Christopher Columbus, An Alleged Mafia Boss Carlo Caputo, And The Doctor!

 

Dr. Craig “Doc” Campbell and Max Fly Private EYE

When Christopher Columbus disembarked from his boat on the shores of the Crawfish River, a mere fifteen miles east of the Wisconsin state capital of Madison. he declared that the land he set his foot upon “is as beautiful as am I so I proclaim this piece of land Christopher Columbus land. You may refer to it as merely Columbus if you wish.” And that is where the saga of surgeon Dr. Craig Campbell and the late Carlo Caputo, began. While some people doubt the validity of my claim that Chris Columbus did navigate the Crawfish River looking for a suitable place to give his name to back in the late 1400’s, I have been informed by a reliable source that he actually did just that; however, I will wait for the appropriate time to reveal my source. Before I do that, I will reveal some facts that can easily be verified by anyone with or without a computer.

While neither Carlo Caputo nor “Doc” Campbell, a retired surgeon whose wit is drier than an extra dry vodka martini, is nationally known, they both have acquired a modest reputation in southeastern Wisconsin, especially in the small town of Columbus where they both, at one time, owned the Capri Steakhouse which is actually a Wisconsin Supper Club. Caputo traded lakefront property in Madison for the club in 1954. After changing hands a few times, “Doc” Campbell purchased the club in 1992.
Caputo the purported mafia boss of Madison named the restaurant the Tropical

Carlo Caputo

Lounge. He was associated with the Balistrieri clan out of Milwaukee which was considered a branch of the Chicago Outfit. The family’s most influential boss was Frank “Mad Bomber”, “Mr. Slick”, “Mr. Big” (take your pick) Balistrieri, who was involved in the skimming of Las Vegas casinos and the restaurant business in the Milwaukee area. The Tropical Lounge which was, on occasion, a gathering place for “Mr. Big” Frank Balistrieri and his, uh, business associates, with its red and gold upholstered walls has an upstairs where they would meet so they could conduct their “business” in private where their conversations would not be overheard by those who didn’t have a need to know.

John J, Frank P “Big Frank” and Joseph P Balistrieri Photo credit Milwaukee

The history of this establishment was brought to my attention while visiting the “Unmentionables,” also referred to as in-laws, in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.
Being sort of a self-avowed Brandy affectionado as well as being anxious to sample one or more of “Doc’s” highly acclaimed Brandy Sweet Old Fashions, I was delighted to hear that we would be taking a ride to Columbus to have dinner at the Capri Steakhouse.
So, on November 28th, Max Fly along with his little squeeze, Jacqui, her older sister and the big Norwegian she married, got to meet the Doc (Caputo is dead) and sample his “famous” Brandy  Sweet Old Fashions. He pulled up a bottle of dark liquid which contained “his special sauce” and added it to the Brandy and bitters in my glass. Having a brief career as a bartender, I have some experience in making this Wisconsin classic drink as well as having an opportunity on many occasions to sample a few and I think the “Doc” has actually found the secret formula that has been prudently sheltered all these years by the gods of the Brandy Old Fashions.
While we sat at the bar and sipped his sweet nectar “Doc” filled us in on a little of the history of the town of Columbus and his memorable supper club.
“There used to be 17 bars in the four-block area,” Doc said. “Now there’s four.” an occurrence usually found around “connected” enterprises I assumed.
We asked him what defines a supper club? According to “Doc” they have their bar in the front, and their dining room in the back, they serve Brandy Sweet Old Fashions or Whiskey Old Fashions and after a meal, they whip up ice cream drinks like Grasshoppers and Brandy Alexanders. That sounds about right to me.

If you are ever in the Madison Wisconsin area, you might want to take the 15-mile drive east to Columbus and pay a visit to the “Doc” you won’t regret it. The Capri Steakhouse is located at:
126 S. Ludington St.
Columbus, WI 53925
(920) 623-4818

CEDAR KEY FLORIDA – JACQUI’S BOATING EXPERIENCE – WILL THEY ALLOW US BACK?

Deck at Harbor Master Inn Over the Cedar Key Bay Enjoying a Cohiba and a glass of Chianti wine

Jacqui and Max Fly just returned from a short vacation in Cedar Key, Florida, named after the Eastern Red Cedar trees that once were abundant in the area until they started using them to make pencils. In fact, from 1866 until the early 1900’s, Cedar Key was a major center for pencil manufacturing.

