GREEN BAY â€“ Most Green Bay Packers fans are happy just to catchÂ a glimpse of the team’s history. But then there are a fewÂ who experience it everyÂ day.Â
They live in homes once owned or rented by Packers legends, from the mansions of current-era stars to the more traditional homes and apartments of earlier eras. Some knew about their home’s connection to the team going in. Others learned about it after the fact. Some have no idea.
That’s what happens when a team’s history spans 100 years â€” especially a team as deeply a part of the community as the Packers.
The mid-1960s Packers embodied that team-community connection in many ways, including living in Green Bay’s traditional,Â in-town neighborhoods near Lambeau Field.
TAKE THE TOUR:See the homes of the 1966-67 Green Bay Packers
Terry and Jean Eckers of the 900 block of South Fisk Street are reminded ofÂ “those Packer days” every time they enjoy a drink at their basement bar decked out in Packers memorabilia, or relax on their porch.Â
The Eckerses live in the former home of RonÂ Kostelnik, a Packers defensive tackle from 1961 to 1968.Â
TerryÂ Eckers said the previous owners made it a point to mention Kostelnik lived there, and that former Packers tightÂ end Marvin Fleming also calledÂ the house home for a short time.Â
“It’s always a conversation pieceÂ when we have people come overÂ to the house,” Jean Eckers said.Â “Everybody who hears thatÂ is pretty impressed that (a Packer)Â from that era actually lived here.”
That wasn’t the deciding factor in buying the house in 1986,Â but living in a home with a strong connection to the Packers is an added bonus, especially considering his wifeâ€™s family connection to the team.
Jean Eckers is the granddaughter of Clement “Dutch” Dwyer, who, along with his brother Rigney “Riggie” Dwyer,Â played on the original Packers team in 1919.Â
The Eckerses’Â modest ranch-style home on the west side of the city, with neighbors close on both sides,Â is typical of the homes Packers players owned or rented in the 1960s.
“Ron and Jim Weatherwax (a Packers defensive tackleÂ in 1966 and 1967)Â built this porch,” Terry Eckers said, while talking with USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin from inside his screened-in deck. “And Ron built the bar.”Â
Members of Kostelnik’s familyÂ have dropped by the Eckerses’ residence, as has FlemingÂ who, during his visit, autographed a team photoÂ that the couple hasÂ hung upÂ in their basement.
Teresa Challe and her family liveÂ in a home on the 1600 block of Careful Drive once owned byÂ Henry Jordan, aÂ defensive tackle who played forÂ the team from 1959 to 1969.Â
The makeshift bar in the home’s basement wasÂ built by Jordan, and Challe has been told the bar was a spot for frequentÂ “gatherings” of Jordan and his teammatesÂ â€”Â including guard Jerry Kramer whoÂ lived just down the street.Â
Unlike the Eckerses,Â Challe didn’t know the story behind her home until aboutÂ a month after buying it in 1996.Â
“My mom’s husband wasÂ helping us do some remodeling work and he asked us if we knew who used to live here,” she said.Â
Challe’s stepfather worked as a mail carrier in the area, and immediately recognized the single-story home, with its brick siding andÂ concrete planters on the front step, as the home where Jordan lived.Â
The basement ceiling serves as a reminder thatÂ professional football playersÂ lived in, and visited, her home, though its presence might go unnoticed by most.Â
“There is some padded duct work downstairs,” she said. “It’s over by the bar becauseÂ I heard stories of how when they would be walking around down there, they would hit their heads. So they put a little padding up there.”
Green Bay Packers in the 1960s lived in regular neighborhoods and considered themselves just members of the community. Sarah Kloepping, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
She said theyâ€™ve kept the padding up all these years because itâ€™s proven helpful for her two tall teenage sons.
All three of Jordanâ€™s kids have visited their childhood home over the years. Challe said one of her favorite stories came from Henry Jordan Jr., who told Challe he remembers there being a television on the back wall of the living room. He and his siblings would sneak out of their rooms late at night and try to watch TV without their parentsÂ knowing.
John Wenzel bought his home in the 700 block of John Street not knowing a Packer had lived there.
Wenzel lives in the home previously rented by Carroll Dale, a wide receiver for the Packers from 1965 to 1972.
â€śWell I found that out some years after living here,â€ť Wenzel said. â€śMy next-door neighbor built his house and then his sister built this house and somewhere down the road Mr. Carroll Dale ended up living here for a couple of years while he was playing for Packers.â€ť
Green Bay residents living in homes where Lombardi-era Packers players once lived say it’s a special part of history. Sarah Kloepping, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
Wenzel and his late wife bought the one-story, two-bedroom house in 1985. He said it was and continues to be everything he needs â€” nothing more, nothing less.
â€śI think it was a lot different back then because those guys didn’t make the money back then (that current players make),â€ť he said. â€śYou could rent this place for $100 a month or less I suppose in ’66 and ’67.â€ť
He suspects Dale chose to live in the house largely because ofÂ the location. It’s a quiet, tight-knit neighborhood, and theÂ park right across the street was likely the perfect place for Dale to raise his family.Â
Wenzel enjoys thinking of the house as a connection toÂ a Packers legend who helped foster his love for football.
The homes and the people who live in them might be different, but what ties them together is something significant to the history and culture of the community in which they were built and remain. Â
â€śIt’s pretty special. Not everybody can say they live in a house that a Packer used to own,â€ť Challe said. â€śEspecially from back in those days.â€ť
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