A Brief History of the Great Boarder War - Chap. 3

By Jay C. Lorenz - December 1, 2003
Of the entire world's conflicts, perhaps the most misunderstood is the ongoing battle that we know too well as The Great Border War. In an effort to promote world peace, and because I am apparently short of entertainment, I have conducted considerable research into this chasm and as an amateur historian I feel compelled to offer up the benefit of my findings for all. Some of you may wonder "why should I care about the analysis of an AMATEUR?" and I appreciate this question. I was once a professional, with a thriving history shop in Tupelo, Mississippi. Unfortunately, the recession of 1981, coupled with a regrettable scandal over the correct spelling of Czechoslovakia, left me destitute and reduced to pursuing my other marketable talent; delivering Domino's Pizza in the greater Tupelo metropolitan area.

For those of you who are too young to know, The Great Border War involves the cultural divide that centers itself over the arbitrary borderline drawn between the States of Illinois and Wisconsin. Some ignorant individuals may claim that there are other conflicts of greater importance. I have even heard rumors of a squabble between New York and New Jersey. However, more careful research has led to the following observations. New York is a long ways away, and who cares about New Jersey anyway? If we were to waste our time wondering over a boring state, we would wonder over Indiana which is at least as boring and a whole lot closer. Also, it is an indisputable fact that both are "New," so obviously our war is older, more important, better, and in a word "Great."

James A. Michener was a famous amateur historian in his own right. He would start a rendition of this dispute by reciting detailed accounts of the geological formation of the area, the faunas, the flowing waters, the placid lakes, the fishes and animals, and the meteorological symmetry of the passing seasons over eons and eons. I myself am not that ambitious and will spare us all maybe two or three hundred pages of real crap by jumping right to the crux of the Great Border War.

Chapter Three

Like all of history everywhere, no modern accounting can neglect the past. So if you are too lazy or too stupid to have already done so, please go back and read the first two chapters so you can catch up with the rest of us.

The most recent Third Battle of the Great Border War is perhaps the most devastating, and also the most difficult to analyze since it is still going on. Technology and cultural change are everywhere influencing events. Wisconsin mothers weary of yelling out the back door "Elmer, time for dinner," and having half the state show up, have taken to naming their offspring Jordon and Hunter and Emerson for convenience. The French European American fur trappers paid some Russian European American to write a long story about a lumberjack named Paul Bunyon and a big blue ox, to perpetrate a north woods fable for all to come and visit for a fee. In Illinois, the realization that the Cubs and White Sox will never win a world series led to the invention of the Wham-o Frisbee, which was stolen by California Americans and whose invention was claimed by Massachusetts Americans both of which are lying dopey clans from a long ways away. In short, things were really dull.

About this time, a Chicagoan named George Halas (believed to be of pro wrestling heritage), and a Green Bay-ite named Curly Lambeau (yes, he was one of the stooges) met for the first time in a Kenosha bowling alley, where both were waiting for parts for their Gremlins. As they stood bowling, each casually mentioned to the other that bowling was a pretty dull sport, and with California and Massachusetts having stolen the Frisbee, things were a pretty nasty doldrum even when the Gremlin was working. Added to that the facts were that bowling required so much beer that no one could figure out how to keep score, and that it was so dull that no one would show up to watch. No one included every retired person not already in Florida or a nursing home, because Mr. Blackhawk III, heir to the Blackhawk fortune, was reaping a gold mine from this crowd by running tour buses to his north woods casinos to repertoire them at his leisure. Some geriatrics, in fact, still had actual leisure suits to wear to these events. It is an interesting observation that despite all this plundered cash, the Blackhawk family still can't afford a first name.

What was needed was some excitement. So George and Curly spent the better part of an afternoon developing a plan. There was lots more outdoors than indoors, so it should be an outdoor activity. Summer was a tourist season, what with a repertoire everywhere you went, so a fall and winter endeavor looked beneficial. Soon a call was placed to Johnny out in Iowa who described a fairground activity of chasing a greased pig. Curly was so inspired upon hearing this that he hit George over the head with a beer bottle (empty of course), uttered "nyuk, nyuk, nyuk," and kicked a 16 pound Brunswick bowling ball down the lane, resulting in a 7/10 split. George picked himself up off the floor, cursed the Stooge ancestry, and called for Moe and Larry. When all was said and done, a game of Football was invented, with George and Curly as the proud parents. Eager to break into the $4.50 a lousy beer market, they named themselves the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers, although no one is sure why. Soon other teams were organized with tough sounding names like the Giants, and Lions, and Steelers. One outfit from San Francisco named themselves the 49'ers, although most real men don't care to speculate on how that name came to be.

