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Fri, Jul 27, 2012

Say It Ain't So Jerry

After More Than 26 Years, The Corner Of Knapp St. And Vern Ave. May Be Vacant

By Tom Woodward

You might not even have noticed, like that stop sign you told the officer you never saw. That sign has been there for ever and you never noticed it while you zoomed through, or so your story goes. Well, if you haven't noticed you better take a look quick because next year he might not be there to awaken your musical and electronic curiosity. The "HE" to which I refer to is an Oshkosh institution who has been on the corner of Knapp Street and Vern Avenue for 26 years. How many of you have been coming here that long? I've come every year but one since 1989 and like an old High school friend I've looked forward to visiting with him each and every year. "He," is Jerry Sleger.

Jerry ... 81 years young from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, is the founder, operator and only member of "Jerry's One Man Band" who has held down the corner there for almost as long as I have been coming to OSH. He has nothing to do with aviation that I know of, other than he likes the sound of airplanes, just as he likes the sound of music. If I had to guess I would bet he would be a Classic or Vintage airplane guy because if you took a look at his setup you would know why.

His equipment isn't the least bit modern. In fact, he would have to upgrade it to make it Old! Shunning digital technology for what he describes as "junk" he has assembled a collection of electronic equipment with many unidentifiable gadgets, self made contraptions and garbage. He refurbishes accordions and sells CD to offset the cost of his equipment but when he fires it up, taking several minutes to adjust all the switches, dials, levers and moving parts, he makes beautiful music. On top of his watt sucking contraption sits a Chimp playing the cymbals, a Monkey pounding on the drums a Hawaiian Hulu dancer and a Gorilla sipping Tequila. Doesn't every band have that?

Jerry's not sure whether he will return next year. His arthritis has been acting up. Jerry told me "When I'm dead they will have to burn this equipment because no one but me knows how to operate this." Yet when I told him, I for one would miss him, he brightened up. I suspect if enough people voiced the same opinion, he just might return to his Corner, so get by there and listen a moment.

FMI: Go see Jerry. He shuns technology and doesn't even know what a link is.


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