So, a guy I know passed away about a week ago as of my sitting down to write this. His name was Todd Rasmussen, and he was simply cooler than you. He was cooler than me, and cooler than just about everyone. I only knew him a little, but he was an iconic cat in my opinion, so I thought I would write something. I thought I would write a bit about Todd.
It is my belief that, for a long time, the Scott Street Pub was a cultural heart beat of Wausau. Before the internet, before drunk driving laws, before all of it, the Pub existed. And in my opinion, the soul of the Pub is put solely in two people, the owner Tom Bergs, and in the long time boss Todd. A case can be made that Frankie had something to say about it all, but honestly Todd set the tone, and that tone lasted until the last couple of years (when the wheels fell off completely).
You see, it was Tom who wanted to have a music bar. But, a music bar is hard to enforce. Especially in Packer country. Most bars cater to local sports, even if they are not sports bars. Sure, you could watch the Packers play, but it you were going to listen to music while you did it.
I think the music culture of the Pub started with Todd. Back in the day there was a record player, and there was a sort of open policy that if you brought in a record, and Todd was willing to give it a try, he would play it. But, if it sucked, you were surely going to hear about it, and your standing in the community would be put at risk. Too many crappy records, and your bringing in music priviledges would be cut off.
The other thing that the Pub had was a clear “Freak Flags Fly Free” policy. As much as we were a proud locals only joint, we did not mind the freak flags flying. If that meant you and your partner needed time in the bathroom together, we did not mind. If you were imbibbing something a bit stronger than beer, and were having issues, we held your hand and tried to find a way to get you through it. I think that came from Todd as well. It had its limits of course, but it came to bear often.
I think one of my favorite Todd stories is the Beefeater Dave story. There was a very old man who lived at the Landmark. He was about 200 years old. He would come in most days around lunch time, and drink some gin, then go on home. Or wherever he went to next. As Dave got to be older he experienced some of the same issues that older guys have, incontenence, sleeping, etc. Well, Dave did not make the bathroom a few times, and a few times he did not notice he did not make the bathroom.
By this time Todd had moved on, and was working someplace else. Tom had told the staff to not serve Dave anymore, no point helping him kill himself I suppose. But, Dave kept coming back, and no one could really talk to Dave. So, Tom called in Todd. Todd came down, talked to Tom about what was going on, then went and talked to Dave, and Dave stopped coming in. I am not sure what was said, but it was sort of amazing is that Todd did that work for the community. Todd probably poured gin for Dave for dozens of years, but in the end he had to be the one to cut him off, and Todd did not even work at the Pub.
I had met Todd’s wife a few times. Let me say this, in the spectrum of handsomeness, Todd could only be called a ‘funny guy’. He was short, not particularly good looking, and needed glasses. But, it is my understanding that he fell in love with his wife just about instantly. And that love never waivered for the decades they were together.
I remember when we had a benefit for Todd, when he first got sick. We had an all day thing, and people just filled jugs with money. At the end, Todd and I went out back and I gave him a bucket of money, and we did not even count it. It was tens of thousands of dollars I bet. I think Todd was a bit lubricated, and he ended up holding court with me in the parking lot, like so often happens. He went on and on about his kids, and his wife. Oh, his wife. He talked about how his favorite thing was to talk to his wife. About anything. Anything at all. I had never considered that the best thing about a relationship was talking to the other person, until then. Todd hit me off on that one.
He talked about his boys. Ian and Dylan. His fear regarding them, cancer, genetics, whatever. His love and pride for them. I only know them a little bit, but in the 15 years or so I have known them, they are amazingly strong and cool men. Both of them have unique story arcs that are their lives, but both of them seem to have become really amazing men.
I did not know Todd Rasmussen well. Not in any measurable way. But, I considered the bar that he built to be my home for 10 years. And I am grateful he built a room, and put his soul into every board and bit of that place, so that the life I wanted to always have could be had.
Todd died after living with cancer for a while. I do wish I had talked to him more, but I do not mind. I know, KNOW, that Todd made this community a better place. I know that Todd loved his wife fully, and that he loved his kids with every bit of love in the world, and the same for his grand kids.
Thank you Todd for showing us the way.
Thank you Todd Rasmussen.