Thursday, October 22, 2020

California Kid/Midwestern Heart

I'm proud to announce that my daughter Nicole Fribourg is a romance novelist. I asked her to write a brief guest post about her motivation.

It's been wonderful to have a foot in one state and a toe in another. I've always been an observer of people, curious about what makes them do what they do and think what they think. The Michigan blizzard of 1979 drove my parents to leave the Detroit area for sunny San Diego. I grew up 2,400 miles away from Detroit, but Vernor's ginger ale was always in our fridge and I know what a Boston Cooler is.

When my family visited Michigan in the summers, we always went by car. We drove across the California mountains, the Southwestern deserts, the Great Plains, the Midwest, and the Great Lakes region--often on the back roads off the interstate. We'd have an adventure of the sites, sounds, smells, and tastes along the journey--not to mention the many people we encountered.

This treasure trove of memories and images I use to create my characters to make them more textured and relatable to readers. I write through the lens of the experiences and the diverse people I've met along the way. My wish is that my books take readers on an entertaining journey to better understand themselves and their personal relationships.


Check out my latest romance novel: "Fixing Flynn"

For a list of my current novels, see my Amazon Author page: 

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Saturday, October 17, 2020

Martha Jean the Queen—Patron Saint of Blue Collar Detroit

Martha Jean the Queen painted by DeVon Cunningham (1976) 

A couple of radio executives from WCHB-AM in Detroit were driving through Memphis on business in 1963 when they heard the voice of Martha Jean the Queen (MJQ) on their radio. They liked the Queen’s Southern accent and her facile deejay patter. These Northern radio men were in the South shopping for an African American disc jockey that could help WCHB-AM (Inkster, Michigan) capture the vast Detroit Black radio market. Most Black Detroiters had Southern roots, so it seemed like a sensible marketing strategy.

MJQ was number one in her Memphis time slot which was a notable achievement in the Jim Crow South for a Black woman disc jockey—a testament to her ability to draw an audience. These Northern radio execs called Martha Jean at WDIA–AM and offered her a raise of $30 a week if she would take her radio program to Detroit. MJQ was a recently divorced, single mother of three daughters who didn’t want to move, but Martha Jean had custody and needed the extra income, so she took the job.

Martha Jean Jones was born on September 9, 1930 in Memphis and graduated from a Catholic school. She began nursing school but the harsh realities of life and death pushed her into business school. As fate would have it, Martha fell in love with jazz trumpeter Luther Steinberg, married him, and had three daughters in quick succession. She saw her life as the manifest destiny of a young Southern Black woman, a child of poverty, followed by a volatile marriage, bondage to babies, and a lifespan of degradation by Whites.

Luther Steinberg was struggling in the music business when he became abusive to Martha Jean, so she divorced him. “There are two things I can’t stand,” she said commenting on her failed marriage in a Detroit Free Press feature article on January 10, 1982, “a man who is cheap and a man who runs around on his woman.”       

Martha Jean used the power of positive thinking to pick herself up and provide for her children. “We should all try to see the beautiful side, the positive side (of life),” she said, “but the ugly side has been with us as a people for a long time and with me personally as a divorced woman with children.”

Martha Jean Steinberg became a receptionist for Memphis radio station WDIA-AM. Because she had a pleasing manner dealing with everyone who walked through the door, the station manager gave her a try on the radio in 1954 as a substitute for an ill disc jockey and she stayed there for nine years learning the radio business and earning the title The Queen. Her patented tagline "You betcha!" after she read advertising copy was like money in the bank for advertisers.

In a May 21, 1967 Detroit Free Press Sunday interview, MJQ was asked what her radio name “The Queen” meant to her. In figurative deejay fashion she answered, “I was written in the sands of time 5,000 years ago, endorsed and smiled upon by the gods. I have a purpose, and I’m on my way to fulfill my purpose…. I am the Queen of the people, they are my purpose.”

