“You’re Too Old”
Story Behind the Name
When Coy Hill tells you you’re too old, you’d better listen. Tom didn’t. Coy was a good man and a great interview. One of our favorites.
Lansing continues to move Michigan forward, but not just through the efforts of our state government. There’s also a lot of stuff happening on the ground there to help revitalize our economy. Everywhere you look, Lansing is alive with new business, cool spaces, great places and young faces bringing energy to downtown.
Next, we headed up to Ishpeming in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. A lot of people don’t go to the U.P. because they say it’s too far. To that I simply say, nothing is too far, if you’re having fun in the car, and if you’ve seen our show, you know that UTR is just another way to spell FUN.
In the blink of an eye and about eleventy billion laughs later, we pulled into Ishpeming. The town is filled with great history, hearty people and tons of natural beauty. Ishpeming is also the birthplace of organized skiing in the United States, so when you’re there, be sure to visit the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum. If you’re wondering what the word Ishpeming means, it’s a Native American word meaning “high place” or “heaven,” and this place really is heaven for people who love the great outdoors.
We met up with Elizabeth Peterson, the executive director of the Ishpeming Chamber of Commerce, and after giving us the lay of the land, she took us tubing down a huge hill and onto Teal Lake. We had a blast, but it was then that I realized I wasn’t properly equipped or adorned to survive a U.P. winter, so I had to get me some supplies.
Now that I was a full-fledged Yooper, I needed to know where to go to stay warm during the long cold U.P. evenings, so I met up with Randy and Kevin Kluck, a father and son team who had exactly what I needed.
Most fathers and their sons get together to bowl, golf or watch the big game, but these two joined forces to write what they call “perhaps the most important travel guide ever published.” The book is simply titled “Yooper Bars,” and it features just about every cool, crazy, unique and historic watering hole in the entire Upper Peninsula. Dad and son spent an entire summer traveling, tasting and typing. Now their entire adventure can be yours. Just look at them as the Lewis and Clark of U.P. libations.
To illustrate how cool this is, we met up at one of the very pubs featured in their book. It’s called Jack’s Tee Pee Bar in downtown Ishpeming, and in 1959 scenes from the Hollywood thriller “Anatomy of a Murder” were actually shot there. Imagine Jimmy Stewart and Lee Remick sitting in the same booth we were in. Very cool.
If you’re looking for fun and interesting places to enjoy adult beverages while visiting the U.P., you should get your hands on a copy of this important publication.
We laughed and had a couple adult malted beverages, but I still wasn’t quite warm enough yet, so Rusty and Kevin walked me down the block to a place called Hickey’s Bar to meet one of the U.P.’s most colorful characters. If you’re from the U.P., you’ve most likely heard of this fine and funny gentleman. His name is Al ‘Goofus’ Ammesmaki, and he’s known for singing any number of U.P. anthems and performing them along with his wonderfully bizarre self-made creation: the polka-cello.
What exactly is a polka-cello? It’s hard to describe. It’s a combination of cymbals, horns, tambourines and drums all mounted to a single stick. Goofus holds it with one hand, operates all the aforementioned musical contraptions with the other, and turns a one-man band into about three with his boisterous voice and enthusiasm. In short, it’s something you really have to experience to appreciate.
Goofus is part clown, part cheerleader, a local legend and all heart when it comes to loving this great Upper Peninsula. He performs at any function you have in mind, as long as you’re interested in spreading positive energy and good cheer. Goofus warmed up his polka-cello, and after a few warming renditions, we were sufficiently warm in the U.P. It may not be easy to do, but it sure is fun.
And remember, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula isn’t far if you’re having fun in the car. So, grab your imagination and your sense of humor. Get in the car and get up there. Before you know it, you’ll be a Yooper too.