So now there was the National Football League. In the early days, the exact rules were hard to come by. Teams had 11 members because that twelfth beer sitting lonely on the bench caused them all to be a little more motivated. Touchdowns were rare, and field goals considered a sissy move. All this changed when Pete Rozelle, believed to be an Albanian European American, appointed a few members of the Wisconsin DNR to be dressed in striped shirts and issued them whistles and pistols to control the flow of the game for the sake of television. Garo Yepremian, a Romanian European American, legitimized the field goal by doing it barefooted, although he did throw like a sissy. The crown of popular success came when Mr. Blackhawk III developed the weekly parlay card to capitalize on the speculative excesses of the masses.

All was cheer and good tidings again. The annual ritual consisted of Easter, Opening Day of Fishing, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, First Game, Gun Deer Season, Thanksgiving, Second Game, Christmas, and New Years. All of which resulted in extended holidays, vacations, or for short timers a call into work sick. Night crawlers were 40 cents a dozen, beer came in returnable bottles, television was black and white, and people actually cared who won the World Series. In short these were the Good Ol' Days. One could justifiably imagine that no amount of interference could disrupt the innocence of the times, that the peace after the first two battles had ended the Great Border War.

Enter the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This group of heathens came to do battle and knew no boundaries beyond that which could be stolen or otherwise taken by force. They are famous to all of course as Vince Lombardi, Walter Payton, Mike Ditka, and Brett Favre. For a public used to Forrest Gregg, Bobby Douglas, Abe Gibron, and Don Majkowski, the four horsemen seemed to offer a ray of excitement and sunshine. "Oh contr'aire, my friend. Oh contr'aire" (contr'aire is a French European American term that describes an Iowa hog having passed gas).

What began as apparent dedication soon came to be perceived by opposing players as overbearing dominance. Dominance in its purest form was soon regarded as degradation. Degradation turned to desecration, and the makings of the Third Battle of the Great Border War had been laid in place.

As is the case with all great conflicts, historians and especially amateur historians, like to point out that all great conflicts hinge on a chance set of circumstances which taken individually do not mean a thing. Taken as a group these circumstances have huge significance. We will spend entire careers searching the threads of circumstances that lead to historical impact and change. If we are at a loss to tie these threads together? Well not to worry. We will make them up. I have taken the liberty of tying together the loose threads for you as follows.

In the mid'80's, a certain running play by the Chicago Bears against the Green Bay Packers gave new meaning to the word "refrigerator." Shortly thereafter, a play of suspiciously similar import, during a throwing down by the Green Bay Packers against the Chicago Bears added "upon further review" to the lexicon. Well, that was that and the gloves came off. No longer able to perpetrate AMC upon the Illinois public, Wisconsin dusted off the speed trap south of Fond du Lac and equipped its troopers with laser guns that can detect a Navy Blue and Orange shirt no matter how carefully hidden in the trunk of a car. Outraged, Chicago's Mayor Daley junior threatened to move the Bears to Gary, Indiana forcing supporters of the Green and Gold to traverse the Dan Ryan Expressway once a year. Italian European Americans, who hadn't been heard from for several decades decided it was high time they joined the fray and, with encouragement from Mr. Blackhawk III, brought the football 100 square board to market, although they still wore gaudy leather jackets. Kim Ho (remember him?) invested heavily in textile mills that churned out green and gold, and navy blue and orange, and other odd colored souvenir clothing that no self-respecting golfer would wear to a funeral. Proud Malaysian Asian Americans who are so proud they have yet to leave Malaysia make this clothing in the USA.

The lines were drawn, the tempers kindled, and the stage was set. All that was needed was the slightest provocation to reduce the whole place to turmoil. At 11:30 AM, on Sunday, October , 1992, both forces arrived at Larry's Sport Tap in LaCrosse, WI, to attend services. It is a peculiarity of the Great Border War that the adversaries choose to attend religious services together. Larry's was a large bar, one of those big rectangular deals that is located in the middle of the room surrounded by televisions. Down one side of the bar, numerous Wisconsin American Green Bay Packer faithful had gathered, each dressed in Green and Gold clothing made in the USA by Malaysian Asian Americans who have yet to leave Malaysia. They were carefully listening to a sermon delivered by a man whose grandfather, Elmer, had actually been in attendance for the Ice Bowl. Of course, every Wisconsin American's grandfather is named Elmer, and each and every one of them was actually in attendance at the Ice Bowl. Sort of like an Easter or Christmas service, pre game sermons follow the exact same script every time. Just like the Easter and Christmas service everyone sits around and pretends that when its over they have gotten something new out of it that must have been overlooked all the other times it has been recited. As part of the pre game ritual and sermon, each Wisconsin American with a Grandfather named Elmer would sip his ceremonial bloody mary, and at pre-arranged breaks in the sermon cry out in unison "I once had a beer with Ray Nitschke. He's a good friend of the family."

