Cha-Cha Benny by Frog

By Frog

cha cha_3599.jpg

He proved to be an elusive subject but I finally caught Cha-Cha on camera. This one is for Weaver. Whenever Weaver or I make a reference to a man called "Cha-Cha" this is who we are talking about.


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This is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. Maybe the sweetest photo ever would be a vintage Ralphy Hot Pants, circa 1985.

If these people are still alive, your scavenger hunt should be as follows:

Ralphy Hot Pants
Wiggy (on the bicycle for double points)
Flying Bobcat
Willy Shirtentagger (sp???)
The Dark One, aka Lord Darkstar (drunk or sober)
Rosey Cupcakes

Some people say that they miss the 1980's for the music and fashion, but I miss it for the great people that dwelled in the 5th Ward around that time. To those who have no clue about what I mean...

When I was about 11, I was shooting basketball when some guy, about 35 years old, wanted to shoot against me in some sort of contest. The prize was a foodstamp he had stuck to his shoe. It was a weekday, about 2 in the afternoon, too. And this is the "100% swear on everything I hold dear" truth.

Mother of God...

How did you track down ol' Chuch? My jaw dropped when I saw this picture. Did you find him near the middle school annex building? Rumor has it he was bummed out when they shut it down because the bathrooms windows were really easy to peek into. My uncle knew of Cha-Cha growing up and has a bunch of stories about him. Maybe I'll drop one or two of them in here as non-fiction someday.

I whole-heartedly agree with Weaver on the Ralphy Hotpants issue; if there's any way to track down a photo of this leather-clad wonder and post it here, I'd cry tears of joy. Someone must have snapped off a shot at some point. (For those of you who didn't grow up in the anthracite coal region, Ralphy Hotpants was an older gentleman who performed all of his daily activities -- regardless of the weather or temperature -- in a pair of tight leather Speedo-like briefs. This is total truth. And you wonder why Weaver and I write such weird stuff.)

Sorry, Chris, I meant to include you in the original post. This one is for you as well.

I see old cha-cha a few times a week walking around town. I took this picture, and I'm not joking, at a children's bible school street faire over the weekend. Checking out the scenery I presume.

Alsa, Ralphy Hot Pants is no longer among the living. I believe he died a bit before I ever picked up a camera. Someone, somewhere has to have a picture of him. I don't know what happened to Wiggy and I don't remember Rosey.The only other one I see regularly and I'm sure I could get a picture of is Flying Bobcat.

On a related note, my friends' band does a song about the "Shamokin heros" that tells the story of Cha-Cha, Nicky Coons (R.I.P.), and Ralphy Hot Pants. They are also working on a concept album about The Flying Bobcat and Hondo, a new Shamokin hero who lived in a shack under the Cameron bridge for a year and a half. I have a picture of said shack. I'll post that one soon.

(The Lyrics to "Cha-Cha Benny" by City Chicken)

Cha Cha Benny

Nicky Kuhns
Smashed his head off a truck
Just to win a bet
And collect five bucks
Old Nicky Kuhns
Just wanted to get drunk
But the cops showed up
And now he's done

Nature Boy
Wears a leather thong
He walks around in the winter
With nothing else on
Now they say Nature Boy
Got messed up in the war
And now he can't feel the cold
no more

There is an unfortunate end
To Nature Boy's story
Not many people know the real ending
but I do.

Nature Boy
put a ring on his schlong
Poor Nature Boy
He didn't know it was
Three sizes too small
Nature Boy
Left it on too long
Good Lord
The circulation was gone!
The Doctor said
The Doctor said:

"Looks like we got to
cut it off, son.
And I  don't mean the ring"

Cha Cha Benny
Is a dirty old queen
He's got a strut like a pimp
with a pipe
and a cane
All the kids in the neighborhood
They all know his name
He used to sneak into the showers
At the C.Y.O. basketball games
{ I thought he was there to dry me off }

Yes, Ralphy and his ring... He did that while he was a garbage man, with my parents' house in Paxinos one of his stops. The garbage truck driver told my dad that it was made out of iron, and that gange green was setting in. Who knew he wasn't only into leather, but metals, as well. I'm sure he was into Judas Priest now that I think about it. Hell bent for leather? Turbo lover? I must scrub my brain clean now.

Rosey lived deep in the 5th Ward, was about 4 feet tall and 4 feet wide and a crazy bitchy woman. Either she had a lumpy butt, or stuffed paper towels in her pants. I never asked. She hit Holly Bogetti with her purse one day.

