October 1, 2019 – West Bend, WI – As high schools across Washington County are in the midst of homecoming celebrations, some old timers in West Bend recall the mischief that happened back in their day.
There was the usual float building, selecting the Homecoming Court and in West Bend there was the epic search for the toothpick. The winner, would be awarded the chance to light the bonfire.
The article below was published in 2008 in Around the Bend by Judy Steffes
According to Carl Kircher, who graduated in 1945, homecoming was highlighted by “a student search for the toothpick.”
“It was a little stick, like a Tinkertoy, about six inches long, decorated red and white. One of the school janitors would run out and hide it on the football field,” said Kircher referencing Harvey Bruhy Field, behind Badger Middle School, the former location of West Bend High School.
“The janitor would hide the toothpick and then around 10 o’clock in the morning all the students would run out and look for it.”
Kircher said the search would take about 15 minutes. Newspaper archives show Willis Jacklin found the toothpick in 1942 and John Neuy in 1945.
The prize for finding the toothpick would be to light the bonfire.
“We’d have a big bonfire in the middle of the field about a week before homecoming and the big thrill was to see how many outhouses we could get stacked up on it,” said Kircher recalling one year when students collected 13 outhouses.
People living on Big Cedar Lake were often the primary targets of outhouse theft. “Oh yah, they had them all over the place out there and the kids would go at night, bring them in and throw them on the pile,” laughed Kircher.
James Kuehn, who graduated in 1950, said farmers would keep watch at night over their outhouses. “They had to or they wouldn’t have a place to go in the morning,” said Kuehn.
“Sure they stole them, there was always an outhouse on the top of the pile and nobody got in trouble,” he said.
The big football rivals in West Bend were Hartford, Berlin, and Waupun; that’s when the West Bend Badgers played in the Little Ten Conference. Football coaches at the time included Bob Caldwell, Carl Kuss, and Jack Runkle.
Hartford Union High School:
Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. is the Powderpuff football game
Friday, Oct. 4 at 1:30 p.m. is the Homecoming Parade in downtown Hartford and at 7 p.m. varsity football kicks off vs. Whitefish Bay.
Saturday, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. is the Homecoming dance in the small gym.
Kettle Moraine Lutheran in Jackson: Dress-up days the entire week and Friday there will be a rally in the high school gym at 2 p.m. ,
• Volleyball Homecoming Game – Thursday, October 3, 6:45 PM
• Soccer Homecoming Game – Friday, October 4, 4:30 PM
• Football Homecoming Game -vs. Plymouth on Friday, October 4, 7:00 PM
• Homecoming Banquet & Dance – Saturday, October 5, 6:00 PM
Slinger High School: U.S. Senator Ron Johnson will visit the high school on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 8:45 a.m.
At 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 2 is the Powderpuff football game.
On Friday, Oct. 4 there’s a pep rally starting at 1:30 p.m. and the Homecoming parade, which will be broadcast live on Washington County Insider, starts at 4 p.m. followed by the varsity football game vs. Grafton. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live. Click HERE to watch.
Slinger’s Homecoming dance is Saturday, Oct. 5 starting at 6 p.m. in the high school gym.
West Bend High School: There will be dress-up day throughout the week.
Tuesday, Oct. 1 is WBE vs. WBW Powderpuff Football at 5 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 2 is East vs. West volleyball at the Fieldhouse at 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, October 3 is WBE vs. WBW varsity boys soccer at 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 4 is the Homecoming Parade at 4:15 p.m. starting at Main Street and Decorah Road.
Friday night football kicks off at 7 p.m. with WB East vs. WB West
Photos courtesy West Bend Community Memorial Library