Grand Ave. Fountain:  Friendly hangout

            "Outdoor Club" maintained order

Reprinted with permission from Wisconsin Rapids
Tribune, 10-1-88
By Dave Engel
Reprinted with permission
Thanks Dave, both for the permission, and for
doing this article.

“WIS. RAPIDS - For most of its short, happy life,
the Friendly Fountain was hosted by Bob Luzenski,
71, of 4420 Woodhaven Lane.  A slightly edited
version of Bob's reminiscence with me last week is
reproduced here in his own words.“

"When we were kids, we went downtown only with
parents' permission or to go to the dentist or
Howe School was about a block away from our
house at 150 7th St., so we played on the slides and
merry-go-round.  We played baseball in summer
and football in fall.   
Kids just didn't run in the streets.  The only places
I really remember were the Sugar Bowl on 1st
Street and a drug store across the river.  I used to
go in the Sugar Bowl with my older brother,
Theodore, but never alone.
In high school years, we went to the Sugar Bowl
after football and basketball games on weekends.  
During the school week, we never went downtown.
In 1935 I graduated from Lincoln High school and
went to work at Miller’s grocery, 122 8th St. S.,
Karl Bremmer’s office now.  At Miller’s I was a
grocery clerk.
People would come in, and you’d go up to wait on
them.  They’d say they want a pound of butter, a
peck of potatoes, a ring of bologna, a quart of milk,
a pound of coffee.  You’d go get it, put it all
together, and you’d carry it out or they’d carry it
out themselves.
In 1939 I went to work at Consumers Market.  
From there, in 1942, I got friendly greetings from
Uncle Sam – and was discharged in 1946.  For a
short time, I worked at the post office.
Walter Herschleb had bought Nick Vinckle’s ice
cream business and, in 1940, moved into the
building adjacent to the Rapids Theater.
Mr. Herschleb started a business making and
packing ice cream, going around to stores peddling
his ice cream.  When they needed bigger quarters,
Herschlebs built the ice cream plant on 16th Street
and offered their soda fountain/luncheonette for
In 1947 I bought the business but not the building.  
The Herschlebs continued to live upstairs for a
I was all fired up thinking I was going to become a
millionaire in one day:  All I had to do was to take
the money from the cash register to the bank, and
that was all there was to it.
I didn’t realize I would have to work from seven in
the morning until 10 at night seven days a week,
but I enjoyed every minute of it.
As tired as I was from putting in a day’s work, I got
up the next day raring to go back.  I enjoyed
mingling with people and making money, naturally.
The place was called “Herschleb’s”.  Walt
suggested we get another name for it, so I ran a
For a week, people could submit names.  We had
over a thousand.  Norman Johnston came up with
the name “Friendly Fountain”.  We gave him a $50
savings bond.
To be continued on next page
Next Page