City, owners looking for place to store it
By Angie Landsverk
Bill and Sharon Krapil are waiting a bit longer to increase the size of their backyard, and they are OK with that.
“We put our grass away,” she told the Weyauwega Common Council during its Monday, June 15, meeting.
Since discovering an old Chicago electric streetcar behind the walls of the brown shack in their yard on June 2, the couple has put the plans for their backyard aside for the time being.
“We will be willing to wait to maybe the fall. That should give the city more time,” she said.
The streetcar, which dates back to about 1905, is currently covered with a tarp.
“We need a place to store it and to shrink wrap it,” Sharon told the council.
The Krapils received an estimate of $800 from a Fremont business to have it shrink wrapped.
Covering it and then finding a place to move the trolley into was the recommendation of Frank Sirinek, a volunteer at the Illinois Railway Museum. He visited the Krapils on June 6 after learning the streetcar had been uncovered.
The Krapils are among those wanting to see the streetcar saved and restored.
“I really think it’s worth saving. I’d really like to see Weyauwega do this. It went viral on the Internet. People keep asking where they can donate,” Sharon said. “I’m hoping that Weyauwega accepts the trolley and gives her a good home. She spent 60-some years in our town.”
Mayor Jack Spierings recommended they work with the Weyauwega Area Historical Society to set up an account for donations to move and restore the streetcar.
Sharon said there are also grants available for such projects.
“We will do what we can on this side to help with the grants,” the mayor said.
Spierings is also a member of the Waupaca County Board and planned to ask on Tuesday, June 16, whether the streetcar could be stored in a building at the fairgrounds.
The Krapils knew there was something behind the walls of the brown shack since buying their house just over a year ago.
They hired a construction crew to dismantle the building, desiring a larger backyard behind their house at 300 W. South St.
After the crew tore off the first piece, behind it was 1137, the trolley’s number.
Among those who contacted the Krapils was someone who once lived in it.
Bob Husberg called them after learning from his sister, Amanda Husberg, that the streetcar had been uncovered.
He was a toddler when they lived there with their parents, the late Robert and Amanda (Pask) Husberg, and their younger brother William.
“It’s just by chance I saw the story,” said Amanda, who lives in Brooklyn, New York.
On the evening of June 6, she was watching New York’s local ABC newscast.
“I don’t usually stay up to watch all of it, because I get up to play (piano) at 8 a.m. (church service),” she said.
That night, she happened to do so and the last story was about the streetcar.
The video showed what it looked like before the streetcar was uncovered, and that is when she recognized the brown siding.
There was mention that the streetcar had been found in the backyard of a small town in Wisconsin.
“I almost had a heart attack,” said the 74 year old. “I looked at it. I said, ‘Oh my God. That’s where I grew up.’”
Amanda said her father bought the car in Chicago and had it shipped to Weyauwega.
Her father was from Chicago, and her mother, who everyone called Mandy, was from Amherst.
After they married, they lived in Naperville, Illinois, before moving to this area during World War II.
Her father bought a farm outside of Waupaca and eventually built a house in Weyauwega.
Amanda does not know how or why her parents bought the trolley.
She thinks they sold the house her father had built and moved into the streetcar for a few years, because her father intended to move the family back to Chicago and purchase his mother’s house.
Amanda believes they lived in the streetcar from about 1946 to 1948.
She attended St. Peter’s Lutheran School from first to third grades and started there in 1946. She knows they were already living in the trolley house then.
Amanda said her father studied to be an architect, and she remembers him covering the streetcar with siding.
“My father was really a Renaissance man,” she said. “He could do anything. I don’t know how he heard about it (the streetcar). He was the one who sided it, took the inside apart, covered up the windows.”
Their trolley house had electricity but no running water.
There was a double bed on one side for her parents, a bunk bed for Amanda and her brother and then in 1947, a crib when youngest sibling William was born.
She said there was also a cardboard wardrobe and upright piano in it for Amanda, who began taking piano lessons at age 5.
“I enjoyed living there. I loved the town,” she said.
Every other year, Amanda drives from the East Coast to the Midwest to visit family and friends. While she made the trip last year, she plans to come here again this fall.
She would like to see the streetcar again.
“It would be nice if there was some kind of city land they could put it on,” Amanda said. “It’s interesting that a piece of Chicago history came up there.”