Friday, December 11, 2009

Uncle Dale: Traveling Man

I’ve known my uncle Dale for a good 10 years now. He was MIA from the family following his divorce to the “she-beast” in the early 80s. He only communicated to Grandma a few times during that period and his letters all had different return addresses. Turns out Dale was felt he got married too early and wanted to find – and possibly reinvent – himself somewhere nobody knew him. There were unverified rumors ranging from him as a stage actor in Canada to searching for the elusive skunk ape in the Everglades.

After twenty years of soul-searching, Dale finally returned to Green Bay the night of January 26, 1997… the night of the Packers Super Bowl win. I’ll never forget because the whole family was doing the Beer Barrel Polka in Grandma’s living room and yipping like hyenas gone mad in celebration. I was hopped up on Mad Dog 20/20 and Voodoos (Vodka + Mountain Dew) and was showing off my classic breakdance moves like the robot and the worm (aka “the dolphin” aka “the caterpillar") to everyone’s delight. As I was coming back for a second pass across the carpet, I heard Grandma exclaim, “It’s Dale!”. Sure enough in the doorway stood a skinny little weathered man vaguely reminiscent of a picture I had seen somewhere in the house. Dale shrugged off the attention (“yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s Dale”) and tolerated some of the inevitable hugs.

As we fed him a million questions as to his whereabouts and doings as well as many libations, Dale finally admitted that he worked random jobs such as a roofer and vacuum salesman here and there and everywhere. His stories all came back to a diamond-in-the-rough Packer bar he frequented. There was Howie’s Sports Page in Albuquerque, where the owner was originally from Fond du Lac, Town Hall in North Dakota where the bar was literally split down the middle – half watched the Packers, the others the Queens.

Dale’s favorite place of all was Rum Runner’s Tavern in Houston. Apparently it was as close to Green Bay as you can imagine. People dressed up in green and gold, bratwurst was served, and they even performed Lambeau Leaps. I looked it up and this Texas mecca of Packer Pride actually exists – check it out. Turns out the only criteria Dale had in choosing his next place to call home was that it had a Packer bar. Now that’s having your priorities straight. See you Sunday, Dale? Thought so.


  1. Isn't Donald Driver from Houston? I think he mas a bar in Houston. I'm probably wrong, and too lazy to look it up.

    Welcome back Dale.

  2. I think he is, IronMan.

    When outside the friendy confines of WI, there is no better place to watch a Packer game than at a tried and true Packer bar.

    I frequent this one often:

  3. See all your family had given up on poor uncle Dale. You probably did hear mutterings that his priorities were all out of wack. Little did they know his ducks were all in a row and he had what was important to him, Da Pack.

    Nice story thanks for sharing.


  4. P.S. I have a run-a-way 45 year old cousin who dresses as a woman and teaches at Purdue. He is not a packers fan so clearly his priorities are out of wack, at least worse than your Uncle Dale...

  5. Nothing like the middle-aged "runaway". I guess every family has one. Hell, I might turn into one myself someday --- there's hundreds of Packer bars across the country --- you'll never find me!

  6. Actually, the name of the bar in Houston that your uncle Dale loves isn't The Rum Runner, it's called Nicks Sports Bar. Perhaps he had one too many shots of blackberry brandy there and it slipped his mind. Nicks has been home to the Cheddarhead Pack of Houston for 8 years, and really is as Packer-centric as he says.

    My sister from Milwaukee came to visit once and announced "This place is more Wisconsin than Wisconsin!" I think we scared her a bit with our Packer fervor!

    Check us out if you are ever in Houston. And, Dale, say hi when you're in town!

  7. Thanks Tuna! Sounds like a LOT of fun. I was in awe from the pictures. This is definitely going to be a hot topic at X-Mas with ol' Dale.

  8. Oops! Your uncle is smarter than I am (guess I need to lay off the blackberry shots). I was not aware that the Rum Runner is the new home for our CHPH North chapter in northern Houston.

    Both bars feature the same kind of craziness, fun and Green Bay Packer pride. Twice the reasons to visit Houston!!!

  9. Nice, I was hoping there would be more than one good thing aboout Houston.

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Google requires us to state we use third-party advertising, who may use information (not including your name, address, email, or phone) about your visits to provide ads of possible interest. For more information or to opt out, click here.
To contact us or to advertise, email packerranter {at}