Pigskin Pursuit

An eight year odyssey across the backroads of America during the ultimate College Football roadtrip.

Tag: South Bend (page 1 of 2)

Notre Dame vs Texas – Irish thrash the Longhorns…

I generally don’t write much about Notre Dame at this point, because I’ve spent so many weekends there that I don’t have much to add to the site.  This trip was a fortuitous one, to witness the Irish host the Longhorns in a rare matchup between two of the most historic programs in the sport.  Despite the heavy billing of the contest, the Longhorns are in the midst down cycle in their program, and didn’t put up much of fight on this day.  The Irish easily handled the sputtering Longhorn squad on this day, running away with a lopsided 38-3 blowout.  I earnestly hope the Texas program bounce back to it’s historical dominance, and the game next year in Austin can live up to the hype of these two legendary programs.

Nevertheless, it’s always a treat to be back in South Bend for the weekend, touring the magnificent campus, and downing a few meatball subs from Polito’s.  With a few marquee names coming to South Bend in the future like Georgia and Ohio State, I look forward to more of these powerhouse games in the House that Rock Built.

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Special thanks to my friends Bryce and Geoff for meeting up, providing lodging, and an overall excellent weekend.  Look forward to seeing you at the next big Irish game!

Full Clickthrough Gallery Below:

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Notre Dame vs USC

I generally don’t write much about Notre Dame home games, for obvious reasons. It’s an impossible task for me to capture it subjectively, and because I have spent so much time there, it’s difficult to convey the story through the eyes of a newcomer.

Despite the thorough drubbing on the field, however, an embarrassing and painful loss to USC, the trip last week was particularly special for me. For the first time, my mother made the pilgrimage out to the promised land of South Bend. Although loyally following the Irish on TV for many years and proudly displaying the myriad of Irish fan gear I had bestowed upon her for several Christmas’s, this would be her first visit to Notre Dame.

As one of my friends eloquently put it; you only get to take your mom to her first Notre Dame game once. The entire weekend was truly a blessing, and I was fortunate to finally share this experience, and what make the place so special for me, with my mother.

Love you Mom.

Special thanks to Andrew and Julia as always, for their hospitality and putting on a first class tailgate. Looking forward to a couple of adventures next fall with you guys…first round is on me in Dublin.

Also, thanks to my new friend and loyal follower of the blog, Ron, for the ticket help and cold beers. Great to finally meet up with you Ron, and look forward to our paths crossing again in the future!

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Fat Shirley’s in South Bend – The end of an era…

The smell of grease and cigarettes hovers in the low yellowed ceilings like a fog. The galley counter is cramped, and patrons straddle spinning vinyl stools waiting. Stainless steel flashes behind the counter, a few corners covered with grime – looks like it’s been there for about twenty years. Who cares when the coffee is strong. Drunk chatter fills the air, interrupted by the sizzle of the grill, fatty strips of bacon popping away. Students slur clumsily about politics, turning green as they struggle to finish a midnight meal. The early old timers huddle around black coffees, jabbering on about local gossip, or such and such “dumb son of a bitch”.

Barb, the short order cook, goes about her work efficiently, turning only to holler at a couple of drunks getting mouthy with the young waitress. They assume their places, returning to silence. There’s a certain authority to a middle aged woman working the graveyard shift waving a greasy masons trowel. She goes back to her work, ladling butter onto the cooktop for the next order. Everything gets cooked in butter here; eggs, potatoes, even the bacon. It sits melted in a steel tray on the grill, refreshed every few minutes with another yellow brick.

My roommate and I watch our breakfasts being cooked, strips of bacon dancing away in the heavy handed butter. I ordered the “Truckers Special”; three eggs, toast, bacon and a pile of home fries. All of it cost four bucks. Paid for up front and in cash only, per the faded paint menu board posted bluntly above the grill. Probably the only place left in America you can get a full breakfast cooked to order, flip the cashier a five dollar bill, and leave with change. With the clock tilting towards 4AM we shuffle the 100 yards home from the diner, stripping on the porch before entering the tiny bungalow we’re renting. The stench of cigarettes and grease is so strong we don’t dare bring the clothes in the house, leaving them to air outside in the cool fall morning air.

Depending on who you talk to in South Bend, that iconic 24 hour diner was known as “Fat Shirley’s” to some, and the “Gag and Heave” to others. Officially, the name was the White House Restaurant, and stories like the above were the typical ending to weekend nights during my tenure in South Bend. I rubbed elbows with a few Notre Dame Football players there, and a truck once hit the building while I was eating. Once I was sure the rickety structure wasn’t coming down, I resumed the assault on my potatoes.

Unfortunately, however, the restaurant as I knew it closed down a couple years ago. After shutting the doors for a while, it has now been reopened as Jeannie’s House. It’s no longer 24 hours, the prices went up a bit, and there are a couple new faces in the room. Fresh pine paneling abounds inside, the ceiling is a crisp new white along with a myriad of updated cosmetics. The whole place it just feels – new. Different. You’re even allowed to use your cell phone now…

Trying to dredge up some memories, I trudged back in there on the Sunday morning after the game. While the glory in Notre Dame Stadium continues to fade, so to does the aura of Fat Shirley’s. Sure the food was fine at “Jeannie’s”, and still relatively cheap, so I have nothing to complain about. But it just didn’t feel the same anymore. Maybe I needed a few dozen beers to really appreciate it, or maybe some things are just better left to memory…

Rest in peace Fat Shirley’s.

(Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of the old place…)

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Polito’s Meatball Subs – Still perfect…

I wrote extensively about the virtues of the meatball sub at Polito’s two years ago HERE. With changes afoot seemingly around every corner of South Bend, I’m happy to report that is not the case at Polito’s.

The meatball subs here remain the same gooey treasures they were two years ago, overflowing with spiced meat and mozzarella. Untarnished by the meddling hands of change, they’re worth the trip every time. I don’t know why this place even has a menu…

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