I’ve written about the origin of the Uncle Crappy before, but that was many years ago, and for god’s sake don’t go back in the archives and look because they can be pretty rough. But a couple of you *coughgoonsquadsarahahem* have asked recently where the name came from, and I think I can probably do a slightly less awful job of re-telling the story here.

See, there is this bar…

The Union, in Athens, Ohio, was my bar from the day I returned to town after a couple years in the Army. I was familiar with it during my first try at college — it’s where I wore Grateful Dead t-shirts to hardcore shows, much to the consternation of my friends who were a bit more serious about metal than I was — but I was younger then and the combination of townies and PIBs was slightly intimidating.

When I returned to Athens, though, the Union was where I was comfortable. No one cared who you were or what music you listened to; if you could handle yourself on the pinball machine or the pool table — and if you bought a pitcher once in while — you were in. It had cheap hot dogs, decent-but-inexpensive beer, a killer jukebox and, most importantly, it was just a block from the offices of the student newspaper.

What’s not to like?

Our beer of choice back then was Lowenbrau Dark — it wasn’t nasty macro swill and pitchers were just $3.50 (Again — what’s not to like?). I couldn’t begin to count the nights, or the money, I spent there over the years, and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.

The Union was a habit I shared with a pretty good number of friends from the student newspaper in particular, so much so that when we had reunions, we always ended up there. During one of those reunion weekends — please don’t ask me which one, because I have no idea — we started and finished the night there. I seem to recall going for a while before having to break the seal, but that detail isn’t especially important; what was important was what I saw when I walked in the men’s room for the first time that night.

The dark, stinky, graffiti-covered men’s room had a sort-of-functioning sink, one light, and two partitions that separated the toilet and the urinal from the rest of the closet-sized space. If I remember correctly, it had a holstein-themed paint job — black-and-white splotches, covered in graffiti, covering the walls. But that wasn’t there this night — I just remember dark red paint, accented by black Sharpie, all over everything but the plumbing fixtures.

I remember one other thing: Someone had started a list on the partition next to the urinal. The title? Suggested Band Names. And while I don’t recall any of the other names people had written on the list, I clearly, to this very day, remember No. 6.

Uncle Crappy.

I was so taken that I actually dragged the future Mrs. Crappy into the men’s room so she could share in my epiphany. I don’t think she was quite as impressed as I was, but the name was burned in my brain. I lack the musical talent to ever have a band to name, but once I had graduated from my horrible Geocities site to Blogger, I thought I should probably come up with a decent blog name; that, my friends, had to be Uncle Crappy.

(As a postscript of sorts: For years, Mrs. Crappy’s name on the blog was simply The Wife. She hates that term, but, fortunately for me, found it endlessly amusing that that was her name here. But when she showed some interest in Twitter, we found that @thewife had already been taken; she opted for Mrs. Crappy — over Aunt Crappy — instead, and was officially promoted to that title back in February 2009.)

I just wrote 700 words explaining where Uncle Crappy came from — @supa probably knows I’m like this already, right? — but the name has served me well over the years. It’s been worth it to me, especially since there are still a pretty good number of people in Pittsburgh who don’t have any idea what my actual name is.

That means I picked a good one, right?


  1. And a good name it is!

    Thanks for the story, and now it makes more sense why she isn’t Aunt Crappy.

    Now – what do your nieces and nephews call you?


  2. Love it. Thanks for sharing. I love stories of the olden days. (encore!) And thanks for prompting memories of my own college newspaper bar, the Brathaus. Cheap pitchers, busted pool cues, lots of Neil Diamond on the jukebox. Good times.


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