I grew up in Florence, WI, a town about a hundred miles north of Green Bay. It was seven blocks long and sported seven taverns—two of them were bowling alleys. That’s how my mom and her Women’s League team wound up at the state championships in Milwaukee in the early 1950’s.

We never really know what went on during the bowling league championship weekend, other than the fact that, after driving over 200 miles of terrible roads, they were certainly entitled to unwind a bit. After all, even in those days, what happened in Milwaukee STAYED in Milwaukee.

They always stayed at a nice hotel near the bowling alley – defined as someplace with a restaurant and bar. My aunt Lois sat next to mom at the bar and complained in a loud voice: “You’d think at these prices they’d at least have decent entertainment.”

“They do,” mom said. “Tony Bennet is singing here.”

“Tony Bennet?” said my aunt.  “Who the hell is Tony Bennet?”

That would be the guy sitting on the barstool next to her.

He turned to his brother-in-law—his manager at the time—seated next to him and said, “Some public relations man you are.”

He wound up buying drinks for the team and mom told us that story whenever he came on the radio.

Almost all of my generation have a memory of Tony Bennet, whether it’s a first dance or a first kiss or the Senior Prom. My favorite is mom and dad dancing in the kitchen…


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