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A SNAP Tiddlywinks teams converge on Sussex for
Journal Sentinel - Thursday, February 15,
Author: LUKE KLINK,
Special to the Journal Sentinel
Whooooaaahh, Nellie! The VFW Post's 20th annual Tiddlywinks
Tournament was a real barn-burner, and tiddlywinkers from
throughout the state rode into Sussex
recently to shoot their winks.
Thirty-six teams, with players from Milwaukee, Muskego,
Madison, Hartford, West Bend, Colgate and other tiddlywink
meccas across Wisconsin made Sussex their
hub during the recent two-day event.
The tournament was at the Horne Mudlitz VFW Post 6377
building, also home to Hella's Restaurant
, N63-W24375 Main St.
It lacked pricey free-agents, teams that relocate every
other year on owners' whims, and players who play both
offense and defense but the tournament did have a roaring
With more than 250 people attending the first day, vehicles
overflowed from the parking lot onto the shoulder of Main
St. in front of the restaurant .
After the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner," play
commenced Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Teams with names like 5 Guys Named Dick, The Magnificent
Five and We're Here for the Beer stood poised and ready to
"We're the team of the '90s and we were the team of the
'80s," said Dave Bullock, a member of the team 5 Guys Named
Dick, which took first place in the tournament and took home
the championship trophy and $150 cash prize. "We win it
every even-numbered year 1990, 1992 and now 1996.
"We used to be a little more wild in our younger days, but
we're aging more gracefully now," he stated.
His teammates were Duane Downing, West Bend; Jeff Kluender,
Adell; John Sadowski, Muskego; and Kevin Schein, Milwaukee.
The 5 Guys Named Dick team has been competing in the
tournament since 1986 and has developed some fierce
rivalries during this time.
"Five Guys Named Dick are our arch-rivals," said Greg
Rintelman, Colgate resident and a member of The Magnificent
Five team. "We do this every year because we're the best."
Rounding out The Magnificent Five are Steve Brahm, Colgate;
Dave Herbert, Sussex ; Scott Kloss, Town of
Pewaukee; and Greg Zyla, Sussex .
"It's a riot," said Zyla. "This is plain, old-fashioned,
clean fun. I've got a trophy room filled with trophies from
this thing. We win very often.
"We meet all the people on these teams right here, about
once each year," he stated.
The Magnificent Five has had a number of different lineups
in previous tournaments and now averages about 12 years of
experience among current shooters, Zyla said.
He said that, in previous tiddlywinks competitions, teams
have come from Minnesota, California, New York and Canada.
The Magnificent Five and 5 Guys Named Dick were among a
number of teams sporting team shirts reminiscent of ones
seen at area bowling alleys.
Zyla stated that shooters on his team sport personalized
tiddlywink shirts to show team spirit; Rintelman said the
shirts help intimidate opponents.
This tiddlywinks tournament officially began in 1977 when
Archie Johnson, the bar manager for the VFW post, wanted
something that might help members shake the winter doldrums.
Johnson decided to develop a tournament for players of
tiddlywinks, a game he used to pass time while stationed in
the South Pacific during World War II.
The tournament this year was held in honor of Johnson, who
died in December at 77.
The tiddlywink playing field is a 3-foot-by-3-foot carpet,
and a 3-inch high tumbler-style glass, placed in the center
of the carpet, is the target for shooters.
Each team has five shooters and through five rounds,
shooters from each team alternate turns using a plastic disc
or wink to chip four smaller winks, one at a time, into the
Shooters have three opportunities to hit their mark as long
as the wink does not land somewhere off of the play field
with play beginning from one of four corner pads that are 15
inches from the glass.
A wink in the glass on the first shot is worth 10 points, on
the second is worth five points and on the third is worth
one point. A perfect score for a frame is 40 points and for
a game is 200 points.
In round play, a good individual score is about 100 points
and a good team score usually runs from 300 to 400 points.
At the end of five rounds, the team with the higher total
The tiddlywink teams each paid a $25 entrance fee to play.
Teams remain in the tournament's championship round until
the first loss, which drops the team into the consolation
round. A second loss knocks the team out of the tournament.
First-place tiddlywink teams in the championship and
consolation rounds win trophies and prize money. Teams
finishing second in either round win prize money.
Prizes are based on the number of teams that participate.
