This Steg’s for You

By Clarence George on August 19, 2014
This Steg’s for You
Put down that arugula! There's a Steg with your name on it. It's cold. And it's frosty.

Tired of being a 97-pound weakling, getting sand kicked in your face, losing the girl, not getting the girl? Listen to Tony…

“He was a wise man who invented beer.”—Plato

Funny how the mind works. And mine is particularly quirky. I guess it was a recent article by colleague Sembello C. Hasson on 1930s heavyweight contender Tony Galento having once been the unexpected pride of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in combination with Shaquille O’Neal’s reincarnation as ubiquitous pitchman. By the way, if I see Shaq gyrate one more time to “a little shake, a little tingle,” I won’t be held responsible for my actions.

Long story short, a memory was triggered of a vintage postcard featuring a relatively svelte Tony, accompanied by a bottle, a can, and a six-pack of Stegmaier beer, a product of the Stegmaier Brewery of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The caption, “The Beer That Made Galento Famous.” A variety of pre-printed messages appeared on the back. One reads, “Best Wishes Pal — from me and Steg!” accompanied by an unreasonable facsimile of Tony’s signature. But my favorite is, “Dear [insert name of recipient] It’s ‘what’s inside that counts’ and you can always count on Stegmaier. Sincerely, Tony Galento.” I love that “Sincerely,” don’t you? I don’t know how many letters “Two Ton” wrote, but I doubt he ever closed one with such bourgeois respectability.

Nowadays, sports figures do print and TV ads for watches, cars, body powder, and athletic footwear (known as sneakers in my day). But not much pertaining to nutrition. I wait in vain for Roger Federer to tout the many benefits of Slim Jim, “the only known cure for male spice loss.” And what I wouldn’t do to see Maria Sharapova replace Rocky Graziano as spokesman for Ragu. Didn’t Rocky make commercials for Ragu? Well, we’ll say he did. All respect to the former middleweight champ and his thespian talents — despite his characteristically modest disclaimer, “When I got into television commercials, I had to take a crash course in reading. I was 32 years old and I couldn’t read the cue cards” — but he can’t hold a candle to the sixth-best woman tennis player in the world. Sales would skyrocket if that bikinied blini would appear immersed up to her tender armpits in a gently simmering vat of Ragu spaghetti sauce. Cue cards? She needn’t say a word. The merest hint that some of that particular batch could wind up on supermarket shelves would send men of all ages, races, and marital statuses racing to stores both local and regional.

Tony was therefore a man ahead of his time, a sensitive and progressive nutritionist in an era of benighted ruffians. A student of Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush, Tony had emblazoned on his heart the wise physician’s, “Beer is a wholesome liquor…it abounds with nourishment.” As rum was to Billy Bones, beer was “meat and drink, and man and wife,” to Two Ton. He opened beer bottles with his teeth, he sold the stuff, he trained on it, he quaffed it between rounds. It was there — right there — at the Beef Trust Tournament, there when he knocked Al Ettore through the ropes, stopped Nathan Mann in the second, knocked Joe Louis to the canvas in the third, hospitalized Lou Nova following “one of the most disgraceful fights staged since the days of the barroom brawls.” There through 16 years, 112 fights, 80 wins, and 57 knockouts.

Tired of being a 97-pound weakling, getting sand kicked in your face, losing the girl, not getting the girl? Listen to Tony, and drink Stegmaier beer. And it’s still available. Oh yes. True, the Stegmaier label was sold to the Lion Brewery some 40 years ago, but the beer that made Tony famous remains most gratifyingly in production.

Put down that arugula! There’s a Steg with your name on it. It’s cold. And it’s frosty.

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  1. Clarence George 02:02pm, 08/29/2014

    Always a pleasure when you drop by, Norm.

    I much appreciate the offer, but I just can’t stand the looks of a Bull Terrier.  Anyway, it’s just not feasible for me to have any kind of dog at present.  I used to be minimally acquainted with Patricia Cornwell, the crime writer.  She loves English Bulldogs, and rescues and gives them away.  She offered me one, but I just wasn’t in a position to accept.  By the way, $800 is very low for a dog these days (Nelson cost about $300 in 1972, which would be around $1,700 today).  I once saw a French Bulldog in a pet store…the asking price was $4,000.  Anyway, I completely envy you for all the English Bulldogs in your life.