We posted some of the great pictures we took so you would have an idea of how idyllic the area is. Kids would be bored after about 5 minutes time spent on the key and that is one of its enduring features. They built this Key for fishing and that’s just what they do.

And restaurants? Well, let me say this, the drinks are good and the establishments open and close when they darn well please. Immediately to the left and across the water from the room we stayed in, is the back deck of the Black Dog Beer-Wine-Cigar Bar. As I was sitting on the deck, enjoying my morning coffee and watching the dolphins swimming about in a feeding frenzy, the guy who owns the bar stepped out on his deck for a smoke and I started up a conversation with him.

Black Dog Beer-Wine-Cigar Bar

“You normally won’t catch me up at this time of day, but I have some work I’m finishing up inside and I wanted to get it done,” he told me.

I asked him if his place was open now. The last time we were in Cedar Key it wasn’t.

“Yeah, it’s open, stop by between 4:30 or 5:00ish.”

Back Deck of the Black Dog Beer-Wine-Cigar Bar

We found out that all restaurants and bars on the key operate on “ish” time, or according to Jimmy Buffet, they are on island time. In fact, our bartender at Steamers said that most of these guys don’t even open the next day if they brought in enough money the previous night. They don’t care about the money, it’s the fish.

We stayed in the Harbor Master Inn, a place that features rooms built over the Cedar Key Bay. We were virtually surrounded by water with windows that gave us a fantastic view of the sunrise. When we sat outside on the deck, we were virtually over the water and the launching area for all the boats was right next to us so we were able to watch all the fishing boats as they came and went each day.

As mentioned, Cedar Key is a small fishing village. The population is about 750 people and all the residents know each other. By the time we left, they all knew Jacqui as well.

While there we rented a pontoon boat for a day. I thought I finally found a place where Jacqui could drive without having to worry about hitting something – the ocean; however, I was soon to find out that wasn’t so, as she barely missed a couple of the channel markers before getting hung up in some crab traps in a restricted area of Cedar Key Bay. We knew it was a restricted area because the guy standing on his deck, blowing a whistle and yelling at Jacqui to get out of there, let us know so – in a not too friendly voice, I might add.

The lovely Jacqui Hesse, a Pirate’s Mistress
Former Pirate Captain Max Fly

 We were in about 1.5 feet of water. We knew that because of the map of Cedar Key Bay, that the boat rental people kindly provided, indicated this. The problem was,  Jacqui ignored the map.

It was at this moment that she relinquished her captainship to Ol’ Max Fly, noted Private Eye and an old sea captain in his younger days. After trimming the motor and jockeying around all the crab traps, he was able to get the boat into the deeper water and out of shooting range of the irate man on his deck.

Big Deck Bar & Grill

 

Big Deck Coconuts

After our sea adventure, we needed some refreshment and Max decided to treat his lady to some island drinks at the Big Deck, a little bar and grill across the street from the Harbor Master Inn. The Big Deck features a picture of two big coconuts in a bikini top painted on the ceiling over the bar. It was placed there for all the old salty dogs who fall off their bar stools.

We spent the evening jawing with some of the locals, who still hadn’t heard about Jacqui’s little seafaring misadventure. Evidently, rumors don’t travel fast on Cedar Key.

 

