Bitters Court in the 1970s


I grew up on Bitters Court, a small, U-shaped street in Allouez, Wisconsin, just outside of Green Bay.  We moved there in 1971 when I was 4.  My Mom has a story about house hunting in Green Bay.  When they were looking at Bitters Court, they stopped next to a man who was raking his yard and asked, "Are there many kids in this neighborhood."  He gave a rueful chuckle and nodded slowly, "Oh, yes."

And there were!  Brogans, Gigots, Reinharts, Van Drisses, Adairs, Goulds, Barlaments, Pokels, Van Burens, Woodwards were all there before we moved in.  Tyrrells, Brimmers, Hartmans, Gnewuchs, Lindemans arrived after us.  Many of the kids were older than me, a few were younger, but there was always someone to play with.  I recently ran into Andrea G. and that got me counting how many of us from Bitters Court were in my class.  Andrea G., Michelle H., Cathy A., Jimmy VB., Tom P., Julie G. and me (and Tim G. just across Hoffman.)  That seems like a lot for a street with only 18 homes, especially when you consider how many were a grade or two above or below us.

Bitters Court was so-named because it was part of the Bitters Farm before it was developed.  Mr. Bitters must have sold off the property between Libal and Webster sometime in the early sixties.  He was still working the land between Libal and East River Drive when we were kids.  Occasionally he would drive his tractor up Hoffman and he'd exchange a wave with the kids.  He also had a horse-drawn sleigh we'd see occasionally.  Evidently he sold the rest in the seventies, and it was developed when I was in high school.

There is some continuity between the Bitters Court of our childhood and today.  My parents still live in our house, Mrs. Gigot lives in theirs, and Van Drisses live in theirs.  Phil and his family live in the Reinhart house.  Tammy and hers live in the Tyrrell house.  I live in a suburb outside Milwaukee now, but when I grew up on Bitters Court, we lived next to the Adairs.  Shortly after we moved to our current house, I bumped into Steve Adair at the grocery store.  We got to talking and found we had both moved into new subdivisions.  We compared notes, and it turns out we are in the same one with our backyards facing each other today!  It's an odd coincidence, but a nice connection between the neighborhood I grew up in and the one I live in now, and it gives us some good stories to tell at the neighborhood parties.

I also just learned that Jeanne A., Mary B. and Steve V. all live in the same neighborhood in Bellevue.  Another Bitters Court offshoot.  Cool!

Heres an aerial shot I clipped from maps.live.com.  I included Resurrection Church and School at the bottom where many of us went to grade school.  It was a short walk if you followed the roads, even shorter if you cut through Garlands' yard, but you had to endure the wrath of Mrs. Kennedy!

Here are a few stories about the old neighborhood:

Here are a few movie clips from our 8mm camera of Bitters Court and some of its kids.  YouTube's compression didn't do it any favors in quality, but you get the idea.

And finally some pictures.  While I'm sure my Dad took some better quality pictures of the neighborhood with his camera, I started with the ones I took as a child with a vintage box camera.  I think kids have a different perspective and catch more of the details.  See if you agree.

Let me know if you have anything to add.  Also, check out www.abbotpennings.com, a little page I put together about the high school most of the Bitters Court guys attended.

Eric Elfner
December 2009

 

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