When MJQ came to Detroit, WCHB wanted her to play easy listening rhythm and blues and read advertising copy. MJQ’s Homemakers Delight program ran from 10:00 AM until 12:00 PM for three years. One of her early challenges was the perception that she sounded too White to project the Black image over the airwaves. “I had to get down with it to prove I was Black enough and find my place in Detroit’s Negro community, so in many ways, I had to act and sound more colored than colored. Detroit had long been a haven for jazz musicians, so I introduced jazz to my musical lineup and my audience grew.”

MJQ became known for supporting women’s rights throughout the 1960s reminding blue collar wives when it was payday at the Ford plant or Great Lakes Steel—the two largest employers of Black men in the Detroit area. “Get that check from your man before it disappears, ladies.” Martha Jean was proud of herself for making it without "the crutch of a man.” She never forgot the desolation of being left alone with three daughters and no money. The Queen was an inspiration to her soul sisters in the audience.

Unsatisfied with her limited role at WCHB, MJQ jumped stations again when WJLB-FM offered her more money, air time, and freedom to co-produce her own programming. In addition to playing music, she added a fifteen minute call-in segment named Tasting Time where she gave her daily salute to blue collar people around the Detroit area.

In a Detroit Free Press feature article on October 23, 1966, MJQ explained her move, “WJLB-FM will give me a better opportunity to serve my people and do things for them. The secret of my success in Detroit are the people—the forgotten blue collar workers. I like and enjoy people. I feel a disc jockey has command of so many hearts and minds…. I give my listeners a positive reality and that surge of hope necessary to exist. I feel my day is in vain if I can’t touch someone or lift their spirits.

“In my own Southern way of talking, a lot of people started listening to me. My positive message gives people self-confidence to accomplish whatever is challenging them. I’d play blues, and between each bar of a song, I’d talk without interfering with the lyrics and say things like ‘Hey! You cats at Kelsey Hayes’ or ‘You guys in the hole on Ecorse Road’ when the Wayne County Road Commission was working on the roadway. These blue collar workers were listening on transistor radios at work, and it made them feel like somebody when I mentioned them or their place of work on the air. Soon, places all over town began asking me to give them a call out over the airwaves. My slogan was ‘You’re somebody, act like it’.”


During the 1967 Detroit Riots/Rebellion, MJQ broadcast for 48 hours straight urging Black demonstrators to get off the streets and stay home. She helped police negotiate with armed Black Panthers barricaded in a house into surrending peacefully to avoid bloodshed because innocent women and children were inside. That terrible conflagration was transformative for Detroiters. From that moment onward, Martha Jean felt a responsibility to be a bellwether for her people. In the 1970s, MJQ moderated a show called Buzz the Fuzz with Detroit Police Commissioner John F. Nichols credited with improving police/community relations. Every Thursday from 7:00 PM until 7:30 PM, callers could ask Commissioner Nichols questions.

On January 11, 1971, MJQ gave a short scream into the microphone at noon, and then there was three hours of radio silence. Nine Black WJLB staff members—including MJQ—staged a sit-in by locking the studio door and barricading the plate glass front window of the station’s offices on the 31st floor of the David Broderick Tower. The on-air staff was all Black but management was all White. The staff charged that the outgoing station manager failed to live up to an earlier agreement to appoint a Black station manager to replace him. After all, WJLB’s listening audience was primarily Black. The sit-in strike ended at about 3:00 PM after attorneys for both sides met to settle the matter with Norman L. Miller being named as WJLB’s first Black station manager.

Three weeks later on February 2, 1972, Martha Jean had an on-air, religious epiphany. While doing her Inspiration Time program, she announced, “I was just touched by the Holy Spirit.” Then there was a brief pause. Pensively she continued, “It was as if something, a different entity, came through my soul and told me my mission is to help bring Jesus Christ to the people,” she explained. From that moment, MJQ shifted from Soul Mistress of Detroit to Radio Evangelist and began featuring gospel music.

