Last Monday, when I went to Forest Hills Golf Course, I couldn't help but think back 60-some years ago. On Monday, I was sitting in a golf cart taking a couple of quick photos of the marked boundaries of the new practice range under construction. Looking north along the left side of the first hole, I remembered the times my dad and I would tip-toe onto the then first green near the far end of today's range. We waited until after dark and then with flashlight in one hand and a tin can in the other, we would shine the ground plucking one nightcrawler after another from the moist green. In less than a half hour, we had enough crawlers for another week's worth of fishing. Things have sure changed at the historic 118-year-old course. Back in the early 1950's, Forest Hills was the private La Crosse Country Club, by far the best 18-hole layout in western Wisconsin. In fact, the only other course in the area that I remember was Maple Grove Country Club in West Salem. That was nice, too. Today, there is a glut of courses in the Greater La Crosse Area. However, I still cherish those muggy summer nights when my dad parked his car near where the Boy Scouts office is located now, we crawled through the barbed wire fence and walked to the first green, eager to see what the night would behold. Ah, those were the days!
This is one first I would like to forget
Life is full of firsts, right? Well, as I approach my 72nd year on this earth, I reached another milestone on Wednesday afternoon. I fell into a trout stream. It was my third... and last trout of the day, but it became entangled in thick weeds as I pulled it to shore. I could see the trout was hooked well, and I didn't want to cut the line, so I thought I could step less than four feet to dislodge it. Little did I realize the deep canary grass was camouflaging the stream bank. Don't get me wrong. This wasn't a deep creek, but one of my favorites. I'm a good swimmer so I knew I wasn't going to drown in the chest high cold, but swift water. Taking a deep breath, I said a quick prayer and thought about my cellphone, video recorder and billfold I had stashed in my fishing clothes. It took me more than 10 minutes to climb out of the stream and back onto shore. The muddy stream bank was STEEPER than I thought and EXTREMELY slippery. Thanks to the dense canary grass I held on to, I was able to inch my way back onto shore. Sitting there and looking at myself, I thought, "Bob, you look like a drowned rat." My knee boots were full of water. The bad news was my creel was full of water, I was soaking wet and had about a quarter of a mile to return to my Jeep. Not only that, I wrenched my right knee during the fall into the creek. The good news? I didn't lose the fish. Tossing my fly rod onto shore as I was falling into the stream helped. I freed the hooked fish from the weeds and tossed it onto shore before crawling out myself. Needless to say, my better half wasn't pleased with my latest escapade. I got THE LOOK! Then came the sermon. "That's why I text you to check on you when you go by yourself," she said. "One of these days..." No other words were needed. It was an accident... not my first in this life, but one I will remember forever, especially when our oldest son and two grandsons come this weekend to close out the inland trout fishing season. As for my equipment, the rugged "outdoors" cellphone works fine. However, the video recorder appears ruined. Oh, my knee? My doctor and I exchanged emails this morning. He said to continue icing it, elevating the knee and take extra strength acetaminophen. No problem. I want to take the grandkids trout fishing this weekend. I just hope they won't have to pull me out of the drink.
How far will Brewers go in the playoffs?
