As we bid a fond adieu to July, we must now deal with the dog days of summer. So, why dog days? Perhaps because it’s so darn hot dogs just laze about with their tongues hanging out. Nope, not so fast. For those of you who don’t know, it turns out, the dog days refer to the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens.
To the Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” occurred around the day when Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun, in late July. They referred to these days as the hottest time of the year, a period that could bring fever, or even catastrophe. I’ll bet most of you savvy readers new that already.
I hope some of you took my advice and got down to the Milwaukee lake front for Germanfest. We went twice. Just my wife and I on Friday, then my daughter drove up from Chicago on Sunday, mainly to see the Dachshund races and costume contest, but, oh yea, she also loves the ethnic food and music.
So, in honor of the Dachshunds and Sirius; here are a couple doggie jokes:
It’s been said that sometimes dogs take on the attributes of their owners. There was an architect, a doctor and a door-to door salesman on a hunting trip. Each one thought his dog was the smartest, so they went out into a field to prove it.
The architect threw a bag of bones out into the field and commanded Slide-rule, his Weimaraner, to fetch. Slide-rule ran out to the bones and erected a perfect replica of the George Washington bridge. Then, the doctor yelled fetch to his bloodhound, Saw-bones, who quickly built a perfect human skeleton out of the bones.
Gus, the overweight Basset hound beagle mix, was asleep next to the Door-to-door salesman’s leg. Fetch yelled the salesman, but Gus didn’t move, so the salesman nudged him and pointed to the bones in the field. Gus, slowly waddled out, ate the bones, relieved himself, knocked off early and went back to his nap.
A woman called the airline customer-service desk asking if she could take her dog on board.
“Sure,” said the service agent, “as long as you provide your own kennel.” He further explained that the kennel needed to be large enough for the dog to stand up, sit down, turn around, and roll over.
The customer was flummoxed: “I’ll never be able to teach him all that by tomorrow!”
Okay, enjoy Chapter six of Pinky’s Drive-In:
Some of us were a bit skeptical about Weaser’s catch to this day. Did he really make that impossible catch, or did he have a ball in his pocket and fake the whole thing?
“Hey, Weas, you can fess up now,” said Ken from behind the bar. “It’s way past the statute of limitations, did you really catch that ball after I cracked the Jewel window, or did you fake the whole thing?”
Weaser’s face became flushed as he looked towards Ken.
“If you don’t believe me, just ask Little Tony the next time you see him. He was jammed in that trunk with me and saw the whole damn thing. I made that catch, why would I lie about it?”
Weaser got a little pissed off at Ken, which was a really bad idea in the old days. Ken used to love to fight, especially if he had a few beers in him. Luckily for Weaser, those days were behind him now. I’m sure Ken can still handle himself, but due to the weight he added over the years, his diabetes doesn’t allow him to drink, so he kept his temper in check.
“Relax, man,” said Ken. “I’m just messing with you. I know you made the catch.”
I was relieved to see Ken back off. I was the only guy who could control him when he lost his temper; for some reason, I could always talk some sense into him, but that was over 30+ years ago. I was hoping I wasn’t going to have to do it again tonight.
A cold breeze entered Ken’s bar once again. We turned toward the door as another old friend made his entrance. Johnny (Red) Ryder was known for his wild antics back in the day. Red always had something to say about anything and everything, and his manner of speaking was overstated and quite loud most of the time. He was still rather stocky and round in stature. He bellied up to the bar with the rest of us.
“Hey, Red, how ya doin’, glad you could make it,” I said.
“You haven’t changed a bit, except for about 50 pounds, no hair and, are you shrinking?”
“Nice to see you too, dick-head!” said Red extending his middle digit, “I’m glad to know that some things don’t change.
Ken told us earlier that Red still came by the bar from time to time for a short beer and a shot on his way home from work, so I was hoping he would show up tonight. He worked late, so he didn’t make it to Mrs. Kelly’s wake.
“Hey Shawn, I’m sorry I missed the wake,” said Red. “Your mom was really one of a kind. I still remember her handing out donuts and hot chocolate to us when we were patrol boys in grade school, and how she always gave me a smile and a wink when I thanked her for the treat.”
“Thanks, Red,” said Shawn. “Ken mentioned that during the service. I guess it’s the little things that impress us the most.”
We set Red up as we asked Gina for another round.
“So, what did I miss so far?” asked Red as he threw down his whiskey shot. “I’ve really been looking forward to seeing you bums and shooting the shit.”
“We’ve just been talking about the old days. You know, Pinky’s, Paul Revere Park, hanging out at the schoolyard with Les Crack,” said Weaser.
“Wow, I haven’t thought of Les Crack in years. Maybe we can get Ski to do an encore. Come on, Ski, I’ll even do the “Blindy John Dance” for old time’s sake. Or maybe that’s a bad idea. As I recall that dance got my butt kicked, remember, Weaser, said Red? “You, Woody, Tony, Spoolie, Shotzy and I were playing touch football in the lot next to the Bowling Alley.”