In 1972, Martha Jean became an ordained minister and established her own nondenominational church in 1974. She purchased a two-story house on Grand River Avenue with a $70,000 Kresge Foundation Grant and named her church The Home of Love. She set about fulfilling her mission to serve the downtrodden and forgotten people of Detroit. Her organization raised money and bought the house next door for a church community nursery and preschool for daycare to help young Black women earn a living and get a leg up on life. The $12,500 mortgage for the Joy Building was paid off in cash.

MJQ left WJLB-FM on May 30, 1982 over a scheduling dispute. Their new station manager told Martha Jean he was switching her popular midafternoon time slot to their spiritual hour at 5:00 AM. The time change was unacceptable, and she wasn’t having any of it.

Two weeks later, MJQ signed with station WQBH-AM that specialized in Black-oriented religious and inspirational programming. She took over her familiar 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM afternoon time slot.  The new job also came with a pay raise in line with her new status as station vice president and program director. Fifteen years later, MJQ formed The Queen’s Broadcasting Corporation and purchased WQBH for $4.1 million dollars becoming the first woman-owned radio station in the country. She financed the purchase on the strength of her radio personality, her lucrative radio contract income, and her advertising agreements.You betcha!

Martha Jean the Queen passed away at the age of sixty-nine from an undisclosed illness at 10:45 AM on January 29, 2000 in Detroit’s Harper Hospital. Upon learning of Martha Jean the Queen Steinberg’s passing, The Detroit News reported, “She was hailed as an inspirational force that motivated people and served as a conscience for those needing guidance. Her listeners were the common, everyday folks from Detroit who lived from paycheck to paycheck.” MJQ had a private funeral service and was buried in Detroit’s Elwood Cemetery.

In her lifetime, Martha Jean the Queen was honored as one of rock music’s pioneering disc jockeys—the only woman so honored. She is also a member of the Black Radio Hall of Fame, Michigan’s Black Women’s Hall of Fame, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and what she was most proud of, the founder and spiritual leader of the Queen’s Community Workers of America, that did charitable works around the city for Detroit's forgotten people.

In 1976, Detroit docu-artist DeVon Cunningham painted MJQ’s portrait where she wears a blue caftan and surveys the heavens. It commemorates her trip to the Holy Land with seventy members of her Order of the Fishermen ministry. The painting is listed in the registry of the National Portrait Gallery of American Biography at the Smithsonian Institute.

Docu-artist DeVon Cunningham 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Michigan Homegrown Terrorism of the 1930s--The Black Legion

I like to think I am well-versed in Michigan and Detroit history, but it wasn't until I recently read Tom Stanton's Terror in the City of Champions that I learned of the Black Legion, a splinter group of the Ku Klux Klan. The original group called the Black Guard was founded in the mid-1920's as a security force for Ohio Klan officers, many of whom held public office.

After being kicked out of the Klan for establishing a fiefdom, Dr. Billy Shephard from Lima, Ohio further radicalized the group. They became known as the Black Legion, an even more ruthless and reckless organization than the Klan. In 1931, a Michigan regiment was established by Arthur Lupp of Highland Park.

From there, Virgil "Bert" Effinger began to reorganize the group throughout the Midwest and became the group's spokesperson. Every new member had to repeat an oath "In the name of God and the Devil." They were given a .38 caliber bullet cartridge and told another one had their name on it if they violated their vow of secrecy.

Some people were tricked into joining by friends or family and soon discovered they were in over their heads. High-ranking officers wore black capes with gold trim and brandished weapons openly. The legion expanded aggressively through deception, threats, and brutality. Beatings and torture were used to keep errant members in line.
Policemen display captured Black Legion vestments and the tools of their trade.

