LE SUEUR, MINN. – Glen Mason is a friend of Gary Hohman, who is a friend of Dan Driscoll, the brother of Joe Driscoll, who wound up doing paint work at Mason's house a few years ago through those friendships.
"When Joe got done, I asked, 'How much?' " Mason said. "And when he answered, I said, 'You have to be kidding?' I said that because the amount was so low.
"Joe said, 'These are Le Sueur prices, not Twin Cities prices.' "
A couple of weeks ago, Hohman was headed to Le Sueur to arrange a trip with Dan Driscoll, and Mason — out of big-time football coaching for 16 years now — went along on the leisurely drive.
"I knew Joe wasn't doing well because of the stroke," Mason said. "He was sitting there with Dan, though, and when I walked up, Joe looked at me and said, 'Coach, how you doin'?' "
The small audience was amazed by this, since Joe's medical condition had been worsening, and he would die only a few days later — on June 16, at age 70, but taking with him a full life of triumphs and small tragedies, both worth huge smiles.
I went to Le Sueur on Thursday for a must-attend event, Driscoll's wake, and spent a hunk of time beforehand at the side-by-side bars on Main Street:
Green Mill and The Bar, which for decades was The Sundowner.
Based on the sales at these two establishments, Le Sueur is alleged to have a very high ranking in pulltab sales among Minnesota communities of similar size (4,100).
Driscoll took a leadership role in his hometown's pulltab standing.
There are legendary tales of Driscoll's athletic exploits — primarily from town-team baseball — but there's also a pulltab tragedy:
There's a game called $599, since that's the grand prize, and there are 24 squares. Behind those squares are smaller payouts, and when all squares are gone, the grand prize goes to the owner of the winning square.
Driscoll bought 23 of the squares. Tiff Thompson said to Joe, "I'd like to buy one off that board," and he nodded approval.
You know the rest: The winning $599 square — No. 18 — belonged to her.
Driscoll's nephew Marty Milam and his wife, Sue, now own The Bar. The board with Joe's 23 names and Tiff's circle winner is maintained for posterity.
Pulltabs were about the only game that could get the better of Joe. He was that kid in town who did it all better than the rest: football quarterback, basketball gunner, baseball pitcher and hitter.