Tag Archives: The Crusher

How ‘Bout Dat?!

By Dobie Maxwell – http://www.schlitzhappened.com

   Even in his home town of Milwaukee, the name ‘Reginald Lisowski’ might not be immediately recognized by everyone who hears it. But mention ‘The Crusher’ and everyone knows exactly of whom you speak. He is of local legend, the beer swilling cigar chomping professional wrestler of the 20th century with his bug eyes and bleached crew cut who stomped ‘bums’ into the canvas.

The wrestler who made Milwaukee famous!

The wrestler who made Milwaukee famous!

   The Crusher was an icon to multiple generations of Milwaukeeans. I have a friend probably ten years older than I am who was a child of the ‘60s. He once told me the three top athletes from his era in no particular order were Hank Aaron, Bart Starr and The Crusher. All were equal royalty.

Hank Aaron - Legendary Braves Slugger

Hank Aaron – Legendary Braves Slugger

Bart Starr - Legendary Packers Quarterback

Bart Starr – Legendary Packers Quarterback

Da Crusher - Just Plain Legend!

Da Crusher – Just Plain Legendary! 

   But all through my childhood The Crusher was the king of not only my sports world but that of all my neighborhood friends. We would gather around our televisions every week and watch ‘All Star Wrestling’ on Channel 18 to see our hero in action. He kept us all riveted with his charisma.

Channel 18 had ALL the good programs!

Channel 18 had ALL the good programs!

   For reasons I still can’t identify, we believed without question that a stout man in his 50s could actually train for a legitimate athletic contest exclusively by lifting a beer keg, dancing the polka and smoking cigars. We never once questioned any of this, and this is why humanity scares me.

Another day at the office...

Another day at the office…

   I was just as gullible as anyone, and I bought it too. I loved the Crusher, and without any other local icons during a very lean sports era, he was it. Kareem Abdul Jabbar might have been close for a while, but when he demanded to be traded his stock dropped quickly. The Crusher ruled.

Even in his 50s, Crusher STILL ruled!

Even in his 50s, Crusher STILL ruled!

   His matches were secondary to his legendary interviews. That’s where he sold us on what he’d do to his upcoming opponents, and we were putty in his hands. He’d rant and rave and make lots of threats and promise to vanquish evil and restore justice to the universe. And we believed him.

with Marty O'Neil 'that slippery eel'.

with Marty O’Neil ‘that slippery eel’.

   My best friend Timbo and I used to save our money and go see our hero live at the Milwaukee Auditorium whenever we could. What a ‘trill’ it was to witness as he’d defeat some ‘turkeyneck’ of the week by administering his infamous stomach claw or his best weapon ‘The Crusher Bolo’.

His t-shirt says it all!

His t-shirt says it all!

   On rare occasion – maybe once a year – the matches would take place at the Milwaukee Arena which could house double what the Auditorium did. Those usually meant there would be a ‘cage match’ where the Crusher would vanquish a bad guy inside a chain link cage. We lived for those.

I think this was Crusher's driver's license photo too.

I think this was Crusher’s driver’s license photo too.

   One New Year’s Eve many years later when I was a comedian, I had a show at the downtown Hyatt Regency. I stepped into a packed elevator and in the back I heard a guy impersonating The Crusher – and not very well. When I got off the elevator I discovered it was really him, and got to shake his hand. It felt exactly like one would imagine, rough and strong. Those ten seconds were the biggest ‘trill’ I ever had in sports. To quote one of his trademark sayings, “How ‘bout dat!?”

One of my all time prized possessions.

One of my all time prized possessions!

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I’m From Milwaukee, And I Oughta Know!

 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.

Who d'ya know, knows Ernie?

Who d’ya know, knows Ernie?

Turkeynecks beware!

Turkeynecks beware!

Hey friend, can you loan me $20 until payday?

Hey friend, can you loan me $20 until payday?

The hippest puppet anywhere...

The hippest puppet anywhere…

...with the hat to match!

…with the hat to match!