Club Pop House - Beloit, WI - 1941-1973
Preserving the memory! (Copyright Joe J. Accardi, 2005-2013)

October 2022
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More than music…
Filed under: General
Posted by: Joe @ 2:33 pm

The Pop House started out as a social gathering spot for teenagers back in 1946.  It was mainly a hangout for Beloit College students until the late 1950’s and into the 1960’s when it became a haven for high school students.  You had to be a sophomore to get in.  To keep an orderly establishment, George issued membership cards and, for a time, keys.  When you received your Pop House membership card and key, you pretty much entered utopia.

The guys who worked behind the grill carried special Grillmen membership cards.  Thanks to Jim Wilson who sent me an image of his Grillmen card.  Jim also sent an image of a blank “Collegiate” Pop House membership card.  If you still have a regular Pop House membership card, I’d like to get an image of it.  Let me know.

Pop House Grillmen Card
(Image courtesy of Jim Wilson)

Until live music began in the late fifties, sports, record jams, and special events dominated the Pop House social scene.  There was the annual Chili Festival involving a cook-off and culminating in a coronation of the Chili Queen and her Court.  George enjoyed sponsoring quirky ceremonial award presentations almost as much the competitions themselves.  If you know if this is a Chili Queen and Court, tell me about it… and identlfy these lovely ladies.

Chili Queen & Court ??
(Stankewitz collection)

There was also a hamburger eating contest.  Here’s a picture taken just before the competition started.  Thanks to Kevin Schmale for identifying the guys in the photo.  He believes Floyd “Chico” Wells was the ultimate winner.  By the way… Kevin told me about the t-shirt he’s wearing with TOTTS printed on the front.  There should be at least ten of you who know what that stands for… :)

Burger Eating Contest
Front: Dwight Hall, Floyd “Chico” Wells
Middle: Casey Singles, Kevin Schmale, Tim Miller 
Back: ??, John Hildebrandt, Dan Taylor
(Stankewitz collection)

The Pop House sponsored a number of teams and sporting events.  George’s brother Vince, who eventually had Vince’s Sport Shop, was a great athelete himself.  In high school, Vince excelled in basketball and golf.  In May 1946, Beloit High School’s golf team preserved its Big Eight Conference championship with Vince having the overall best score of 76.  The following year Beloit High’s basketball team, on their way to the state tournament, beat Madison East 45-38 with Vince leading the scoring with 14 points.

Just a couple years later in 1949 while playing for the Pop House team, Vince led scoring in the citywide recreational basketball league with 32 points and held the league lead with a total of 80 points.  The next closest point total for second place was 51, held by Bill Merkle playing for the Snack Shop.

Pop House basketball, and softball teams competed in recreational leagues throughout the years it was open.  Jim Wilson told me about a Pop House summer league team called the Pop Tops.  If you know about the Pop Tops, please share your memories.  Don’t know if this 1960s-era picture is of the Pop Tops, but at least one person in it is holding a bat and glove.  I think I even recognize a few of the faces… in the front row of bikes furthest from the camera, it looks like Bruce “Rudy” Rudolph and Chris Martin.  In the second row of bikes, with his head (partially obscured by a mirror) turned toward the riders behind him and wearing a Beloit Catholic Basketball t-shirt may be Leon Scott.  Is that Pat Monahan and John Zabel toward the back just in front of the railroad signal post?  Do you recognize anyone else?

Pop Tops ??
(Stankewitz collection)

George organized the Pop House Collegiate Olympics that pitted high school and college students against one another in competitions such as softball, basketball, golf, tennis, canoe racing, and bike racing.  The Pop House sponsored city leagues as well.  In March 1957 the Pop House basketball squad were the National League champs in the citywide basketball championship, only to lose to the Iron Works team (the Basket Tippers) who won title for the American League.

