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Sid

What are the things that puzzle, enrage, delight and tickle you as you go about your life in Madison?

Sid

Postby Maeve » Fri Dec 31, 2010 6:53 pm

Did anybody know Sid Boyum? I wanted Taliesin holiday cards this year and balked at paying $8 for shipping from Spring Green, so in an admittedly weird roundabout way I wound up going to the Taliesin visitor center while staying at House on the Rock Resort (saving money, yes?). Thrown in on the hotel package deal was “The Attraction.” The House on the Rock is one strange place and I got curiouser and couriouser about its background afterwards, so I took out the authorized and un-authorized bios of its mastermind, Alex Jordan, from the library.

Alex and Sid were friends, if the story is right, from the time they met at Sid's house on Waubesa during the Depression when Alex wanted to buy firearms until Sid got fed up with Alex's bizzare antics 60 years later and quit the friendship.

Sid's sculptures are all over the Atwood neighborhood. I'm fond of Sid's folk art, and facinated by him. I think he lived in the Waubesa house pretty much his whole life. I've lived in the neighborhood seven years, and I do love local color. If we must talk politics on this board, I'd appreciate learning more about "The Mayor of Atwood." Thanks.
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Re: Sid

Postby narcoleptish » Sat Jan 01, 2011 10:31 am

When I was a kid my dad knew him, probably from the Atwood bars, and we went to his house once so I could see all the backyard sculptures. I barely remember it. I've heard some older neighborhood ladies describe him as a "real charmer", meant in a good way. Other neighborhood gossip says he left instructions that the house never be sold and that the phone remain hooked up. I also hear the house is uninhabitable due to the smell of old cat urine.

Sorry, that's all I've got.

My grandpa hauled stone up to Jordan's House on the Rock when it was being built. Jordan supposedly lived in a beat up old house on Lakelawn Place, off Langdon in the middle of all the frats. Seemed like a weird place for a talented architect to call home.
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Re: Sid

Postby msnflyer » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:40 pm

I miss Sid shuffling around the neighborhood in his galoshes while chomping on an unlit stogie. He worked as a sign painter, serviced most of the neighborhood businesses. He'd drop in at local shops during his rounds, Bowen's Bakery, Royal Blue, Mel's, the pharmacy, etc.

Sid, Alex Jordan, and Dr. Evermore were friends in their younger days. Found this out on a random visit to the Forevertron. Since Dr. E is the only one of the three left someone ought to get the story. SO and I had a nice long conversation with Dr. and since SO used to work with Alex, we got a few juicy tidbits. As Dr. said, Alex knew where the bodies were buried. I'm sure Sid knew too.

Ralph(?) from the old print shop across from the Barrymore was one of the people behind getting Sid's sculptures distributed around the neighborhood.

Damn, I'm old, was in that 'hood when Berg Pearson was still in business and the CC Riders had their clubhouse there.
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Re: Sid

Postby CoffeeJones » Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:29 pm

I had childhood friends that lived down the street on Waubesha and had the good fortune to see his back yard a couple of times. I remember him as a grandfatherly old guy with a Santa Claus aura. Something magical about him, from a kid's point of view. His back yard was amazing, but I had no idea who he was until now.
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Re: Sid

Postby Maeve » Mon Jan 03, 2011 7:13 pm

Thanks, everyone. Jordan slept on a cot and lived with his parents at 740 Lakelawn Place, the Balousek book says, most of his life – even after they were gone and he was wealthy. It was a student rooming house his 'rents converted to apartments. Before that they built Villa Maria at 615 Howard Place and lived there. They were frugal people, the parents. If the story is right, Alex Jordan's grandfather made his money filling in swampland with coal dust to build Greenbush. His dad's first real estate deal was two lots in Fair Oaks Village, now near Glass Nickel in Madison.

My employer told me he went to parties at the House back before The Attraction was added, when they used a rope ladder to get up there. I can't imagine hauling rock up to build it. For many years Alex claimed he did all that himself.

Sid, Balousek says, “won the title of world champion liar awarded in 1976 by the Burlington WI Liars Club for this yarn: 'During a recent cold snap, I saw a night crawler steal the fur coat off a catapillar and crawl back in his hole.'”

I missed out – the East Side History Club and WORT had programs about Sid in the last few years. I think I have somehow managed to attach a photo – maybe not -- of Sid at the Karabis (now the Harmony). He's the guy getting his pulse checked.




The Wisconsin State Journal had this last summer about Sid's house:
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/ ... 4c84e.html

And I really like this:
http://www.designcoalition.org/communit ... boyum3.htm
It has background and a map to find the sculptures.

I found one “Sid” tonight that I have often passed by at the Hawthorne Library. Its intense description regarding “Peace” was written well after Sid died, and I wonder if Sid would have liked that. Maybe so, maybe no. It's weird to posthumously interpret the artist's intent, I think. Okay, that's done all the time.
sid_boyum_on-bar3.jpg
sid_boyum_on-bar3.jpg (14.53 KiB) Viewed 1609 times
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Re: Sid

Postby narcoleptish » Wed Jan 05, 2011 12:23 pm

Love that pic of Sid on the bar. The bartender is an equally interesting looking character. Dad would probably remember him.

Maeve wrote: I can't imagine hauling rock up to build it. For many years Alex claimed he did all that himself.


I know gramps hauled stone to the site but Alex may have very well gotten it up to the top himself. I think mom's family got a private tour when it was done. I love the house itself but I can't stomach all that other crap that comes with it.

But back to Sid, I wish the neighborhood had another quirky character like him today. There's a couple oddballs but nobody that stops and talks, at least without hitting you up for bus money. I guess I'm going to have to step up.
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Re: Sid

Postby Stu Levitan » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:35 am

Maeve wrote: If the story is right, Alex Jordan's grandfather made his money filling in swampland with coal dust to build Greenbush.


That task was performed by a German immigrant named George Pregler a a bit over a century ago. The Triangle that most people think of when they refer to the Bush is technically Pregler's Addition. The Greenbush Addition is on the other side of Park St.
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Re: Sid

Postby tom k » Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:53 pm

I am familiar with all three of these local characters. I worked for Alex Jordan at The House on the Rock in the 1970s and 80s. During those years I met Sid when he came out with Alex. I also visited Sid at his home (with all those cats) and he gave me a tour of his work at that time. I met Dr. Evermor when he was working for Alex at The House on the Rock in the 1970s. I am the author of the book, A Mythic Obsession, the life of Dr. Evermor.

I am currently working on the biography of Alex Jordan--if there is anybody who has stories about Alex, Sid, of Tom, I would like to hear from you--tomk@thehouseontherock.com
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