It was mid October 1963. There was a small grassy area next to the bowling alley where six or eight guys could square off for touch football. The field was about ½ acre with a couple large oak trees flanking it that worked well for out of bounds markers. The east end zone was a five-foot-high, wire cyclone fence, that separated the field from a sidewalk and busy Western Avenue, and the west fence was adjacent to the parking lot.
Weaser and I were both nearsighted, so we took our glasses off to play so they wouldn’t get broken. I took off my Gordon Tech high school sweater with the “67” numerals on it for playing freshman football, and put my glasses and pack of Lucky Strikes in the pocket, and hung it on the fence by Western Ave.
It was about 7 o’clock, so dusk had just fallen, but there were spotlights on the corners of the bowling alley that provided enough light to see the ball for most passes. For kickoffs, we threw the football instead of kicking it because a kick was too hard to control in the small arena. Tony, Shotzy and Spoolie kicked off to Weaser, Red and I from the street end zone.
The ball went to Weaser. It was hard to see the ball because a spotlight was in my eyes and, of course, I wasn’t wearing my glasses. As the ball came down I tried to throw a block on Spoolie, but he dodged and ran right past me. Tony and Shotzy did the same and hopped the fence into the parking lot. When I turned to look at Weaser, he was on the ground being pounded on by some guy I didn’t recognize and I had no idea where Red was. I was totally confused.
Then four guys were coming at me, screaming, “Where’s Ricer, where’s Ricer?” I didn’t know who they were, but I thought they were probably after Johnny (Red) Ryder, but got his last name wrong. “I don’t know any Ricer,” I kept saying as they surrounded me and starting shoving and punching me. One of them came up behind me and got me in a head lock as another punched me in the face. I was able to break free and swung wildly, but couldn’t land any punches. Weaser was not doing much better as the big goon had him pinned. He also denied knowing who Ricer was.
Red appeared from behind one of the oak trees. He didn’t make it over the back fence and was waiting for an opening to fight back.
“It’s me you guys want,” he shouted. “I’m Ryder.”
Red was either awfully brave or very stupid. My guess was that he couldn’t stand by and watch his buddies get the crap beat out of them on his account. He held up his arms and kept yelling to leave us alone and that he was sorry. I didn’t understand what he meant by his apology.
The big guy let Weaser go and jumped on Red’s back and brought him to the ground. Weaser got up and kicked the big dude in the side, as I rushed past my attackers and tackled him. Red, Weaser and I were back on our feet in an instant and face to face with the gang. We were ready to fight it out just as reinforcements arrived. Tony, Spoolie and Shotzy reappeared by the parking lot fence with five of the older guys from the Cameo Club. The odds were suddenly heavily in our favor.
The five attackers were over the fence and into their four-door Chrysler like scared rabbits. As they started the car, Tony’s older brother ran around to the driver’s side and flicked his cigarette in the driver’s face. The driver floored it as he spun the wheel left and swerved into traffic. Tony’s brother backed off and was just missed by a car as the Chrysler was struck in the left fender, leaving a large dent. They weren’t about to stop to exchange insurance information, so they took off down the avenue.
The driver of the other car pulled over to the curb. Spoolie had the presence of mind to get the license plate of the Chrysler and we were all more than happy to be witnesses to the hit and run when the police showed up.
So, who were those guys and what did Red have to be sorry for? It was all tied to the Les Crack Show. Sometimes what goes around comes around. Red liked to pick on John, the legally blind kid who hung around the schoolyard from time to time. John attended grade school with Red and some of the other boys, and even though we thought doing the “Blindy John Dance” during the Les Crack show was all in fun, John didn’t take it too well.
John attended Weber High School, which was a rival, sister school to Gordon Tech, where I went to school. He told some of his friends that Johnny Ryder was mocking him for being partially blind, and even warned Red that if he kept teasing him that his friends would beat him up. Red obviously didn’t heed the warning, and unfortunately, Weaser and I were at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
We six boys went to the schoolyard after the fight, and Blindy John was there, alone, sitting on the steps. Weaser and I weren’t badly hurt, but had some swelling on our faces, and I had some dried blood on my cheek from being punched in the nose. I wasn’t angry with John, but was really piss off that someone had stolen my pack of cigarettes and I wanted a smoke, so Shawn took John’s full pack and gave them to me, and I kept them.
Shawn was really pissed off, as he screamed at John and forced him to look closely at my face to see the damage his friends had done. John apologized over and over to Weaser and me, and was truly sorry that we got caught in the middle. It was useless to retaliate, as John was defenseless, so I accepted the apology.
That was the last time John hung around with us. I’m sure he felt responsible for the beating we took. There was also no more Blindy John Dance during the Les Crack show after that night; Red realized that he went a little too far.