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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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061814frontmarie.jpg

TOP PHOTO: This log building was something of a landmark in Crivitz, but it changed over the years, and ended its days about two blocks away from where it started. For most of its life there was a 2-story house attached on the left, and it stood across the street from the old Post Office, on what is now the parking lot for Bank North. Photo shows the Sport Shop in 1955, in its original location where the St. Mary Church Hall is located today. BOTTOM PHOTO: For over half a century, Marie Tomaszewski, left, was the face of the Peshtigo Times in the Crivitz area. With her is husband Walter Tomaszewski, who often drove her to meetings she would cover as a correspondent for the paper. Marie didn’t drive. The couple owned and operated Tommy’s Sport Shop (see adjoining photo), which also served as something of a substation for the Peshtigo Times. You could go there to buy subscriptions and want ads, have your picture taken for the paper, and turn in information on news items you wanted published, including news about births, deaths and weddings. It was all part of the day’s work for Marie, who is celebrating her 90th birthday Saturday, June 21. She retired just two years ago from her duties as a Peshtigo Times reporter.

Marie Tomaszewski Was “Peshtigo Times” in Crivitz

For nearly half a century, Marie Tomaszewski, Tommy’s Sport Shop and the Peshtigo Times were pretty much synonymous in Crivitz. Marie could sell you a fishing license, tackle, bait, bullets, want ads and a subscription to the Peshtigo Times. She did that in between raising a family, writing news stories and being an active member of the community.

For years, Marie would take care of the Sport Shop and her growing family during the day, and at night cover public meetings in the Crivitz area, such as school board, village board, town board, and more. She would take photos of hunters and fishermen with genuine bragging rights and put them in the paper. She accepted news about births and deaths and local organizations and relayed the information to the Peshtigo Times office in Peshtigo.

Marie retired from her work as a Peshtigo Times correspondent following knee surgery about two years ago. She will celebrate her 90th birthday on Saturday, June 21 with a gathering of family and friends at her home.

Her roots in the Crivitz area run very deep, and they have come full cycle. She was born in a log cabin on the Jazwinski property on Jazwinski Lane. Her grandfather, Jacob Jazwinski, was the original owner of the property after the lumber company. Now her son, Jim lives in that brick home with his family, and Marie lives nearby, on the same property, in the home she and her husband, Wally, put up after they sold the sport shop and “retired”.

Marie’s father, Frank Worachek, was a teacher, principal and the first administrator at the school in Crivitz. He started the high school and was its first teacher. Marie said there were two students in his first high school class. Dorsey McPeak was the driver of the first Crivitz School bus route.

In addition to Marie, the Worachek family included a sister, Blossom, who became a nun anc chose the name of Sister Francille. She died at a young age. There were three brothers, Frank, who became a teacher and then superintendent at Necedah, John, who did the same at Reedsville, and Lawrence, who moved to West Allis and became a construction worker, eventually organizing his own company. Lawrence has moved back to the Crivitz area and his home is very near Marie’s.

Marie graduated Crivitz High School and then Vocational School in Green Bay. She became a secretary for Northern Transportation Company in Green Bay and lived there for a few years, traveling back and forth by train for weekends at home.

In May of 1946, at age 22, she married Walter “Wally” Tomaszewski, also a home town boy, who had just come home from Germany after fighting in World War II. When they got married he was working at the Bond Pickle Factory in Crivitz. He later became a construction worker. They started their family and Marie became a stay at home mom.

With the help of another man, Wally built the log cabin that became their sport shop. It stood on what is now the corner of the St. Mary Catholic Church property. The old church was across the parking lot, fronting on County W. When it burned they stood in the windows of their home and watched. “You could feel the heat,” she said.

They the Sport Shop was moved to its final location, on what was then the busiest corner in Crivitz, across from the old Post Office, at the junction of County A and W. They bought a 2-story house that belonged to Stanley Keshan and moved in. The new Catholic Church was built where it stands now.

