Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mitten Mutterings

The Geezer’s native and adopted states survived a bit of a tiff this week when they decided to shake and make up.  It is unknown whether hands were protected by mittens during the shake.

Mitten or chopper?
The brouhaha began when Wisconsin’s travel bureau ran ads depicting the state as a mitten to promote winter vacations. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation promptly skewered its Wisconsin counterpart with some semi-harsh comments about “trying to steal our identity.” Lower Michigan long has been known as “The Mitten” for its resemblance on maps to that item of apparel.
There has been no known violence, but charges and counter charges flew between Badgers and Michiganders.  Wisconsin was accused of stealing this year’s Rose Bowl bid after its university football team pulled off a nail-biting win over Michigan State. Wisconsinites with what they thought were long memories said many years ago Michigan stole the whole Upper Peninsula from its natural position as part of Wisconsin. The prize was control of valuable timber supplies and mineral deposits.

The Geezer has thoroughly analyzed the data and arrived at several conclusions:

Travel Wisconsin’s mitten analogy was absurd.  Any kid who grew up in the frigid northern areas of either state knows the mitten image concocted by the Badger promoters far more resembles a “chopper.”  Choppers were made from deerskin and were worn over mittens.  They were ideal for making snowballs without getting the inner cloth hand-covering wet, thus avoiding reprimands from moms who disliked mitten-drying duties.

Wisconsin footballers indeed may have “stolen” a trip to Pasadena for the roses, but it only evened things up.  Michigan State stole the first game between the teams with an improbable desperation pass in the final seconds.  Even Steven, I say.

Michigan hardly can be accused of stealing the Upper Peninsula.  It became a state first, and thus in true American tradition was entitled to grab any land it could get its mitts on (pun intended).  The peninsula was an economic prize, but social integration has been a problem. The Geezer believes most Yuppers are closet Packers fans to this day.

All is well now.  The rival travel agencies joined forces to urge residents of both states to stop the squabbling and donate mittens to warm the hands of kids who need them.  No mention was made of choppers, although they probably would be accepted. Reports from involved charities say the joint campaign is a big success.

However, trying to show the Upper Peninsula as a little mitten in the campaign’s publicity does not work well.  That part of the logo looks more like a sick fish with a large dorsal fin.  Are we headed for a new controversy involving ice fishing?


schmidleysscribblins, said...

Thanks for the history lesson. I always wondered why the upper pennisula was part of Michigan. Perhaps they should have ceded it to Wisconsin long ago.

My Dad was born in Fon du Lac, but he graduated from the University of Michigan, so i understand the rivalry a bit.

I bought my two grandsons packers hats. They have become big fans since I tolk them Uncle Herbert Nichols was on the 1920-21 Squad. Got David one too.

Meanwhile, my granddaughter Ameila is traveling to Atlanta for the Chick-Fillet bowl. UVA is playing there as a consolation for losing to VA Tech. All football here this December.


Sightings said...

Cool, I recognized the mitten right away -- as the state of Maine.

Just kidding, I know Wisconsin when I see it (even tho' I've never been to either Wisconsin or Michigan in my life, which I admit is a serious gap in my geographic background).

Alan G said...

Thanks for the dissertation in mittenology. I am not sure I ever owned a pair of mittens. In fact, I'm not even sure they sell them here in Arkansas. I don't think they would go over well with most of us hillbillys since it sorely restricts nose-picking and obscene finger gestures!

DIRRC Book Club said...

Mentioning choppers caused a bit of nostalgia. I remember well wearing them growing up in northern Wisconsin. They really protected your hands when sliding down the wood-sided toboggan slides, which were built by the CCCs. I have often wondered why people in Michigan don't wear them. Ah, memories!

LC said...

My first visit to your blog. Love the history, both personal and otherwise. said...

Thank you, LC. Please stop by any time.