On the other side of the bar were gathered the Illinois American Chicago Bear faithful. They were not so many, this being an away service. However, due to selecting earlier in the draft, they were bigger and certainly more obnoxious. Each Illinois American Chicago Bear advocate sat quietly at the bar casually attired in Navy Blue and Orange garb made by Malaysian Asian Americans in Malaysia, USA (it appears that late one night Malaysia was given statehood). The leader carefully recited the biblical morning line straight from the pages of the Chicago Sun-Times. Each scripture reference would be followed by a brief pause, allowing each member of the gathering to reflect upon its spiritual relevance for his daily life. Then each would whisper his personal confession of the soul into a cell phone for permanent inscription on water-soluble paper by an Italian European American clergyman in Forest Park, Illinois. At the end of the reading, the Illinois American Chicago Bear group participated in a mass ritual known as the "kick off shot," a small cold beverage consisting of watered down peach schnapps which is drunk in unison. A normal part of this service is for a single member to claim to have seen Walter Payton's car double parked once years ago on Rush Street. For the benefit of women and children, I will paraphrase the scripted group response, "shut your hole. Ditka's talkin', and the game's about to start."

Larry, as the host to these services, had an important role in the proceedings. In addition to preparing all the ecclesiastical beverages, Larry went back into the kitchen to prepare a feast. This consisted of a crock pot of week old chili and cocktail wieners, to which he lovingly added a small assortment of frozen cocktail wieners and the remainder of an open week old can of chili. Upon completion of this task, Larry set the crock-pot on a tray, and surrounded it with stale crackers and a handful of plastic toothpicks. Larry then picked up the tray, and with great fanfare paraded it through the packed bar room to the farthest, least noticeable corner of the tavern. There, upon a 1960's vintage dinette table, he set the feast. Above the table Larry placed a sign, hand lettered on the inside of a beer carton. It read, "free food at half! (Sunday only)"

Larry was also responsible for collecting the offering. This consisted of taking the 100 square football board, which had entered the public domain after the Italian European Americans lost a nasty copyright infringement suit, and conniving two dollars a square out of each and every member gathered there that day. He graciously assured each one that there would be a full pay out, "thirty bucks a quarter," and squirreled away the proceeds in his pocket for safe keeping. While it made little difference to the coming events, the Chicago American Bears and the Green Bay American Packers did not play each other that day, though each enjoyed a noon kick-off. The final act of kindness was for the assembled masses to hoist a beer and offer homilies to each other regarding the sporting brotherhood to which all owed fraternal allegiance.

At roughly 12:45 PM that day, the scheduled bartender arrived nearly two hours late for work. Known as "Jugs," she was a healthy blonde of limited intellect, who had the misfortune of having entertained herself far too late into the previous evening. She worked her way behind the bar and, ignoring Larry's questions regarding accurate time keeping, set herself upon a bar stool refusing to move until "Clinton knows what sex is." Jugs downed a cup of coffee, a glass of orange juice, four aspirin, and a shot of Dr. VanillaCuddy's, all the while smoking cigarettes and hoping that she would either die or her blood pressure would come back up to normal. Larry, having been ostensibly relieved from duty, retired from his bartending duties for the day unless it involved procuring a drink for his own self. So the game was on, Larry drank, Jugs sat, and the rest of the place slowly went dry subsisting on bad cocktail wieners on really stale crackers.

No one remembers who won the football games, and it really doesn't matter. Shortly after half time, Larry was questioned regarding the need for liquid refreshment. Larry questioned Jugs about the need for competent employees in the matter. Jugs responded that she would most likely survive her ordeal, and began to drag her less than cooperative body from the stool. She arrived at the rail, almost prepared to receive an order, and there…….there history records she did two things. First, she removed her coat to reveal a Minnesota American Vikings Malaysian Asian American made in Malaysia, USA purple and white jersey. Second, she asked, "what inning is this?"

The place was up for grabs. Larry, having experienced similar problems back in the late 60's, immediately grabbed a pool cue and backed his way into the kitchen offering to adjust the point spread of anyone foolish enough to follow him. Jugs sat back down on her stool lit a cigarette and said, "Hillary's got to know what sex is too." Pandemonium reigned down from on high.

The official report of the LaCrosse, Wisconsin American Police Department reveals that in spite of numerous experiences they have had with controlling riots of drunken American college students, they were both under manned and out gunned in this disturbance. Four SUVs with Illinois American license plates were over turned and set ablaze, and a Kwik Trip was looted of everything but the hot dogs turning slowly on one of those ridiculous conveyor contraptions. The Kwik Trip loot included a $50,000 scratch off lottery ticket that was later turned in by an 83 year old Nebraskan American spinster from Omaha. When questioned about this dubious fortune, she replied "What?!?!?" When questioned again, she replied "I don't know nothing about no football game, I won it off Mr. Blackhawk IV, god rest his soul, fair and square. You can call and ask Elmer. He was dealing." The battle had begun in earnest.

Author Jay C. Lorenz

Jay C. Lorenz
Jay C. Lorenz was once a professional historian, with a thriving history shop in Tupelo, Mississippi. Unfortunately, the recession of 1981, coupled with a regrettable scandal over the correct spelling of Czechoslovakia, left Jay destitute and reduced to pursuing his other marketable talent; delivering Domino's Pizza in the greater Tupelo metropolitan area.