Book captures high school’s history

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007
— Norene Joppa Nelson has spent her life collecting pieces of Delavan history.

But the piece dearest to her heart was too big to put on a shelf.

Instead, she captured it in a book.

Nelson has compiled photos, programs, pieces of diaries and other scraps of memories into a book titled “Delavan High School: The Beginning, the End and In-Between.”

The school stood on Main Street and later Wisconsin Street until it was razed in 1957. The last class graduated from the school in 1953.

“I told my publisher it was like having a baby,” Nelson said about the hours she put into the project.

The school was “very, very special” Nelson said. She wanted to get all the memories together in one place before it was too late.

“It’s something I always knew I wanted to do,” Nelson said. “If I didn’t do it, everyone else would be dead.”

The book is available at:

-- The Joppa House Museum, 122 N. Second St., Delavan

-- Remember When, 313 E. Walworth Ave., Delavan

-- Antiques of Delavan, 323 E. Walworth Ave.

The cost is $45, and the money will go to support Nelson’s collection of Delavan memorabilia.

Nelson will hold a book signing from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 at Bradley’s Department Store, 222 E. Walworth Ave., Delavan.


Norene Joppa Nelson has filled every room in her home with antiques, most of them from Delavan history.

-- The tour springs into action with the “circus room” in the foyer of the two-story house. Crisp red-striped valances help the imagination picture the inside of a circus tent.

The walls are lined with circus posters and black-and-white photos of local performers and circus animals.

Nelson has two costumes from trapeze artists and a collection of beer cans from Delavan’s sesquicentennial celebration in 1986.

-- Nelson’s sitting room is decorated for Christmas, complete with trees, teddy bears and the 1913 Christmas Day edition of the Delavan Enterprise.

-- A tiny dining room is an unlikely place for a chandelier that once hung in the Delavan Opera House, which was located on the corner of Main and Second Street. But Nelson is grateful the chandelier has a home.

The room features prints of Dan Costello of Racine and William Coup of Delavan, who sparked what would become “The Greatest Show on Earth” as well as a print of Juliet, the circus elephant who died and was buried in Delavan Lake in 1864.

-- The “school room” promotes the pride of Delavan High School, which closed in 1957. Trophies, programs and team photos fill the walls.

-- Upstairs, a closet holds the dentist chair Nelson sat in to have her tonsils removed.

The bedrooms are decorated in antique quilts and feature dolls, toys and dressing gowns.

Last updated: 3:52 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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