Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The Milty Wilty in Wautoma, Wisconsin January 4, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:26 AM
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UNTIL ABOUT A MONTH AGO, I’d never heard of the Milty Wilty.

In fact, I’d never been to Wautoma, the small, central Wisconsin town that is home to this old-fashioned drive-in. But my husband and I were driving through Wautoma, moving our second eldest daughter to eastern Wisconsin, when I spotted the Milty Wilty. For sure there’s a story behind that name.


The Milty Wilty, which I photographed while we were driving through Wautoma, Wisconsin..

If the drive-in had been open, we would have pulled in. But it’s closed for the season.

You can bet that next summer, when we’re passing through Wautoma again, we’ll stop at the Milty Wilty for a treat. According to several online reviews, the1947 diner serves rich and creamy, light-as-a-feather custard ice cream in huge cones.

I expect the place will be hopping with locals and tourists lining up for that custard or a thick, creamy shake.

My cousin Bev lives in Wautoma. She says the area lakes draw the rich people (OK, she may not exactly have said “rich people,” but that’s what she meant) from Milwaukee and Chicago. I believe her. I saw lots of fancy houses along the lakeshore on the edge of Wautoma.

But I also saw that vintage Milty Wilty along Wisconsin Highway 21. And, honestly, it’s down-home places like that small-town drive-in which appeal to me more than any lakeside McMansion.

You can’t put a price on nostalgia, on a place like the Milty Wilty.

IF ANYONE HAS BEEN to the Milty Wilty, feel free to submit a comment. I’d love to learn more about the drive-in, including how it got its name. Do you have a favorite Minnesota (or Wisconsin or other-state) drive-in? Submit a comment, too. I’m always looking for interesting places to visit when I’m on the road.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling