5th Post July 24th, 2017

Welcome to the 5th entry of Woody’s Words and Wit. You may have noticed that I have a new domain, so when you want to visit my blog just go to; woodyswords.blog  and it will pop up. I hope you are getting the best out of your summer. If you need a place to visit, try good old Milwaukee. It is called ‘The City of Festivals”. In addition to their world-famous Summerfest, they host numerous ethnic festivals throughout summer and into fall. If you like oompa bands, great food, beer and what the Bavarians call, gemutlichkeit, which means friendliness and geniality, come out to German fest  next weekend. I promise it won’t disappoint.

Any Rolling Stones fans out there. They’ve been one of my favorites for many years. My son and I have been to four of their concerts over the last 10 years or so, and went down to Chicago’s Navy Pier https://navypier.com/  last Tuesday to view the Rolling Stones Exhibition. We had a fantastic time. The 90-minute tour showed everything from the band’s beginnings to their current “Blue and Lonesome” album. It ended with a 3D movie of their performance of “Satisfaction” at Hyde Park. Fantastic! I even bought a cool T-shirt.

Adam and Woody at Rolling Stones Exhibition at Chicago's navy Pier

In honor of the band I put together a bit of trivia, highlighting some of their biggest hits. Good luck on this one. Find the answers after your chapter of Pinky’s Drive-In.

 

I’ll give you a line from a song and you match the next line:

1.She goes running for the shelter a. A glass of wine in her hand.
2.I see a red door b. I’m a man of wealth and taste.
3.When I’m watching my tv and a man comes on to tell me c. She tried to take me upstairs for a ride.
4.I saw her today at the reception d. And I howled at the morning driving rain.
5.Please allow me to introduce myself e. you got me ticking gonna blow my top.
6. I met a gin-soaked, bar-room queen in Memphis f. and I want it painted black
7. I was born in a cross-fire hurricane g. How white my shirts can be.
8. I’ve been running hot h. Of her mother’s little helper
9. It is the evening of the day i. Sold in the market down in New Orleans
10. Gold Coast slave ship bound for cotton fields j. I sit and watch the children play.

 

Bonus Question: Name all ten songs.

See all answers after your chapter of the week. Good luck.

 

*****

 

 

How about a couple animal jokes:

A physic tells a frog, “You will meet a pretty young woman who will want to know everything about you.”

“Great!” says the frog “Will I meet her at a party?”

“No, Next term, in biology class.”

 

A bear walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’ll have a pint of beer and a ……………packet of peanuts. “The bartender asks, “Why the big pause?”

 

*****

Here is your weekly chapter of Pinky’s Drive-In:

 

Chapter 5

Krabby Ken’s

(9:00)

 

The post wake gathering in Mrs. Kelly’s honor was moving along nicely. The mixture of good food, libations and stories about the past molded the evening into a nostalgic revelry. The more we yakked about the old times, the more old times we remembered. Ken’s bar was lined up from end to end with men and women who knew each other for three decades. As one of us started a tale, someone else broke in excitedly with another. The past that we shared as young adults was all right in front of us once again.

The jukebox blasted the best music from our era. When ‘Stop in The name Of Love’ by Diana Ross and the Supremes came on, Linda couldn’t restrain herself. She used an empty beer bottle for a microphone as she sang, and swayed her way around the room. Immediately, two other women joined her for backup. It was as if in an instant, we were transported through a star gate and landed back in the 60’s.

Suddenly, a cold breeze swept through the room, as the outer door swung open.

“Hey, everybody, I made it.”

It was Ted.  Ted had been living in La Jolla, California since the early ‘80s. None of us expected to see him tonight. He was truly a sight for sore eyes, and he looked great. Ted stood about 5’7”, but was built like a mule. He had large biceps, broad shoulders, and he always showed a wide smile and hearty laugh. His looks really hadn’t changed that much. His neatly cropped salt and pepper hair gave him the look of a serious businessman.  Ted traveled extensively for his work, he told us, so he decided to use some frequent flyer miles and surprise his old friends.

“It’s great to see you Ted,” said Shawn. “Get your butt over here and let’s have a real Pinky’s Boy’s toast.”

Gina set us up with shots and beers as we all raised our glasses once more, but this time we drank to us. We drank to the friendships we all shared through the years that personified the warm feelings of the evening.

