Saturday, June 29, 2013

"A Letter to Reckon With"

Jeff Ash of the Green Bay Press-Gazette sent me a note about this new video from St. Nobert College. It's about John Gordon, who as an art student at the college in 1961 designed the Packers' iconic "G" logo.

We've talked about this story before, but it's great to hear it from his own mouth.

I'm going to send Mr. Gordon an interview request; I have some new questions for him after seeing this video.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Old Man at Sneezer's, 1960

This marvelous photo comes to us via Shorpy, a "vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s." This photo lies just outside that timeframe, featuring head coach Vince Lombardi eating breakfast at Sneezer's Snack Shop, his morning haunt.

1960. Green Bay, Wisconsin. "Packers coach Vince Lombardi at lunch counter." Photo by Frank Bauman for the Look magazine assignment "The Packers Pay the Price."
Outstanding. When was the last time you could order a glass of "fresh, healthful buttermilk" in a diner?

The coach reportedly ate breakfast every morning at Sneezer's on his way to the stadium, and the Packers were known to rent out a private back room for team functions.

Here's a chrome postcard of Sneezer's from 1967:

Flickr/it's better than bad
The postcard's caption reads:
"Titletown U.S.A."

Mrs. Geneva Jahnke with her 1966 Mustang which she won in the Icelandic Fish Co. contest at The Wisconsin Restaurant Convention.

Sneezer's specializes in Broasted Chicken, Hamburgers and Icelandic Sea Foods.
I love the sign, with the rotund chef carrying a massive burger.

Geneva Jahnke was the wife of Norman "Sneezer" Jahnke, master of the house.

For a glimpse at what the exterior might have looked like as Lombardi drank his coffee on that morning, this photo was taken just a few years earlier, on September 25, 1957:

Wisconsin Historical Society
Sneezer’s Snack Shop at 1608 S. Greenwood (now Ashland) Avenue. Vince Lombardi often ate breakfast here on his way to the practice field. The left half of the building was the restaurant, and the right half of the building was the Jahnke family home. On game day, Sneezer’s was a de facto tailgating site, 1960s style. During the 60s, tailgating at the stadium did not enjoy the popularity that it does today.
Note that in 1957 the Coca-Cola "BREAKFAST" sign hadn't been put up, nor was there a "SNEEZER'S" sign on the chimney.

Sneezer's was close to Lambeau Field (then known as City Stadium or New City Stadium). The original address was 1608 S. Greenwood Avenue, but upon the construction of Highway 32, also known as South Ashland Avenue, the building's address was changed. On this satellite view, Sneezer's location is on the right, marked with (A):

Sneezer's souvenir ashtrays are beloved by Packer collectors. This version from 1959 features facsimile signatures from the entire roster, coaching staff and even longtime trainer "Bud" Jorgensen and equipment manager "Dad" Braisher.


A similar ashtray was issued in 1960, one of which sold at auction last year. It proudly proclaims the Packers as "Western Division Champions", perhaps a bittersweet reminder that the Packers lost the title game to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Heritage Auctions

I'm not aware of those ashtrays having been produced in any other seasons. There is this undated ashtray, again sold at auction last year, proclaiming Sneezer's as "The Home of the Packers":

Inside the Park Collectibles

There's the fat chef again.

I don't know when this ashtray was produced, or even if it was ever offered to the public, unlike the the 1959 & 60 versions (which are labeled "Compliments of Sneezer's"). The address is still listed as "1608 S. Greenwood", whereas by 1959 it had been changed to "S. Ashland Ave - Hwy. 32", meaning this item precedes Lombardi's arrival in Green Bay. That would also indicate that Sneezer's was a Packer favorite before being discovered by Lombardi. I also don't know if the lack of green and gold indicates this is from one of the Packers' many seasons in navy, or if it's just Sneezer's standard color scheme.

Although the ashtrays appear to have been discontinued before Lombardi's team started winning championships, the restaurant did print coasters commemorating the Packers' wins in Super Bowls I and II.

Just about every decent Packers collection will contain at least one Sneezer's item.

Sneezer's Snack Shop has been closed for years. Norman Jahnke died in 1983, Geneva in 1986. The building still remains, however, on South Ashland Avenue.

It is currently occupied by the Green Bay Veterans Center.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Number 5 in Your Programs?

Reader Trevor Whitlock sends us this tip:
the issuing of these 'uncirculated numbers' continued today. unfortunately, it looks like this is going to become common with the expanded rosters.
He also sent me a screencap. Check out the last sentence:

And sure enough, looking at the Packers' roster they've assigned Paul Hornung's #5 to Terrell Sinkfield.

Quick digression: an ad for Culver's? How did my Brooklyn-based browser pick that one up?

Although never technically retired, the number has been held out of circulation since the Golden Boy retired, with one notable exception; a one-year issuance to quarterback Don Majkowski in 1987. After that one season, the Majik Man requested a number change because, as he put it at the time:
People kept asking me how it feels to wear Paul Hornung's number. I kept hearing that, and I realized the impact Hornung had. I wanted to wear a number people could remember me for.
We'll see if Sinkfield feels this problem as keenly, if he even makes the 53-man roster. But now we have a second longtime "unofficially retired" number being issued this season, after undrafted free agent QB Matt Brown was given Curly Lambeau's #1 after 87-years on the sidelines.

Trevor's right that the increasing number of players will create these problems. It's ironic that they're being given to people who come in least likely to match the exploits of the previous wearer, but I wonder if that isn't by design: if Brown and Sinkfield make the team, perhaps the Packers will issue them the newly-freed number of one of their colleagues who didn't.

Also, two #7s? We'll see how long that lasts...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Happy 100th, Vince Lombardi!

On the occasion of Vince Lombardi's 100th birthday, this gorgeous shot is a rare look at the coach in (over-saturated) color.

The satin jacket with chain-stitched team name is fantastic, and I always love to see the "GB" cap.

Lombardi was born in my home of Brooklyn on June 11, 1913. I wonder what the Packers will do this season to mark the anniversary. Retiring the number one jointly for Lombardi and Lambeau would be a nice gesture.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Packers v. Lions, 1958

This photo was taken at New City Stadium (a few years away from being renamed Lambeau Field) on October 5, 1958, the second game of the season. The Packers had lost to the Bears in the season opener the week before.

A handwritten notation on the back of the photo indicates that "this field goal attempt by Jim Martin of the Lions was no good":

In the background, we can see the then-new Brown County Arena, which was due to open to the public approximately five weeks later. Green Bay residents will know it as the home of the city's hockey teams until 2002, but Packers fans are probably more likely to remember it as the original home of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame from 1976 through 2003.

I'm also transfixed by the crowd in what appears to be mostly topcoats and blazers, with some shirtsleeves thrown in for good measure; a far cry from the green-and-gold-sprinkled-with-blaze-orange you'll find today.

I'm also impressed by the size of the crowd; the Packers were a truly awful team in 1958. After dropping the first game, only this missed field goal allowed the Pack to salvage a 13-13 tie with the Lions on that November afternoon. This game was the last "1" in their 1-10-1 record for 1958, a record which cost head coach "Scooter" McLean his job and set the stage for the hiring of Vince Lombardi the following offseason.