TRIP TO MILWAUKEE
Written by Rich Mohelski
A trip that was easy to remember, because it was so hard to forget.
How could so many things go wrong?
Hymie Walker, in his unquestioned wisdom, (I'm sure with help of
others) had decided it would be less expensive to buy two buses ( not
new, obviously) than to charter buses for the trip which would last at
least a week. Well we barely got out of Philly before we could smell
rubber burning ( or so we thought). We limped into Harrisburg, PA and
were told one of our buses needed a new clutch. The mechanics were
great, worked like beavers and got us on the road after a several hour
Off again on the road to Milwaukee. Next stop however, was the
thriving metropolis of Louisville, Ohio, population maybe about 10,000.
This time one of the buses needed a new motor. I remember being
stranded on the highway, when a family pulled up to us to see what was
happening. Hearing our plight, they offered to take as many as could
fit in their car with them to a lake where they were going swimming.
I'm not positive who went with me, but it would have to have been either
Tom Danks, Charlie Hackett, Ray Widmeier, or Joe Siro. We had a great
time and were returned much refreshed. Can you imagine that happening
That evening we somehow got to park the buses near the railroad
tracks. As some of us were just hanging around outside the bus, we were
approached by a group of locals. As they got closer, we saw that they
were carrying clubs, chains, bats, and whatever else they needed for a
fight they had planned with a gang from a neighboring town. Thank God
they listened to us and believed us when we explained that we were not
the group they were looking for. We never underestimated guys from
small towns after that.
That night, we slept on the bus. What I remember most about that
night was a voice behind me ( I believe it was Dick MacDonald) saying "
Jesus Christ, not another f@@**#!! train". The lights, bells, whistles
and roar of the train seemed like they were about ten feet away from the
Things got better the following day. While the mechanics were
replacing the motor, the town became aware of us. First, they opened up
the high school, which was closed for the summer. Cots were set out in
the gymnasium and we were able to take showers and stretch out. What a
luxury! The following morning, we paraded down their Main Street, which
was the best way we could think of to say Thank You. It was well
Again, destination - Milwaukee. This time we made it. First matter
of business at the National Convention - the Parade in downtown
Milwaukee. Halfway through, it didn't just rain, it was a deluge.
Those great gray and white "wool" uniforms could absorb more water than
I would ever have believed. Next it was back to where we were staying
at the fairgrounds in West Allis, Wisconsin. Somehow Hymie, Bob and
Kitty Cwalino, and Bob and Doris Hansen arranged to get the uniforms to
a dry cleaner to get them back in shape. They came back dried and
pressed and looking great ... except, that one of the girls had left a
lipstick in a pocket! There were red and pink spots all over those nice
white trousers. How were we going to explain to the judge at inspection
tomorrow? I remember dousing the soaken white feather plumes for our
hats with talcum powder and putting them back in their cardboard tubes.
We couldn't believe it when they came out looking like new (almost,
anyway). They must have been duck feathers.
Some way we made it through inspection, and, I believe we won
Now, at last, the big day, "FINALS". I think we were all beginning
to run on fumes. We were just lethargic getting ready and loading on to
the buses. When we got to Milwaukee County Stadium, where the Braves
played baseball in those days, we had already been called and the corps
scheduled to follow us were on the kickoff line. They performed, we were
late and were penalized either one or two points. We placed second,
losing by mere tenths of a point. Without the penalty, we would have
been National Champs.
Our story was printed in the Milwaukee Sentinel newspaper which
showed a picture of us leaning against the bus as though we were pushing
This is the way I remember the trip. I more than welcome any
additions corrections and embellishments to this amazing experience.
One thing we learned at a very early age, was how adversity can bring
out the best in all of us. Believe it!
Thanks everybody for the experience.
The Following Story is an addition related by Jack Cassidy
After the first bus broke down on the way, Hymie sent the other bus on with all the
Contest participants. That bus started to have problems with the batteries catching on fire and
the bus losing power. So Bob Cwalino pulled over to put out the fire and let the bus
Jack Cassidy and a couple other guys remembered seeing a junkyard full of old cars. So at
2 O'clock in the morning whileeverybody else was sleeping, Cassidy, Keenan, McDonald and
Ted Locker went back to the junkyard, climbed the fence and took batteries out of the old cars.
They replaced the bus batteries, got the bus started and made it the rest of the way, although more
problems happened, as Rich' s story continues.