Local calendars send people back in time

Wisconsin State Farmer

Looking ahead at the new year on the pages of a calendar can be fun if it is also an opportunity to look back.

While calendars are meant to help people keep track of coming events, one very popular calendar, created as a fundraiser for the Lost Lake Historical Society, takes a look back.

Its creator, Arnie Bashynski, creates calendars that are a record of local history.  Along with the photos, he includes a little story about each.


Arnie Bashynski

“The 2017 calendar is gas stations but it was the most challenging for me because none of the old gas stations are around anymore," he said. "If they are, all the old pumps have been removed, and they look a lot different.”

Bashynski has been making a yearly calendar since 2008, and his subjects are those that will bring back memories.

“It takes a lot of time because I either go out to take pictures of the things I want on the calendar or I find photos in the historical archives of libraries," he said. When I do, I spend a lot of time reading the stories that go with the photos because I find them so interesting.”

Bashynski was inspired to do calendars when a woman gave a stack of old postcards to the museum. He decided to share them with others by creating a calendar and featuring a different card on each page.

The calendar was meant to be a fundraiser for the Historical Society, and he wasn’t sure how it would be received. Now he finds people asking, “What will you be featuring on next year’s calendar?”


Some of Arnie Bashynski's calendars


Churches and silos


In 2009, he featured old and new photos of local churches and included a little background on each. The following year in 2010, he featured silos.

“I found the research on the silos to be very interesting,” he said. I drove around Dodge and Columbia Counties taking photos of old silos in order to gather pictures of all the unique designs and materials used.”

Bashynski was inspired to feature silos because the Lost lake Historical Society’s museum has a salesman’s sample of a model of the silos made by the Beaver Dam Silo Company. He featured a photo of that sample along with a photo of one that is still standing today.

In his search of the rural area, Bashynski found an unusual silo near Iron Ridge that is eight-sided at the base and round on the top.  

“It was originally shorter," he said, "but then the farmer added to the height and the upper portion was round concrete.”

Silos featured on the calendar are made of all kinds of materials, including glazed tile, red brick, concrete block, wood and steel.  Silos are square, round and octagon shaped.

The last page of the calendar shows the more modern bunker silos where forages are dumped and then packed tight with the wheels of a tractor.

“This concept is nothing new," Bashynski said. "Near Randolph there was a pit silo that a farmer used before upright silos even came about.  He dug a pit into the hill and filled the hole with feed. Then he put his horse in it to stomp it down and covered the feed so he could use it to feed the cows all winter.”

The calendar features a photo of what he calls “a miracle silo,” located near Randolph. The concrete silo actually shifted with the wind on its foundation.  “How it slid over on the foundation without toppling is a mystery to me,” he said.

The 2011 calendar featured 12 of the oldest, most unique houses in the area, and 2012 featured photos of local car dealers and stories to go with them.

The calendar for 2013 featured telephones and traces the interesting history of the telephone from the days of the crank phone, featured on the cover, to today’s cellphones.  Again, the calendar included reminiscences of the days of “Number please?” and party lines.

The 2014 calendar featured snowmobiles. “I was inspired to do that when I noticed how many different types and brands of snowmobiles there were at one time,” he said.

The 2015 calendar featuring local canning factories was the most profitable for the Society. In fact, he had to have extra calendars printed for his orders. Bashynski said that’s because when he took the completed calendar to the Lodi Canning Company, one of the companies featured, he learned they are the only family-owned and -operated canning company still around. Others have merged with bigger companies or have closed.

“The president of the company asked me how much they cost," he said. "I told him they were $10.  He then asked his secretary how many employees the company had. When she told him they had 45, he told her to write a check for $450 to the Historical Society because he wanted to give each employee a calendar for Christmas.”

Last year’s calendar featured area grocery stores.  Those, too, triggered many memories for people who remembered at least one grocery store in every tiny town.  Often, stores did not include shopping carts and were not self-serve. Customers came in and handed their list to the owner, who fetched items off the shelves. 

Cheese factories next

Bashynski is already gathering photos of old cheese factories for the 2018 calendar.

“There were plenty of them around,” he noted.

There used to be a cheese factory every few miles. Farmers hauled their own milk to the plant every day, often bringing whey back in the cans to feed to the hogs on their farm.

“Today many of these cheese factories have been remodeled into homes," Bashynski said. "I’m already gathering pictures of them as they are now and as they once looked.”

Since he began the venture, Bashynski has generated between $12,000 and $14,000 in funds for the Historical Society by selling business-card-size ads to local businesses and selling calendars.

“The calendars have been very popular, and they bring back memories for many people,” he said.  “The past is very important, interesting and exciting.”