Death of Brace Martin: The Texas Bounty Hunters

“We sleep so we wake before the heat comes and then we find that outlaw you want to catch,” Shoots plenty said as he stirred up the coals in the fire causing sparks to fly into the dark. Soon flames rose, like wild tongues around the oak logs and licked at the cool night sky.
“Why don’t you shoot that one-eyed mule. A mule is not like a horse. A horse will work with you but a mule just waits until he can kill you. We could eat him and then you can get a horse.”
“I like that mule. He’s smarter than any horse I ever had,” Esben replied.
“You never had an Indian horse. They are smarter than the Wasichus horse.”
“Why are they smarter?”
“Because the Indian is smarter than the Wasichus.”
“Yeah, so who is living on the reservations?”
“Ugh.”
The next day the blazing sun was rapidly emerging in the east and the temperature was rising when Shoots Plenty said, “We should go so we can travel far before the sun is three fists in the sky.”
They ate pemmican and corn while they rode West toward the Chihuahuan Desert
It wasn’t long before the heat was becoming unbearable as the sun beat down mercilessly on the two riders.
“She thinks I am a Lakota Chief,” Shoots Plenty said.
“Who thinks you are a Lakota Chief?”
“That Carmen lady.”
“I wonder how she got that idea.”
“Maybe I am chiefly.”
“Or maybe you lied to her.”
“She said her heart laughs with joy when she is in my presence.”
“Really?”
“That is what she said.”
“I don’t see it.”
“I was in love once, Wasichus. Yes, that is the truth. It was Chief Black Kettle’s daughter, Gray Grass. I said to him, “I love your daughter, will you give her to me, that the small roots of her heart may entangle with mine so that the strongest wind that blows shall never separate them.”
“Yeah, so what happened?”
“He said no. It made me sad. I cried. But you know, Wasichus, the soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.”
“That’s too bad.”
“No, it is a good thing. Later Gray Grass had many little ones. She got fat. Now my heart laughs with joy because I am not with her.”
“What is with you Lakota and your laughing hearts?”
“We were a happy people until your people put us on a reservation. The Great Father promised that we should never be removed we have moved five times. I think you should put the Indians on wheels so that you can move them as you wish.”
They rode slowly for some time while the hot sun burned down on them before Shoots Plenty spoke again, “That meal was damn good. I am gonna think about living with Carmen if it is like this.”
“Can’t you just be quiet? I thought the Lakota liked silence.This is a bad day. The worst day. We have gone 35 miles in this blazing heat through cacti and blistering sands and all you do is talk. Our animals, they have gone without water the entire day,” Esben said, “and the water in our canteens is so hot we cannot drink it and all you do is babble nonsense about some Mexican woman.”
They made their way into the mountains, climbing all the while, going backward on themselves as they followed the sinuous path higher. In places, sections of the hillside had fallen away, leaving a gash of red earth and loose rock which slid dangerously as soon as their mounts hooves were set upon it.
Upon reaching the ridge top they were exhausted and came to a halt and rested. They had met no one, nor seen any evidence of habitation at any time since they had left that morning but they both felt the presence of something or someone.
“There is a cave up ahead with some water. We will rest there, Wasichus.”
“That looks out of place, stay alert,” Esben replied.
“If the Creator put it here, it is in the right place.”
Ahead of them, they saw layers of shale protruding from the summit of a small hill.
The heat in the canyon was intense. At the scent of water, Shoots Plenty’s horse and Esben’s one-eyed mule quickened their pace. Anything that moved had gone for cover and that was what Esben and Shoots Plenty had in mind when they hobbled and watered their mounts and approached the cave. The animals stood with their heads down with their ears laid back to show their unhappiness being near the mouth of the cave.
Shoots Plenty took his lance and poked inside to make certain no rattling-tails were lurking. They entered the cave.
The cave opened out, the sides spreading wide, the ceiling rising high as a church. Light filtered through unseen apertures, the slender fluted shafts falling from above. The sun filtered through the leaves of the nearby overhanging trees.
Then an explosion blew them in the air and everything turned black, leaving nothing but night.
Out of the darkness and into the edge of light Esben thought he saw something come rushing by him, tall and darker than night itself. A blackness inside a blackness. It’s footsteps echoed like thunder and its breath was foul like rotting flesh, eyes as hard as glass.
It disappeared deeper into the shadows of the cave.
The scent came to him, like stagnant water at the edge of a stock pond, with shat, urine, moss, algae, dead fish and fermented vegetation.
Esben opened his eyes. Where was he? How long had he been lying here. His head hurt like hell. What was that he just saw? What happened?
The last thing he remembered was the explosion. Someone must have booby trapped the entrance to that cave and he had a notion it was Brace.
He was unable to see due to the darkness surrounding him. He reached for his holster. His Colt .45 was still secure. He brought his Winchester rifle in with him. Where was it? He groped the damp ground surrounding him until his fingers found the rifle. He chambered a round.