The annual Turkey Bowl touch football game, held on Thanksgiving morning, is a tradition that is still carried on to this day.  In 2006, the 59th annual Turkey Bowl competition, this time between The Mouse and Hog Cabin, was held at the Beloit Boys and Girls Club Field.  Prior to the game a breakfast was held where the tradition of crowning a Turkey Bowl Queen and Court took place.  Then there was short parade before the game where Vince Stankewitz served as game commissioner.

Three generations of Beloiters continue to remember the good times they shared at this place called The Pop House.  Hopefully this blog and subsequent book will help keep those memories alive.

14 Responses to “More than music…”

  1. Dick Querry BMHS 1964 Says:
    Chili Queen and her court picture. Class of 1964 and 1966. Top row from left: Judy Jensen BMHS 1964, Susan Choudoir BCHS 1964, Janet Pulaski BCHS 1964 and Mary Egdorf (??) BCHS 1966. Bottom row from left: Kristin Freeman BCHS 1964. Maureen Griffin BCHS 1964 and Linda Utynek BMHS 1964
  2. Joe Says:
    Thanks, Dick!
  3. Joe Says:
    Sonja (Bjorklund Szokody) Rabe (BMHS ‘68) confirmed that Lee Scott and Pat Monahan are indeed two of the guys on motorcycles. She also identified the dark-haired guy on the bike in front of Pat Monahan as John Card (BMHS ‘67). Didn’t know who the girl riding on the back was. Thanks, Sonja!
  4. Joe Says:
    If you have trouble seeing the photo details online, right-click your mouse over the photo and save to your computer to view in whatever photo viewing software you use.
  5. Jim Magnanenzi Says:
    The Chili Queen court. Top row on the right is not Mary Egdorf. A very familiar face. Someone will know. My sister Joan was on the 1960 court and has pictures. I’ll try to get them to you.
  6. Joe Says:
    Pat (Benedict) Starr wrote this in an email to me: Hi, I frequented the Pop House with my friends in 1963 and 1964. In case you haven’t yet learned who some of the girls are in two of the photos, I can tell you some. In the photo asking about Chili Queen…I don’t remember if that is what this is or not, but top row, far left is Judy Jensen and far right is Jean Hansen. Bottom row, left I believe to be Gloria Hanson, and right is Linda Utynek. All of these graduated with me in 1964.
  7. Joe Says:
    In a comment posted under another blog entry, Tom Staack wrote: The picture of the unknown person in the back row of the hamburger eating contest is Bill Reinert, a fellow classmate & best friend from the class of “69,” the class of no self redeeming social values according to Larry Hopper from the no class of “68.”
  8. clark moriarty Says:
    The picture with the bikes bike (1) BRUCE RUDOLF and CHRIS MARTIN BIKE (2) JERRY CHEADLE and JOHN LOSEY The fellow with the ball glove and bat is the infamous BOBBY WILLIAMS.
  9. Steve Heidt Says:
    Hamburger contest:  Back, upper left with rooming house reach, Charlie Loucks.  Back middle with glasses, Jim Corcoran. Spring 1969. Wells won with about 11 burgers.
  10. Joe Says:
    Thanks Steve.
  11. Joe Says:
    Anyone remember how many burgers John Hildebrandt and Rosemary Lee ate to win their respective divisions in the 1970 hamburger eating contest?
  12. Carol Krull Spitznagel Says:
    My husband, David Spitznagel, was a grillman in the early 50’s. He was the inventor of the “Smiley Special”.  It was cheese, mayonaise, tomato, and lettuce on white bread. It was started because Catholics didn’t eat meat on Fridays. So it’s basically a cheeseburger without the meat (ungrilled)… I have eaten a few of his other concoctions in our 43 years of marriage and some aren’t so hot.  hahaha.  He’s too old to play with knives now… :))))
  13. Jill Bittrick Torres Says:
    First time viewing this website, BOY does this bring back the BEST memories growing up LIVING at the POPHOUSE. I remember the hamburger eating contests, I actually was in one in 1969 (females ONLY), topped off the burgers with Dairy Queen Ice Cream…THOSE WERE THE DAYS……..
  14. Joe Says:
    Thanks for your comment Jill.