Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Some Fun

It was 5:00 on a blustery Friday in January. I was a senior in high school looking at the entire weekend in front of me with no homework to worry about. I didn’t have to work and the only plans I had was a Kenosha Flyer hockey game on Saturday night. But I needed something to do tonight; after all it was Friday night. I wanted to have some fun. Little did I know how much this fun would end up costing me.


After a bit of contemplation, it came to me that there was a basketball game at school starting 7:00. After the folks said it was okay to borrow one of their cars, I called up my buddy Dave to see if he wanted to go. He said sure, it sounded like fun.

Yes! Fun, that’s what I wanted. I grabbed my jacket, jumped in the yellow 1970 AMC Rebel and sped off to pick up Dave. There was fun to be had.

When Dave got in the car he immediately asked if I brought anything. Being a bit naïve at the time, I asked him what he was talking about. He said, “You know, do you have anything to drink?” I told him no, not to worry, I knew where to go.

Full disclosure number 1.
Before going on, there is a “minor” detail that you should know. In 1975 the legal drinking age for the state of Wisconsin was 18. At the time I was only 17 years old.

There was an Italian restaurant (that shall go unnamed) on the northside of Kenosha that had a liquor store. Being large for my age, I never had a problem obtaining adult beverages at this particular establishment, even without a state ID.

On that night, I picked up a 6-pack of Schlitz Tall Boys and a pint of Southern Comfort. We had about an hour before the game started to consume the purchase. We were going to have fun.

Having successfully accomplished the task of pouring all of the alcohol into our young heads, we arrived at the game with time to spare. Staggering up the bleachers, a loud “Hey Paul” greeted me. It was Lori, a junior that sat next to me in typing class. She waved for Dave and I to come join her and her two girlfriends. Of course we obliged.

Full disclosure number 2.
I had a thing for Lori. What can I say? She was cute, plus she was Italian.

Most of the basketball game was somewhat of a fuzzy blur. I’d like to say it was the fluorescent lights in the gymnasium, but it was more likely the half pint of Southern Comfort and the 48 ounces of Schlitz that I demolished in less than an hour. I can’t say I remember if we won or not. Nonetheless, we were having fun.

Leaving the game, we “happened” to run into Lori and her friends in the parking lot. With a collective smile, they asked us if we could get some more alcohol. Obviously they had detected that we were slightly intoxicated. I said sure and the three of them jumped into the Rebel. Heading back to my favorite northside Italian restaurant, I thought to myself, now we are really going to have fun.

Having grabbed four bottles of Boone’s Farm Apple wine, I was back in the car in the blink of an eye. I know, I know, Boone’s Farm Apple wine. It wasn’t my idea. It was the drink of choice for our three female guests. I wasn’t about to argue with them.

Unfortunately, the Schlitz and Southern Comfort that was already inside of me did argue with the Boone’s Farm. The toxic mixture of the three different types of booze quickly took effect of me in a bad way. Let’s just say my judgment quickly became alcohol-impaired. Severely.

What happened next made this brutally evident. Having just passed Park View Tavern on north Sheridan Road, I turned right and drove up the hill, supposedly to cross the railroad tracks. But that never happened.

Instead, I took a sharp left. For some unknown reason I decided to take the family Rebel and it’s five passengers for a trip down the railroad tracks. It must have been the Southern Comfort. And the Schlitz. And the Boone’s Farm Apple wine. But we were having fun. Weren’t we?

Full disclosure number 3.
This railroad crossing no longer exists in Kenosha. It was eliminated a few years later. I guess timing is everything.

The trip down the railroad came to a rather abrupt halt when the rear end of the car became hung up on the tracks. The five of us were stuck high up on the hill, directly across from St George’s Cemetery. Kind of creepy, huh?

We did everything humanly possible to get the car off of the tracks. Nothing worked, not even the jack. It was getting colder and the cemetery was getting creepier. I was beginning to wonder if I was still having fun.

As things were beginning to look hopeless, a station wagon pulled up at the bottom of the hill. Four guys popped out and asked if we needed some help. Relieved, we shouted back, “Yes, please!” They climbed the steep hill to offer their assistance.

While the six of us were attempting to lift the back end of the car off the tracks, we were interrupted by some bright flashing lights. Looking behind us we saw a police car back at the railroad crossing. The cops had gotten out and were headed our way. I began feeling this wasn’t going to be so much fun after all.

Despite being somewhat alcohol-impaired, I did some quick thinking and was quite gallant. Not wanting Lori and her friends to get in trouble, I asked the guys in the station wagon if they would give them a ride. They scurried down the hill and left just as the cops arrived at the car.

The cops told us in no uncertain terms that we had to get out of there right away. It seems there was a train scheduled to be coming by in a little bit and the car needed to be towed away.

The policemen waited for the tow truck and instructed us to get into a second police car that was waiting for us at the bottom of the hill. Now I knew this wasn’t going to be fun.

Stumbling down the hillside, I tripped and landed in a heap halfway down. Adding insult to injury, my glasses flew off my head when I fell. A brief search proved fruitless, I couldn’t find them anywhere. Besides, the police were hollering at me to hurry up and get over to the car.

