Buckets’ Birthday

Today’s birthday boy, Charles (Buckets) Goldenberg, is not remembered much today, but was considered one of the top lineman in the league during his career and was one of the team’s most popular figures for years after his career ended. He was born in Odessa in Ukraine in 1911, but his family emigrated to the U.S. when he was four. He grew up in Milwaukee and was an All-City halfback in high school, where he inherited his older brother’s posterior-inspired nickname “Buckets.” At the University of Wisconsin, he starred both in the line and the backfield, until Curly Lambeau signed him to a pro contract in 1933. He spent the next 13 years in a Packer uniform mostly as either number 44 or 43.

Lambeau originally employed Buckets as a single wing quarterback, better described as a blocking back, for his first few years. He led the league in touchdowns with seven as a rookie, but in his backfield years he only carried the ball 108 times and caught 11 passes. Almost half of his carries came in his rookie year when he backed up Clarke Hinkle at fullback, but he was the starting blocking back on the 1936 champions. At 5’10” and 220 pounds, he had the body of a 1930s lineman, and Mike Michalske helped convince Lambeau to convert Buckets to guard where he spent the last two-thirds of his career. As a guard/linebacker he was first team All-Pro once and second team another year. He was known as a flattening lead blocker on offense and a tenacious tackler on defense. Despite his talent and popularity, Lambeau actually traded him and Swede Johnston to Pittsburgh for Pat McCarthy and Ray King in 1938 when Johnny Blood became coach of the Steelers. Fortunately for all in Green Bay, the deal fell through when Buckets retired rather than report to Pittsburgh. He stayed in Green Bay for two more championship runs.

In his off-seasons, Goldenberg was a professional wrestler for many years until the travel became too much of a drain on his family life, so he opened a restaurant in Milwaukee in 1941. His restaurant was very successful for decades and featured several large photographs of Packer players in action. Like many former players of his time, he continued as a fan of the team in his retirement and regularly attended all Packer games in Green Bay, Milwaukee and Chicago. In many ways, he was similar to another guard known more for his nickname than his given name, Fuzzy Thurston. He also served on the Packers Board of Directors from 1953 till the year before he died, 1985. He was inducted in the Packers Hall of Fame in 1971 and was named “Outstanding Jewish Athlete of All Time” by the Green Bay B’nai B’rith lodge in 1969.

(adapted from Packers By the Numbers)

2waygoldenbergc  1936bgoldenberg

1941bgoldenberg  1944bgoldenberg

Custom cards all colorized.

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