John Gurda’s South Side Milwaukee family loved potluck dinners. “From the Jell-O salads at the start of the line through the hot dishes in the middle and on to the pumpkin bars at the end, the food was always hearty, abundant, and certifiably homemade,” he writes. Drawing from Gurda’s long-running Sunday Milwaukee Journal Sentinel column, Brewtown Tales was prepared in the spirit of those fondly remembered meals. The main dish is Milwaukee history, served in a multitude of ways. Readers will find in these pages the biography of a bridge, a requiem for a union, odes to both autumn and spring, a poem about aging, tales of two shipwrecks, a frank take on segregation, a visit to a junkyard, and memories of the summer of ’68, among many other things. There are also side dishes that convey the distinctive flavors of Wisconsin and a few more exotic places, from Vilas County to Vietnam. Thee long-anticipated follow-up to Gurda’s best-selling Cream City Chronicles, Brewtown Tales serves up a fresh collection of essays on life in Milwaukee, and beyond, from one of the Midwest’s most revered historians.
About the author
JOHN GURDA is a Milwaukee-born writer and historian who has been studying his hometown since 1972. He is the author of twenty-three books, including The Making of Milwaukee and Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods. In addition to his work as an author, Gurda is a lecturer, tour guide, and local history columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The common thread in all of his work is an understanding of history as “why things are the way they are.”