White Lake history moves into the WWII era
White Lake’s History – Decade # 3 1936-1945
By Judy Peterson for the Antigo Times
As the Centennial year celebrations and events take place in White Lake this year, we continue to look back and review the happenings during the past decade of 1936-1945.
The Soo Line Railroad Depot was the center of activity in White Lake. The Soo Line had purchased the rail line from the Wisconsin & Northern Railroad back in the previous decade. Passenger service continued and many area residents went down to the valley and beyond to visit families and friends but also to pick up supplies. Others ordered supplies delivered by the railroad. Until the late 1930’s much of the mail came by train. An elderly gentleman hauled the mail to and from the train to the post office. One could almost set their watch by his daily coming and going.
The Chicago & Northwestern built a small depot in White Lake at the end of their rail line, coming from Antigo to carry freight to and from the area to the west and beyond. In 1939 the Chicago & Northwestern brought a special passenger car to carry the White Lake School children to attend the movie “Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs” in Antigo. It was a special time for those children and many commented for years about that special day trip.
In 1938, the White Lake School Board approved the funding to build a gymnasium. It was built in 1939 at a cost of $16,500. White Lake dedicated the new gym with a basketball game between the high school teams from White Lake and Antigo. White Lake won the game 23-19. The seats were filled to capacity with many White Lake and Antigo fans. The same evening the Lily Grade School basketball team played the White Lake Grade School team and won 9-8. It was reported that the gym had an electric scoreboard, showers, lockers and very fine lighting.
It was the beginning of the 1939-1940 conference season for the White Lake team including players with the last names of Bordeau, King, Owens, Berg, Abendschein, Eschenbauch, Sather and Oatman. The team went on to tie for the conference title and went to the conference tournaments. That same season the White Lake team played and beat the Antigo team a second time 23-18.
Yawkey-Bissell Sawmill started a new tradition in 1939. They purchased their first truck for hauling logs and lumber. Traditionally logs came to the mill by rail. But as history shows, trucks would become for many business and entities the way to move material from place to place.
Another happening in White Lake in 1939 was the birth of the first set of twins in White Lake. It happened on a Sunday. The company General Store was always closed on Sundays, but for this event the parents needed additional supplies so the manager of the General Store opened the store for the family. It shows what a close knit community will do for its residents.
The telephone book published by the Langlade Telephone Company from Antigo in November 1942 listed only a limited number of White Lake residents with telephones. Long distance service rates were in place. The cost to call Antigo during the day was $.20 for 5 minutes for station to station calling. Person to person calling was $.30 for 3 minutes. 6 percent taxes were charged in addition to the service rates.
A silver jubilee party for the 25th anniversary of the Yawkey-Bissell Lumber Company and the Village of White Lake was held on May 25, 1941. Over 400 people attended the celebration. Mr. W. W. Gamble, Sr., president of the company was presented with a gold medal engraved with a picture of the mill with a chain designed as a miniature logging chain. The mill was the largest operating mill of its kind in Wisconsin.
In the early 1940’s with the concerns and issues throughout the world, the U.S. Government drafted and recruited many young men to join the armed forces. A sizable number of White Lake area residents joined the service during World War II. Several lost their lives during this decade.
Watch for the next article on Decade # 4: 1946-1955, coming out next week.