The Black Legion boasted having over one million members nationwide. At its height in Michigan, there were 5 brigades, 16 regiments, 64 battalions, and 256 companies. Law enforcement estimated membership at 20,000 to 30,000 statewide. The Detroit area had 10,000 members. Michigan State Police investigator Ira Holloway Marmon discovered Black Legion strongholds in Highland Park, Ecorse, Wyandotte, Lincoln Park, Saline, Monroe, Irish Hills, Pontiac, Flint, Saginaw, and of course, Detroit. Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio also had active chapters.

Their members were primarily angry, white, Anglo-Saxon males who were transplants from the South during the boom years of the auto industry in what history marks as the Great Migration. Whites and Blacks with little or no industrial skills flooded into Detroit heeding Henry Ford's clarion call, "Jobs at $5 a day." Competition for work was fierce in the 1920s, but during the Great Depression, people were killed over jobs.

The Legion was frustrated by the economic and social instability of the 1930s. They felt alienated by Detroit's industrial landscape. One of their core beliefs was that Anglo-Saxon Protestants were being pushed aside in America because foreigners (Catholic and Jewish immigrants) and Blacks were taking their jobs they believed they were entitled to.

1937 Movie Lobby Card

Being in the Legion made members feel connected with something larger than themselves. Membership for many people increased their self-esteem and sense of white supremacy. They absolutely believed race mixing was destabilizing the American way of life leading to social degeneracy.

Legionnaires widened the scope of their wrath to include terrorizing and murdering welfare recipients, labor union organizers, and political opponents. Probably more than anything else, the Black Legion hated socialists and communists. The legionnaires were a homegrown, right-wing, secret terrorist society.

Using fronts like the Wayne County Rifle and Pistol Club (members honed their shooting skills in the club's backroom firing range) and the Wolverine Republican Club (where thinly disguised rallies and gatherings were staged), Legion-approved speakers would rail against their perceived enemies and rally the faithful. New recruits would hear lengthy diatribes whipping the crowd to a frenzy of hatred.

The Legion provided easy answers to the complex questions of their day. One of their political fliers read, "We will fight political Romanism (Catholics), Judaism (Jews), Communism (Socialists), and all 'isms' which our forefathers came to this country to avoid," all the while wrapping themselves in the American flag and patriotism. 

Charles Poole
Works Progress organizer Charles Poole (22- year-old Catholic) was shot five times at point blank range in Dearborn Township on May 13th, 1936. A number of key Legion members were arrested and convicted.

Investigators uncovered the organization's propaganda, their enrollment records, some Black Legion robes and hoods including the tools of their trade--guns, bludgeons, blackjacks, and whips. Dayton Dean was convicted of being the trigger-man in Poole's death. Once on the stand, Dean sang like a canary.

For more details on the Black Legion, view this link:

In 1937, Warner Bros. Pictures made a movie about the Black Legion starring Humphrey Bogart.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

FORNOLOGY Reaches One Million Hits

Photo credit: Nicole Fribourg

It took over nine years for my blog to reach one million hits at 2:45 pm, October 3, 2020. My first post was on May 3, 2011, since then I've written 460 posts on a variety of topics. My current goal is to reach 500 posts before I run out of sunlight. It should take me two or three more years.

Writing my Fornology blog over the past decade has been a joy. It has helped me build an audience for my books, establish my writing voice, and improve my editing skills. Another thing I like about blogging is it is a source of instant gratification when I get comments from readers.

But truthfully, the thing I most like about blogging is that it makes me appear smarter than I really am. I owe that to my wife Sue's proofreading help, and my ability to infinitely edit my posts to make them more correct.

Many thanks to all my readers. I appreciate everyone who reads and shares my posts. I could not have reached this milestone alone.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Detroit's Stroh's Brewing Company--With Its Days of Future Passed

Founder Bernhard Stroh
Avoiding the German Revolution of 1848, Bernhard Stroh emigrated to the United States with knowledge of the brewing trade from his father Georg Friedrich Stroh--landowner and inn keeper. He was taught the Pilzen method of brewing a light-lager beer. In 1850--at the age of twenty-eight--Stroh established his basement brewery operation in Detroit with a $150 investment. Immediately, he started brewing Bohemian-style lager beer in copper-clad kettles that promoted the carmelization of the wort--unfermented beer--that made the beer lighter without reducing the flavor.

