Author wouldn't let this nickname stick

Susan Manzke

I was looking for something upbeat to write about today. I happened across some old photos of Bob as a toddler. That’s where my column began.

Author Susan Manzke was unaware that Bob had a nickname that was given to him by close family members as a young child.

The print identifying the little boy in the photos didn’t name him Bobby or Bob. Instead, his nickname was etched by his image. That name was Butch.

When I met Bob at Frankfort Grain and Lumber I never heard him called this nickname. Everyone called him Bob. It wasn’t until I went to his home to see the Manzke farm operation in Mokena, Illinois, that I heard his mother call him Butch.

I was taken aback by Bob’s nickname. Butch was not something I would have pinned on him—Sweetie is more like it.

At that time we had a dog named Butch. That boxer had a good heart, but Butch was a bonehead of a dog.

Butch and his brother Pug, came to live with my family when I was a teenager. A friend of my mother’s was giving away puppies and we ended up with these two.

Pug was a good addition to our country home. He was a rat killer. When we were cleaning around the chicken coop in the spring Pug waited for rats to emerge. He dispatched each quickly with a snap of its neck and came back looking for more prey.

On the other hand, Butch danced around looking like he wanted to tackle a rat, too. He never even got close to one and probably wouldn’t have known what to do with it if he caught one.

Once, my dad found an aluminum bar in the house that had teeth marks in it. Those marks were eventually attributed to Butch.

 Another time, a beanbag from a game was torn and emptied of its contents. Dad went over to the dogs. Dad pointed a finger at them and asked, “Who did this?” A bean popped out of Butch’s mouth, which made Dad laugh.

Uncle Willis with two-year-old Butch, aka Bob

After living with a dog called Butch, I just couldn’t call my new boyfriend, Butch, though I did learn to call his dad, Shorty. That was difficult enough to do. We were brought up addressing adults by names that showed respect. Our neighbor was Mr. Brown. Mom’s friend who gave us Butch and Pug was Mrs. Felici. Nicknames or even first names were never used. Many a child would never have known them.

I had to force myself to call Mr. Manzke, Shorty, but I just couldn’t call Bob Butch. Not then, not ever.

After I was part of the Manzke family, the nickname Butch was replaced with Bob. Once in a while Bob’s mom would slip and call him Butch, but most family members reverted to Bob. I guess I was a good influence, or at least some kind of influence. At least, Bob was never compared to that boneheaded dog we called Butch and that was a good thing.

FYI: Bob has been to a lot of doctor appointments over these past weeks and more are to come. Thanks to his birthday—Bob turned 76 on January 17th—he has been receiving both birthday cards and get-well cards. Thank you all who have been kind in sending them.

If you want to pick up Bob and my spirits send a note with a personal funny farm story. We would appreciate any that come our way. Even with the cancer, we haven’t given up laughter.

Also, our children, family, and neighbors have been there for us during these tough times. We can’t say enough good about their support and help. A special thank-you is sent out to them.

Susan and Bob Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; .