Pitterle-Beaudoin American Legion Post 189
The History of Post #189
The Watertown American Legion began in 1919 with Dr. A. F. Soliday as first commander. Later, the organization was named the Sgt. Frank Pitterle Post #189 in honor of Pitterle, who was the first Watertown man killed in action during World War I. At the conclusion of World War II, Beaudoin was added to the post in honor of the last town casualty in World War II.
The American Legion was founded in Paris at the end of World War I. The First Street location is the Legions fourth headquarters since its inception. Up until World War II the Post was without a main office and members met in various locations throughout the city. But near the beginning of the war, the Legion started to gather at the old Armory, now the Heritage Inn.
In 1948, the Legion purchased the Green Bowl Tea Room, formerly the Prozaska House and converted it to the Legion Green Bowl Supper Club. It was located on Oconomowoc Ave which was laid in 1912 and was the first cement street in Wisconsin. Twenty-five years later the Legion sold the club to George Linberg, who now operates it as Linberg's By The River.
The Legion was again without a main headquarters until Dec. 28, 1984 when it purchased its present home, formerly Waldoch's, at 206 South First Street. The Legionnaires and Auxiliary have completely renovated the former tavern where the Post holds meetings and store equipment such as wheel chairs, walkers and hospital beds. The Legion holds a liquor license for the building but it is not open to the public.
In 1996, the City of Watertown and the American Legion Pitterle-Beaudoin Post #189 hosted Watertown's 178th annual city celebration of the Fourth of July. The parade draws an enormous throng of people to the business section on Main Street as well as along the parade route to the Riverside Park where the Legionnaires and Auxiliary offer food and drinks and music. Fireworks are scheduled at night.
Post #189 is instrumental in observing Veterans Day along with various other organizations. In commemoration of the event, local veterans groups met at the Heritage Inn and march in a parade beginning at 10:30 a.m. and continue down Main Street to the Main Street bridge where a brief ceremony is held to honor all military people who did not return from war. This replaces the Armistice Day celebration of years ago commemorating the date and time of the end of World War I as silence fell over "No Man's Land" in Europe at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1948. In 1954 President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming Nov.11, Veterans Day instead of Armistice Day and asked Americans everywhere to dedicate themselves to the cause of peace on this national holiday. Since that time, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War have brought more veterans into existence.
Children of the area are invited to an annual Halloween parade. Those participating are asked to line up on North Seventh Street and break up at 206 South First Street where treats are distributed. Cash prizes are awarded along the route by Legion Auxiliary members. The parade is sponsored by the city of Watertown and is under the direction of the American Legion Pitterle-Beaudoin Post #189.
The American Legion Band was formed June 14, 1949. Members included some from the original Watertown Cavalry band. Their first performance was August 20, 1949 under the direction of Frank Koenig. The turn out was estimated at 1500 persons who gave generous applause.
About 1500 American Flags are placed on area graves of military veterans before Memorial Day and are removed shortly after Labor Day by a few Legionnaires. The larger cemeteries include: Watertown; Oak Hill, Moravian, St. Bernards , St. Henrys, Immanuel Lutheran; Ixonia: Glenview Gardens . Three of the 21 cemeteries only have one flag each. The flags are placed in special metal holders called 3stakes2. Stakes in use include World War I, World War II, Korea, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, Vietnam, Cuba, the Civil War and two in Watertown from the Indian War.
The Watertown American Legion baseball team competes for the State AA tournament. 1996 found them advancing from the State playoffs to the National playoffs held in the state of Iowa.