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Review of The Oddball: The Years of George Putz, Jr.

  • Tue, January 03, 2023 11:57 AM
    Message # 13043074

    Title: The Oddball: The Years of George Putz, Jr., by John J. Mutter, Jr.

    Genre: Biography

    Date Published: 2022; Self-published.

    Reviewed by: Doris Green

    With The Oddball, John J. Mutter, Jr., offers the intimate story of an eccentric, renaissance Wisconsin bachelor. “George Putz, Jr., was born [in 1924] with what some people might call a defect—he saved most everything in his life,” Mutter writes. From letters to canceled checks, to report cards and ancestor photos, Putz saved it all.

    Whenever possible, he recycled his finds. Amazingly, Putz purchased 133 dump truck loads of rubble from the old, demolished Shawano County Courthouse in 1956 for $230. Over twelve years he cleaned thousands of bricks using around 10,000 on his own Shawano property. Putz eventually recorded sales of 53,664 bricks for $1,680.43 by 1983.

    Putz preserved community, as well as personal, history. Seven years after he retired from a 41-year career at the Shawano Paper Mill, he stepped up and volunteered to write its centennial history—gratis. The glossy, 105-page The Shawano Paper Mill Centennial: 1894 – 1994 volume documented the company that helped define the city and impacted the lives of so many of its residents.

    Though not a professional author, Putz’s words in book and letters and conversations carried weight and left a strong legacy. His name lives on in the George Putz Memorial Student Writing Contest, which provides a $2,000 scholarship from the Shawano Area Writers to a Shawano or Menominee senior.

    Mutter makes the most of Putz’s archival materials to introduce a deep-thinking and practical man to a modern audience. Mutter presents a respectful remembrance of a friend who sometimes may have seemed out of step with his peers. Photos of Putz’s collections, intricate inlaid woodworking, and, above all, beloved cat, Tabby, draw in today’s reader as much as any widescreen film.

    Pull up a chair next to your own woodstove and read this book to meet the Oddball for yourself.

    Reviewer Doris Green authored Elsie’s Story: Chasing a Family Mystery and Wisconsin Underground: A Guide to Caves, Mines, and Tunnels. Her newest title is Minnesota Underground: A Guide to Caves & Karst, Mines & Tunnels, co-authored with Greg Brick. Contact, Amazon, or your local bookstore.

  • Wed, January 04, 2023 7:51 AM
    Reply # 13044104 on 13043074

    Mr Putz leaves a remarkable memory and this review sums up a life well lived and a business that sustained a community.  

Wisconsin Writers Association

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