Donated items help tell story of Montello

July 24, 2020

Montello’s Bruce Schneider recently donated some items to the Montello Historic Preservation Society (MHPS) and also added more information about the Trade Winds snowmobile donated by Ken Schumann featured in last week’s paper.  


Bruce emailed MHPS and said, “I have lived all my life in the Montello area. I noticed the Trade Winds snowmobile article in the paper this week. My father was a good friend with Dick Hillary. In 1968 or 1969 I remember my dad and him driving the snowmobiles on the grass at Hillcrest Service (in Montello) which Dick owned. It was a Chrysler dealership. My dad sold snowmobiles for him at my dad's resort in Little Sturgeon Bay.  I have an ashtray of Hillcrest Service from back then if you are interested. I also have a yard stick from 1978 of Bob Meyer Ford who took over the same place. This was all where Freitag’s store is now.”


Bruce brought these items and more to MHPS and added more interesting information.  He said he recalls Bob Freitag, Dick Hillary and Gordie Ritchie driving a Trade Winds snowmobile on the grass in the summer along the ditch on Highway 22.  Gordie would be a wearing white shirt and tie.  Those who remember Gordie, a vital part of the Montello community for his whole life, will remember that he owned the Davis House hotel and supper club that was located in what is now the Whitemarsh building on Main Street.  What a great Trade Winds photo that would have made.


Bruce’s parents were John and Marge Schneider.  Marge worked at the Davis House.  John was Postmaster at the Capitol building in Madison.  They also owned the Hilltop Restaurant from 1964 to 1967 and a resort in Little Sturgeon Bay where they sold snow mobiles for Dick Hillary as Bruce said.  They also owned Teen Town from 1966 to 1967.  It was located on Main Street and had an arcade and slot cars.  


Bruce also donated one of the first compound bows sold to sportsmen to add to the hunting and fishing exhibit at Vaughn Hall, home of the Montello Historic Preservation Society.   He said it was purchased at Anchor Sports Shop that was located in Johnson Boats & Motors.  Bruce’s brother Steve bought into the sports store and in 1980 the inventory was sold to Bill Lind and Jerry Ross who opened their own sporting goods store which today is located in Holliday Shopping Center.  

The bow Bruce donated is an Outers bow. With it came a photo of a buck from 1975 that was gotten with the bow by his brother. 


The 14-point rack that Bruce donated from another deer has its own story.  He wrote, “When I was 18 in 1973, I shot a 14-point buck. At the time it was a big deer.  When I registered it, it became a big deal and word got around. My older brother thought we should hang the deer by his place south of Montello, as he thought someone may take it. I stayed by my Parents who live on the South side of Buffalo lake close to town.”

These older racks are great examples of how deer hunting has changed.  What was once an extraordinary set of antlers, now seems small, but at the time was a rare sight.  


Another item Bruce donated is a pin for the Granite City Ski Club.  The water ski club was active from 1982 to 1986.  Members included Daryl Buchholz, John Campbell, Allen Daniels, Greg Benedict, Tom Stepniak, Steve Schneider and Bruce.  Bruce said they’d meet every Sunday on Buffalo Lake and occasionally do shows.  The club purchased their own boat that they restored.  


Memories of the Fox River also came up.  Bruce recalled netting carp on the south side of Buffalo Lake and selling them to people fishing at the dam.  They’d use the money for cherry Cokes or .22 shells they bought at Jimmy’s in downtown Montello.  In winter they’d walk or bike across the frozen lake to Jimmy’s to have his famous barbecue.


The Montello Historic Preservation Society is grateful for these donated items that help tell the story of Montello.  Some of the items will be added to exhibits in Vaughn Hall.  MHPS is especially interested in old photos.  Contact Kathleen McGwin ( if you have some you’d like to share.  You don’t have to give your photos up.  They can be scanned and added to our collection.


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