1999 Bouvier Specialty
The House on the Rock
Friday, Oct 15, the beginning of
the end, Oconomowoc, WI, 1999 Bouvier Specialty honoring the working
The planning guide for this day listed AKC confirmation for regular Dog
& Bitch classes (to be judged by Mrs. Marcia Proud, a breeder), a
Fish Fry & Chicken Buffet offered by our gracious hotel hosts for
$8.25 & the Annual Meeting. I figured the last two were
probably similar so I decided just to go to the ABdFC annual meeting.
The "House on the Rock", so called because of where it stood,
drew my attention when Nicky & Maureen Patterson mentioned it.
It's a local tourist attraction so, along with Nicky & Maureen,
Logan & Truman, we started our 1.5 hr mini caravan towards that
adventure. Along the way we passed a Frank Lloyd Wright attraction
which we didn't get a chance to see.
Also along the way I called Audi in Danbury, CT to find out where the
hidden cut off switch was for the motion detector alarm.
Driving along the highway, I'm told, you can see a portion of the
"House on the Rock". Its a portion of the house, a very
narrow isosceles shaped triangle, cantilevered out over the treetops @ a
couple of hundred feet. I didn't see it from the highway but I can
tell you that the views from inside the room were spectacular as you
looked out the side & down windows.
Anyway, about an hour out from Oconomowoc, we started climbing a hill
& @ the summit there rose a gigantic (20 ft tall) entrance to this
place. The driveways were lined with huge (20 ft tall) urns,
filled with foliage & covered with strange creatures -- lizards,
dragons, other such figures. All very interesting & bizarre.
But nothing to compare to the house.
We parked in a tree lined, shady, area so the Bouvs would be comfortable
& Maureen & I walked our respective guys in different directions
(they don't get along) while Nicky found the hidden cut off switch in
Fifteen bucks per person later got us into the "house".
Lest you think this was *really* a house, forget it.
Built originally by an architect/artist/collector, it was meant to house
a very weird collection of collections & it was huge &
sprawling. To put it into perspective, I wandered around from room
to room with Nicky & Maureen for about 2hrs & had to leave &
they spent another couple of hours before finishing. Whew.
Many of the rooms were claustrophobic -- low
ceilings covered in red industrial carpeting, the walls built
partially out of the mountain & partly from stones which the
artist/architect is supposed have carried up the hill on his back --
sure..... In some of the rooms,
you could hear water trickling but there were few windows. As we
progressed from room to room, there were collections of things --
glasses, bottles, sculptures, mechanical bands, cars, model ships,
artifacts & always the ever present machine that could provide you
with tokens to play the mechanical bands. ($5 bucks got you 4
tokens, I think)
These bands were peopleless instruments which magically struck,
strummed, whistled, chimed their way thru some pretty good music that
you got for a token. There were pianos, cymbals, drums, whistles,
organs, banjos, guitars, oboes, cellos, harmonicas & other
instruments in various groupings. And of course, we had to hear all the
Finally we got to a larger room with a really impressive looking band --
not the biggest I was later to find out -- that was already playing.
But in the dim light I saw a repairman under the organ with a work light
tinkering with the wires. So with great admiration & respect,
I made my way over to where he was to watch him work. Finally he
pulled his head out of the organ's guts & I reverently asked him in
hushed tones if all the different bands were totally mechanical.
"No", he replied, "they're a mixture of some things.
Sometimes what you're listening to is a cassette, sometimes a CD &
in one room they've been busy rigging up a computer but that hadn't
proved to be very reliable." Crushed, I asked him how long he
had worked @ the place. "Ten years", he said, "but
only about a year & a half with these machines. They're hard to
figure out 'cause they're all different." I tuned out after
We toured some more & following the signs to yet another room of
stuff, we were conveniently led thru a small food arcade. There
you could get greasy stuff & a drink for cash. So we sat &
tried to calculate how this place survived. $15 bucks entry fee, some
tokens, 1,000 people a week got you about $900,000. Nah, that
wouldn't do it. Ok, let's try 1,000 people a day, 365 days.
Admissions, alone, would gross $5,475,000 a year That seemed like
a better number. We were to find out later that they
"entertained" +/- 500,000 people annually.
I had to leave so a very frail, sweet, retired lady usher, who worked
part time, showed me a quick exit from the maze that was this house.
Nicky gave me great directions for my return which I jotted down on a
biz card except @ the main highway he told me I had to go North.
When I got there, the choice was East or West so I chose one but decided
I had probably taken the wrong turn. There were no gas stations, 7-11s,
KFC's, MacDonalds, Wendy's, etc along this route where I could ask for
directions nor did I have a map with me (smart, huh?) so I called the
operator & asked if she could connect me with someone who could
provide directions. "How about the Madison Sheriff's
office", she offered in a tone of voice that suggested she was
talking to an idiot. "Sure" I said, feeling like an
Madison Sheriff's Dept, officer whatever. I explained this wasn't
an emergency, I was from out of town, driving down this highway with no
place to stop for directions, apologized for calling their office &
using their time for my nonsense but asked for directions to a town
whose name I couldn't even pronounce right. (Ok, you try it --
OCONOMOWOC. Wrong. It's not pronounced like that.)
"You've reached the Madison Sheriff's office" the officer said
in a tone of voice that suggested he was talking to an idiot.
"I know", I said, feeling like an idiot, "but could you
please help me?" "Just a moment, I'll find a map"
& he put the phone down. Oh shit I thought, I'm going to leave
the cell area & get disconnected so I slowed down. Thankfully,
within 30 secs he was back. "Keep going & get off @ exit
#??, you'll see the signs."
Dinner that night was very early & at an unfortunate German
restaurant. The table was set for a bunch of us -- Nancy & Ken
Almgren, Nancy Swenson & her husband, David & Sondra Reiser,
Arden Shaw & her husband & some others whom I apologize to for
not remembering their names. We had fun, lots of great banter & good
laughs but lousy food & it was time to head back for the Annual mtg.
I walked Truman & got to the mtg late.
Cyndi Rutledge & I decided to take notes @ the mtg since the minutes
are copyrighted. Those notes will be in a separate post to the
Best of Breed, the awards banquet & the Regional Specialty &
another wonderful dinner were yet to come.
click below for
Specialty Diary - Saturday