By Dobie Maxwell – http://www.schlitzhappened.com
My name is Dobie Maxwell, and I was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. If you are also from or have spent any length of time there, you already know the official home town pronunciation is “M’waukee ‘Sconsin”. You also know a lot of other things about our hometown, and that’s what I’m going to be writing about. This is just for ‘us’ as Milwaukeeans, and nobody else will get it.
Well that’s just too bad, ain’a? We have had to live in the corrupt and polluted shadow of those nasty “F.I.B.s” in Chicago long enough. They have had more than enough popular songs written about them and movies made that glorify gangsters, outlaws and hoodlums. This is about a much more honest and hard working city just 90 short miles up the road. We’ve got a rich history too!
That rich and unique local history combined with my own unique life story are the ingredients of a one man show I have created called “Schlitz Happened! An Old Milwaukee Blatz from the Pabst” that debuted at the Northern Lights Theatre at Potawatomi Casino in April of 2013.
The show ran for eight performances over four consecutive Saturdays, and was by all accounts an all out hit. It set the attendance record for a comedy show on the very first night, and audience feedback was overwhelmingly positive – so much so that people came back to enjoy it numerous times and brought friends with them. How many shows anywhere mention Ernie Von Schledorn?
If you’re not a Milwaukeean, you have no idea who Ernie Von Schledorn is. If you are, you not only know who he is immediately but also where to find him. He’s “just minutes away on Route 41 – Main Street in Menomonee Falls.” Any true Milwaukeean has that tattooed on their brain.
We also have quite a few others in our local cast of characters that spark up instant recognition upon hearing their names. Who was the wrestler who made Milwaukee famous? That could only refer to the man with “100 megaton biceps” – da one…da only…da CRUSHER! How ‘bout dat?
Who was the lovable puppet that predicted our weather on Channel 6 every night for decades? We all know it was Albert the Alley Cat, and our day wasn’t complete unless we heard what the ‘humidery’ was at ‘Tinnimum’ Field. And if you were cool in school, you wore your Albert cap.
Irv “The Working Man’s Friend” was located on the one and only Mitchell Street, along with “Krazy” Konzal, the undisputed Carpet King of Milwaukee. Honorable Mayor Henry Maier sang stodgy songs between puffs of his pipe, and Chief Harold Brier reigned over Milwaukee’s police force with an iron fist and a crew cut. And who can forget O.C. White and his famous barbecue?
These are legendary names that don’t mean a ‘ting’ south of Kenosha – or maybe even Racine. Larry started in Chicago, but he wasn’t truly a ‘legend’ until he came to Milwaukee. Fritz wasn’t really a plumber, but fans of polka music never checked his credentials. As long as he showed up at the radio station to announce the next Frankie Yankovic tune, nobody cared. This is the era of Milwaukee history I will be delving deeply into, as it’s the DNA of my life. If any of this rings a bell in your head, I invite you to join me for a fun ride down an old road not everybody knows.