Would you like to see a magnificent sunrise? Head to the Lake Michigan shoreline.
PHOTOS: THOMAS CORRAO

Capturing Kenosha: Appreciating the natural beauty

Our lakefront is not to be taken for granted
Thomas Corrao

By Thomas CorraoKENOSHA.COM

Recently retired after 25 years with the Kenosha Sheriff’s Department, Corrao enjoys fishing, gardening, foraging for wild foods, golfing and photography. His favorite subjects are sunrises and sunsets. Corrao's future retirement plans include traveling the United States in a recreational vehicle with his wife and documenting their journey through a travel blog and YouTube channel.

When I was a younger man, I really don’t remember paying much attention to the natural beauty of the Kenosha lakefront.

Back then, like a typical teenager, I was too involved in thinking about other things like cars and girls to really enjoy the beauty of this very special place. Life moved along at a very fast pace before my era of responsibility began.

No matter how fast life seems to be passing you by, there is still a sunrise and a sunset every day.

When I finished high school, I enlisted in the United States Air Force and was sent overseas, where I lived in Japan for 10 years. That was a very enjoyable time in my life and it flew by as if it were sand in an hourglass.

When I left the service, I was employed at various locations around the Kenosha area. Then in 1996, I was hired by Kenosha County to work in the downtown jail. Back then, the jail operated with only five or six officers working the jail floor. Our supervisors were sworn sheriff sergeants and the number of inmates was dramatically lower than the numbers Kenosha houses today.

Mother Nature rarely disappoints.

I was happy when I started my employment because the job seemed similar to my time in the military. There was a structured command within the department and the officers I worked with were veteran officers with several years of experience.

Sheriff Allen Kehl was the sheriff when I was hired, but I also served under Sheriff Larry Zarletti and Sheriff David Beth during my tenure with the department. Over the years, there were numerous incidents that will forever live in my mind.

Many of the people I worked side by side with were overwhelmed by them and ended up leaving the job, due to the stress involved. I endured through them, though, and tried to make the best of my chosen profession. It was difficult and as I sit here today I am amazed by my own stamina.

It would be a lie if I said that the time I spent with the department went quickly because it didn’t. Actually, it seemed to last for an eternity because my senses were deprived of the natural world and family time while working within the walls of the corrections facility. This experience in my life taught me a lot of life skills, though, and changed my foundation as a person.

I credit it with me developing empathy for my fellow man and providing me with the means to retire at the age of 60 years old. 

Nov. 16 was the first official day of my retirement and it felt strange to me to think that I didn’t have a formal job anymore. I woke up at my usual time, but instead of going to work, I went down to the Lake Michigan shoreline in hopes of seeing another magnificent sunrise.

It’s the middle of November, though, and Mother Nature only provided me with a very slight light show for my enjoyment. It didn’t really bother me because I know how blessed I am to be in such a beautifully situated city here along the southeastern shores of Wisconsin.

An early-morning fisherman waits for a bite.

I thought about how different life was going to be now and also thought about the people I worked with at the jail and the immense job they do behind the scenes that no one ever hears about. It’s an accomplishment that is seldom seen to have someone retire from the jail at 60 years old. I can count on one hand the number of jailers who have achieved that status.

I truly want everyone to know of the sacrifices made by our county correctional staff and that there are truly great people behind the scenes protecting our community. I hope they will remain safe and be able to reach all of their goals in life. 

Today, I would like to convey the importance of slowing one’s life down whenever possible to enjoy the natural beauty that is all around us. In today’s world, it seems that there is less and less time to pay attention to that natural beauty. There is too much focus on the darker things in life and not enough on the good.

In my retirement, I plan to travel whenever I can. I plan to see and do as much as I can fit in before I’m too old to do those things. I’ve been working on my photography and will continue to study and grow in that media.

Good morning!

This article includes photographs of some of the sunrises I have captured this year. My intent in placing them with this article is to let others know that no matter how fast life seems to be passing you by, there is still a sunrise and a sunset every day, and it should be a priority in life to see as many of them as possible. It’s good for your mind, body, and soul to slow down and I urge all of you to seek out natural beauty whenever possible.

I realize that this may not be an option for everyone, so for those who simply can’t, I will continue to post my sunrise pictures on Facebook, both on my personal page and on the Kenosha Strong Facebook group.

If you would like to see more of my work, please look me up on Google and send me a friend request. Then when the travels begin, you’ll be able to follow along on our rest of our life adventures. 

Follow Thomas Corrao on Instagram (@straycompasslifeguy) or his YouTube channel (Stray Compass Life). Also, check out his website at straycompasslife.com.

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