Friday, March 17, 2006

Ann Calvello (1931-2006)

My sibs and I once had a babysitter, an old maid whose name I long ago forget, whose tastes in entertainment ran to the unusual. No sooner had our parents pulled out of the driveway than she would commandeer the TV so she could watch professional wrestling or roller derby.

This was the 1950s, mind you, and these wild and wooly “sports,” both outgrowths of the Great Depression, were in their televised heyday.

Our sitter’s favorite pro wrestler was William Dee “Haystack” Calhoun, a 600-pound giant whom you can be quite sure was never called Dee to his face, while her favorite roller derby star was the flamboyantly crude Ann “Banana Nose” Calvello.

Calvello (above, right) died this week in California at age 76. She outskated and outcrashed the competition in every decade from the 1940s through the 1990s. Among her other nicknames, at least the ones that can be printed in a family blog, was “Meanest Mama on Skates.”

She once inventoried her injuries thusly: 12 broken noses, four broken elbows, a broken collarbone, a broken tailbone and numerous cracked ribs.

Calvello was as quick witted as our babysitter was slow. She once remarked that:

I've got too many knives in my back. Every time I go to the airport, all the knives in my back go off.


Joe Namath is the Ann Calvello of football.

Am I the only one who thinks that they don’t make ‘em like Banana Nose anymore?

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