Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season and making new memories with family, friends and neighbors. It’s also time when we think about the past and the people who mean the most to us. Our neighborhood has seen almost 50 Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays come and go. Hopefully you’ll take the time over the holiday season to reach out and wish a “Happy Holidays” to the people who mean the most to you.
This month’s post is a contributed ‘open letter’ from neighborhood resident Barb Arnold who moved into a house on Timothy Avenue with her husband Fred and two sons Gary and Erik in 1970. Because they loved the neighborhood so much, when it came time to move they moved all the way to Meadowlark Drive where they have been ever since. Barb and Gary became very involved in the Elvehjem Neighborhood Association, the school board and common council. Please check back on this blog in December for “vintage” pictures of Barb and Fred’s home and family. If you have stories and photos to share from the past 50 years please feel free to send them to me Audra – firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m collecting them for a special 50th Anniversary project, more information will be shared about that in 2016.
An Open Letter from Barb Arnold:
In 1970 our family of four (Erick and Gary at that time) moved to Timothy Avenue. Immediately, we wanted to participate in the life of the Elvehjem community. To join the ENA we were told we would need to secure agreement from more than 50% of the homes on Timothy. With the almost unanimous support of our neighbors we fulfilled that requirement. Soon, we were engaged in the life of this new Elvehjem Neighborhood Association. Settling into an active community life, Fred became vice-president of the ENA Board. Attending our first meeting of the LVM PTO in 1973 when Erick started kindergarten, we volunteered for both the local PTO and the LaFollette Area Communications Council. In 1975 Fred was elected our district alder, Barb soon became president of the PTO, and our third son Steve was born during the infamous ice storm of 1976.
Having outgrown our Timothy home, we moved to Meadowlark Drive, where we’ve lived ever since. Fred was elected Madison Common Council President in 1978. Always at the heart of our family was engagement in this incredible community. In 1982 Barb was appointed to the Madison school board, in 1984 and 1987 won election to the board. She served as its president from 1986-89. Fred served six years on the city council and then four years on the county board.
Our three sons thrived at LVM, Sennett, and LaFollette. There was at least one Arnold boy attending Elvehjem for fourteen consecutive years (not the same son). We were strong advocates for school referendums to make needed, responsible building additions. For example, in 1977 LVM Elementary School housed 770 children in a space meant for 500. The Madison community invested in needed space. We have always been grateful for neighborhood support for schools with tax dollars, a gesture that reaps huge rewards.
This vibrant community encourages engagement and family event participation. We were honored to facilitate collaboration between our neighborhood and various governmental bodies – city council, school board, and county board. Always we felt the tremendous support of our neighbors.
In 1990 the ENA Board gave Fred and Barb an award for “twenty years of meritorious service to the ENA and the wider community.” No recognition received over the years meant more to us.
It is a joy to watch this neighborhood thrive as we begin to see more and more kids under five again. As Justin Martin becomes the new leader in a long line of outstanding presidents of the ENA, please continue to support the board and each other.
Barbara and Fred Arnold