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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Tales from the old-timer

Tavern Fights

When I came home from the Army for good in July 1946, I ran around with my friends to the saloons and dance halls to make up for lost time. We were ostensibly “looking for girls” but the girls seemed to shy away from our gang. I guess we weren’t ready for serious relationships, and they could sense it.

My cousin, Eddie Leveille, was not noted as a tavern fighter, but he tangled with the bouncer at County Line one night, and wound up on the floor, vowing to gain revenge. Some of the guys were pushing through the entry to get in without paying the 25 cents or so of admission, but Eddie was about the fourth one and the bouncer nailed him. We were perfectly able to pay the small fee, and I was ready to, but never got that far as Eddie’s fracas with the bouncer took all of our attention and concern. Bo Story was already in there dancing with a girl when the problem started. My Foster Uncle, Joe Adams, who was raised by my grandparents because his mother was unable to care for him, was a part-time bartender there, and came to Eddie’s rescue.

I will use false names in this next one, to not betray the participants. One night a bunch of us were at LaValley’s Tavern in Peshtigo, where they had to close at 1 o’clock so we all piled into my 1936 Terraplane coupe and headed for Menominee, where the Michigan closing time was 2 AM. We went into a favorite tavern there until it got to be 2 AM and we were filing out in a sort of a tunnel and one of our guys got into a fracas with a country tavern owner, and the next thing we knew, the lady’s husband and our guy I will call “Swede” Johnson were duking it out under a floodlight in the tavern backyard. Swede fetched the man a haymaker, and he lost a couple of teeth, but the fight continued as he spit out the dental ivories. The tavern guy’s wife was circling around bashing our man over the head with her purse, so one of our guys, “Lefty” O’Rourke, grabbed her, spun her around three times, and threw the lady into a big snow bank.

The tavern guy never found out who knocked out his teeth, and has since died, so neither he nor the sheriff in Menominee ever found out who the culprit was. I never wanted to be a tavern fighter as Doc Carter, the much-loved local dentist had put my teeth into top shape. Most of our “gang” finally settled down, got married, and were respectable citizens, some of them college grads with professional careers, but, as the Old-Timers say, “Them was the days!”


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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