Martin Matchey was a favorite to all
If I told you that Martin Matchey died, you might say you were sorry to hear that, but you didn't think you knew him. If I told you "Marty The Meat Man" died, you would probably say, "Oh, no! Not Marty. He was everybody's favorite." And then you would probably bow your head in sadness, get a big lump in your throat, maybe shed a tear and say, "God rest his soul." Everybody knew "Marty The Meat Man" at Festival Foods in Onalaska. He was often waving to the crowd while riding in the Festival's big grocery cart in local parades. He was a mainstay behind the meat counter at the Onalaska Festival store. Marty was indeed "the face" of Festival Foods in Onalaska. Marty (pictured) died from pancreatic cancer last Friday. I knew of his illness because Festival founder and close friend Dave Skogen emailed me in early July to tell me Marty was retiring after learning he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Dave, knowing I have been battling pancreatic cancer since May 8, 2015, asked if I would phone Marty and chat with him. I called Marty at his home in Blair a day or so later. Marty was in good spirits, but very evasive about the treatment protocol. I attempted to comfort him the best I could. During our conversation, Marty asked if my wife, Kathy, and I wanted to attend his retirement party at Dash Park in Onalaska. I told Marty that Dave had already invited us when he emailed me. I assured Marty we would be there. "I don't know why Dave is doing this for me," Marty said. "He's putting up a tent, serving some food and everything I guess. He's going all out which is very nice, but I don't know why he is going to all this trouble for an old butcher like me." I'll always remember Monday, July 23, 2018. I had my regular labs and CT scan earlier that day. Then as promised, Kathy and I attended Marty's retirement party. It was a warm, sunny day with several people in attendance that we didn't know, although we knew all the butchers from the meat department in Onalaska as well as the store directors from other Festival stores. Dave spoke. So did Gary Skogen, Dave's brother. Onalaska Festival store director Keith Buswell also spoke. All three shared one story after another about "the face" of the Onalaska store. Marty and his wife, Joan, sat front and center before the speakers. Marty smiled from ear to ear, shaking his head in disbelief from the humorous stories Dave, Gary and Keith told. "Marty started with us in 1990, the year we opened our first Festival," Dave said early Tuesday. "Marty boomeranged more guests back to Festival than perhaps anyone, including myself. "Marty enjoyed serving and enriching lives of others," Dave added. "He taught the guest what to buy and how to cook it - a skill set that few meat associates have." Yet, Marty's greatest skill was bringing smiles to Festival's customers whom he served with joy and laughter for 28 years. Rest In Peace, Marty the Meat Man. Hopefully, we will meet up with you again some day.
Brewers deserve to be where they are today
I definitely hand it to the Milwaukee Brewers. They swept my beloved St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, clinched a postseason berth and are now poised to win the one- game, wild-card game against who knows. Congrats Brewers. You deserve it. However, hold on folks. The Brewers want more champagne parties. It's been a rainbow season. The entire Brewers organization, including general manager David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell, have been instrumental in turning the franchise into a "WOW SEASON." As players, coaches and front office personnel have echoed, there is still work to be done. Jeremy Jeffress, one of the bullpen stars the entire season, said this: "We're not stopping. The season's not over yet. We're going to go home and play like we're going to win the division." Lose and done is not in the Brewers vocabulary. They have greater things in mind. No wild-card playoff. They are hungry for the NL Central pennant, although a lot of dominoes must fall in their favor. The league-leading Cubs are one-half game ahead of the Brewers for first place. But who knows, with more great play, the Brew Crew could be NL Central champions by Sunday night. Here is the Cubs and Brewers status going into tonight's game.
CUBS (92-66, .582) * Status: Clinched postseason berth. Lead MIL by a half-game in NL Central; lead ATL by 3 games for No. 1 seed in NL. * Magic numbers: 4 (to clinch NL Central). * Key tiebreaker: In the event of a tiebreaker game for the division title, the Cubs would have home-field advantage over the Brewers, by virtue of their 11-8 record vs. Milwaukee in the season series. In the event of a tie for the best record in the NL, the higher seed would be determined by intradivision record, since the Cubs and Braves each won three games apiece in the season series. Atlanta (48-24) would be awarded the higher seed over Chicago (38-34). * Today's schedule: vs. PIT (7:05 p.m. CT). * Key series remaining: Friday-Sunday vs. STL.
BREWERS (92-67, .579) * Status: Clinched postseason berth. Trail Cubs by a half-game in NL Central. * Elimination number: 4 (for NL Central). * Key tiebreaker: If the Brewers finish the regular season tied with the Cubs for first place in the NL Central, the Cubs would host a tiebreaker game at Wrigley Field on Monday to determine the division champion, by virtue of Chicago's 11-8 season series record against Milwaukee.
The Brewers play host to the Detroit Tigers in a final three-game series beginning Friday. An interesting weekend? That's putting it mildly.