“I was sorry to hear about your mom,” said Ted as he put his hand on Shawn’s shoulder.

“Thanks, Ted,” said Shawn.

“This sure looks like a great tribute. I can’t believe how many of the boys showed up, and Ken has really made some changes to the old Cameo Club.  I didn’t recognize it when I walked through the door, and is that a new addition in the back?” he asked pointing to the game room.

“Yeah, man, it’s a whole new tavern. There’s a spread of food back there too, and the beer’s free,” said Shawn.

“Great, I’m starving, all I got to eat were some pretzels on the plane,” said Ted.

I walked over to get some wings with Ted.  It was really good to see him. We were close friends, and shared an apartment for a year in the early 70’s. He filled his plate with several hot wings, some chips and built a ‘Chicago dog’, with a Vienna all beef frankfurter,  yellow mustard,  relish, onions, sport peppers, and a dill pickle,  all packed into a steamy poppy seed bun.

We rejoined several of the boys, who were huddled around the curved end of the bar, as Ken motioned to a few more guys to move down. Paulie, Moose, Myrat and Ski joined Pat, Shawn, Jeff, Ted and me. Ken started pointing at each of us as he counted heads. There were ten of us.

“Now that Ted is here, we have the whole team together,” said Ken.

He referred to our softball team from 1967. We played in a league at Claredon Park, down by the lakefront that summer, and won the championship. I hadn’t thought about that in years.

“That’s right, and what a great, team it was,” I said as I motioned to my friends.”  We went undefeated, even though we were younger than the other teams.”

“I’ll never forget the championship game,” said Myrat.  “We beat the team that took first place three years in a row.  Man, they were pissed,” he said raising his arms.

We didn’t realize that Ken drew us to the end of the bar for a small surprise. He reached behind the bar and presented us with a piece of Pinky’s memorabilia that I didn’t think still existed.

“Do you guys remember this?” he said with a sly grin. Ken held the first place trophy over his head.

The nine of us couldn’t believe our eyes.

“Where the hell did you get that?”  I yelled, “It’s our trophy!  Holy shit, I don’t believe it!”

The trophy was two feet high. The base was made of marble-like plastic which supported a fourteen-inch gold plated pedestal that was topped with a single gold player swinging for the fence. We could still read the inscription on the tarnished plate. It read;

 

 Lakefront League 1967

 1st Place

    Pinky’s Diner

We were astonished. “I thought you guys might like this,” Ken said.

He rescued the trophy from Pinky’s, where it was displayed on top of the cash register during the ‘70’s. We handed the icon to one another and touched it with a fond reverence. It made me feel young and fast again. I recalled that last game.

 

*****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Windy City Ball

(Summer 1967)

 

Pinky’s Boys were athletes. Sports played a large part in our lives as we grew up in Chicago. Most of us started at a young age with our fathers or older brothers. We learned how to compete in organized sports as members of the Neighborhood Boy’s Club.

Football was played in the fall from mid-September through Thanksgiving.  In the winter months, we played basketball in the field house, and the summer was reserved for baseball.

The sport I enjoyed the most was played during the spring. Softball started in early April and ended on Memorial Day. Chicago softball is a unique game. It is often referred to as Windy City Ball, which originated in Chicago in 1934. The game was underhand slow pitch, played on a little league sized baseball diamond. The bases were just 60 feet apart, and there are several very unique aspects to the game.

The ball was 16 inches in circumference. Its small cork center was wound tightly with miles of string and covered in white cowhide with an inseam stitch. It was called a clincher. When brand new, the clincher was rock, hard but softened even after just one game. The more the ball was batted the softer it became and eventually, after many games, it became a powder puff. The newer, harder balls were the only ones allowed in league play, although the powder puff version could be most interesting at picnics for social games.

There were no baseball gloves allowed in Windy City Ball, only bare hands. Gloves were useless, because the ball was too big, and would pop out. The bats were usually heavier than most and when wielded by a strong hitter, could be a catalyst for lethal line drives to a third baseman. All who played this game, without exception, experienced jammed or sprained fingers from time to time? It was part of the game. The adhesive- taped fingers were badges of courage.

