Sussex and I had a personal relationship over the years that spanned both my involvement in basketball and my collecting of Sussex/Lisbon history.
This matched Coach Al McGuire’s basketball career at Marquette High School (where his son attended) and Marquette University, his attempt to recruit my backyard basketball court prize Hamilton player Terry Youngbauer and my talented oldest son Craig, who was the leader of the 1975 first-ever boys basketball championship at Hamilton High School.
Then McGuire picked up early on that I was a local historian, which required me to do dumpster diving, and going to lots of auctions and rummage sales where we would often meet. A friendship started.
One of my fond memories is when I was a bidder at the Lester Clarey post-death Sussex Main Street auction, of the household and a century of hoarded memorabilia. This was held at Clarey's home, just west of the Sussex Methodist Church, and today is the west parking lot of the Sussex Methodist Church.
I was doing some bidding, and buying "stuff," when I felt a tap on my back, and here was McGuire.
He was there for a short time, unknown to me when I received the tap, and he had his rasping voice whispering to me, "Hey, Kell, I have to leave, but I am interested in several items here. Will you bid ..." and he went on to name some items, most notably some green kitchen utensils and a variety of other items. I asked how high I should go up to and he put some prices on a piece of paper. Using this slip of paper figures, I got in on the bidding, but never bought anything for him, as he was low-balling — trying to steal the "stuff.”
So my telephone call to him after the auction went like this: "Hey, Al, you cheapskate, those prices you gave me were not even in the ballpark. If you want that stuff, you can't steal it. You have to step up to the plate."
Al's hobby was buying tin soldiers, war toys and anything he could make a buck on. His tin soldier/war toys collection was museum-quality.
The subject of McGuire, Marquette University's premier all-time basketball coach, is (until March 19) featured in Milwaukee Rep's production of the one man stand-up show, "McGuire." It was written by his former fellow sports announcer partner, Dick Enberg. Tickets start at $20.
In his days after the 1977 MCAA Marquette University basketball team's national championship, McGuire made a habit of frequenting Sussex, stopping at the M&M or Olde Templeton Inn for food, a telephone and information. He was a great one to get on the phone with, asking me about upcoming rummage sales or auctions, but he also hit up Lisbon's Sonny Mehringer, who had a similar habit of searching out rummage bargains.
I would frequently get called down to McGuire’s Pewaukee office and his girl "Friday.” He was usually asking for historical information, but we would talk basketball, auctions, flea markets, Napoleon in Russia, Desert Storm and Alexander’s conquest of the known world.
The big visit was when he had picked up a series of R.W. Doman auctioneer Lisbon area farm auction posters from the 1940s, 50s and very early 1960s — 29 in all.
I started bidding the local farms, even to the one for Louise Butler (who died at the age of 103). He was setting me up to buy the lot as he told me how much he had sold some to the Machine Shed (for display) and even Sally's Meat 'n Place in Stone Bank. For an hour, we talked of everything, other than that he had gotten big bucks from his earlier sales, setting me up to bid on the remaining 29.
Finally, he asked me point blank, "Hey, Kell, how much will you pay me for this pile?"
I told him I was embarrassed by what I would offer, and his comeback: "Embarrass me."
So I said $200.
His quick reply was, "Hey, that is pretty embarrassing. Make it $250."
Now he said, “Hey, Kell, make it out for cash," as I got out my checkbook.
When my bank statement came back a month later with my cancelled checks, there was his endorsed check with his signature — $250 check, cashed three days after I gave it to him, Censenco Hall, Indianapolis, Indiana, where he was broadcasting an NCAA game.
Then in 1999, I heard that McGuire had cancer, and was dying.
About a year later, I was leaving Panera in Pewaukee and he was coming in with his coat collars all rolled up, and I greeted him, "Hi, coach," and he looked up, and returned "Hi, Kell," and walked past.
I got the feeling he was low, and just did not want to talk. He died in January 2001.