Goodman Community Center | Eastside News history

Eastside News history

What Marshall Browne started, the neighborhood continued.

July 10, 2024 |
100 years of Eastside News

By Jody Renaud and Dave Link, Eastside News

In 2024, the Summer Olympics will be held in Paris. In 1924 the Olympics were also held in Paris. Johnny Weissmuller, of subsequent Tarzan fame, won three gold medals. Popsicles were invented. The Great Depression was almost five years away from beginning.

AND East Side News was born, the brainchild of publisher, editor and primary writer Marshall F. Browne. The first publication date was Dec. 4, 1924. The front-page article entitled, “WE START SOMETHING,” talks about community spirit as the driving force behind the development and progress of the east side and asks “Is not this feeling of interest in one’s own locality something worth fostering and developing? And could not some sort of regular publication be made a regular aid in that direction?”

It began with the goal of creating a welcoming feeling so that “in East Madison the person who lives next door is his neighbor. We believe that a community publication with the personal touch of the old hometown newspaper could help.”

In perusing the early issues, one is reminded of small-town local papers with their publications of marriages, births, obituaries, news of people’s travel and social events. Examples of this folksy content include “The Browns motored to Mukwonago to visit with their niece” or “Saturday night supper guests of Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Langholff were Mr. and Mrs. George Ryan and daughter, Alberta, and Mrs. Sophus Smith and Lloyd.”

East Side News Dec. 8, 1949
East Side News celebrated 25 years in the Dec. 8, 1949, edition.

The plan for this publication was presented to east side merchants, and they embraced the idea. In fact, their encouragement was the driving force behind this new endeavor. Filled with advertisements for local businesses, such as the Schenk Huegel Co. Department Store, Robert Nieman on Atwood Avenue advertising spring suits for Easter at $25.00 and up, Rennebohm’s Pharmacy on Winnebago Street and R.E. Armstrong Insurance at Schenk’s Corners, ESN encouraged people to buy local.

“The Service You Want can be supplied by News Advertisers. Look through these columns before you go outside of your own East Side Community,” ESN instructed readers. People were encouraged to let merchants know that they had seen their advertisement in East Side News.

The activities of the East Side Business Men’s Association were prominently featured, of which Browne was a member. One example was the association’s holding of a benefit for children exposed to tuberculosis. The May 8, 1941, issue recognized the sixth anniversary of the first East Side Trading Stamps. Since the inception of this program in 1935, millions of stamps had been given out by east side businesses, and thousands of dollars had been given to stamp savers. According to an old saying “that business goes where it is invited and stays where it is well treated … (the stamps) are at once an invitation and a thank you.”

There was much discussion about attempting to establish a weekly market day where farmers could bring their produce and Atwood merchants could offer bargains. An interesting problem confronting the farmer was the loss of hitching posts in the neighborhood.

The East Side News was published weekly every Thursday from its location at 1982 Winnebago St. In 1925, a one-year subscription was a $1.00. By the March 1, 1934, issue, subscriptions were cut to $1.00 for three years and 50 cents for one year.

A story about a socialist rally at the East Side High School Auditorium featuring socialist candidates for U.S. Senator, the state Assembly and the state Senate was run. Prominent east siders were displayed in pen and ink sketches in the Sept. 18, 1961, issue as an invitation to the 19th Annual East Side Festival.

ESN was purchased from Browne by Robert Doyle and James Hickey in July 1962. Later that year, Henry Halverson and Warren Wittekind, owners of Independent News, Inc., purchased the publication from Doyle and Hickey.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported in its May 8, 1963, edition that Wittekind, editor of the East Side News, was resigning to work at the University of Omaha in Nebraska, a move that seemed a precursor to the closure of this longstanding stalwart on Madison’s east side.

Also in 1963, the ownership of the newspaper was transferred to a Monona newspaper, also owned by Henry Halverson. The Capital Times reported in its Jan. 13, 1964, issue that East Side News had halted publication. The owner of the building where East Side News had been located reported those offices were vacated in December 1963.

In the summer of 1976, Atwood Community House and the Atwood Neighborhood Association (precursors to Goodman Community Center and SASYNA — the Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara Neighborhood Association) created and mailed a neighborhood newsletter called Atwood’s Alive.

Atwood's Alive No. 1
Atwood Community Center's first Atwood's Alive newsletter.

For the next four years, this newsletter produced by volunteers featured short write-ups on what was happening in the Atwood and Schenk’s Corners neighborhoods and at Atwood House. Type was set using a typewriter — sometimes even handwritten — and many of the ads were also hand drawn. Some issues were duplicated on a Ditto machine. Totally DIY. These newsletters filled the void left when East Side News disappeared a decade earlier.

When the first issue of 1980 landed in mailboxes, residents would notice a big change to Atwood’s Alive. It was now eight pages printed on newsprint and was a traditional bottom-fold tabloid. The modern era of Eastside News had begun.

By March 1981 the newspaper would be rechristened East Side News, but with formerly Atwood’s Alive in parentheses below the nameplate. This East Side News would expand its coverage of Atwood Community Center and community news, as well as advertising.

Sections included Schenk’s Corners News, Youth Notes, Focus on Business and Displaced Homemakers (which offered advice to newly single homemakers seeking to enter the job market). The number of pages would grow through the decade as did the front-page design. Spot color was added to some pages.

A redesign in 1990 shortened the name to Eastside News and that’s how it has remained since. Full color became the norm in the 2010s. With the second edition of 2019, Eastside News was redesigned to a modern side-fold tabloid due to the loss of a press at its printing company. Even the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t halt production.

Back in the first issue of the East Side News, Browne put the question out to the readers: “Shall there be another? And another? … If this paper can be made to fill a need it will live and grow. We await your judgment.”

Clearly the people’s judgment after 100 years has been yes, it fulfills a need. As times have changed and the needs and interests of readers have changed, ESN has evolved, but it remains dedicated to that initial hope of creating community spirit.

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