“Shoots Plenty? Shoots Plenty, where are you?”
He hadn’t intended to get the old Indian tied up in this mess. It just happened. Shoots Plenty insisted on riding with him on the way to Artesia. He should have told him no but it was too late now. Shoots Plenty couldn’t see beyond the end of his arm, so he wouldn’t be much good to him anyway.
“I am here, Wasichus.”
“Are you okay?”
“I think so. My head does not feel so good.”
Esben struck a match and saw the form of Shoots Plenty sitting up with his back pressed against the far cave wall.
“I thought you Indians could root out traps. What happened? Are you sure you are an Indian?
“I am an Indian and something like this would never happen to me. I used to have power. Now I have been civilized and old age is creeping up on me.”
“More like old bad habits. Come on, follow me. Something or someone ran past us into this cave.”
“Maybe we should leave. It could be an evil spirit.”
“It’s evil alright, follow me.”
Slowly, Esben rose to his feet, putting his hand against the wall, he ventured deeper into the cave with Shoots Plenty holding onto Esben’s gun belt.
Esben’s back hurt from landing on the cave floor and his forehead was sporting a welt the size of an egg.
They felt someone run past them.
“Stop!” Shoots Plenty yelled.
They heard a shot and then saw a flash from the barrel of a gun before they heard the ricochet of a bullet near their head.
Shoots Plenty dropped to the floor of the cave.
Esben leveled his Winchester in the direction of the fleeing person and fired.
A cry of pain was heard. The shot found its mark.
Esben ratcheted another round into the chamber of his Winchester and started toward the cave entrance in pursuit of the suspect that had just about killed him and Shoots Plenty.
When they reached the opening of the cave they looked around. There was blood on the ground heading toward the stand of Cottonwood trees.
“I do not see nothing, Esben,” Shoots Plenty said.
“He’s gone. Let’s mount up and head to town. I think I know where we can find him.”
Esben found his one-eyed mule, grazing near the opening of the cave next to Shoots Plenty’s horse. They were glad they had the foresight to hobble their mounts before they entered the cave.
They mounted up and headed for the town of Artesia. Someone set them up and they knew who. He would pay.
The stock dogs were barking up a storm as they rode into town. They dismounted at the corral. There were tracks in the dirt and they didn’t want to disturb the ground around the hitch rack. Walking carefully, they surveyed the sandy loam in front of the hitching post. The boot prints in the dust were large, and the left one had a hole in it.
“Most of these hoof prints have been here for a while and are not from freshly shod horses. But this one is,” said Shoots Plenty. A Bay gelding was tied at the end of the hitching post and it was wet with sweat.
“That is his horse,” Shoots Plenty uttered, nodding in the direction of the big Bay horse. “The foot prints are going toward the dance hall. There are splotches of blood on the ground over there and more foot prints between the wagon track.”
They examined the tracks as they went along. After awhile Shoots Plenty said, “This is the way he came back. Someone was bleeding badly. See drippings of blood? See where the grass is flattened down over there?” he said, pointing in the direction of green grass running along the side of the bank building. “Here is where he laid down and it was a time before he could get to his feet. A tough man. Who is this man, Brace?”
“The son of a bitch is a cheating killer. He can take on three men in a fight and win. He is so cold he’s known as the Iceman in parts of this territory. He has no feelings at all, to my knowledge. But this is the end of the trail for him. Come on, follow me.”
As they got to the end of the building, Esben stopped and looked around into the back alley. There were some barrels and wooden crates and discarded trash and he spotted a man stagger around some wooden barrels. It was Brace.
Brace was a large man, bow-legged and barrel chested, with a mass of fiery red hair growing straight out from the top of his shirt and the sides of his hat. His face was broad and sunburnt above a great tangle of beard
Brace continued to stagger into the alley. He went in gun up and out.
“Come outta there or someone is gonna get hurt,” Esben yelled.
“It’s gonna be you, Bounty Hunter,” Brace said cocking back the hammer of his gun.
Esben’s hand went down to his sidearm and he was clearing leather before young Brace could blink. Esben’s .45 caliber round pierced his neck and he dropped to the ground, bleeding out next to the wooden crates and barrels that littered the alley.
Esben took aim and fired again.
Brace let out a scream. He was still alive. He stuck his head out and that was when Esben’s next round went between his eyes. He dropped back behind the barrel. He was dead before he hit the ground.
They ran up to the barrels with their guns at the ready.
Looking down at the prone body, Shoots Plenty asked, “Is that Mr. Brace?”
“What’s left of him. The son of a bitch finally got what he deserved. Let’s go get the Doc and have him haul him outta here.”
“Why does the white man get his medicine man for someone who is dead?”
“Just to confirm he’s dead.”
“I can confirm he is dead. Will we get our money now?”
“As soon as we have his picture taken I’ll send it back to Captain Smith and he will wire us the money. You best not let Carmen know you came into so much money or she may make you buy her a tipi.”
“I will not tell her. Let us go and get that medicine man.”

