Episode #1: Everyone is Important in Hubbard, Wisconsin

Hubbard is a small Wisconsin town, but not too small. It has several banks, a university, small and medium-sized businesses and a Wal-Mart supercenter. Its tree-lined neighborhoods vary from those with humble homes to large, Victorian mansions. It is not so small that everybody knows everyone else, but it is small enough that everyone knows someone who knows everyone else.

The nice thing about Hubbard is that all of its residents feel they are important. The members of the private country club, mostly business owners and white-collar professionals, think themselves to be quite prosperous, but their wealth pales in comparison to their counterparts in big cities. When they take their families out to eat at the country club restaurant, they complain when the entree prices exceed $12.00. As a result, every year the country club board has a difficult time making its expenses. The obvious solution is a substantial increase in annual membership dues, but the members won’t go for that. They want status, but don’t want to pay too much for it. In a small-pond town like Hubbard it’s easy to be a big fish.

There aren’t many university professors that have a membership at the country club. If you ask the business owners why this is the case, they will point out that those who can’t do, teach; and that professors don’t make enough money to join the country club. If you ask the professors, they will tell you that golf is the mindless entertainment venue of the business classes, who purposefully avoid sophisticated intellectual challenges. Professors, on the other hand, have more important things to do with their time, like reading the Greek classics.

Then there’s Bill Harnack, who works at the local foundry and has a small fishing boat which he regularly uses on lake shady. On weekend fishing days he goes by Archie’s bait shop for a dozen crappie minnows. A dozen minnows costs $1.30 but if he treats himself to night crawlers the cost ramps up to $2.11. Still, that’s cheap entertainment; less than a meal at the country club and much more economical than a copy of Homer’s Illiad. If he’s lucky his wife, Betty, will fry up a nice dinner for he and the kids, as long he cleans and scales the fish. Bill doesn’t much concern himself with the country club or the Greek classics; he’s content to land his evening meal on 4-pound line. Ask Bill and he’ll tell you who’s really important in Hubbard. It is the working man like him, without whom nothing would get done in Hubbard or anywhere else.

You see, everyone is important in Hubbard, Wisconsin.

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