The ride in the police car was less than pleasant. Needless to say, the officers were not impressed that we were underage and extremely intoxicated. They were rather persistent in their questioning about where we had purchased the alcohol. I am proud to say I didn’t snitch. I might have been only 17, but I knew all about omertà.

When we got to the police station, I was prepared for the worse. However, things weren’t as bad as they could have been. Sure, we received a stern lecture, but, remarkably, we didn’t even get a ticket. The officer told us he was going to strongly suggest to our parents that they take away our driver’s license for a while. Then he called our folks to come pick us up.

I guess things could have been a lot worse. Especially for Dave. His folks weren’t home, so the police allowed my dad to drop him off. You guessed it. His parents never found out. He got away scot-free, unscathed and unpunished.

That wasn’t the case for me. I had to face my disappointed folks, which was pretty tough. Dad did what he always did when one of us let him down. He was completely quiet. It was a stoic silence that seemed deafening. Mom, on the other hand, was hysterical. That was also to be expected.

However, there was one refreshing moment that occurred during all of the drama. After Dad left to pick me up from the police station, Mom frantically questioned my brother Mike about when I had started to drink. He replied with feigned astonishment, “Gee, this must have been the first time!” Evidently my younger brother also knew about omertà.

 And, yes they did take away my driver’s license. I also had to pay the towing charge for the Rebel. On top of that, I never found my glasses and had to buy a new pair. It was tough watching that Flyer hockey game without my specs.

Full disclosure number 4.
My parents gave me back my driver’s license as soon as they needed me to go to the store for them.

Not having my glasses for a while wasn’t the only thing I had to deal with after my trip down the tracks. I wasn’t looking forward to facing Lori in our typing class on Monday morning. Remember, she sat right next to me. I fully expected her to act as if I never existed.

When Monday came I made sure to get to class before Lori did. Nervously, I kept squinting at the door, anxiously waiting for her to arrive. Finally she entered the room and quietly walked to her desk, clutching her books tightly to her chest.

Before sitting down, Lori stopped in front of my desk. I thought to myself, here it comes, she’s really gonna let me have it. After a pause that seemed to last an eternity, she finally spoke.

In a soft, almost timid voice, Lori said, “Paul, are you mad at me?” Before I could reply, she added, “I don’t blame you if you are. We should have never left you Friday night. I’m really sorry.”

After the initial shock wore off, I managed to blurt out, “Aw, don’t worry about it. I’m just glad you didn’t get in trouble.” With that, she smiled and sat down next to me.

As class began, she leaned over to me and whispered, “Do you want to take me to the basketball game in Muskego in two weeks?” I told her that I probably could. Then I thought to myself, yep, I’m gonna have some fun.

Until next time…from the booth.

Friday, August 23, 2013

It Won’t Be Long Now

No, that’s not the punch line to a bad joke; it’s the status of the progress for my book, “More Kenosha Softball”. All that’s left is to finish up the “chapters” on Tim Georno, Stanich Realty and Strang Siding. After that, all I need to do is scan one, maybe two more photographs. Then I start proofreading the “chapters” and sending them to my publisher, Sari B.

When she has all 24 chapters, she will produce a manuscript. Then I will proofread it and indicate where I want the photographs to be placed. After that, the foreword, introduction and acknowledgements will be written. Then Sari B will work her magic and… voilà! The finished book will be printed.

Actually, the real magic became about six weeks ago when I was writing the introduction bios for the 2013 Kenosha Softball Hall of Fame inductees. The distinguished Ernie Pascucci stopped by to drop off some info for me. He brought with him an album chock full of old photographs. He sat on the couch for an hour, reminiscing with me about the Golden Age of Kenosha Softball.

That seemed to get the ball rolling. After Pascucci, it was Jack Zimmerman, Larry Keating, Jimmy Gentile and Bruce Meyers each taking a turn on the couch. It was wonderful shooting the shit with these softball luminaries. Not only did it provided additional information for the book, it also kicked me into overdrive when it came to writing.

While the guests that appeared on the couch had me feeling like Johnny Carson, I also had several phone conversations that helped immensely. Check out these softball bigwigs: Pat Hegewald, Gary “Wizard” Petersen, Mike Umscheid, Travis Clark, Gregg Hansen, Tim Georno and Chuck Lange. Sweet, huh?

Oh, ya. I made about a zillion phone calls to Sari B, the publisher lady. Barring some unseen interference, I should be done writing by the end of August. Then, hopefully, “More Kenosha Softball” should be available well before holiday gift shopping starts. It won’t be long now.