A strong player could rocket the ball 300 feet plus. This became a problem sometimes, because if played on a little league diamond, the outfield fences were only about 200 to 250 feet. To prevent home-run after home-run, the ball would be deadened. This was accomplished by injecting lemon juice into the new clincher. Problem solved.

The last really unique aspect of the game was the number of players. Normal baseball and softball allowed nine players in the field of play. Windy City Ball allowed ten.

It was quite simple to hit a ball past the pitcher into center field, due to the small diamond. The outfielders played deep most of the time, which created a large gap behind the infield. The short center position was created to prevent this. The tenth player was positioned in the outfield behind second base, and could roam the area in short left, and short right fields, and was usually in on double plays instead of the shortstop or second baseman.

Softball was the perfect schoolyard game. The large schoolyards in 1960’s Chicago were covered with pea gravel or blacktopped with asphalt, and there were special ground rules. Left and right fields were usually long enough, but center field was always a problem. Center was a short field because the three-story red brick school occupied it. There were also other obstacles, like basketball standards, stairwells, water fountains, and let’s not forget about the small children on bikes streaking through the outfield.

A ball that hit any of these obstacles was a ground rule double.  If you were lucky enough to hit the ball through the basketball hoop, it was an automatic homerun. We played other teams from other schoolyards and had to adhere to their ground rules. The home team always had a huge advantage, because they knew the topography of their yard better than the visiting team.

Audubon school yard had a stairwell in center field that went down six steps to a steel safety door. A ball that went in there was an automatic Home Run. The team from Audubon was quite proficient at hitting pop-ups that ricocheted off the wall and into the well. They were hard to beat when we were the visiting team.

Ken was our best hitter. He and Paulie were the only ones who ever hit the ball out of the schoolyard. He played in the lakefront league in 1966 and wanted Pinky’s to form a team in ’67. We agreed.

A lady named Helen owned Pinky’s at that time. She and her 30-something year old son, Dick bought it from Big Al, and ran the business daily. We were always respectful to them and they grew to like us. Dick wanted to support the team in some way, but didn’t have much money, so he and Helen chipped in half the cost of the team t-shirts. He would also drive some of us to the games in his old Buick that easily allowed five or six of us to ride along. The rest of us rode with Paulie in his VW, or in Jeff’s Dodge.

The games were always played on Saturday, between 10 and 1 o’clock, in Claredon Park, on the shores of Lake Michigan. We played ten games from April to June, and won nine of them, and one ended in a tie due to rain. The team we tied was the Strikers. They also had nine wins and the tie. The Strikers were all Chicago firefighters, and had taken first place for the previous three years. We had to play them for the championship.

Dick was really behind us, so he gave us an incentive. If we won the game, he would buy each of us $2.00 worth of tickets to the recreation park on the north side of town. This sounded great to us. The recreation park had batting cages, trampolines, mini golf and a bank shot basketball court. It would be a great place to celebrate a victory.

Our last game of the season, the championship game, was set for August 10th at 1:00.  We met at Pinky’s at noon, and piled into the three cars with our equipment, and rode down to the lakefront. When we arrived at the ball field, the Strikers were already taking batting practice. They looked sharp and, for the most part, were humongous. They had a rather large cheering section. Their wives, children and fellow Firefighters were all there to cheer them on. We had Dick and the four Pinky’s girls, Linda, Kathy, Tina and Angie, in our corner, to cheer us on.  It may have been a small support group, but they were loyal and quite attractive, except for Dick,  of course. The girls did their best to distract the Strikers as they strutted like peacocks in their short cut-offs and halter tops. We needed all the help we could get.

The Strikers finally yielded the field to us at about 12:45. We each took a couple whacks for batting practice and threw several balls around to warm up our hands and arms. What we lacked in size, we more than made up for in our knowledge of each other’s abilities. We also had speed and great hands in the infield.

Myrat was our pitcher, and had fabulous technique. Strikeouts were almost non-existent in slow pitch, so quite often the pitcher needed trickery. Myrat could put so much sideways spin on the ball that it looked lop-sided as it came into the batter. He also had a lob pitch that always produced a pop-up.

The catcher was also an important position. He had to jabber endlessly to distract the batters. Ken was a genius behind the plate. He had an uncanny ability to pick out the one thing that annoyed the batter the most. You would have thought that he did research on the opposition’s family tree before each game.

