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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

Saloon Fights

Not long after the end of World War II with the surrender of Germany and Japan the survivors from Peshtigo from the Army and Navy began to get discharged and were coming back home. The usual trip home was on the fabulous Chicago and Northwestern passenger train, the “400”, that came north from Chicago and went all the way to the end of the line at Escanaba in the Michigan Upper Peninsula. They arrived separately, not in large groups, so informal welcomes greeted their homecoming in Peshtigo, not organized ceremonies. I walked to our house on Cranberry Avenue across the fields about 9 PM.

We young guys hung out at LaValley’s Tavern and formed a group of party-goers visiting the bars in Menekaunee, Peshtigo, Marinette and Menominee. I had bought a 1936 Terraplane Coupe from Snort Dupuis for $300, my mustering out pay from the US Army. We were supposedly “looking for girls”, but never found any.

One night we stayed at LaValley’s Tavern until 1 PM when they closed, and piled into my Terraplane for a run to Menominee, where they stayed open until 2 AM.

As we were leaving the Menominee tavern through a sort of tunnel, one of our guys, “Rocky” Stone (all of the names are made up, so as not to embarrass anyone) got into a disagreement with Joe Dabney, a Porterfield bar owner, over an alleged insult to Dabney’s wife. They were fighting it out under a big yard light outside the Menominee tavern, and Dabney’s wife was circling the combatants, bashing Rocky over the head with her purse.

Another member of our group, “Bo” Dabney, thought her action was a violation of the code of tavern brawls, and grabbed the lady around the waist, spun her around 3 times, and threw her into a big snowbank. Well, Joe Dabney never did find out who knocked out one of his front teeth that long-ago night, and he died some years ago.

Another night we were coming from Pete’s Tavern on US 41 near Peshtigo with about 7 guys in my car and Rocky Stone was pulling Eddie Jones’ hair and Jones was punching Rocky. I turned to yell at those guys and my Terraplane went into the ditch. Eddie ran all the way to Peshtigo, got his car and came roaring back, jumped out and ripped Rocky Stone’s nice new topcoat right in half. Rocky then nailed Eddie with a dandy punch, and the fight was over. We all adjourned to Smith’s Bar on Oconto Avenue to regroup.

Next day Eddie had a dandy black eye, and came to my house. He told me his mother had kicked him out, and said, “I’m all done at home!” We drove all the way to Gillett to talk things over, and by the time we got back his mom had eased up, but put him on probation.

Another time we went to a dance at County Line with a carload and the guys started the idea of crashing the entrance without paying the required 50 cents admission. A couple of them made it through, but when Eddie Jones tried it the bouncer nailed him and Eddie ended up on his back on the floor. He bounced back up and just then one of the bartenders, who knew Eddie, intervened and ushered Eddie out the door. Eddie was yelling, “I’ll kill that SOB!”

Another time we were at the Silver Done in Marinette, a favorite dance hall and bar in those days, and as I entered, a big guy from Stephenson had Rocky Stone picked up off his feet and pinned up against the wall. I sort of edged up, as Rocky was my friend and the big football player from Stephenson turned to me and yelled “You got anything to say?” and I said “No.” I was not good at tavern fights, only five foot seven and 140 pounds! I guess you could say I was “chicken.”


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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