BACK AGAIN BY BOB URBAN.....................................Times News.........Oct. 28, 2000
A man's worth can often be defined by what people say about him after he's gone. Unfortunately, if the things said about him are good, he's no longer in a position to appreciate the sentiments.
Such is life.
Two weeks ago I dedicated a column to an old friend, the late Daniel "Juggy" Weiksner, whose corner bar at Coaldale's Fourth and High Streets was once the social hub of my young life.
Apparently it wasn't only a watering hole filled with good and humorous memories for me. Other readers, some who were regulars at the recently departed Weiksner's establishment, had some fond memories also.
I'm not surprised.
One former patron recalled that the loudest, happiest day in the bar's history was Oct. 14, 1960.
Nothing much happened that day except that the Pittsburgh Pirates' Bill Mazeroski hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning in the seventh game of the World Series to beat the Yankees and capture the World Championship for his team.
"Juggy was dancing behind the bar. There was dancing in the street. You never heard such a roar as when Mazeroski's hit cleared the fence," the patron said.
Weiksner wasn't a Pirates fan. His loyalties were to the Detroit Tigers. And probably none of the 20 or so customers in the bar that afternoon were Pirates fans either.
The one thing they all had in common, however, was that they hated the Yankees. And to see them lose, in that dramatic fashion, was more than enough reason to celebrate.
Ironically, Juggy was buried on Oct. 14, 2000, exactly 40 years to the day after Mazeroski's famous blast.
Juggy's was a man's bar. But that doesn't mean women didn't have their share of memories.
While my wife never set foot in the establishment, she was very aware of it.
It wasn't my fault that I had to pass by Juggy's on my way to her house when we were dating. So, early Saturday evening, before a date, I'd stop in the bar to say hello, and get caught up on my baseball pools. And sometimes, I'd be a little late for my date.
But my bride-to-be's father was understanding. He'd defend my tardiness, having probably gone that route on many occasions in his younger days.
"Let him alone," he'd say to his daughter. "He's not hurting anybody."
I loved that man.
Another friend recalls how her future husband took her to Juggy's on their first date.
Was she impressed?
"I was all dressed up thinking we were going somewhere special," she said. "And what happens? He takes me to this bar. All the spaces at the bar were taken up so the bartender carried over a stool to this big red and white Coke cooler and that's where I sat."
Too add insult to injury she requested a 'whiskey sour'. Juggy's bartender that evening, 'Teeler' Jabbo, complied by pouring her 'mixed drink' straight from the Bavarian beer tap.
My friend Donovan's favorite recollections are of Sunday morning "benediction" after Mass.
Back in the 1960s it was illegal for bars to be open on Sundays because of Pennsylvania Blue Laws. Of course, if you had a back entrance, the Blue Laws were worthless and the bar was crowded. The only difference was the curtains were drawn.
"I remember having about five guys from Boston (College) at our house for a (teammate from Hazleton's) wedding," Donovan reflected. "They had such a good time there. They always wanted to come back. I was the only one who went to Church. My Dad took the guys to Juggy's and waited for me."
His college buddies weren't the only ones who enjoyed visiting.
"Also one time in the (Marine) Corps I flew back to Maguire AFG in New Jersey with a friend of mine," he added. "We brought in an F4 that was leaking fuel and left it there while Dale Healey and I and my Dad and brother spent the day at Juggy's and also Sunday morning. Dale always wanted to come back. Juggy always made my friends feel really welcome, and they always were on me to come back."
My best personal memory of Juggy involved the New York Yankees - the team he hated with a passion.
It was winter and I was working as a sports writer for the Tamaqua Courier when a formal card arrived invititing me and a friend to attend the annual Yankee Caravan in some swanky Scranton hotel.
Being a Yankee fan I was excited. But who would I ask? As a joke I asked Juggy if he'd be interested, thinking he'd quickly tell me where I could stick the invitation. But, to my surprise, he said 'yes.' I couldn't believe it.
The Yankees, promoting the upcoming season, pulled out all the stops. We ate fillet mignon, huge shrimp. And the bar was stocked with nothing but the best libations, to which Juggy and I took full advantage of.
Before long we were rubbing elbows with the likes of Mel Allen, Red Barber, Ralph Houk, and several of the ballplayers.
Juggy got into the spirit of the occasion, and I managed to get a picture of him with his arm around future Yankee Hall of Fame Catcher Elston Howard.
And I swear I heard him say to Howard, "Ellie, you're the best catcher in the game."
Even though we drove home in a snowstorm that evening, I couldn't wait to get back to the bar to tell all those Yankee haters how their leader just spent an afternoon consorting with the enemy. It was the equivalent of Gen. Custer sitting down and having dinner with Sitting Bull.