Moose served as a great target at first base for the infielders. Pat and I played third base and shortstop with Ski and Paulie at second base and short center. Ted had a rocket of an arm in left field, and Jeff’s blinding speed never allowed a ball to go over his head in center. Shawn rounded out our all-star defense in right field.

Weaser, Spoolie and Arnie were alternates and would fill in as subs from time to time and coached the bases. Arnie was one of our best players, but he was a purist. He only played baseball. He didn’t like playing softball because it would throw his timing off for what he called real hitting. We nicknamed Arnie ‘Hardball’.

The Strikers batted first and wasted no time flexing their muscles, as they went for the long ball, but they didn’t count on our speed. Absolutely nothing got past our outfielders, but for the first few innings, we infielders took a beating. The new clincher came off their bats like lightning bolts, but as the ball softened, we began to make plays. When their clean-up hitter pounded a liner toward Pat at third, the ball popped out of his hands and into mine for the out. Pat winced as he shook the blood back into his fingertips.

The games only went seven innings and we were down 12 to 10 in the bottom of the sixth, as I stroked a single into short left field.  Jeff advanced me to third with a shot past the shortstop, and stopped at second base.  We had men on second and third, and Ken was next up. He was popping everything up to the infield so the Striker’s left fielder pulled in a bit in case they had to make a play at the plate.

The pitcher tried to fool Ken with a low arcing quick pitch, but he was waiting for it. The ball had absolutely no spin on it and was delivered right into Ken’s wheelhouse. His eyes opened like saucers as he cocked his left leg and swung from the heels. The leftfielder was completely out of position, as the bullet Ken hit was still rising as it flew past him.  Arnie waved us all home from his coaching box at third as Ken cleared the bases. We went into the top half of the last inning one run ahead.

Myrat got the lead off batter to ground out. The next batter was a lefty, who had beaten out two infield hits in previous at bats, so we were aware of his speed. He fouled the first pitch down the third base side, so we shifted the outfielders toward left, but this proved to be a mistake as he pulled the next pitch past Shawn in right field and was able to leg out a triple. Now they had a man on third with one out and we were leading by only one run. We couldn’t let them score.

Everyone at that game will remember the next play till their dying day. The Strikers’ next batter hit a towering shot to left field.  It was long enough to force Ted to back up and camp under the ball. As it came down, he advanced so he could catch it on the run.  He knew he needed to throw a rope into home to cut off the run. The speedster on third base just had to tag up to score, and broke for home as Ted let fly.

Myrat came over from the pitcher’s mound to cut off the throw down the 3rd base line, and blocked home plate with his massive frame. Ted’s throw came in on one bounce and into Myrat’s hands just as the runner reached home. The speedster did not slide. He wanted to jar the ball loose and score, as he crashed into Myrat at full tilt, but Myrat never budged. He held the ball in his arms and lunged forward as he timed the collision perfectly. The runner was knocked back and collapsed as he slammed into ‘The Great Wall of Myrat’! Game over! Pinky’s WIN! Pinky’s WIN!

Myrat held the ball up over his head as he lumbered toward the pitcher’s mound, and the rest of us came running and dancing in from our positions to join him. Myrat was almost trampled as we collided and fell over in a pile. The victory was all so sweet!

The Strikers were gracious losers as they shook our hands and congratulated us on a well played game, but seemed to be in shock as they somberly walked off with their not so cheery cheering section. The five Pinky’s fans, however, were exuberant.  Dick and the girls were all smiles and hugs as they offered their congratulations.

We were still in a euphoric state as we rode back to Pinky’s after the game. Arnie picked up some quarts of beer, so we went across the street to the grassy picnic area behind Waveland Bowl to quench our thirst and banter about the game. Some of the guys who couldn’t make it to the game met up with us and joined in on the celebration.

Owen and Spoolie collected some food money and ran down to Hero’s for some subs and chips. We just sat around the picnic tables and mellowed out for the rest of the afternoon as we basked in our glory.

 

*****

 

 

The Catch

The evening after the softball game, ten of us decided to use the $2.00 that Dick gave us for the recreation park. Jeff was the only one with a car, so we all piled into his Dodge. There were eight guys and two girls, Linda and Tina.

