Clinton Wren Remembers Smelterville

Former Smelterville resident Clinton Wren, photographed as a child c 1966-67.I’ve got to get on the ball if I want to have an updated version of my Smelterville project out by this summer. Clinton Wren and I took refuge in Long John Silver’s on a scorching hot day in July 2011 while he talked about growing up in South Cape. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)

Everybody was loved

Smelterville“Everybody was loved,” he said. “Everybody was family. If one done something, another parent would take care of you. Everybody’s parent looked after you. It wasn’t like now, you know. It was one community of love. I’ve got good remembrances from there, you know. Some of that made me the man that I am now.”

Floods and chopping wood

Hogs in Smelterville 08-01-1967“Worst thing was the floods and high water. Actually, coming back in and lots of cleaning to do. After that ’73 flood, we didn’t come back after that. We went through two floods before finally Mama made the decision to move out.

“I’ll tell you another thing – making fire, too. Going out there in the cold and chopping wood; that’s another thing coming back to me. Outside bathrooms. We had some hogs back there, too. That might have been our hog pen, but I don’t remember us having that many pigs.”

A quarter went a long way

Smelterville 06-05-1967“Henry Warfield was in the construction business. Sold a lot of lumber; tore down a lot of houses. There used to be a couple of big houses at Morgan Oak and Frederick. He just tore down stuff all over the city. He’d haul it down there and salvage what he could salvage. He’d save all the bricks. You can drive all over this city and see brick homes built with those bricks. Cleaning bricks… Made a lot of money then.

“We always had a little money. Of course a quarter was quite a bit of money. We’d get a quarter a month allowance. A quarter went a long way. After school we’d work for Henry. Maybe make 50 cents or a dollar, depending on what he was doing. Brick work, you’d make a little bit more money. A quarter was quite a bit of money in those days.”

Other Smelterville stories


Another Smelterville Cleanup

Smelterville clean-up 06-19-1967Two things were constants in Smelterville: floods and periodic cleanups that accomplished little. I took these photos June 19, 1967.

Arena Building and cute cat captured the news

Smelterville clean-up 06-19-1967The photos didn’t run. The bigger stories of the week included the wooden floors being ripped out of the arena building and a picture of a cat in Oshkosh surrounded by ducklings. The paper also warned that the river was coming up and that some lowlands could be covered.

When are this summer’s reunions?

Smelterville clean-up 06-19-1967I’ve been trying to find out when some of the Smelterville family reunions will be held, but haven’t had any luck. Last year was the first time the Vine Street Reunion was held, but organizers decided not to hold one this year. If you know of any, please let me know.

Smelterville and South Cape stories

Here are some earlier stories about Smelterville and South Cape: