End of An Era At the Ben Franklin

There was a time, before Walmart, before shopping malls, before the Internet, when Americans did most of their shopping at their local five and dime.  In fact, Walmart’s founder, Sam Walton, got his start owning and operating a Ben Franklin store. Then he bought another one, and another one, until he had fifteen Ben Franklin stores.  After that, he opened a Walmart and went on from there.

One of the charms of Mineral Point is that we still have a Ben Franklin store — one of the handful of small town variety stores that remain. The longevity of our Ben Franklin is a testament to the resilience and fortitude of Mary Bossert, who closed on the sale of the Ben Franklin just today and retires this week.

Mary and her late husband, Phil, bought the Ben Franklin in 1958. Before moving to Mineral Point, the Bosserts owned a Ben Franklin in Watertown, Wisconsin, but competition was fierce there with a nearby Kresge’s and a Woolworths.

From the outset, Phil was very active in the community and promoted the town whenever he could.  When asked by The Cap Times in September 1963, “What might contribute to the economic growth of the Mineral Point area?” Phil had this to say:

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Over the years, with Phil at the helm, and Mary helping out in the store as she could while raising their young children, the Ben Franklin expanded into an adjacent building.  In the 70’s and early 80’s the Bosserts added a Montgomery Ward store into the operation. The Ben Franklin thrived as did the Bossert family, shown below with their sons Eddie, Rob, and baby daughter Sandy.

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Phil served as President of the Chamber of Commerce for many terms, was a member of the Lions club, the American Legion, and was instrumental in the formation of the Mineral Point Historic Run on the 4th of July, which has been ongoing for 33 years. Mike Mitchell recalls, “Phil was everybody’s friend. He was involved in everything in town. I seldom saw him without a smile on his face.”

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photo-132In 1984, Phil Bossert died suddenly of a heart attack while running a race in Platteville. He was only 54.

Mary remains grateful for the tremendous community support that helped her get through that time.  Mike Mitchell states, “She never complained that Phil was taken from her at such a young age. She ran that store with a smile on her face.” Mary’s daughter Sandy describes her mom as “so brave to take over my dad’s dream, which he left her by no choice 30 years ago this month. Our Angel, my dad, always led her in the right direction. She managed to stay healthy, raise my brothers and myself, run the store and create a life.”

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For the past 30 years, Mary Thomas has worked side by side with Mary Bossert to maintain the store as a reliable place to go when you need just about anything.  A full list of the merchandise would be nearly impossible. It’s the go-to place for school projects, stocking stuffers, crafts, and more.  For Mike Mitchell, “The store itself is a time warp that brings me back to my youth.” (Mike maintains his own time warp up the street.)

Visitors are enchanted by the fact that Mineral Point has a Ben Franklin. Mary Thomas said, “If we had a dime for every person who said, ‘I can’t believe you have a Ben Franklin’ then Mary [Bossert] could have retired a few years earlier.”

We all owe Mary Bossert a special debt of gratitute for keeping it going, six days a week, for fifty-five years.

Lucky for us, the new owner will continue to maintain the store as a Ben Franklin, with Mary Thomas as manager. There may be some changes along the way, but the name Ben Franklin will remain. In fact, Mary Bossert will be working there for just a little while longer during the transition.

Join the Bossert family as they celebrate Mary’s accomplishments and retirement on Saturday, November 1st at Tony’s Tap from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.  What better way to celebrate local treasures night than to toast Mary Bossert.

- Contributed by the Hays with special help from Mary’s daughter, Sandy Bossert Andres and Mike Mitchell

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Halloween Line-Up

With Halloween falling on a Friday this year, it’s going to be extra fun for all ages.  So, pick out a costume and make a night of it.

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5  p.m. Halloween Parade down High Street –featuring the Middle School Band — all are welcome to march along.

5-7  p.m. Trick or Treating – throughout Mineral Point

IMG_65485-7 p.m. Trick or Treating at Shake Rag Alley –  “If you are a kid or want to act like a kid…put on your wildest costume and come to Shake Rag Alley after the Mineral Point Halloween Parade. From 5-7 p.m., children of all ages will meet friendly (not scary) costumed characters who will be passing out Halloween treats at each of the Shake Rag historic buildings. This Mineral Point tradition is enjoyable for the whole family and a way to meet so many other free spirits and check out their wacky get-ups.”

6-8 p.m.  The MP Youth Group’s Mini Haunted House at the UCC Church – 300 Maiden Street.  Fun for kids looking for chills as they travel through this mini haunted house. Refreshments will be served.

