Sister Bay Is So Old…

Back in the September 16th issue of the Peninsula Pulse, I announced a contest to come up with the best “How Old is Sister Bay” joke. The impetus for this contest was the 2010 Census, but for those who weren’t around to read that issue’s column, I offer the following explanation from that issue’s column.


“Thanks to the Internet, when the Census was done in 2000, Americans were able – for the first time – to see and explore all the data the government collects through these surveys. All this data was suddenly available, broken down in innumerable ways and covering every inch of our geography and population. For a numbers junky like myself, it was absolute heaven.

There was, however, an unanticipated down side. When all the numbers were tabulated and posted, my hometown was shown to have the highest median age of any community in the state of Wisconsin. According to the numbers, Sister Bay had a population of 886 residents in 2000 and the median age of those residents was 61.4 years of age.

It wasn’t long before this revelation was picked up and written about by the media. Stories appeared in the local paper, in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and in the Chicago Tribune (and possibly others that I missed). And it didn’t take me very long to become angry.

“Wait a minute,” I said to anyone who would listen. “The data fails to take into account that Sister Bay is home to the only two retirement/assisted living facilities in northern Door County. If we are going to be fair about this, the relative age of the residents in these facilities should be shared by all the northern Door villages and towns.”

I wrote letters to all the papers that ran stories on my hometown’s relative age but…none were printed.

Now the 2010 Census data is on the Internet and – guess what – Sister Bay’s median age is even older. Now the average age of a resident in my hometown is listed as 62.7 years of age.

You may expect me to still be angry about this statistical anomaly, but I am not. Instead I have resigned myself to the fact that as long as Sister Bay provides the only two retirement/assisted living facilities in northern Door County we will always be the oldest community in Wisconsin and, possibly, the Upper Midwest.

…I have decided that the best course of action is for Sister Bay to embrace its distinction as Wisconsin’s oldest community and to get ahead of the entire country by making fun of ourselves before they can make fun of us.

Thus, I am announcing a contest: send me your best “How old is Sister Bay…” joke(s). Don’t just recycle “old” jokes – make them Sister Bay specific. To get you started and give you an idea of what I am looking for, here are a few examples:

Do you know why Sister Bay is dead after dark? Because the majority of the population is too old to drive and the rest have restrictions on their licenses that prevent them from driving after dark.

Or this from my mother, after hearing that the 2010 Census says that 103 residents of Sister Bay are women 85 years of age or older and 36 residents are men 85 years of age or older.

Did you hear about Sister Bay’s new advertising campaign? The ads feature the 36 men 85 years of age and older all smiling. And the copy reads: “Why Are These Men Smiling? Come to Sister Bay and Find Out!”

Or this – from me – which I readily acknowledge is tacky, but …

Did you hear that Sister Bay was thinking about bringing back the Soapbox Derby to Fall Fest? The problem is that there just aren’t any kids the right age, so for 2012 they are considering a Pine Box


So with that background we arrive at the contest entries. It should be noted that I didn’t receive that many entries and several of the entries I did receive were unpublishable – funny, but unpublishable.

From Trudy Herbst came this entry:

Sister Bay is so old that the goats on Al Johnson’s roof have been seen tripping on their beards.

And from Trudy Strom, came this entry:

Did you hear what the Sister Bay restaurants are now serving? Instead of a Shirley Temple with a cherry they are now offering a Shirley Bottom with a prune.

This one came from my good friend from Chicago, Caslon Bold:

In anticipation of Sister Bay’s median age crossing the 65-years-of-age threshold in the near future, the Village Board has voted to sell the entire community to Good Samaritan. The community will be re-named Scandia Village once the sale is complete.

And this one came from another Chicago friend, Melvin Coolbreeze (who is really up there in age, himself):

In order to ensure public health, the Sister Bay water supply will now include formaldehyde.

Both Caslon and Melvin are disqualified from winning since, at one time or another, they have contributed to this column, so the winner of my little contest is Trudy Strom, who can stop by my store and pick up her prize: a copy of Justin Isherwood’s collection of essays, originally published in these pages, entitled Pulse. Congratulations, Trudy!