In 1975 it was legal to purchase and consume alcohol at the age of 18 in the state of Wisconsin. And that’s exactly what I did, usually in the form of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. The truth be told, I was consuming alcoholic beverages before the legal age of 18. Remind me to tell you sometime about the time I got Dad’s yellow 1970 Rebel stuck on the railroad tracks across from St. George’s Cemetery on a cold winter night in 1975. But today’s blog deals with the warm summer of that same year and involves the infamous Arno Schubert.
Arno first graced this blog in “My First Labor Day”. After that he also showed up in “Arno: A Koos Legend”, “A Koos Christmas Story”, “A Special Secret Weapon” and “Attack Of The Chainsaw”. If you haven’t read these entertaining blogs, I encourage you to take the time to do so. They will help you to appreciate this enigmatic man named Arno.
Now back to the summer of 1975.
I had been working at Koos Inc. for a couple of months when I finally felt comfortable enough to tell my co-workers where I lived. Keep in mind, this was the first time I was exposed to wild characters like Virgil Tucker, Ziggy Gutowski and of course, Arno Schubert. So, you can understand my reluctance in revealing such personal information.
When I first mentioned that I lived off of Highway C in Pleasant Prairie, just down the road from the Nobby Lobby, my worst fears were realized. The words had barely left my lips before Danny Fliess blurted out, “No shit Puddles. Arno lives right by you!”
Great, I thought to myself, that’s all I need. And I was right. As soon as that crusty old German discovered where I lived he was hitting me up for a ride home. So, for the rest of that summer I gave that foul-mouthed curmudgeon a lift home. Each and every miserable night.
At first the 15-minute trips were fairly uneventful. A typical drive home consisted of me continually turning the volume of the radio up in an attempt to drown out Arno’s incessant cursing. I’m not sure if he ever even noticed.
Then it happened. After a particularly hot day, Arno climbed into my car and announced that he was going to start compensating me for giving him a ride home. I am quite sure he didn’t use the word compensate, but you get the idea.
All right! I wondered how much he was going to give me. Five bucks would be nice. Ten would be even better. Well, it wasn’t ten and it wasn’t even five. Nope.
The compensation came in the form of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.
As soon as I had turned on to Washington Road, Arno instructed me to turn into Staral’s parking lot. Staral’s was a small neighborhood bar located right behind Big Star’s parking lot.
As I pulled in, I quickly informed him that I had no intention of sitting in a bar stinking of fertilizer. He promptly told me to shut the f*ck up and jumped out and ran inside. Moments later he appeared with a brown paper bag and a toothless grin going from ear to ear.
While I pulled back onto Washington Road, Arno reached into the bag and produced an ice-cold bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. I shrugged my shoulders and accepted the payment for my transportation services. Arno, still grinning, removed a bottle for himself, cracked it open and started gulping it down.
At least he wasn’t swearing. If there was one thing that Arno enjoyed more than swearing, it was drinking beer. And I enjoyed the quiet. The beer wasn’t bad either.
By the time we turned onto Highway HH we had finished the six-pack. It was at this point that Arno gathered up the empty beer bottles and began to hurl them out the window into the ditch by the cornfield.
It didn’t last forever, a couple of months I think. But every night for those two or three months we stopped at Staral’s so Arno could buy that six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon for the ride home. And every night he tossed the empties out the window into that ditch by the cornfield.
There must have been close to 400 bottles in that ditch before I finally stopped giving Arno a ride home.
I know, not only was I drinking while driving, Arno was littering as well. What can I say, I was young and dumb and Arno was…well, Arno was Arno.
That was 35 years ago. For the next ten years I continued to consume Pabst Blue Ribbon on a regular basis. Sometimes on a “more than” regular basis.
However, on August 4, 1985 that all came to an end. I was in the booth announcing a Morning League game at historic Finney’s West when I decided that I had had enough. And I haven’t touched a drop since then.
Happy 35th Anniversary to you Arno Schubert, wherever you are. More importantly, Happy 25th Anniversary to me. Until next time…from the booth.