There was also a church next door to the Keshan house, “so close that everyone in the church could hear whatever we said in the house.” They couldn’t let the kids go outside to play when church services were in progress for fear they would disturb people at their prayers.

Eventually they moved the house down the block and attached it to the sport shop.

The school yard was adjacent to their back yard. The sport shop and attached house stood on what is now the Bank North parking lot directly east of the bank and south of the elementary school.

In the sport shop were two huge old cheese vats that were filled with icy running water and served as homes for the minnows Wally would catch, until they were sold for bait.

Aside from a small line of sporting goods at the George Gocht lumber yard/hardware store, theirs was the first sport shop in Crivitz, Marie said. They sold hunting and fishing licenses, guns, rods, reels, shells, minnows and all sorts of bait and tackle.

Daughter Janie was born first, followed by sons Terry, Jack (now deceased), Jim, Tony and David.

Janie Thompson is a retired teacher and lives in Cleveland, Wis. Terry is retired and lives in Missouri. Jim is also a retired teacher and lives in the family home practically next door to where Marie lives now. Tony, a construction superintendent, lives in Milwaukee, and David is employed by the Town of Stephenson and lives with her and helps take care of the house and yard.

There are 16 grandchildren and four great grandchildren, but no great-greats yet.

After they sold the sport shop and Wally retired from the construction trades they enjoyed traveling and visited all of the 48 contiguous states.

Marie said she started working for the Peshtigo Times when Terry was a baby, and he is nearly 60 years old now. She started by writing small news pieces, mainly about club meetings and items known as “personals,” for example when a family had visitors from out of town, or was going on an excursion, possibly to Milwaukee.

She also took pictures of hunters and fishermen with their trophy fish or game, and sent them in. “The customers loved that,” she said, “especially the ones from the city, who weren’t used to small town publicity. People from the city thought it was a big thing to get their picture in the paper,” she said.

Eventually Leo “L.J.” Pesch, founder and original editor of the Peshtigo Times, convinced her to go to meetings, “and it went on from there.” There were no computers in those days. Once or twice a week someone from the Peshtigo Times would stop in and collect her news articles and the ads and subscriptions she had sold, along with the money to pay for them.

At the sport shop she sold subscriptions and want ads, took information about local meetings, births, deaths and illnesses, who went on a trip, and who had visitors from out of town, especially if the visitors were kids who were raised in Crivitz but then moved out of town.

In addition to writing about Crivitz, Marie did a lot to shape it. She was one of the first members of the Crivitz Library Board and helped make the library a reality. She also was one of the first members of the Historical Society that built the Crivitz Museum. There also was a Writer’s Club that met regularly at her home. Crivitz benefactor Nancy Buck Ransom occasionally stopped in.

She has seen the village form and dissolve and then become a village again. and she wrote about most of it.

She said perhaps the most exciting news story in her half century of reporting was the murder and/or suicide at the Rendezvous many years ago. She recalls when the opening of Trout Season was as big a day in Crivitz as the opening of Deer Season. She recalls people standing in line to buy hunting and fishing licenses because they and Gochts were the only ones who sold them. Now everybody sells them, she commented.

She and Wally were members of St. Mary Catholic Church, and she was somewhat active in Christian Mothers and served on funeral committees. She said she also belonged to the PTA when her children were young but was not very active. As a veteran, Wally was a member of the American Legion and Marie was active in the Legion Auxiliary.

“The Peshtigo Times was my hobby,” Marie said when asked about hobbies. Nevertheless, she found time for some other activities. She sewed and crocheted “a bit,” and made daughter Janie’s wedding dress. She and Wally made and painted hundreds of Christmas cookies and used them to decorate their tree each year. “They were something special,” she declared. Friends who knew the family attest that she was a fine and generous cook.


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Peshtigo Times
841 Maple St
PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
Phone: 715-582-4541
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