  2. Norm Marcus 02:16am, 08/29/2014

    Hey Clarence- Had to get in on this conversation. I’ve owned and bred bulldogs for the last 40 years. Have two red and whites now. All true, the sweetest, laziest dogs you can ever own.
    Amazingly I also owned a white bull terrier with a black eye patch named Buster, after the the former champ Buster Douglas. He looked like a big white mouse with that egg shaped head! I knew I was in trouble when the breeder I bought him from asked me if I was sure I wanted such a breed. But I fell in love with his looks. They are solid, strong and stubborn dog. Felt like George Patton walking down the street with him. Bull Terriers, half bulldog and half white terrier.The strength of a bulldog with the energy of a terrier! Not a good combination! Had him for 12 years and cried when he passed.
    If you ever want to get GEORGE PATTON’s dog just let me know. I’ll hook you up with the best breeder in Pa. Not near as expensive as bull dogs today. You can get a bull terrier pup for around $8oo.oo. But they need a good trainer and road work just like any good athlete. Luckily all the aggressiveness has been bred out of them over the decades. But they still need a strict upbringing. So you get the look of a gladiator but the friendliness of a big baby.
    Their looks put people off but if you love dogs and can handle a knucklehead, a bull terrier is for you. They call them the “White Cavalier!”

  3. Clarence George 12:16pm, 08/19/2014

    My brother and I once saw a Neapolitan Mastiff on the street, and literally couldn’t believe our eyes.

  4. Eric 09:40am, 08/19/2014

    I actually thought about getting a Bull Terrier, but like the English bulldog, they are a little too expensive for my wallet. I wanted the red/brown and white or the tri-color version, never have cared for the all white version of the breed. Already have a male and female dog, and Bull Terriers are known to be same sex agressive towards other dogs. They are a bundle of energy and aren’t for someone who wants a lapdog. Bull terriers are bit odd looking, but the Neapolitan Mastiff is the champ in that category IMO.

  5. Clarence George 09:08am, 08/19/2014

    About the only thing an English Bulldog is good for is decoration—wonderfully lazy animals.  They eat, they sleep…yeah, that’s about it.

    I, too, love dogs.  There some breeds, though, I can’t warm up to.  The Bull Terrier, for instance, with that shark-like head—that is one ugly dog.

    When I was a kid, we had an Old English Sheepdog by the name of Nelson.  What a character!  A perv, actually.  He used that big wet nose of his to exuberantly investigate whatever cushion a woman had gotten up from.  My mother found this mortifying, though I was terribly amused.

  6. Eric 08:47am, 08/19/2014

    Tony should’ve had an English bulldog sitting around his bar for decoration. Remember the mob bosses in “Good Fellas” and “The Pope of Greenwich Village” both had English bulldogs. Must be an Italian thing. Big time dog lover, and adore all breeds, even mutts.

  7. Clarence George 07:44am, 08/19/2014

    The English Bulldog is my favorite breed.  Galento is indeed a great name for one, as is Two Ton.

  8. Eric 07:19am, 08/19/2014

    I figured Tony for a Schaefer or Ballantine man. Maybe indulge in a Black Label or two when he was running low on cash. “Funny how the mind works.” Looking at Tony in that beer ad made me think what a fine name Galento would be for an English bulldog. Stallone named his bullmastiff after Dick Butkus, although I think Butkus was more of a rottweiler in temperment.

  9. Clarence George 03:56pm, 08/18/2014

    As would I, Irish, as would I.  You paint a vivid and appetizing picture.  I love German food, and their sausages are impossible to beat.

  10. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 03:35pm, 08/18/2014

    Clarence George-How about this while it’s still Summertime in the city…..a foot long brat on a roll topped with Lowensenf extra hot mustard and some nice tangy kraut with a man sized portion of sweet and sour German tater salad on the side and oh yes….that ice cold, frosty Steg as a chaser! I’m thinking Tony would go back for seconds or even toids!

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