Randy’s Two Cents: A True-Life Reality Show

WauwatosaNOW blogger Randy Anderson passed away last month at age 50. The following is a tribute from his friend Dianne Crowley.

They say that everything happens for a reason. In this particular case, we are still searching for the reason, but have already seen the amazing after effects of the unexpected and untimely passing of friend Randy Anderson.

To back up a little, in my return to Wisconsin going on 10 years ago I gained a new appreciation for our wonderful culture, including the corner bars inherent to our area. Believe it or not, bars and taverns as we have here are not to be found in any other part of the country.

When I finally settled in Wauwatosa, fate eventually took me to Colonel Harts, an unpretentious and simple establishment with cold beer, good juke box, amusing and knowledgeable bartenders and a down to earth yet diverse clientele.

Over the past few years the core group of patrons has eventually gathered and grown to know each other well. Bartenders are on a first name basis, and it’s not uncommon to sit down and find your beverage of choice already magically on the bar waiting for you. (On half price pizza weekends, I simply tell Jerrod that I want a pizza and he automatically puts in the pepperoni, mushroom and onion without another word.)

In this world of reality shows, we started reflecting on how our little microcosm would be the quintessential reality program. With a vast cast of characters, it would rival anything on television today. Young and old, professional and blue collar we are all together in this place where your job title doesn’t matter and we can all laugh about the common bonds we share through our little neighborhood haven. We have the Very Devoted Married Couple, The Guy Who Says What He Thinks, The Sassy Mouthed Bartender Who Can Chug a Bottle of Beer in 10 Seconds, The Guy Who Once Danced in His Underwear, The Guy with the Pet Spider, The Italian Randy, Shannon the Owner, Vickie the Hairdresser, Gebby the Charming Tattooed Bartender, the Mortgage Lady with the Boyfriend in Colorado and of course BRI-STER, the guy who always yells “BRI-STER!” As well as so many others that are very special guest stars and regular cast members…bartenders and patrons alike.

After Randy left us – without warning and to the great sorrow of so many – we realized that he was indeed one of the stars of our cast. We all knew him, and he had touched all of our lives in one way or another. His presence was constant, as was his quirky sense of humor. He reached out to everyone who came through the door, old and new, in friendship. We will remember the certain cigar he consistently smoked, how he would look up with “What?”, and how he would always ensure that our grand elders Ruth and Lee would always get special escort when they were ready to depart for the evening. We knew that Randy was a devoted father – he glowed when he and son Ben won the Colonel Hart’s Chili Cook-off, and proudly showed photos of daughter Kate. What many of us didn’t know was that humble Randy was very active in his church and had in fact personally cooked Easter breakfast for the entire congregation every single Easter morning for 25 years. He was always willing to listen, and always had an interest in the people around him. Many people came back to our special place because of Randy.

So, as one key member of our cast departs, amazingly it has brought us all closer and given us new appreciation for each other and what we have. Every one of us with our quirks and stories – the reality show of our lives would not be the same without each and every one of those characters. Thank you Randy for being a part of our reality. We still look for you at the end of the bar; you are missed. Cheers.

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