Post Service Commander LeRoy Eichorst said the tournament
has evolved from a money-making event for the post into a
He said the several hundred dollars raised from each
tournament are donated to the VA Hospital, in Milwaukee, and
to several local organizations.
"Everyone seems to enjoy it," he said. "Some of these people
haven't seen each other since last year and it gives them a
chance to get together."
A few of the youngest and first-time shooters were on a team
called We're Here for the Beer.
"I've never played this game in my life ever before," said
Michael Parker, a Milwaukee resident. "It's a game everyone
else played as a kid and now, after 20 years, it's a
Other members of We're Here for the Beer were Paal Lonnebotn,
Madison; Craig Podlesnik, Milwaukee; Linda Wielgus,
Hartford; and Scott Witlacil, Hartford.
Anne Gibert, a Town of Richfield resident, knew some of the
competitors and came to the tournament as a spectator. "I've
never been to a tiddlywinks competition before," she stated.
"It's really exciting and it looks like a lot of fun."
"It's a riot. This is plain, old-fashioned, clean fun. I've
got a trophy room filled with trophies from this thing."
Sussex VFW welcomes new
members in new space
more accommodating home on Waukesha Avenue
Village of Sussex - Christmas music
cheerily played in the new home of the Horne
Mudlitz VFW Post 6377 on a recent December
afternoon. Sunshine poured in the post's main
room, and goodie bags waited packed for children
attending the post's annual Christmas party held
The new space is much more comfortable for
6377 members. And there are still the familiar
pieces that have been part of the local VFW,
including the original bar, a mainstay and proud
display of coins, medals and other veterans'
memorabilia encased in a clear coat on top.
"It's a lot nicer than that old foxhole we
were in on Main Street," said member and Korean
War veteran, Art Rude.
The Horne Mudlitz post has actually been in
the new space at W232 N6342 Waukesha Ave. since
fall. With the help of Mike Judson from Judson
Real Estate and attorney Larry Knauf, the post
was able to find a more suitable home. The
former post was held in the basement of the Wee
Welcome Inn on Main Street.
"We were in the basement for nearly 20
years and some of the members could no
longer make the trip," down the stairs said
Rude, and the ladies auxiliary years ago chose
to start meeting at the library, he added. "Now
we can share the new space."
The new post is obviously bigger and better.
A former heating and cooling business,
there is a large, enclosed garage area in back
that has plenty of room for post meetings and
possibly a new location for the annual tiddly
winks tournament that attracts hundred of
But the most important message the VFW 6377
members wanted to share today is, "We're not
"We're looking for new members with the new
space. It's hard to get members today," said
Post Commander Chuck Eberhardt, now in his 80s,
who has been with the post since the 1960s.
The Sussex post isn't the only one that has
been struggling to attract new members. Steve
Lawrence, state adjutant quartermaster for VFW
Department of Wisconsin, said the problem is
"We are having some problems recruiting new
members from recent wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan. A lot of it has to do with veterans
coming back and just wanting to get back to
their families," he said.
Lawrence said another problem is that members
many recruiters were World War II and Korean War
veterans, and they are passing on. "The Vietnam
veterans haven't taken over because they are
still working full time, for the most part. A
lot of times, it takes someone to explain what
we do for veterans and their families," he
explained. Veterans organizations are
instrumental in helping veterans secure medical
benefits, lobby for veterans' rights and offer
other means of support.
Membership in the VFW has been declining
since the mid-1990s, "when we started to suffer
the losses of the World War II veterans. That
rate is now much higher; 1,000 a day are dying,"
But Eberthardt, a Korean War veteran, and his
comrades are hoping the new location will revive
the local post with some fresh membership in the
new, larger space. They hope Post 6377 doesn't
die off with the older generations.
Participating in the Memorial Day parade since
its inception in 1946, helping local veterans
and being a part of the community, like the
annual Christmas party, Horne Mudlitz Post 6377
is a staple of Sussex.
"We need these younger people to get involved
and know what the post is about. They may think
it's just a bunch of old guys, but it's not,"
said member Tom Klein.
Horne Mudlitz VFW Post 6377 meets at 7:30
p.m. the third Tuesday of the month. You can
also stop by between noon and 6 p.m. every
Saturday to play cards and socialize. Call (262)
820-9704 to find out more.