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Waiting and writing. That’s what I’ve been up to lately. There are only 4 or 5 chapters left to be written. Then all that remains for More Kenosha Softball is scanning some photos, massive amounts of editing, writing an introduction and acknowledgements and then doing whatever Publisher Lady tells me to do. I can’t wait to read this book…

So, I figured that I might as well spit out a few random thoughts while I wait for a few final bits of information necessary for the book to hit my email box. Here goes…

It’s a good thing Bobby Cox, Billy Martin and Earl Weaver won’t be managing in 2014 when MLB implements its new instant replay scheme. What is Allan H. “Bud” Selig thinking? With instant replay, managers will have very little reason to argue with the umpires. Well, I guess there are still balls and strikes. For now…

Watching the Packers play their first two-preseason games on Telemundo has taught me a couple of things. Mexican people really do say, “Ay yi yi!” That, and, “No senor” when a kicker missed a field, were the only things I really understood. The thing I learned was the preseason football sucks. A lot…

Baseball play-by-play commentator Brian Anderson irritates me whether he is doing a national game on TBS with John Smoltz and Ron Darling or a Brewers game with Bill Schroeder. He’s not nearly as clever as he thinks he is. I wish one of these ex-jocks would punch him one. Just once…

When I see the Pittsburgh Pirates wearing their 1971 throwback uniforms on Sunday games I immediately think of their World Series team – Manny Sanguillen, Bob Robertson, Dave Cash, Richie Hebner, Gene Alley, Willie “Pops” Stargell, Al Oliver and Roberto Clemente with Dock Ellis on the mound. The sad part is that I can also remember most of their jersey numbers. It’s a sickness…

I would rather watch any show on Antenna TV than any of the “Wives of…” shows or anything with the Kardashians in it. Give me Barney Miller, WKRP in Cincinnati, All in the Family or Married with Children any day. Even Maude. Did I really just say, “Even Maude”? Crap…

Speaking of questionable TV viewing decisions, I watch way too many shows with “Pawn” in the title. With Pawn Stars, Hard Core Pawn, Hard Core Pawn: Chicago and Cajun Pawn Stars already in the rotation, I’m trying not to get hooked on any of the new ones. But Cash Dome doesn’t really have “Pawn” in its title and one of the clerks “motor-boated” a busty customer…

Although I have countless more random thoughts in my ginormous melon, I will stop there. I concentrate on this new episode of Bar Rescue as I wait for my emails to get here so I can get back to writing my book.

Until next time…from the booth.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I Had a Dream

For the last several months I have been trying to eat “healthier”. For me this means cutting out salt, processed meats, less carbohydrates and, of course, no sweets. Translated into food it means no sausages of any kind, no Italian lunchmeats, less pasta and no tasty cakes and cookies. In other words, all the things that I enjoy, the stuff that tastes good. No longer will I live by the creed: “If it’s green, it’s trouble but it’s fried give me double.”

Please don’t feel too sorry for me, besides the Italian delights, I really don’t miss anything that badly. I still enjoy an occasional pizza from Sal’s, but it is without sauce (salt) and sausage or pepperoni (double whammy – salt AND fat). Instead, the pizza is made with olive oil, oregano, garlic, green peppers, fresh tomatoes and some mozzarella cheese. Okay, I know, the cheese has fat, but, hey, what can I say…

Because I am no longer enjoying many of the delectable treats that I used to, I decided to dine vicariously for one day on a dream menu. So, here is my fantasy feast for a day:


This meal would be cooked by late and dear, Grandma ‘Noni and would consist of the following:

Fried eggs with very crispy edges
Fried half-inch thick slabs of Oscar Mayer baloney
Grandma’s buttered toast made with her homemade bread

My brother Mike and I were fortunate to live at Grandma’s house while our new home was being built during my senior year in high school. Many a morning I left for school with that very meal in my belly. Speaking of school…


Here is my favorite cafeteria offering from the kitchens of Tremper High School:

Several Pizza Burgers
Hostess Suzy-Qs
Chocolate Milk Shake

The reason I say “several” pizza burgers is because besides the ample portion you received, one of the Gosnell twins could never finish theirs and would always share it. 


My dear Ma would make this meal. I can smell it now as I write about it. Baby brother Joey refers to it as “poor people’s” food. I call it delicious. Here’s dinner:

Salad made with tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers from my Pa’s garden
A heaping dish of “Perroni Macaroni”
Desert would be Ma’s zucchini bread. Or her banana bread. Or her plum bread. Take your choice.

“Perroni Macaroni” is tremendous, yet simple. Ground beef, undiluted tomato soup, chopped onions and whatever pasta was handy. Even the aroma was amazing. Mmm…

Because of a lifetime of theses, and many other gastronomical delights, I must now refrain from enjoying them as I once did. I just have to. But it doesn’t stop me from fantasizing about them every now and them. Man, do I have a hankering for Grandma’s eggs and baloney right now…

Until next time…from the booth.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

What’ll You Have?

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. Lots and lots of Pabst Blue Ribbon. The truth be told, I was consuming alcoholic beverages before the legal age of 18. Today’s blog deals with the warm summer of 1975 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 the enigmatic man named Arno.

Let’s get 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 tavern, 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 just 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 Andy’s parking lot. Andy’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.

Well, 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.

This 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 over 400 bottles in that ditch before I finally stopped giving Arno a ride home.

I know, 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 38 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 38th anniversary to you Arno Schubert, wherever you might be. More importantly, happy 28th anniversary to me. Until next time…from the booth.