You can get a picture of Nicky's brother, Gummy. A dead ringer for Kenny Rogers, the Gambler we call him. But I'm looking forward to Flying Bobcat in action.

I'm sorry to inform you that Gummy is also deceased. He died last year at Shamokin Hospital. They must have gave him a bath.

Well...looks like I have a new wallpaper!!
I know this person is deceased as well,but I'd love to see someone we all forgot...JuJu-the he/she/it delivery service. And also this is from waaaay back(-late 70's-early 80's )how about Smiley-the cowboy that used to pace in front of Newberry's and mumble to himself and punch himself in the head.

That guy in front of Newberry's freaked me out as a kid. I always thought he was talking to me and it scared the hell out of me.

frog, i definitely think some of the "new" class of shamokin street travelers should be posted... Hondo, the 61 Strutter, the Jack Hammer (unless the Jack Hammer is the previously mentioned Lord Darkstar) and anyone else that may crawl out of the woodwork to dance to polka music at the transfiguration block party

Ahhhh, the 61 Strutter. Weaver and Chris know not of him. He randomly appear in Shamokin a little over a year ago.This man walks up and down Rt. 61 from Sunbury Street to Wal-Mart on a daily basis no matter the weather. He looks like an old biker with a leather jacket (wife beater in the summer), a mullet and a cane. He points the cane at you in your car if you veer onto the berm a bit. Other than that he seems not to really need the cane. Last time I saw him he fashioned a cup holder on the cane to carry water bottles instead of shoving them in his back pocket like he noramal did. I'm a little afraid to take his picture. It will have to be a drive-by. I blow the horn and wave every time I pass him in my car. He always waves back.

Jackhammer is definitely not Lord Darstar.

I'll post "Hondo's Condo" soon.

Ahhhh, the 61 Strutter. Weaver and Chris know not of him. He randomly appear in Shamokin a little over a year ago.This man walks up and down Rt. 61 from Sunbury Street to Wal-Mart on a daily basis no matter the weather. He looks like an old biker with a leather jacket (wife beater in the summer), a mullet and a cane. He points the cane at you in your car if you veer onto the berm a bit. Other than that he seems not to really need the cane. Last time I saw him he fashioned a cup holder on the cane to carry water bottles instead of shoving them in his back pocket like he noramal did. I'm a little afraid to take his picture. It will have to be a drive-by. I blow the horn and wave every time I pass him in my car. He always waves back.

Jackhammer is definitely not Lord Darstar.

I'll post "Hondo's Condo" soon.

Block party this weekend!!! Freaks everywhere! Guaranteed Cha-Cha and Ricky Baily sightings!

Thought of a few more...Edith the laughing lady, the two deaf ,mute ,pot smoking brothers, and maybe even throw Charlie Thompson in there ,just for the hell of it. Ralphy is the prize for sure. If I've repeated any of the above mentioned for lack of knowing their codenames, or if I've offended anybody by calling someone "deaf or pot smoking" I apologize. Diggin' this thread though.....

The next time I'm home, I'll have to make a few trips to Wal-Mart and hope that I see this Strutter of yours. I do remember Edith, actually. A bit fuzzy, but I do remember.

Anyone recall the man we called "Ooh La La"? He was this guy with a frizzy blonde perm who jogged all over Shamokin in his short shorts. One of his cars had the vanity plate OOH LA LA on it, so the nickname was a given.

Shamokin should either be filmed or nuked. I don't know what side of the fence I'm on, though.

the strutter can also be seen hydrating himself on the wall at the sunbury st. playground waiving at passers-by, and every now and then he can be seen sitting on a guard rail on rt. 61 taking a breather (sometimes with a lady)

I will have you all know that a copy of this photo made its way into the hands of Cha-Cha himself via one of our intrepid reporters (Gilger) at the Trans Fig Block party. I am proud to say he was pleased with the results. I will also say you would all choke me if you knew the golden opportunities I missed this weekend by not having my camera with me at the block party. The 2 deaf mutes were there, Flying Bobcat, Ricky Baily (who pissed his pants several times-literally), and Rosey Cupcakes was pointed out to me by davt08. Shame on me and all the Busch and haluski.

