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Shoe on his bike at Wilshire Trailers LLC. (Metro Wire photo)

Shoe Column: TV Back In The Day and Other Things

By Tim “Shoe” Sullivan

As a kid growing up in Stevens Point, I used to be addicted to television.

TV was so new and so exciting. While most of the neighborhood children were outside shooting marbles or playing hide and seek, I’d be laying on the living room floor turning the dial on our small black and white television set. My entire attention span was centered around that nifty newfangled thing people called a “TV”. I just couldn’t get enough of it. Sometimes it was simply fun just chilling out and watching the test patterns.

Stevens Point and the world in general was so peaceful and uncomplicated back in my youth. The country wasn’t at war. Crime was way down. Nobody locked their doors. Cable didn’t exist, and neither did computers and smart phones. Many days, one could be very content just adjusting the “rabbit ears” to check out what that amazing little box had to offer.

In the 1950’s, television viewers of my era could settle down to watch comedians like Milton Berle, Jack Benny, Sid Caeser, and Jackie Gleason. “And away we go!” If Walter Cronkite said something on the news, you knew it was true, no doubt about it. The TV shows were so awesome. You could watch “I Love Lucy”, The “$64,000 Question” game show, “The Price Is Right”, “Gunsmoke”, “Dragnet”, “The Ed Sullivan Show”, “Have Gun Will Travel”, “Davy Crockett”, “Wyatt Earp”, and “Maverick.”

And all of the ladies in the neighborhood tuned in to soap operas.

The 1960’s were even better with more selections. There were so many classics on the air. “The Andy Griffith Show” was a huge favorite with that goofy Barney Fife and tipsy Otis Campbell, not to mention Ernest T. Bass. You could turn on “The Beverly Hillbillies”, “The Addams Family” featuring “Lurch” (who always said, “You rang?”), and “Green Acres” which was hilarious. Mr. Haney and County Agent Hank Kimball come to mind immediately.

By the way, speaking of the Addams Family, there was a kid in our neighborhood who liked to walk around with a light bulb in his mouth. His hero was Uncle Fester.

Then there was “Ozzie & Harriet”, “Batman”, and “Bonanza”. The first show that I ever saw on color tv was when my uncle in Rapids got a color set and showed us “Bonanza”. My whole family was in awe. Geez, there were a ton of great shows. “The Brady Bunch”, “The Dick Van Dyke Show”, and my all-time favorite “F Troop.”

I enjoyed watching Thurston Howell III on “Gilligan’s Island” and Newkirk on “Hogan’s Heroes”. Ed Norton was a riot on “The Honeymooners”, and Eddie Haskell was great in “Leave It To Beaver”. You could watch Tim Conway in “McHale’s Navy”, and “Mr. Ed” was a must. Same with “The Munsters”, “Lassie”, “Rin Tin Tin”, “Rawhide” featuring a young Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates, and “Star Trek”. And it was always a blast watching “The Carol Burnett Show.”

Looking back to the 1970’s, I couldn’t wait for the next “All In The Family” to see how Meathead would tick off Archie Bunker. “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was loaded with talent, and “Dallas” was a huge hit. Then you had the “Fonz” on “Happy Days” and “Laverne & Shirley”. You could also tune in to “The Love Boat”, “MASH”, “The Odd Couple”, “Sanford & Son”, and “The Waltons.”

Man, those days were so much fun. So many stars and wonderful talented people.

I somewhat and somehow got away from television after the ’70s, except for sports. In fact, there’s only about two channels I usually watch now. MSNBC (40) for the news and Channel 61 (Investigative Discovery). In particular, “Homicide Hunter” featuring Lt. Joe Kenda is so riveting. The dude solved about 400 actual murders in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s must-see TV. Kenda said, “If you kill, I will find you”, And he almost always did!

In other news, 2017 was just another year when I again didn’t win Powerball. I only want to win it once. Is that asking so much? After I found out that my ticket last week was a loser, I tried to turn it in to the gas station and asked for a refund.

They politely showed me the door. At least the crossword puzzle scratch-offs pay out once in a while.

My idea of a die-hard Packer fan is Kim Krayecki of Kim’s Barrel Inn. In the final week of the NFL season, Kimmer drove all the way to Detroit to watch the Packers (without Aaron Rodgers) lose to the Lions. It was a meaningless game. That’s a true Packer fan!

We had some pretty tough characters in my neighborhood back in the day. Right along the railroad tracks by the Wisconsin River was a scary area called “The Jungle.” It was a little north of Pagel Mills. The area was about the size of a football field and it had lots of trees and brush. Sometimes hobos lived in there. You never knew. None of my buddies ever went in there. You never knew if you’d come back out.

A little further down from the Jungle was “Ducko’s Dock” which Donny Ceplina built for fishing on the river. Ducko’s Dock was really in its glory one summer night. Some of the “hoods” from the neighborhood broke into the Northwest Liquor warehouse and walked off with cases of booze. Squad cars were all over the neighborhood looking for the culprits. Sirens everywhere. Those morons panicked and hid all of the booze in the river under Ducko’s Dock. They were never caught, but it didn’t go down as the greatest heist in history. You see, when they went back a few days later to retrieve their haul, all of the booze had floated away downstream. We had the drunkest bullheads in Wisconsin.

Some of those guys weren’t the sharpest cards in the deck. They didn’t have both oars in the water. They weren’t the brightest ships in the fleet. One of them went to a garage sale and tried to buy the garage. Another one of them had a blonde girlfriend. He found that the best way to get his gal to laugh on Saturday was to tell her a joke on Wednesday. He also had a dog named “Egypt” cuz it left a pyramid in every room.

My great uncle would’ve fit right in with those guys. During the Civil War, he fought for the west.

In all seriousness, I recently discovered something great on You Tube. There’s a lady singer from Norway who is beyond awesome. True story. Her name is Sissel Kyrkjebo. Her rendition of “O Holy Night” is incredible. Sissel has a beautiful smile and a voice of an angel. She also teamed up with Russell Watson to sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in English. She’s the best singer I’ve ever seen.

In the past, I was known to take a sip or two of the bubbly every now and then. It was fun telling tongue twisters in bars. Upon entering the establishment, I would say: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked”?

After a bunch of bottles of Point and some Alabama Slammers, it would come out something like: “Peter Piper pickled a pack of peppered pizza, a pick of Packer peepers Peter Piker picked. If Peter Weeter packed a pickle from Julius Peppers, what happened to the purple pizza pickles that Pete Perry picked?”

Hey! It’s been fun. Catch ya on the flip side.

Tim “Shoe” Sullivan can be reached at [email protected].