Lining a good cave
Editor. Packerland Pride
Valuable items can be discovered throughout the fan cave of Steve ‘Bummer’ Weix, but those items that mean the most to Bummer are those with a personal touch.
Sure, he’s got the Brett Favre autographed helmet, the Reggie White autographed jersey, but it’s the ‘Packer pew,’ the painted, stickered keg signed by numerous tailgate passers-by, the personal photo of Favre in a snowstorm and especially the jerseys worn by his kids that no longer fit that bring the greatest joy to Weix. The jerseys each had their own retirement ceremony, with notes and stickers commemorating the rite of passage.
“I always collected stuff, even as a kid,” ‘Bummer’ said. “I’m sentimental. A lot of the stuff is not worth a lot, but it means a lot to me.
“I’ll take a picture, like that picture of Favre from our seats (in section 129 of the south end zone), and I’ll frame it. Why I take so many pictures is I want my kids to have something about me and our times together. After my dad died there weren’t a lot of pictures of us. I was the youngest and it really dropped off after my dad died. My mom is wonderful, but she had her hands full taking care of us without him. So saving tickets and programs and sentimental jerseys means a lot to me and my kids.”
Steve was just four years old when his father passed.
The basement is filled to the rafters with Milwaukee Brewers’, Wisconsin Badgers’ and especially Green Bay Packers’ memorabilia.
“People ask me all the time why I have the whole place covered with this stuff, but otherwise it would all be sitting in an attic. I might as well enjoy it. It brings back good memories. I can look at almost anything down here and tell you when I got it. (My first item) was probably my stoplight. I was the top salesman for Tom-Wat products back in seventh grade so I got first pick of the prizes. Remember that (cardboard) suitcase you had to carry around to sell those products?” Bummer paused in the reverie for a chuckle.
“That ketchup bottle over there came from Favre’s steakhouse. We forgot to bring ketchup and the manager went over and got us a bottle. I thought it was cool, so I rinsed it out and saved it. Just stupid stuff like that, I’ve got down here. Someone will ask why you’ve got a Heinz bottle here and you tell them the funny story.”
Of course, the stoplight didn’t come accessorized, but Bummer quickly took care of that. He put a – what else – Badgers sticker over the red on top, Packers over the green on bottom and Brewers by default over the center yellow.
“I added the stickers,” He said. “My wife, Jo, probably thinks I’m sticker crazy. I’ve got stickers all over everything. I took that stoplight with me everywhere, even to college.”
Not that everything in the cave only carries sentimental value. In addition to some of the aforementioned items, he notes a mini-helmet his brother, Mike, filled with signatures after the Super Bowl XXXI triumph for a birthday present. Mike has a collection of helmets and the stories behind them that fill Bummer with awe.
A unique idea hit Bummer in 2003, bring a mini-binder to games and fill a 3-by-5 card with the names and signatures of the guests. One card for each game, a veritable drive down Memory Lane with each flip of a card.
Bummer’s greatest personal Lambeau stop on Memory Lane is the 1996 NFC Championship game where Green Bay qualified for Super Bowl XXXI by shellacking the Carolina Panthers 30-13.
“That was the by far the best, most-exciting game,” he stated emphatically. “Reggie White was running around after the game. I only got the chance to go because my brother (John) ended up hurting his knee and had to have surgery.”
Back on the homefront, you don’t have to wait until you get into the basement to feel the transition into another world. Lining the narrow basement stairwell is a veritable treasure trove of Favre momentos.
The whole clan loved to watch Brett Favre on the field, the gunslinger playing a large role in returning the Packers to respectability after decades of dicey play. The crew used four different family members to make sure they could score the 32 tickets needed for Saturday’s induction of Favre into the Packers Hall of Fame.
“I just enjoyed the way he played,” Weix noted. “He seemed to fit in the mold of Wisconsinites. I never got a chance to meet him, but I just feel he could fit into any bar in Wisconsin.
“It was always special to watch him at Lambeau. Going to games as a kid, you had a 50-50 shot of going to a win. That changed in the 90’s. Majic (Don Majkowski) got hurt and Favre took the reins. You always felt you had a real good shot they were going to win.
“The highlight I remember the most was when he played after his father died. Being someone who lost his own father, I can’t imagine trying to play right after that happened and play so well. It just gives me goosebumps to think of how well he played.”
Weix’s son, E.J. – named after Bummer’s father Emil– broke in with a surprised tone, “You do have goosebumps!”
He rubbed his hand down his father’s arm to be sure.
Bummer smiled at his son, and went on, “It was always exciting to watch him play out there.
“The other exciting thing is all of us getting together as a family (at the Favre induction). It’s been a tough couple of years with losing my brother (John in 2012). His wife had liver problems and was waiting for a transplant for a few years. She got her transplant after John passed and it’s going really well. (Favre’s) celebration is kind of our celebration.”
The team is a rallying point for the whole family, ingrained ever since Bummer’s father and his brother Mark secured tickets in the early 1960’s.
“My dad was at the Ice Bowl with Uncle Mark (Weix) and Jack Angus. I’m not sure who the fourth was.” Bummer noted. “It’s cool because that end zone where we have our tickets is the same one where Bart Starr scored the winning touchdown.
“We’ve been brought up to be Packers’ fans, ever since we were little kids. I took my kids to training camp and brought my niece and nephew. The Packers rode their bike. They were so excited.
“Sunday is not quite a Sunday if the Packers aren’t on. We’re a Packer family.”