Blind Butch

The neighborhood of Goosetown was special in the 60s, not much of it now remains. It was hidden in a small corner of Wheeling. Big Wheeling Creek on the east and railroad tracks on the west defined it.

Eleventh Street, a very long set of steps, and one small side street were the only normal ways in.

Once you were into Goosetown, you found a small village with one bar called the The Spot, huge playground & ball-field (Tunnel Green), and one store we called Blind Butch’s.

Blind Butch ran this local store on his own. It was connected to his house and in the evening after the store closed you could sometimes hear him inside listening to TV – no lights on in the house. Rumors were that Butch could tell the difference between a one dollar bill and a five just by touch. A rumor he encouraged. Nobody ever tried to cheat Butch though.

One really important fact that didn’t escape us under-18 kids was that Butch couldn’t read a draft card. If you were tall enough, and someone whose voice Butch didn’t recognize, you were the one volunteered to go in and try to buy some beer.

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“A quart of Stroh’s, Butch” in the deepest voice you could muster.

Butch would reach over and touch the top of your head. If Butch considered you tall enough you got the beer. A hot summer night with six or seven of us passing around a cold quart of Stroh’s – now that was living. Beer has never tasted so good, it was one of our first tastes of a success

Sometimes at night Butch would go out, often up to the The Leap on McColloch Street (instead of The Spot which was just down the street). When he did go, the Goosetown kids took turns walking Butch to The Leap. His right hand resting on your shoulder as he walked up the Eleventh Street steps.

“How many steps Butch?” we would yell when we saw him stepping onto McColloch Street.

“One hundred and twelve!” Butch would yell back.

Then into The Leap, to spend the evening with friends.

It was good to know the number never changed. It was good to know we took care of our own.


This recollection was originally featured on the Memories of Wheeling Facebook Page