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.
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