Stroh's home and first brewery building
Stroh's beer was sold door-to-door in beer buckets from a wheelbarrow, but soon horse-drawn wagons would be delivering his authentic German beer across town in barrels. Bernhard Stroh expanded his business in 1865 and adopted the heraldic lion emblem from the Kyrburg Castle in Germany. The lion icon is still visible in Stroh's product labeling.

Oldest son Bernhard Stroh Jr. assumed leadership of the brewing business when his father died on June 28, 1882 at the age of 59. The company patriarch was buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan. Bernhard Jr. introduced pasteurization and refrigerated rail cars which increased the shelf-life of their product and broadened their markets. Stroh's became the Detroit area's signature beer.

In 1908, Julius Stroh took over the family business from his brother. After a celebrated tour of Europe's finest breweries, Julius introduced direct flame--rather than steam--to heat the copper kettles. The company motto became "America's Only Fire-Brewed Beer" and part of the brand's labeling.

Prohibition was tough on the beer brewing industry and many breweries closed across the country. Rather than shut down and abandon their loyal workers, the company diversified and made near-beer (non-alcoholic), soft drinks, and ice cream. It is not unlikely that Stroh's Brewery may have made specially-ordered batches of the Real McCoy for Detroit's vast Speakeasy network. The country may have been dry, but Detroit was awash in booze. After Prohibition, the business grew and Stroh's became a regional favorite.

What Detroiters recognize as Stroh's.
A statewide strike halted beer production in 1958 which gave national brands a foothold in the Michigan beer market. In the 1960s, the Stroh family wanted to move the company into the national arena. They bought the Goebel Brewing Company--their rival across the street--in 1964. This increased Stroh's brewing capacity and solved the company's short term growing pains. Some twenty years later, Stroh's was sold in seventeen states. They needed even more brewing capacity, so they bought Schaefer Brewing Company--that had recently gone belly-up in the Miller beer advertising wars.

Then in 1982, Stroh's bought the Schlitz Brewing Company to become America's third-largest brewer--producing many well-known brands like Goebel, Schaefer, Schlitz, Old Milwaukee, Colt 45, and many others. In 1985, the 135-year-old-brewery on the East Side was simply outdated and had no room to expand. The following year it was imploded--a better fate than many of Detroit's factory ruins.

The Stroh's company business plan was to buy up struggling breweries and drive up the company's market share. Stroh's $500 million heavy debt load to buy Schlitz weakened the company's financial position and left them cash poor to compete with the onslaught of Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing Company's national marketing campaigns.

In 1990, Coors moved past Stroh's as America's #3 brewer. Stroh's market share dropped 50%. Beer analysts felt that Stroh's came to the light-beer party late. In 1973, Miller Brewing created Miller Lite beer and used macho football players and "tough guys" like pulp-fiction author Mickey Spillane. Miller's "Tastes Great/Less Filling" debate was a stroke of marketing genius. The Budweiser Clydesdales were a potent marketing image for Stroh's to compete with as well.

From the beginning of the company, Stroh's catered to working-class tastes at working-class prices. But Joe Six-Pack had moved on. Beer marketing shifted away from the product and onto the drinker. Advertising slogans like "This Bud's for You" and "It's Miller time--You earned it!" had great appeal to blue-collar beer drinkers. Coors' Silver Bullet promotion was the last straw.

In 1999--unable to compete in the twenty-first century--the 149 year-old brewer closed, and its assets were broken up and sold for the sum of their parts to Pabst Brewing and Miller Brewing companies. Many of the Stroh's brands were discontinued or sold off to other companies. Pabst acquired the well-known brands Colt 45, Schlitz, and Old Milwaukee--Miller got Mickey's Malt Liquor and the Henry Weinhard's line of beers.

