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than knowing what to put where, Sturtz said. Not an artist, the “what” question for Sturtz was more easily answered than the “how.”
“My memory of Loyal is just ultra-clear to me,” he said. “It was the impressionable years when I was growing up. I really enjoyed growing up in Loyal, I guess that’s one of the reasons I have this compulsion to do this.”
Life in Loyal during and after World War II fell short of easy, Sturtz recalls. Still, his recollections of boyhood based in a little white house on Thomas Street are fond.
“My dad was especially good to me,” Sturtz says of the man who passed away in March, 1993. “I wish he could have seen this. The times were hard but he always seemed to come up with the money for me to go to a music festival or to have a horn to play. I had a happy time growing up in Loyal. We were hard up, but I guess I never realized it because everybody was hard up. Little as I had, I had more than some other kids.”
Sturtz said he once knew everybody in Loyal. He spent his days investigating the crannies of the town and looking for the mischief any other boy might seek.
“I was close to Loyal,” he remembers. “I peddled up and down those streets.”
The boy turned into a teen and then a young man. In 1946, he started his own orchestra, a band he still leads today. In 1948 came graduation. Marriage to Dorothy followed a pair of years later.
The year 1950 was the last Sturtz could claim Loyal as his home address. He moved to Neillsville, where he managed a Marshfield radio station’s Neillsville branch.
Radio was to be Sturtz’ calling and in 1957, he founded and built WCCN. He owned and operated the station until 1976, the same year he came within a whisker of winning a State Senate seat.
Sturtz is semi-retired these days, selling cars a few days a month and playing 5-6 jobs per month with his orchestra.
His routine doesn’t take him back to Loyal too often anymore. His version of his town can serve that purpose now.
But after all his work, Sturtz wonders what other people will think. “At times I think, are people gonna look at this and laugh and say, ‘You didn’t really do all this?’” he said. “At other times, I think there’s a thousand happy stories in there for people who lived there at that time.”
Sturtz said the real test will come when people actually get a chance to see his Loyal. He’s fairly confident they’ll remember it somewhat like he does.
“People who are acquainted with Loyal can walk up to this and probably spend an hour looking and say ‘Oh my God, I remember this and let me tell you what happened to me one time,’” Sturtz said.”I think this will prompt a lot of memories.”
A pair of boys peeks in the window of R.W. Miles and Son’s shop for their first fuzzy glimpses of television … A young man pumps gas at Oestreich’s Shell Service Station where the sign says, Gas Today 22 cents, Drink Coca-Cola While You Wait … The local kids skate on wintry days on a pond surface that will be cut into blocks and sold … A boy’s father makes a sign for his workplace that reads ‘Clark County Highway Garage No. 3 1940’… Shirley Temple’s on the screen at the Loyal Theatre as “Heidi”….
“People who are acquainted with Loyal can walk up to this and probably spend an hour looking and say ‘Oh my God, I remember this and let me tell you what happened to me one time,’” -- Howie Sturtz