I think that with all of those celebrities at once place, you were smart not to be armed with your camera. Nobody needs a media frenzy amidst underage drinking and polka dancing. The only way I would think about choking you is if there was a chance at a shot with any two of the heroes mentioned above interacting together. Cha Cha and Rosey dancing, or Flying Bobcat bumming a smoke from either of the deaf-mutes.

*Special thanks to davt08 for enlightening Frog as to who Rosey Cupcakes is.

there was a candid shot of the deaf-mutes interacting together, however, they were not groan-fighting, just signing feverishly.

and i think that Rosey Cupcakes is now, in fact, wider than she is tall. if i had to guess i would say 3'11" tall, 4'2" wide, but don't hold me to it.

I really have nothing to add. I just want to be a part of the record for most comments on an unloosen post.

Continue about your business.

Ok, I found this totally by accident and was dumbfounded to see a photo of Cha Cha. In reading on I was surprised to see that my friends and I were not the only ones to use these goofy nicknames! Growing up in Shamokin I have some alternate names "Oh la la" was also called "Rod the bod" (because of the Rod Stewart look) he got married and had a Disney theme I believe. My dad calls Ralphy Hot Pants "Hoobler", he lived in BVA and was said to have sunbathed on his roof in the nude in his younger days. Remember the knife in the holster as well? I would kill for a picture of him as well. It would be a classic! One more I believe not mentioned, or maybe I just missed it or you are going by another name. Papa Noah! Another Coal Region celeb. He rules!

The Flying Bobcat and Papa Noah are the same person. I never heard him called that until very recently at the Transfiguration block party. A guy work with kept calling him Papa Noah instead of Flying Bobcat.

Speaking of the Shamokin celebrities, I have not seen the 61 Strutter in weeks. I hope he is ok and did not flee Shamokin!

I remember Oh la la. He had a flaming red Nissan 350Z and an affinity for spandex and hairspray.

Hey Frog:

Thanks for clearing that up. My brother was the one who told me of the name Papa Noah a long time ago and I just kept it. Never heard the other one, I just saw him walking by Janie's bar last week. As far as the 61 Strutter (love the name by the way) I know a guy who claims to be his son. Come to think of it, I have not seen him around either. Will post back if I have a sighting. This thread just blows my mind!

what did you do anyway, dollbaby? do a google search for Cha-Cha Benny?


No, I am not that bored here at work to do a Cha-Cha search. I did a google search in trying to find out what exactly was going on down the Shamokin Hospital during the afternoon of the shooting since I had a relation staying there and this site came up and I was curious to see what it was about. I nearly fell over when I saw all of these Coal Region celebs listed! Again, I will keep you posted if I have a sighting of the 61 Strutter. I just think that name is great. Keep up the great thread, its very entertaining!

One thing this conversation reminds me of is the fact that every town, no matter how big or small, has a local they call "Monk." A town without a Monk is no place for me.

If there is a way to get all of the aforementioned heroes on film, how about we put them all on trading cards, with information and statistics on the reverse side? Cha Cha could have his height, weight, favorite brand of pipe tobacco, residence (Springfield, aka The Polish Poconos) speed at which he travels, etc. Just an idea.

Just sitting here thinking about all of this "unloosened" a memory and interesting fact. I now recall my first nickname and Shamokin hero! Maybe I was 5 or so, and was driving through town with my dad, and he pointed out to me this guy that he called "The Green Robot". A rather old man, with great posture and a gait that was both mechanical and smooth. He always wore a green suit and stylish hat.

Anyone know a guy named "Plate"? Enormous fat guy, maybe only in Shamokin a year, but I remember him at the Rock Street pool one day with a loaf of bread and some sandwich materials eating it all by himself.

Yet another one...Lip Man! If anyone is ever in town, go to Darlene's and ask my mom or dad about that guy. I used to draw comic strips about him as a kid. More Darlene's customers past and present include The Professor, who my dad threw out of there a while ago, Cup O' Smell, Walt Nye aka The Godfather or The Duke of Funk (RIP), I can't remember this guy's name, but he was/is a bum who read all the time, ripping out and throwing away his finished pages. I think that he was the guy who destroyed the statues in front of Mother Cabrini years ago. He also tried to open a shell from a battleship cannon with a butterknife at the counter at my parents' place. There are more, but I can't start writing posts longer than my stories.