Today's Stroh's is produced by Miller Brewing Company. They don't use the special open-flame copper kettles, and the taste reflects the difference. The traditional Stroh's label read "America's Only Fire-Brewed Beer," but now it reads "America's Premium Brewed Beer."

As for the Stroh's family legacy, somehow the seventh generation has managed to lose over $700 million. Forbes magazine reports that by 2008, the family fortune was completely tapped out.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Victorian Theater and The Limelight

In the Victorian period, the expression in the limelight meant the most desirable acting area on the stage, front and center. Today, the expression simply means someone is getting public recognition and acclaim.

The limelight effect was discovered by Goldsmith Gurney in the 1820s based on his work with an oxy-hydrogen blowpipe. Scottish inventor, Thomas Drummond (1797-1840), built a working model of the calcium light in 1826 for use in the surveying profession.

The calcium light was created by super heating a cylinder of quicklime (calcium oxide) with an oxy-hydrogen flame that gives off a bright light with a greenish tint.

Eleven years later, the term limelight was coined to describe a form of stage illumination first used in 1837 for a public performance at the Covent Garden Theatre in London. 

By the 1860s, this new technology of stage lighting was in wide use in theaters and dance halls around the world. It was a great improvement over the previous method of stage lighting, candle powered footlights placed along the stage apron. 

Limelight lanterns could also be placed along the front of the lower balcony for general stage illumination providing more natural light than footlights alone. 

A lighthouse-like lens (Fresnel lens) was developed that could direct and focus concentrated light on the stage to spotlight a solo performance. Actors and performers must have felt they were living in the heyday of the theater.

The term green room has been used since the Victoria period to describe the waiting area performers use before going on stage. Theater lore has it that actors would sit in a room lit by limelight to allow their eyes to adjust to the harsh stage lighting, preventing squinting during their stage entrances.

Although the electric light replaced limelight in theaters by the end of the nineteenth century, the term limelight still exists in show business, as does the term green room.

Today, the green room is used by celebrities before they appear on talk shows, but it is not usually painted green. The room still performs a similar function as in the Victorian age--to prepare a performer to go on stage.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Alex Karras' NFL Gambling Suspension--Part Three of Three

Late one December night in 1963 just before closing, Johnny Butsicaris was tending bar while Alex Karras was sitting in a booth counting money and doing some bookkeeping. Celebrated Detroit defense lawyer Joseph Louisell came in and ordered a triple shot of bourbon, took off his overcoat and scarf, and sat across from Karras.

Defense lawyer Joseph Louisell

Louisell was a popular customer at the Lindell AC. He was a heavy set, jovial man who was well-read and an avid sports fan. Louisell was known for winning some of Detroit's most notorious cases. He earned respect for bringing acquittals or reduced sentences for many local crime figures. He lived in the same Grosse Pointe Park neighborhood with many of Detroit's top-ranking mob figures. Their kids even went to school together.

"I want to talk with you about your suspension, Alex. The NFL meets in Miami next month. Have you made any plans regarding your reinstatement?"

"No, Rozelle wants me to drop my interest in the bar and I can't afford to do that."

"I've thoroughly checked out your bar activities.... You're as clean as snow."

"Tell that to Rozelle!"

"Give me the okay and I'll represent you."

"I can't afford you, Joe."

Over 65% of Joseph Louisell's law practice was devoted to civil and corporate law. That's how he and partner Ivan Baris made their money, but that bored Louisell. Joe would take some cases pro bono (free) if they interested him. Winning several high-profile defense cases helped build his reputation. Louisell was a diehard Lions fan, as were other interested parties who wanted to see Karras back in a Lions uniform, but they preferred to remain anonymous not wanting to prejudice the case against him.

"I'll take your case pro bono. I want to see you back on the gridiron, Alex. Here's my argument."

