Sunday, November 29, 2009


There are few who know me who have been spared tales of my affection for the city of Milwaukee. Back in the day, when my friends were spending their summer vacations in exotic places like Greece or even California, I would spend mine with my grandparents in the Cream City.

To this day I look forward to our all too infrequent trips 90 miles to the north. And I dread the thought that yet another of my favorite haunts up there will have disappeared since the last time I visited.

Today on my annual birthday visit with my family, we sadly discovered that the Harry Schwartz bookshops have closed. At this point it's clear to say that I am clearly not up to snuff on all things Milwaukee as it turns out that the stores announced their closing last January. The Downer Street shop, as well as a suburban location have re-opened under new names, having been taken over by former Schwartz managers. Happily the Downer shop, now under the ownership of Daniel Goldin has not changed significantly under the new ownership and hopefully it will retain its position as the anchor of a very wonderful little urban enclave under the new name, Boswell Book Company. I wish them good luck.

Thankfully my favorite restaurant in the world, Karl Ratzsch's, is still alive and well Downtown. The taste of the liver dumpling soup always brings to mind my father and his love of the stuff which he passed on to his son. While my own son wouldn't touch it, it turns out that my carnivorous little daughter loved it, and this little bit of heaven should live on for at least another generation.

From what I could tell, the economy has hit the city pretty much as it has hit Chicago, as evidenced by ever more empty storefronts. But times change everywhere and resilient Milwaukee will be just fine.

It was good to be back, I promise not to be gone so long next time.

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