7-11 p.m. The 5th Dimension Haunted House  “Be ready to be confused, lost, scared, terrified and up close and personal with some very scary people in this haunt. Located out in the middle of nowhere, . . . the haunt is in an old abandoned house that has been remade into one of the most feared haunts around. You will be crawling, walking, going down an indoor slide all while trying to find our way out.” (For ages 13 and older) For more information, click here.

photo-1138:30 p.m.  Gray Dog Halloween Party  “Gray Dog Deli is throwing it’s first Halloween Party, starting at 8:30pm!! It will feature a prize-winning costume contest, live music from DJ Synoptic, complimentary sangrias, a bucket of Blatz beer, snacks, dancing, as well as a visual show featuring horror films from 1897 to 1961. Come in early for pizza/drink specials. Dinner starts at 6:00pm – see if you can recognize your server. We know how to throw a party, and hope to see you there!!”

11:00 p.m. Costume Contest at Patt’s Pub, 39 High Street.  Sign up by 11 pm. Winners and cash prizes will be announced at midnight.

- Contributed by the Hays

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Driftless Film Festival – An Interview With Eve

10362383_919835271375083_6129688074675024326_nNext week, November 6-9, 2014, the 5th annual Driftless Film Festival (DFF) takes place at the Mineral Point Opera House.

We recently caught up with Eve Studnicka, the Director of Operations for this year’s fest.

HSB: How are the films selected to be part of the DFF?

Eve: Our co-founder Nick Langholff is really in-tune with the world of indie cinema and spends a lot of time scouring film festivals for movies that would play well at Driftless. We try to get a wide variety of independent films that typically wouldn’t play in rural Wisconsin as well as locally produced works that need a place to be showcased. And every year we accept submissions so filmmakers can have the opportunity to have their work be considered for the lineup.

HSB: I saw that you achieved your Kickstarter goals, what does this mean for this year’s festival and for the future of the DFF?

10704292_908546072504003_5104318523621797620_oEve: We were blown away by the level of support that the community brought to the table this year. We have been trying to make Driftless a more collaborative experience for filmmakers and the Mineral Point community alike, so to have a portion of our budget be crowdsource funded meant a lot to us. In the future, we would like to continue to have Driftless be made possible by the community in this way, as well as through sponsorships. We want to have the means to provide the best experience possible for audience members.

HSB: One of the highlights of last year’s DFF was the screening of your film about Mineral Point, OF SOME FAIR PLACE. For anyone who missed the screening, do you have DVDs available for sale?

Eve: Yes! DVDs of OF SOME FAIR PLACE are available in Mineral Point for $18 at Longbranch Gallery, Gray Dog Deli, Pendarvis, Against the Grain, High Street Sweets, de la Pear, and Shake Rag Alley. They are also available to order directly from me. Just shoot an email to lefromagepetit@gmail.com and I’ll get you hooked up! A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Mineral Point Historical Society.

HSB: Finally, do you know if the Opera House will be selling beer during any of the screenings?

Eve: We sure will! We’re partying full-tilt Wisconsin-style this year. Be there or be square.

The festival kicks off on Thursday November 6th with the Sundance award-winning documentary, LIFE ITSELF, chronicling the life of world-renowned film critic Roger Ebert. For the complete line-up of the feature films to be shown at the DFF, check out the new Bill Webb-designed website, www.DriftlessFilmFest.org.

To fully immerse yourself in the Driftless Film Festival/Mineral Point experience, click here to buy an all-session pass good for all showings, and click here to book one of Mineral Point’s unique guest rooms.

- Contributed by the Hays

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Weekend Update

photo-109It looks like it’s going to be a beautiful and fun weekend.

It should be ideal for going to the Bures Berry Patch for your last minute pumpkins, farm fresh eggs and to get lost in their corn maze.

Here’s the lineup for the weekend:

1116277_620439237976158_1892836263_oFriday October 24, 2014

8:30 p.m. – Jesse Bauman and his band at the Gray Dog Deli

Saturday October 25, 2014

8:30 – 11 a.m. Indoor Farmer’s Market – 114 High Street – across from Library Park

10 a.m. – Kids Halloween Costume Contest and Movie Short

7-10 p.m. – Cocktails and Costumes for Adults at Pendarvis – click below for more details

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For more information about nearby happenings, visit Sandee’s Calendar. You can find a link under the Happenings Tab above.

- Contributed by the Hays

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Saturday Morning Halloween Party

This Saturday morning, get the kids dressed in their Halloween costumes and march on down to the Mineral Point Opera House.

The Mineral Point Kiwanis Club and the Mineral Point Public Library, thanks to the generous usage of the Mineral Point Opera House, are sponsoring a free children’s Halloween movie short (22 minutes) and costume contest.

The festivities will begin at 10 a.m. with the costumed contestants parading across the stage.  As the judges deliberate on costume winners, the kids will be treated to a Halloween short featuring Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie and their pals on a frighteningly fun animated adventure. At the conclusion of the very short movie, costume winners will be announced and prizes will be awarded.

This revival of an old Mineral Point Kiwanis tradition should be a fun way to kick off Halloween week!

PS – Don’t let the clip of the Halloween parade fool you.  The parade down High Street led by the Middle School Band will be on Halloween itself – Friday October 31st – followed by Trick-or-Treating.

- Contributed by the Hays

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