You know, Weaver, seeing your post about having the 'heros' on film reminds me of when I was in college and my friends and I went to town with a video camera to interview people for a project. It just so happens that Cha-cha was one of those people. I just operated the camera, and my friend interviewed him. He asked him questions about the volatile stock market ("i dunno"), stocks that Cha-cha would recomend ("i dunno"), and if he likes the Carolina Panthers football team (he was wearing a Panthers winter coat, and his answer was "i dunno, i got it cheap") I will have to see if I can first find the said recording, and second if there is anyway my feable mind can figure a way to get it to this site.

Just updating this thread with some sad news....Pete Derito's harmonica has been silenced by the Reaper....R.I.P. Pete......

R.I.P. Pete.

If you guys go to the News-Item's web site you can find a wonderful cartoon about ole' Pete drawn by Matt Leavens, brother of Chris and the News-Item's resident artist and cartoonist.

R.I.P. Pete, indeed. It is too bad that every town does not have their own "Pete".

Absolutely stunning to see a photo of Chach! I was a kid in Shamokin in the 60's and we all knew Cha-Cha Benny. He was our favorite whacko,although we never wanted to be left alone with him. We would all try to outdo each other with our impersonations of the way he talked and walked and the creepy things he always wanted to talk about.
I enjoyed reading everyone's comments about the other Shamokin celebs.
Does anyone remember Aggie Kutz? She was around in the 60s also. We would always see her pulling a little red wagon behind her and heading in and out of town. She seemed to live in this little patch of shacks out on 61 between Shamokin and Tharptown. We used to call the patch "Little Hollywood". It was right along the creek. We never knew much about her. She was just hard to miss and always got a big reaction on an Aggie Kutz sighting.

I remember aggie kutz but the memories are very fuzzy...I just remember she had a boyfriend named dicky brubaker and she would run around asking ,"Have you seen my dicky?"
Also as long as we are going that far back about Leo Heitzman..leo hooked a chicken! ...and that guy that used to come into weaver's parents place with the rubber ear that was totally faded and nowhere closed to his own skintone.

Thanks, Heartbreak.

You got it. Dicky Brubaker and Aggie Kutz. I remember seeing Dicky. I remember him as very slim, kind of gangly, sloppy loose fitting clothes, messy hair. Come to think of it, I don't recall seeing Aggie and Dicky together but maybe once so Lately I wondered if they were actually a couple or just a likely pair we kids figured would go together well. Thanks for the quote from Aggie. That certainly sounds like they were a couple.

I can't say I remember Leo Heitzman. What is the chicken all about?

I never saw the guy with the rubber ear either but that's a winner.

There are two others I remember. "Red The Bum". He used to hang out down around Independence Street in the mid 60s. A regular run of the mill down and out homeless guy. Unshaven, long messy hair and dirty overcoat. Of course we had all kinds of stories on how he got that way. Stuff like he used to be well of and lost everything, war hero, etc. some stories were attributed the the local nuns warning us of the wages of sin and that stuff. Nobody new for sure.

He died of exposure on New Years eve around '64 or '65. The News Dispatch ran an obituary on him. It may have included his real name but I remember it said he was known locally as "Red". It really affected me reading that and thinking of him dying alone in some alley while everyone was out partying. Believe it or not, I still think of him on some New Years Eves.

The other one I'm thinking of was "Jake The Fake". This was a woman about age 30 who dressed like James Dean right out of "Rebel Without A Cause". The whole look. Greaser duck tail haircut, Pointy cuban heels shoes, leather jacket and tight jeans. She used to hang around outside a bar on Shamokin Street. I think it was called The Polish Home. It was across the street from the James madison Hotel. Back we couldn't figure out what the hell she was all about other than she was trying to look like a guy. It's easy to figure now. she was a very butch lesbian. I guess she was way ahead of her time. I wonder what it was like trying to live like that in Shamokin 1964.

Since I was born in 1976, I'm pretty much out of this new loop, but "Leo hooked a chicken", I remember, as does the Dicky Brubaker name.

Rubber ear guy....Eddie (me thinks) McElwee. I remember sitting next to him many a time at the counter at Darlene's and staring at that discolored ear. One day, it fell off there, not all at once, but a slow, gluey decent. He sat there the rest of his meal with a handkerchief held to his head. I do remember him a nice guy, and always there with one of his friends. They were regular customers.

Have not seen him in a while but yes, the 61 Strutter is back in action. Saw him across from the Coney walking with the cane. Just thought I would let everyone know he is back on the beat!!!!


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This page contains a single entry by Frog published on August 2, 2005 12:45 PM.

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