By Tim “Shoe” Sullivan
It’s time now to share some feedback that our recent columns have generated.
We talked a lot about the root beer stands in Stevens Point’s past. Debbie Goodness emailed to inform me that her mom owned the local A&W root beer stand in the late ’50s and early ’60s. I loved that place. Debbie also said that she thinks the “pretty” girl at the Clark gas station was Betsy Helminiak, and she believes that Top Hat was once Josie’s Bar, owned by Hank and Josie Gossen.
Feedback from readers like Debbie is the lifeblood of this column.
We recently did a story about Stevens Point streets. Gert Neuendorf informed us that Gilkay Street was named after her maternal uncle John Gilkay. Richard Dehlinger talked about Gilkay Avenue and Gilkay Alley. Rick “Kalper” Kalpinski, a terrific softball player in Point back in the day, let us know that there indeed IS a Della Street in Point. Kalper is a big JFK trivia buff, too.
As far as “Where were you when JFK was shot?”, Tom Hering said he was home from Jefferson School eating lunch while watching television when the news came on. Kurt Jakusz was in St. Pete’s grade school at the time, and Jack Mrozinski, a retired Portage County deputy, was in Brother Joe’s class at Pacelli. It was great to hear from those guys. My God, what a sad day in our nation’s history in 1963.
I didn’t think anyone would know the seven colors of the rainbow. Eileen 43, Jon Rossmiller, and Don “Duck” Shannon all mentioned that all you have to do is remember “ROY G. BIV” and you’ll have the answer. Duck said he learned that in grade school at St. Pete’s.
David Wachowiak shared some tales about fun times at the Fox Theatre.
Here’s a tidbit that might be news to a lot of you. Do you remember the 1960’s band The Lovin’ Spoonful? John Sebastian was the lead singer, and some of their big hits included “Summer In The City”,” Do You Believe In Magic”, “Daydream”, and “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?” Well, back then Pete Redfield owned Pete’s Silver Coach in Park Ridge.
His son Jared Redfield used to bartend at Pete’s and went off to study law. In the early ’80s, local attorney Jared was in New York practicing entertainment law. He produced an off-Broadway play about W.C.Fields called “100 Proof”, and then Jared produced a Broadway musical based on E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web”.
It was approved and he had a year to write the adaptation. Jared hired the Spoonful’s John Sebastian to do the score. Redfield moved back to Stevens Point in 1985. In the early ’90s, Jared contacted Sebastian in Woodstock, New York and invited him to spend some time in Point. Sebastian showed up and they took a Point Brewery Tour.
During his visit, John Sebastian also put on a concert at Pfiffner Park and dedicated his song “What a Day For A Daydream” to Jared’s wife Linda who was in the crowd.
Here’s how dumb I was as a freshman at Pacelli: It’s the first day of school, and I didn’t have a clue about anything. Someone said I was to report to homeroom 103. Only problem was I didn’t even know what a “homeroom” was, and I sure as hell didn’t know where 103 was supposed to be.
So, I walked up to some senior and asked him where Home Room 103 was. We walked past the Coke machine and down some steps. He pointed to a room and said, “There it is.”
Then he walked away. I walked into the room. It was the boiler room.
I stayed in there for about a half hour until the janitor came in and asked me what I was doing.
I said, “This is homeroom 103, ain’t it”?
He laughed so hard he almost peed his pants and led me to the proper room. (If I was looking for homeroom 203, I’d probably be on the roof.)
Do you remember Weico soda? I used to drink cases of it.
A buddy of mine was in a chess tournament once. He got ticked off and knocked over the chessboard. The authorities came and arrested him for disturbing the pieces.
When I was a kid, our house was next to the Schmidt’s house with just a small driveway in between. Suzy Schmidt was our next-door neighbor. Suzy was a friend of my sister Neda. They somehow hooked up a small basket and a string. They would open their upstairs windows which were right across from each other and sent notes to one another.
I could never figure out why they just didn’t talk to each other through the open windows. It’s like you see chicks texting someone in a bar who’s actually sitting a few feet away. Drives me bananas.
Saw a note on Facebook the other day. Lady in Point said she fell on her sidewalk while getting the mail from her mailbox. She said her yard and sidewalk were full of twigs, needles, and pine cones. I contacted her and got the address. My nephew picked me up and we took the lawnmower over there.
It was a beautiful day. She wasn’t home. We cleared off the sidewalk and mowed the small front yard. Hey. I’m no hero. It took about ten minutes. She was thrilled.
See, what goes around comes around. Some years back, I had a sore shoulder from slipping on the ice during a blizzard. I mentioned that on Facebook for the hell of it. The next day, Jo Anne Ball, who I didn’t even know, showed up to my house with a snow shovel and cleared the whole front sidewalk. For nothing.
That night, Holly Meshak, a gal I did know from softball, dropped by and finished the back walkway. So, when you get down to it, that lady can thank Jo and Holly because I did what they did years earlier.
Hey, we’re from Stevens Point. We do stuff like that for others.
To this day, nobody is quite sure who hit the first home run in softball at Iverson Park. It seems to be narrowed down to Dick White or the late Don Kottke.
Don’t know what made me think of this, but I’d like to say a few words about Lee Remmel. Lee passed away at age 90 in 2015. He was a Green Bay Packer icon. He was associated with the Packers for 62 years. As a sportswriter, Mr. Remmel was the only writer to cover all the Packer coaches from Curly Lambeau to Bart Starr. Lee was Green Bay’s Public Relations Director for many many years. He was a super nice guy and was inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame in 1996. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, Randy Wievel, Mike Haberman, and I wrote a “Superpickers” column for Ray Nitschke’s Packer Report. The paper threw a party every year at the Carlton West, and Ray was always there. So was Lee Remmel and Chuck Lane. We got to know them a little bit.
Sometime in the ’90s, I got a call from the UWSP Communication Department. They were having some kind of banquet. I think it was either Dan Houlihan or Jim Moe who called. (Both great guys). I have no idea why they asked me, but one of them wanted to know if I could line up a guest speaker for the event. I said I’d try. here’s how it went: I called Lee Remmel.
The Packers put me right through to his office. I said, “Hey Lee. Shoe here. Uh, the UWSP Comm Department is having a banquet and they want me to find a speaker. I don’t know if they can pay anything or not, but I thought I’d run it by you. Who can I get?”
Lee said, “What time do you want me there”?
I said, “Uh Lee, maybe we have a bad connection here. I gotta find a speaker who’ll give a good speech for free.”
Lee said, “I just checked the date. I’ll be there”.
And he was. Lee gave a great speech about Vince Lombardi, shook some hands, and drove right back to Green Bay. (I still have his handwritten notes of the speech).
That, folks, is what you call class.
Catch ya on the flip side.
Ti “Shoe” Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com.