The Three Amigo Cheeseheads Ride Again!

Sunday, June 25th was another exciting day for local Cheeseheads, Max Fly, Private Eye, and his main squeeze Jacqui and fellow cheesehead, Cynde Hesse-Prodgers. They fired up the ol’ Ford Tractor and headed north to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and of course Rocco’s Pub in Jasper, GA, home of the World’s Best Chili Pie, as well as the friendliest wait staff north of Tampa Bay. One of the pleasures of living in Georgia is the opportunity you get to meet people from all over the world and today we started out meeting a waitress who moved to Georgia from the Seattle, Washington area and she was friendly and a very efficient server!

Dancing Girls Now Performing at Rocco’s Pub, Jasper Georgia

We ordered some wine and a little brandy to put out the fire and wash down the Red Hot Chili Pie while listening to the Blackwell Country Jam Band play some of the Outlaw country songs of David Allen Coe, Merl Haggard, and George Straight (Is he an outlaw?) as well as tunes from other great country artists. We were able to enjoy this music with a local motorcycle club while a young dancing girl provided some lively entertainment, twirling as the music played.

Harley’s at Rocco’s Pub, Jasper GA

 

We then piled in the tractor, weaving our way around all the Harley’s scattered about Rocco’s parking lot and headed east to Ball Ground. They said I was driving. We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Feather’s Edge Vineyards. Proprietor, David Boone was still there, pouring his magic nectar. It is obvious that David has done it right, setting up a comfortable porch and backyard area to taste his great wines while his guests engaged in a little “Toe Tapping” to the gentle sounds of Surrender Hill. There was even some cigar smokin’ going on in the back.

David Boone Proud Proprietor of Feather’s Edge Vineyards, Ball Ground Georgia is busy serving one of his satisfied customers, Cynde Hesse-Prodgers, one of the Three Amigo Cheeseheads

Now I have to tell you something, if you haven’t heard this duo, Surrender Hill, sing, you are missing out on a real treat.

Surrender Hill performing in the hills of North Georgia at Feather’s Edge Vineyard, Ball Ground Georgia

The couple, Robin Dean Salmon and Afton Seekins,  met in 2013 in Northern Arizona while performing music in many of the same clubs. Both are singer-songwriters.

Their paths crossed often and a friendship ensued which led to a collaboration not only in music but in life. In March of 2014, Robin and Afton started writing and performing together and figured they might as well get hitched. Find out more about them at www.surrenderhill.com. By the way, Max couldn’t leave without buying one of their CD’s which he now plays in the Ebony Pony while he is blowing down the highway, doing things his way.

It wasn’t long before Jacqui said, “Something is smoking behind us and it’s smelling mighty good, and, no Max, it’s not you.”

Smokin’ Tony’s BBQ. The best BBQ in the North Georgia Mountains.

Pretty soon we located what was causing all the smoke. It was none other than North Georgia’s Smokin’ Tony’s BBQ!!! Tony and wife, Brenda Sweatt, were putting together some mighty delicious fixin’s for the folks sittin’ around drinking the best wine in Georgia while tapping their toes to the mellow sounds of Surrender Hill. Tony said he’d be happy to cater your event no matter how small. Well, he did refuse to deliver two sandwiches to my house, but, anything a bit larger than that, and he can accommodate y’all! Go to their website at www.smokintonysbbqga.com. You’re gonna drool on your keyboard, I guarantee it!

Didn’t I say somewhere that one of the pleasures of living in Georgia is the opportunity you get to meet people from all over the world? Well, Mr. Robin Dean Salmon started his life’s journey in South Africa and Ms. Afton Seekins started kickin’ and squalling up yonder in Alaska. They are now splitting their time between Atlanta and Nashville. Of course Ol’ Tony and Brenda live right down the road in Ball Ground and, of course, the Three Cheesehead Amigos are from Wisconsin.

As usual, the Three Cheesehead Amigos had a superb time enjoying great wine, food, and entertainment in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in good ol’ Georgia, US of A! We plan on making this trip a bit more often now that we have the tractor up and running again. See y’all soon, your friend, Max Fly, Private Eye

Feather’s Edge Gift Shop 10061 Ball Ground Hwy, Ball Ground, GA 30107 (770) 735-6923