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Famous Comic Strip Character Joe Palooka Featured At Lawrence Co. Museum

Last updated on Tuesday, August 6, 2013

(BEDFORD) - Famous comic strip character Joe Palooka is featured at the Lawrence County Museum this month.

Palooka's comic strip, which was the most-read strip in America's newspapers in its day, was created by Ham Fisher.

A postcard featuring the statue of Palooka, which stands in Oolitic in front of town hall, is the Lawrence County Museum of History and Edward L. Hutton Research Library's featured item this month.

The front of the postcard features a picture of the statue and identifies it as "Joe Palooka, Champion of Democracy Atop the Indiana Limestone Company's Dickinson Park Hill in Bedford.

The postcard was donated by Sara Kern in memory of John J. Fisher and the Salt Creek Power Squadron. The Palooka comic strip followed Joe's adventures as a heavyweight boxer.

The Palooka comic strip was published not only in the United States and Canada but in Great Britain, Hawaii, the Philippines, and in South America, in short where newspapers function independently, and not under government supervision.

Rebecca Bayens is a museum volunteer and reports that Palooka's journey to Bedford actually started several states away, at Mount Rushmore. He was going to be featured on the famous mountain, but governmental opposition stopped that carving project from being finished.

Bedford's mayor at that time, Ivan H. Brinegar, heard that Palooka was not going to be honored there, so he invited Fisher to help design a monument of Palooka for Lawrence County.

The statue was carved out of limestone from the Indiana Limestone Company, and stone carvers Humphrey Pennyworth, Virgil Mipply, Harry Easton, and George Hitchcock worked in McMillan Mill to complete the statue.

After a little distress over rain that washed away chalk marks that served as guides for the carving, the statue was completed in time for the Indiana Limestone Centennial celebration during the week of June 14-19, 1948.

The statue was dedicated in Indiana Limestone Company's Dickinson Park, and was moved and rededicated in 1984 in Oolitic.

Residents are invited to visit the museum to check out the Palooka comic strips and if you have old copies of Palooka's comic strip, the museum would appreciate copies of them for its collection.

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