As told to: Rick ShanleyBernie Bondar owned a tavern in Milwaukee called Wolski’s Tavern. I lived 38 steps from the bar. I’d walk through the front door and out the back and I was in my apartment. One day, I ran practice from Wolski’s. I just had everyone show up and we had a dart tournament and that was practice. Bernie’s favorite saying was, “Eat before you come.” There was no food there. Busloads of people would go to watch Brewers games, then pull into Wolski’s after.
Nobody really knew where Wolski’s was. It was in the Grady St. section, where every other door’s a bar. You just don’t see a lot of Greyhounds maneuvering their way to Wolski’s. It’s just a dartboard bar; great music, no seats, the hub of what’s going on in Milwaukee – a great team meeting place.
I lived 38 steps from the bar. I’d walk through the front door and out the back and I was in my apartment. One
day, I ran practice from Wolski’s.
A couple buddies from Sudbury came to visit me. I had just come back from Mexico. They drove from Sudbury through Northern Michigan, Marquette way, and through Northern Wisconsin. They didn’t even ask where the rink was. They just asked, “Where’s Wolski’s?” They gave the cabbie some money and said, “Show us where it is.” They just followed the cab. We used to do Pete Rose slides. Pete Rose used to always land on his belly, so you’d wet the floor with beer, open the front door, then you dove across the floor and would see how close you could come to the back door. It was a big hit in the summer.I lived at Wolski’s. I had just purchased an 1100 Kawasaki while living in Grand Rapids. During the summer, my ex-wife, the mother of my daughter, would get up for work in the morning and ask me,
“What are you doing today?”
I’d say, “Ah, gonna mow the grass, pick up a bit around here, then meet the boys for a sandwich.”
She’d leave, then I’d get on the motorcycle and drive to Milwaukee and meet the boys for lunch – at a place where you couldn’t eat – then I’d drive back and beat her home. It was about a nine-hour day. She’d get home and say, “What’d you do?” I’d say, “Went for a beer and sandwich with the boys.”
“Well, where’d you go?”
I’d name a place in Milwaukee, and then she’d call me something bad.
RICK SHANLEY is a former hockey writer for the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Gazette who covered the NHL, NCAA and an alphabet soup of minor leagues for more than a decade. He now lives in Charlotte, N.C., where he's one of the better rec league players simply by geographic default.
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