There's No Such Place as the Raider Room!

Tommy Hawk
There’s no such place as The Raider Room.

But there was once. I know. I was there!

And so were so many of my Wauwatosa High School classmates during the 1940s and the 1950s. It became our home away from home. It was in the basement of what we called "the new building." We went there after football and basketball games mostly. We played cards, drank coca colas, and had ice cream sundaes that were served by theTosa Band and Orchestra Mothers (and their spouses). What kind of ice cream? Gilles’ custard, of course.

We were all there -- Stan, Jack, Matt, Don, and even John, when he could get a ride home to Greenfield. If we didn't want to play cards, we could go over to the "old gym" for the dance. We had to walk through the tunnel to get there. Steve Swedish often provided the music. It was great fun and what memories!

To improve attendance at The Raider Room and cut down on what the adults were calling "after game wildness," Paul Gilles, other community members and the Parent Teacher Association donated money to buy a television set. For many of us, it was the first time we ever saw television. We were the first generation to have television as our baby sitter.

The Raider Room is gone! It's not there anymore--it was destroyed by expansion, renovation and modernization. Recently, I visited that basement room. There were still some markings--the large red "W" on the concrete floor and some faded graphics on the wall. But the room was now being used for storage.

That’s too bad. But we don’t have to worry. We can have our own cyber Raider Room! Here's what we can do. First, we're going to make sure we can all “go back” because it's important that we not forget about The Raider Room. It's where we all were -- once upon a time -- when we were discovering "who we were" and what we could do. The Raider Room was important to each one of us and we were important to it. So, we’ll use vintage photos and written narratives on this cyber Raider Room to remind us of that time in our lives.

But there's something else going on here. There's a recent interest in many graduates of Tosa. They want to rediscover Wauwatosa Senior High School when it was the only high school serving a community that stretched all the way to Waukesha. They want to be reminded of how it used to be and learn what was taken from our school and what was left there.

With the help of the school district and the Wauwatosa Historical Society, we now have a Wauwatosa High School Historical Center that will be located in the main lobby of what we remember as our high school near the former main office. Hundreds of items of Tosa memorabilia, from my personal collection and from the Wauwatosa Historical Society, will be on permanent display.

There's interest in removing the plaster walls and lowered ceilings that, in the 1970s, covered over important work by WPA school artists and beautiful hand crafted ceiling molding. Work that one nationally-recognized mural curator calls "The single most important discovery of lost deco-style lobby art in the history of the state of Wisconsin."