Louisell cited a provision in Michigan liquor licensing that states if your name appears on a Michigan liquor license, you can't sell your business for one year--by law. That includes taverns and liquor stores.

"What does that mean for me?"

"Were you to sell your interest in the bar business, you can 't get another liquor license for three years. We can sue them for lost wages if they force you to sell the Lindell and they don't reinstate you."

Louisell told Alex to quit working at the bar, return to his family in Clinton, Iowa, maintain a low profile, and most of all, not to speak with the press. "Wait for my phone call," Louisell emphasized. In late January, Louisell made sure Karras' formal reinstatement appeal was on Commissioner Pete Rozelle's desk.

NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle

In early March, Louisell and Karras went to meet with Commissioner Rozelle at his New York offices. After waiting for almost an hour in a reception room, the two men were led into the commissioner's office where Rozelle on the phone ignored them for some minutes. With Karras about to walk out of the office in frustration, Louisell calmed him down and told Rozelle to get off the phone, "This man's life is important."

"Okay, Mr. Louisell, I'm listening."

Louisell began to explain that gambling is as intrinsic to professional football as the two-pointed pigskin and Rozelle knew it. NFL football gambling existed on every level of American society and occurred weekly in office and factory pools, in Las Vegas sports betting parlors, and with private wagers made by John Q. Public--most of it innocent enough.

"You've unjustly punished Alex Karras for a year. My advice to you is make a decision within a week. If it's negative, I will tear the NFL apart." Louisell and Karras rose promptly from their seats and left the commissioner to think it over.

Rozelle knew any bad publicity with a headline-hungry press was not good for the league. He also knew that Louisell was not some ambulance-chasing shyster. His client list included many of Detroit's most notorious power-players including Jimmy Hoffa, Teamsters president. The last thing the NFL wanted was a media circus broadcast nationwide.

On March 16, 1964, both Green Bay Packer Paul Horning and Detroit Lion Alex Karras were reinstated. The NFL issued a statement saying both men bet on football games but never against their own teams, and there was no evidence either man performed less than his best in any football game.

"After personal discussions with each man, the commissioner is satisified that they have a clear understanding of the seriousness of their offenses," said an NFL spokesman. Nothing was mentioned about Karras' co-ownership of the Lindell AC sports bar.


In a 1969 interview with Sport magazine writer Lou Proto, Karras was led into the subject of his 1963 suspension. "It is my understanding," said Proto, "that you had to sell your interest in the Lindell AC when ordered by Pete Rozelle."

"I kept it for five more years."

"How did you manage that?"

"It was a verbal thing. If Rozelle would have claimed something illegal was going on at the Lindell, he would have been slapped with a lawsuit."

"Then, you were lying when you told Rozelle in 1964 that you sold your interests in the bar?"

"Lying to whom? The guy who was trying to screw me?"

Karras was outspoken but not altogether candid in the interview. He didn't care; he knew the end of his football career was near, and he had already shifted his career trajectory into show business by signing a contract with Hannah-Barbera Productions--appearing in the TV series Daniel Boone with Fess Parker and a western named The Hard Case with Clint Walker.

William Clay Ford

Recently, Mel Butsicaris revealed to me what really happened. His father Johnny went to see Lions owner William (Bill) Clay Ford. He told Bill Ford if he ever wanted to see Karras in a Lions' uniform again, he needed to lend him and his brother Jimmy the money to buy out Karras' share of the Lindell. They put up their sports bar as security, cut a deal, and Ford had his lawyers write up the promissory note. It took the Butsicaris brothers five years to pay off the loan.

"My dad paid the last installment to Bill Ford personally and took the promisory note, twisted it up, and set one end on fire to light his cigar."

Although I can appreciate the symbolic gesture, the researcher in me regrets that this piece of documentation when up in smoke.

More background on Joseph Louisell

Karras NFL Suspension--Part One 

Karras NFL Suspension--Part Two