Community Focus

David Plummer: Bringing Stanley’s past to life


David Plummer hails from one of the oldest families to settle in Stanley, Wisconsin. Son of Don and Twila Plummer, Plummer fondly remembers growing up working at his parents’ hardware store, Coast to Coast, with his two siblings, Michele and Bruce. He graduated from Stanley-Boyd High School in 1976 and earned his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Development with a minor in Product Development from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Plummer went on to work as a technical leader at Anderson Windows where he was involved in creating many product designs and won various awards including the Governor’s Award (Minnesota) for Universal Product Design with his design for a sliding window handle that was usable by people with various dexterity abilities. Retired for the last two years, Plummer currently lives in Hudson with his wife, Jeanette, where they enjoy spending time with their children Christopher and Catelynn and their families and embarking on new adventures together.
About a year ago, Plummer began working on a book of his own family’s history when a spark was started in him to collect photos and information to make a book depicting the history of his hometown of Stanley. Plummer, along with Dave Jankoski and members of the Stanley Historical Society, compiled a book of the history of the City of Stanley taking old black and white historical photos and bringing them to life in vibrant color using colorization technology. Fast forward to today and ‘Vintage Views of Stanley-Brought to Life in Color’ was born. Plummer’s techniques vividly transport the reader back to the past and give the old memories new life. The historical photo book of the history of the City of Stanley is the twenty-second book that Plummer has made and shows the “fun side” of Stanley. He adds that making these kinds of books can be a lot of work but “so worth it!”
Plummer shares that the Stanley book is a tribute to his Grandma Margaret Gruber, a former Stanley resident and the family “historian,” who loved to take photos and make scrapbooks documenting the family’s memories. Plummer mentions that she instilled in him a love of preserving memories and keeping the past alive. “Find a good home for these photos,” she told him as she passed on to him her boxes of photos. Plummer remembers Grandma Margaret for always showing up for family events and making her delicious bread pudding with plum sauce.
He adds that in addition to his grandmother, the book is also a tribute to his parents, Don and Twila. “Both were very active in the community with dad being a prominent businessman who served on several city and hospital planning committees and played an important role in the design and building of Holy Family Hall and Church. Mom was on the school board and was also in many church and women’s groups and served as treasurer of the Stanley Historical society. It seemed fitting that I should dedicate a book about Stanley to them,” Plummer said.
When asked how often he comes home to Stanley, Plummer answers honestly. “While I physically don’t get back very much after mom and dad’s passing, I do consider Stanley my “heart” home and think of it often and all the good memories growing up and all the wonderful times going back home to see mom and dad and grandma for decades after leaving Stanley in the early 1980s.” He mentions that Stanley will always be considered his “heart” home. “Working on the book enforced that feeling as I pictured myself riding my bike down so many of those streets.” He mentioned that all those memories of playing ball with friends, riding downtown with his little sister riding on his banana seat bike, and building forts in the woods with his brother and skating on the pond out back came flooding back. He adds that one of the things he loved the best about his hometown was the close-knit community feel.
Discussing his favorite Stanley restaurant, Plummer answers honestly that his fondest memory was not of a restaurant but a bar. “At least once a week dad would stop at the First and Last Chance bar on Broadway after work with a couple of his store employees. Of course, my brother and I were always at the store putting bikes and wagons together or other odd jobs after school. I was only around ten or eleven at the time. But we would sit at the bar with dad and have a grape soda and onion and garlic potato chips before heading home for supper. That was a treat for us kids as we didn’t have much soda at home.”
Plummer mentions that without the help of the Stanley Historical Society and members such as Jankoski the book would not have been possible. “I would like to acknowledge the vast amount of personal stories and photos that the Historical Society has in their collection and encourage others to donate some of their key photos so future generations can do just what we did with the Stanley book and future Gruber book.” He adds that his sister, Michele Halterman was instrumental in putting the written text for the book together.
Plummer hopes to finish the original Gruber Family Book that started him on this journey. He mentioned that he seems to have hit some roadblocks and missing information for key members of the family including, the Mahal, Rademacher, Pinter, and Matt Gruber, Jr. families. He elaborated that these seem to be the most elusive of the family with little known information in the Stanley Historical archives.
“If there are families that would want to help by furnishing photos and/or stories about these families, or any of the 11 Gruber children, it would be greatly appreciated,” Plummer said. He added, “If enough of these missing families step forward, I can finish the Gruber History book and give our family great representation at the museum for generations to come.”
When asked about his future plans to make another book, Plummer comments, “I’m so pleased that everyone can now enjoy some of Grandma’s photos and postcards and that they are not just sitting in a box on the shelf. I hope others are moved to do the same. Who knows, if the museum receives some really fantastic photos, I may colorize a few more and maybe even do another book for the society.”
Anyone interested in purchasing ‘Vintage Views of Stanley-Brought to Life in Color’ can order it from the Stanley Area Historical Society website or directly at the Stanley Historical Museum.
Softcovers are available for $35.00, and hardcovers will be available later this year at a cost of $45.00. Books can be mailed for an additional mailing cost of $10.00 per book.