‘One of a kind’

File photo by Mark Ignatowski. Carl Sampson will recite the Gettysburg Address for the 70th consecutive year at the Memorial Day program Monday.

Dignified, gracious, and eccentric in a good way.

That’s how Stoughton residents have come to think of Carl Sampson – the tall man in a three-piece suit who undoubtedly has walked more miles in the city than anyone.

He’s regarded as Stoughton’s elder statesman. So it’s only fitting than on Monday, May 26, Sampson will deliver the Gettysburg Address at the city’s Memorial Day ceremony at Mandt Park – for the 70th consecutive year.

Carl was first asked to recite President Abraham Lincoln’s famous two-minute oratory when he was a high school junior, and he’s been asked to repeat that performance every year since 1944.

“A high school boy used to give it every year,” Sampson recalled in an interview with the Hub.


Syttende Mai 2014 photos

Syttende Mai 2014 featured all of the annual favorites, from the Norwegian Dancers and rosemaling sale to the parades and canoe races. But it also added a few wrinkles, including a Kubb exhibition and a strongman competition.

The Norwegian pride was all around. Relive the weekend with these pictures, and look in next week's Hub for some reader-submitted photos and a story about some Norwegian visitors who came to Stoughton to take in the weekend.

Don't forget, if you see anything you like, you can purchase items including mugs or t-shirts with photos on them, or just the photos themselves. Click here to see the photos.


More than just lutefisk

Photos by Derek Spellman. Sons of Norway Lodge Member Ruth Fortney shows Syttende Mai King Sonny Swangstu and third-grade students the basics of Hardanger.

Lutefisk, lefse and fancy dancing is only a small part of the rich Norwegian heritage celebrated in Stoughton.

District third-graders got their annual close-up look at all things Norwegian at the Sons of Norway’s seventh annual Norwegian cultural event at the Mandt Lodge.
Around 260 students from Fox Prairie, Yahara and Kegonsa elementary schools as well as St. Ann’s Catholic School and Martin Luther Christian School visited the lodge on April 8. Welcomed by lodge president Darlene Arneson and youth director Sandy Fleming, the students joined musician David Nelson in singing the Norwegian national anthem. Syttende Mai king and queen Sonny and Linda Swangstu welcomed the students to Syttende Mai weekend, and Stoughton Historical Society members provided a presentation on the Stoughton Historical Museum.


The ‘hurricane’ of 1914 recalled

Many folks remember the Class F3 tornado that cut a half-mile swatch of death and devastation through the Stoughton area on Aug. 18, 2005, but nearly 100 years ago, a similar storm that’s all but faded from local memory caused quite a mess.

According to the May 11 edition of the Stoughton Daily Courier-Hub, one man was killed, two were injured and “hundreds” of farms were wrecked by what the newspaper termed a “hurricane.”

“ … The gale uprooted or snapped off scores of trees, wrecked numerous chimneys, laid low the immense steel ski slide that had been the pride of the local ski club, inflicted damage on the high school to the extent of several hundred dollars and throughout the city wrought damage to property in various ways.”

The storm hit a home where John and his brother Ole Sveum were at, killing John and causing severe scalp and arm wounds to Ole. John Sveum was the only listed fatality from the storm.


Norse Park concession stand grand opening May 17

After about a year’s worth of planning, fundraising and hard work, the new Norse Park concession stand will be open for the summer baseball season.

Everyone is invited to check out the new facility Saturday, May 17. The concession stand will be offering BBQs, hamburgers and hot dogs starting at noon. The game between Utica and Stoughton starts at 2 p.m. with a short program to follow.

The project was the dream of Randy Pernot, a former Stoughton Home Talent League baseball player who is battling cancer. Pernot and a group of organizers made that dream a reality with the help of more than 150 donors this past year.

Committee member Mary Libby told the Hub that the project would not have been possible without the help of the community.


Riding the dream

Photos submitted. Stoughton resident Mike Connor celebrates the start of his cross-country bike trip on June 5 last year by dipping his feet (and bike tires) in the Pacific Ocean at Seaside, Oregon.

As unlikely as it seems, Mike Connor thinks almost anyone could do it.

The longtime Stoughton resident spent 68 days last summer bicycling across the United States, from Seaside, Ore., to Portland, Maine.

That’s 3,696 miles, from June 5 to Aug. 11.

What’s more, Connor, 56, made the solo bike trip entirely self-supported. He put panniers on his bike, carrying a tent, sleeping bag and a few other essentials.

Perhaps “self-supported” is a tad misleading, because more than anything, the journey “renewed my faith in humankind,” Connor said.

“That was the best part for me. In my blog one day I wrote, ‘I eat, I sleep, I pedal and I meet nice people in between.’ That’s really what it came down to,” he said. “There’s nice people all the way across North America.”


RD benefit is Saturday

Enjoy the spring weather and get out and ride motorcycles for a good cause this weekend.

The RD benefit for multiple sclerosis is set for Saturday, May 10, at 714 Taylor Lane. Registration goes from 11 a.m. until noon, with a ride to follow until 4 p.m.

Char Nelson will provide entertainment from 5-6 p.m., with Back Country Roads from 7-10 p.m. Food and beverages are available after 4 p.m.

There is a $20 registration fee.


Take a trip to ‘Neverland’ with St. Ann’s students this weekend

Submitted photo. St. Ann students, from left: Megan Howard as Wendy, Carson Roisum as Hook, Noah Neumeyer as Smee, Matthew Gille as Peter Pan and Margaret Ross as Tinker Bell.

St. Ann students will perform Peter Pan Jr. at the Stoughton Opera House at 7 p.m. Friday, May 9, and 1 p.m. Saturday, May 10.

The 90-minute play follows the high-flying adventures of Peter Pan who whisks Wendy and her siblings away to Neverland to the dismay of Tinker Bell. Along the way, they meet the Lost Boys, Mermaids, Indians, Fairies, and the infamous pirates led by Captain Hook and his mate, Smee.

Tickets will be sold at the door. They are $7 for adults and $4 for children 10 and under as well as $4 for senior citizens. For more information, contact Diane Neumeyer at 235-3274.


Opera singer back to perform


New York opera singer Jeni Houser returns to her native Stoughton on Sunday to give a recital at Christ Lutheran Church.

She will sing with colleague Courtney Miller, of Middleton. Pianist Kristin Ihde will accompany the pair. Houser and Miller met singing with Virginia Opera last season, and will also perform together in upstate New York this summer at the Glimmerglass Festival.

At Christ Lutheran Church, the pair will perform opera arias, duets, art song and musical theater in a show that will last about one hour.

Houser, the daughter of David Houser and Emily Osborn, last performed a recital here in 2009 at the Stoughton Opera House.

At the time, she told the Hub that singing in her hometown would help her to feel “a little less nervous because there’s a lot of support there from family and friends.”


Dog wash fundraiser May 10

The Friends of Viking Park will hold a dog wash fundraiser May 10 to support the purchase of a fence for the dog exercise area of the Viking Dog Park.  

The new half-mile fence, which will run alongside the Hwy. N side of the park, will prevent the common occurrence of dogs running across a small trench of the river and getting onto Hwy. N, where cars travel 55 mph or faster.  

Friends member Karla Gander said the fence will help dog owners feel safe about bringing their pets there.

The timing of this project comes in response to an accident that affected many of the park’s visitors.  In February 2013, a small terrier named Dickens ran across the ice and onto the highway, where a truck hit him and his pelvis was broken in three places.  

Dickens was lucky in his survival and recovery. The new fence should prevent accidents like this from happening in the future.