Friday, January 27, 2012

The night I "met" Fuzzy Thurston

Menus, circa late 1960s, from the Left Guard restaurant, ownjed by
Fuzzy Thurston and Max McGee.
My two most recent blogs have detailed my attempts to create custom cards of Lombardi-dynasty Green Bay Packers great Fuzzy Thurston.

I actually met Thurston one night . . . sort of.

It must have been about 1971, when Thurston was about 38 years old. I was in college then, and working for a company that traveled around the state of Wisconsin taking physical inventory at supermarkets and other retail stores.

Our crew was headquartered out of Fond du Lac, where I was born and raised. At the edge of town was the "Left Guard," a supper club that was one of a handful Thurston owned along with teammate Max McGee.

One night after we had finished work, our crew stopped at the Left Guard for a drink. There were four or five of us in the car, which was driven by Bill, whose last name I no longer recall. Bill, at that time, really needed to be a "Friend of Bill." It's sobering (no pun intended) to think of all the miles we drove back then with Bill behind the wheel in various states of intoxication.

It was rather late on a weeknight when we entered the bar area of the restaurant. Besides the bartender, I don't recall seeing anybody else in the place . . . except for Fuzzy Thurston.

Thurston was sitting on a stool at the far end of the bar, with his stocking feet propped up on the bar.

After a few minutes, and probably into his second drink, Bill looked over, caught Thurston's eye, and said, "Jesus, you're a sloppy son of a bitch"

That night I witnessed what was usually reserved for opposing NFL linemen, Fuzzy Thurston in action. 

He came off his stool like a shot, grabbed Bill by the collar and belt and gave him the classic bum's rush out of the place, using Bill's head to open two sets of doors. 

Thurston came back in, and resumed his place at the end of the bar while we filed out without a word, helped Bill back behind the wheel and drove back to the nearby mall where we had parked our cars.

Come to think of it, and I may be misremembering because this happened 40 years ago, one of us may have said to Fuzzy as we were leaving, "Thanks for not killing him."

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