER HAD THEIR CHALLENGES.
WHEN WE WERE SMALL, ALL OF US AT TIMES THOUGHT WE WEREN’T GETTING ENOUGH ATTENTION FROM THEM.
THEY WERE BUSY WITH PUBLIC DUTIES AND THERE WERE SIX OF US AFTER ALL.
THAT WAS QUITE A GROUP. SO A FEW YEARS AFTER THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN,
ANITA, MARY AND I WENT WITH MOM AND DAD TO THE OPENING OF A NEW PARKING LOT.
AFTER THE RIBBON CUTTING, THE LAST OF KIDS GOT IN LINE TO GET DAD’S AUTOGRAPH AND SO
WE THOUGHT WE WOULD PULL A TRICK ON HIM. WE EACH GOT IN LINE AND HANDED HIM A PIECE
OF PAPER FOR AN AUTOGRAPH, VERY SURE HE’D NEVER RECOGNIZE HIS OWN DAUGHTERS.
HE SIGNED IT WITHOUT LOOKING UP, AND I WALKED AWAY GLEEFUL THAT WE HAD FINALLY HAD PROOF
THAT DAD WAS TOO BUSY TO NOTICE US. AND THEN I LOOKED AT MY PAPER AND IT SAID,
TO JEANNETTE FROM HER PA. SAME WITH ANITA’S AND MARY’S.
THE FACT IS, THAT DAD DID FIND TIME FOR HIS CHILDREN, WHETHER IT WAS TAKING THEM TO PUBLIC
EVENTS. HERE’S ANITA AT THE STOCK CAR RACES.
OR PLAYING THE PIANO AND SINGING SONGS FROM THE POGO BOOK, MAKING UP STORIES FOR BEDTIME,
WALKING TO THE PARK FOR BASEBALL, OR STUDYING MOTORS WITH MIKE.
THERE WERE FAMILY OUTINGS TO THE LIBRARY, OR HELPING CLARA WITH MATH AT THE DINING ROOM
TABLE. OUR PARENTS WERE INVOLVED WITH EACH OF US.
THIS DINING ROOM TABLE, BY THE WAY, LATER BECAME DAD’S MAJOR WORKPLACE AT HOME FOR MANY
DECADES AS HE WROTE SPEECHES AND LECTURES, DECIDED LABOR DISPUTES, AND ENGAGED IN HIS
EXTENSIVE NETWORK OF CORRESPONDENCE. THE HOME AT 2921 NORTH 2nd STREET WELCOMED
STRANGERS, WELCOMED FRIENDS, AND ESPECIALLY WELCOMED THE EXTENDED FAMILY NETWORK.
THESE ARE SOME OF THE ZEIDLER CHILDREN, GRANDCHILDREN, AND GREAT GRANDCHILDREN.
NIECES, NEPHEWS, COUSINS, ALL WERE IMPORTANT TO MOM AND DAD, AND FAMILY WAS NOT LIMITED
BY BLOOD. THIS PHOTOGRAPH WAS TAKEN AT THE CELEBRATION
OF MY PARENTS’ 65thWEDDING ANNIVERSARY. A REMARKABLE THING ABOUT THEM IS THAT THEY
FOUND IDEALS WHICH SERVED THEM WELL FOR MORE THAN 65 YEARS.
THEY WERE ALWAYS CONSTANT WHETHER THOSE VALUES WERE IN VOGUE OR NOT.
THEY ARE VALUES WHICH I AM PROUD, BECAUSE THEY ARE A BLUEPRINT FOR POSITIVE CHANGE,
FOR PROMOTING HUMAN PROGRESS AS DAD WOULD SAY.
SO ONE OF MY FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHS FROM OUR FAMILY ALBUM IS THIS PHOTOGRAPH OF MY FATHER,
TAKEN ABOUT 1948, HE’S THE ONE HOLDING THE GLASS OF MILK FOR THIS TOAST, NOT BEER.
I LIKE IT BECAUSE IT IS A SYMBOL OF COMMITMENT TO YOUR BELIEFS, TO BEING DIFFERENT IF YOU
NEED TO BE, BUT TO ALSO JOINING WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS IN A COMMON EFFORT.
DAD DID NOT ALLOW IDEOLOGY TO PREVENT COLLABORATION, COMPROMISE, AND PROGRESS.
[APPLAUSE] SO I’M GOING TO END WITH TWO QUOTES FROM DAD
THAT SUM OF HIS PHILOSOPHY AND HAVE MEANING TODAY.
THE FIRST IS ABOUT SOCIALISM. A WORD THAT IS TOO OFTEN USED NEGATIVELY.
DAD DESCRIBES SOCIALISM IN THIS WAY. SOCIALISM BELIEVES THAT PEOPLE WORKING TOGETHER
FOR A COMMON GOOD CAN PRODUCE A GREATER BENEFIT, BOTH FOR SOCIETY, AND FOR THE INDIVIDUAL,
THAN CAN A SOCIETY IN WHICH EVERYONE IS SHREWDLY SEEKING THEIR OWN SELF INTEREST.
[APPLAUSE]>>I JUST DON’T SEE THAT AS NEGATIVE.
I THINK THAT IS A VERY POSITIVE OUTLOOK, BUT DAD ALSO COMMENTED ON LIFE, A SUCCESSFUL LIFE,
HE SAID, OPPOSES MILITARISM, DESTRUCTION OFSELF OF CIVIL RIGHTS AND DESPOILIZATION OF THE
PLANET. SO I THINK HE HAD A SUCCESSFUL LIFE.
[APPLAUSE]>>SO RATHER THAN CLOSE WITH THAT WONDERFUL
PHOTOGRAPH OF DAD, I’M GOING TO CLOSE WITH THIS 1967 SNAPSHOT OF HIM, RUNNING ON THE
TRACK IN LAKE PARK. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT HE IN EXPIRES US TO DO
INSPIRES US TO DO, JUST KEEP MOVING, WORKING TO ADVANCE HUMAN PROGRESS ONE COMMUNITY AT
A TIME, EVEN WHEN THE ODDS ARE AGAINST YOU, LIKE WHEN YOU RUN THE TRACK IN A SUIT AND
TIE AND STREET SHOES. THANK YOU.
[APPLAUSE]>>YOU WERE GREAT.
MANY THANKS TO JEANNE ZEIDLER TO CONTINUING TO GIVE US INSPIRATION INTO FRANK ZEIDLER
FOR CONTINUING TO GIVE US INSPIRATION. THAT WAS WONDERFUL, ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL.
WHAT A PERFECT WAY TO CELEBRATE HIS 100thBIRTHDAY. THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOR JOINING US.
IT WAS AR REMARKABLE EVENING. GREAT HISTORY.
AND IT WARMED THE HEARTS. THANK YOU.
THANKS TO THE MILWAUKEE PUBLIC LIBRARY, AND TO MILWAUKEE PUBLIC TELEVISION AS WELL.
[APPLAUSE]

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