Jeff’s Dodge was a two-door hardtop with a console in the middle so two guys had to squeeze into the shotgun seat. Three more of us sat in the back with the two girls on our laps. Little Tony and Weaser were the smallest, so they rode in the trunk. Tony was afraid that we would lock them in so he held the trunk ajar with a rope he tied around the inside of the latch.

The recreation park was set up in four separate areas. There was an eighteen-hole mini-golf course; a bank shot basketball court, about a dozen trampolines and ten batting cages. Ken, Paulie, Linda and Tina headed for the mini-golf as the rest of us bought tokens for the batting cages. The cages were set up for hardball only, but the balls didn’t have a cowhide cover like a traditional baseball. They were just tightly wound balls of twine with a thick adhesive covering and a cork center. The twine would come loose quite often, and an attendant would toss them in a bucket adjacent to the batting cage for re-gluing.

We six guys took turns hitting in two cages that were next to each other. We could all hit well and made contact with about two-thirds of the balls fired at us from the pitching machine. That’s not completely accurate. Arnie never missed. Arnie loved to play hardball, and had a perfect rhythm to his swing, and he always made contact.

When it was his turn in the cage, he set the machine on the fastest setting.  He was a natural lefty, but could hit from both sides of the plate. It became monotonous to watch him strike every pitch. A crowd gathered behind him as he called his hits, “Liner to center, ground ball to third base, fly ball.” He yelled as the pitch was on its way. He even laid some perfect bunts down both

Arnie didn’t want to stop when the other five of us had enough, so we gathered with the rest of the on-lookers. As we stood there, we noticed that the bucket of defective balls was directly in front of us. We couldn’t resist the temptation, so four of us surrounded Weaser as he handed us as many balls as we could fit into our pockets. We weren’t sure why we wanted the balls, but we took them

When Arnie finished, we strolled on over to the trampolines, where a crowd of guys gathered. The four mini-golfers finished their round and the girls wanted to go on the trampolines. Tina was the main attraction, in her bare mid-drift and tank top. She was poetry in motion as she, they…those, bounced up and down in perfect harmony. Some of the “pervs” were actually cheering for more. When time ran out, one of them offered to pay for another session, but Tina declined as the audience sighed and dispersed. Aw,

When we piled back into Jeff’s car, we figured out why we took the balls, at least, Ken did.  He was sitting in the shotgun seat. The window was open and he had to hang out a bit to get comfortable in the crowded seat.  It was a perfect throwing position. Paulie was holding a couple of hardballs in his

“Paulie, give me a ball,” said Ken.

“What for?” asked Paulie

“I want to see if I can hit something,” answered

Linda didn’t like this idea, as she asked Paulie not to give the ball to Ken.

“What are you going to hit, man? Said Paulie

“There may be cops around, and witnesses,” he

I didn’t think it was a good idea either. It was too easy for someone to get Jeff’s license plate, and trace it back, but before I could object Paulie gave the ball to

“Cool it, said Ken. I’ll wait until nobody’s around. Slow down a little, Jeff, there’s a Jewel Food store coming

Jeff was the last in a line of cars, so he slowed enough to let the other cars move further up the street. Weaser and Tony could hear everything being said from the

“Don’t throw until I can open the trunk to see out,” the muffled voice said.

“Tell me when,” said Ken.

“Now!” yelled Weaser as he opened the

Ken had to throw at about a 45-degree angle ahead of the car, and he hit a Jewel Food store picture window square in the center. The window didn’t shatter, but it cracked as the ball careened off the glass and back into the

Weaser and Tony lifted the trunk lid to watch Ken’s throw. The ball came bounding back just as Weaser reached out his hand to catch it on the third bounce!

“I got it! I got the fucking ball!” screamed Weaser.

No one in the car believed him until we were back at Pinky’s and Weaser hopped out of the trunk, holding the ball. What a catch!

 

*****

 

 

 

 

 

Answers to Rolling Stones trivia:

1-h, 2-f, 3-g, 4-a, 5-b, 6-c, 7-d, 8-e, 9-j, 10-i

 

 

Name of songs:

1.Mother’s little helper

2.Paint it black

3.Satisfaction

4.You can’t always get what you want

5.Sympathy for the devil

6.Honky-Tonk woman

7.Jumpin Jack Flash

8.Start me up

9.As tears go by

10.Brown Sugar

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