As advertised, this was Week 25 of the Solidarity Fish Fry. And, oh, what a week it was.
When we arrived at Serb Hall, the first thing that I noticed was that the crowd was
But those days are long gone.
I surmised that it was probably the effect of two things.
One is the fact that years ago, Serb Hall started going through a series of changes at the management level, which in turn had a rather negative effect on the quality of the food and the services. They have never been able to draw back the crowds they used to have.
The other reason is that people simply don't have the expendable money they used to have to go out to eat, see a movie or do other sorts of things, thanks to Scott Walker's maleficent agenda which has sent the state's economy down the tubes. Without that little bit of extra cash, there's not many places that have door-busting crowds anymore.
Despite the smaller crowd, it was still a glorious evening.
First of all, I was able to join my stalwart and good-humored co-host of the event, Randy Bryce, for dinner.
But the highlight of the event for me was the fact that we had the privilege and honor of being joined by Ed Fallone, candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, and his son Andrew:
Ed had a rare moment away from the campaign trail and was spending some quality time with his son. Part of their itinerary included joining us for dinner before going out to catch a movie.
It was a pleasure to see Ed again and listen to his stories from both the campaign trail and from his teachings. While the conversation mostly stayed light, I was again impressed by his gravitas and his intellectualism. But even though he has these qualities, he was, as Randy put it, "genuine." There were no pretensions, no arrogance and no snobbery. He exuded a calm confidence without any airs of superiority or condescension.
And even though his dinner was being repeatedly interrupted by well-wishers and admirers, he treated each person with the same grace and civility that he would bring to the Supreme Court, qualities which are sorely missing from it right now. He even was gracious enough to have his picture taken with us:
I must also say that his son, Andrew, was also most impressive. The young man obviously has his father's intelligence and interest in the world around him, but was nothing but polite and charming throughout the evening.
Also at Serb Hall on this spring evening was Janet Protasiewicz, who is running for Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 45.
Janet was following the time-honored tradition of going to Serb Hall to meet with the people and introduce herself. She told me that outside of one or two tables, everyone was very gracious to her and were willing to listen to her and share their thoughts and concerns with her.
I took note that she had befriended an older gentleman named Eugene. Even though Eugene was from Brookfield and could not vote for her, she took extra time to visit with this 91 year old man dining by himself and made a point of taking him to meet Ed.
I took note of this because to me, it was pure Janet. She did not do this because it would have benefited her politically in any way (because it wouldn't), but because she is a genuinely compassionate person. It is that compassion and attention to details that others would overlook that would make her a wonderful judge.
I also noticed that her opponent, Rebecca Bradley, was not to be seen. Apparently, Bradley feels confident enough that the corporate special interests, like Wisconsin Club for Growth, are going to be able to buy the election for her that she didn't need to meet with the people she expects to vote for her.
No less important, I was also able to see and briefly visit with Rick and Linda Rumpel of Watertown, who have been frequent supporters of the Solidarity Fish Fry. They had a busy day of it themselves, having started out in Madison for the Solidarity Singalong before coming to Milwaukee to protest the unjust decision not to issue charges in relation to the death of Derek Williams. They ended their day by joining us in solidarity with the union workers at Serb Hall.
Overall, it was a most pleasant evening.
It makes me look forward to next week, when we will be celebrating not only Ed's and Janet's victories, but also Week 26 - a full six months - of Solidarity Fish Fry.