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Cherokee Purple

by Rob Hunter

part 7 of 9

As renters on the second floor of the Zabloski Bros. empire, Ed Seitz and I were honorary members of the big Zabloski family. We got invited to the company picnic. Ed loves free beer. And those raw pork patties set out on oilcloth-covered picnic tables in the shade of old elms on the Wisconsin state fairgrounds.

Raw pork — schlach — is an old Milwaukee delicacy. Or was until after the All-Star Game when half the parishioners of St. Stanislaus got wiped out by toxoplasmosis from contaminated pork.

That was July 8th of last year, 1947, a Tuesday to allow travel time and an extended 4th of July weekend. Joe DiMaggio of the Yankees was in the outfield along with Ted Williams from the Boston Red Sox. One hell of a game — Ed and I listened to it on the radio at the Antlers bar — the American League took it 2-1.

The St. Stanislaus church picnics were always held during the All-Star break. It took the Health Dept. a couple of months to dope out what actually had happened but the dead weren’t picky about the name of the bug that killed them. Six hundred died, but Joe DiMaggio escaped the stain of blame and the buffet took the rap.

At that same Zabloski Bros. wingding a kid peed down the front of my best starched summer shirt. And tie. And pants. A woman with a couple of inches of brown at the roots passed me her kid to hold while she threw baseballs at a triangular stack of cement milk bottles. She was after a big plush panda named Andy.

“Lady, your kid is peeing on me.”

“You should feel special, ’cause he don’t do that to just nobody.”

She took the kid back and, great big panda in one arm, kid under the other, sauntered off without even a “Thank you.” The next year the Zabloski picnics were scaled back to grilled bratwurst due to the St. Stanislaus die-offs.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was not about to be handed another peeing baby. Norma was here and I did not trust Norma; Norma was the warning of the Cherokee Purples. She wanted a favor, and I would most likely be stuck wrapping up the loose ends of her latest scheme as Wildrose Mahaffey had done two decades earlier.

Proceed to part 8...

Copyright © 2009 by Rob Hunter

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