Thanks to Bob’s gift of a copy of, “The China Study” by T. Campbell almost five months ago, we have switched to a 90% vegan diet for its long term health enhancing benefits. That means we eat EVERYTHING our friends and family put before us without questions, and sample tastes of local animal specialties wherever we are, but mostly, we eat plants. I was told that we must now label ourselves, “Flexitarians”….ycch….sounds like a gastrointestinal disease. Unfortunately, it means we have no information about famous Wisconsin cheeses and sausages from our visit to Sheboygan, and instead will describe our visit to the nearby Kohler Factory to sample their lovely tubs. Kohler’s enchanting magazine ads enticed us to visit the museum, art center, factory (tours available to those over age 14), village (Whistling Straits Golf Course!!!!), and our personal favorite, the Showroom! Steven approved the very deep Grecian soaking tub (short enough to fit in our tiny bathroom) for our next bathroom renovation. At $1600 with no bells, whistles, jets, or bubbles, he is going to have to imagine a hot water soak… in a dry tub, for awhile.
In 1912, Kohler built a rural village for employees to lure them away from the former Sheboygan factory on Lake Michigan. Kohler paid above average wages and was generally held up as an example of stellar management…until the employees chose to start a union in 1954. Management labeled them communists and went to war. Kohler became the site of the longest employee strike in the nation. 2800 of the Company’s 3300 employees joined the picket line, and stopped production for two months, until Kohler hired non-union labor. Six years of violence ensued between employees and strikebreakers until the National Labor Relations Board found for the striking employees; Kohler had to reinstate over 1700 employees, pay over $3 Mil. in back wages, and return $1.5 Mil. to the employee pension fund, but did not do so until a negotiated resolution in 1965. Labor leaders cite this plumbing supply company’s behavior to show why workers need unions. Industrial leaders point to the strike as an examples of union belligerence and indifference toward the true welfare of the employees. With new management in place, Kohler once again enjoys great loyalty among its’ employees. However, the homogeneity of Kohler Village seemed like a draw to everyone but us; 98% white, median age 4o, mostly families, with 30% of the town under age 21. It is middle class, midwestern, and just as safe as can be. Does this sweet little village effectively prepare kids for the multi-cultural global village? We’re not so sure. We hope the Kohler Company sets up a scholarship fund to encourage the village children to travel, and get educated, beyond the confines of the Kohler Village.
We enjoyed the mural laden town of Ashland, near the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. Look at these murals and tell me if the folk art style bodies/backgrounds v. the photographically detailed faces, look like the work of different artists, glued together. Head sizes and necks don’t match bodies. The women’s heads are very dominant; the men’s heads and necks are tinier than their beefy, outlined bodies. Very odd….and strangely arresting. We couldn’t stop looking at these murals.
These murals are almost as bizarre as the “Cheeseheads”, big yellow foam wedges worn as fetching headwear during football season in Wisconsin. Perhaps the goofy toppers keep heads toasty in harsh winter weather. Hmmm, pretty “smart”, as you would expect from the folks that yearly host the biggest trivia contest in the world.