Sunday, October 30, 2022

The Truth Behind How "E. J. Korvette" Got It's Name and What It Really Means.

Are these fella's the famous eight?
"E.J. Korvette" was not a person but rather an acronym that stood for "Eight {or Eleven} Jewish Korean [War] Veterans." They were army brothers who started a department store chain after being honorably discharged and back at home.

E.J. Korvette (initially a leather goods retailer) was founded in 1948, two years before the Korean War began in June 1950. E.J. Korvette's was founded by Eugene Ferkauf, a Jewish World War II veteran, and his friend, Joe Zwillenberg.

"I had a name picked out for the store, E.J. Korvette. "E" is for Eugene, my first name, and "J" stands for Joe Swillenberg, my business associate and pal."

The name "Korvette" was initially meant to be spelled with a "C" after the Royal Canadian Navy's U-boat hunter, simply because I thought the name was euphonious (pleasant soundins). When it came time to register the business name, we found it was illegal to use a Royal Canadian Naval class identity, so we had to change the spelling to "K."
A sight no German U-boat Captain (Kapitänleutnant) would ever want to see through his periscope, an approaching Allied Flower-class Corvette.

E.J. Korvette's founder, Eugene Ferkauf, began his discounting career in a 400-square-foot loft in mid-Manhattan, New York City. Inventory consisted of well-known luggage brands, household appliances, and some jewelry. Discounts were one-third off regular prices, and sales were more than $2,500 per square foot. Ferkauf retired in 1968.
Eugene Ferkauf, circa 1960.
The company used several retailing innovations to propel its rapid growth. It used discounting, even though most discounting was known to be outlawed at the time. Korvette instituted a membership program, a technique from consumers' cooperatives that had never been applied to a department store before. It also expanded into suburban locations at a time when most department stores were in central business districts.

Most remembered was their Audio Division, with a higher quality of good brand-name stereo equipment. The Records & Sheet Music Department would get nearly any album, 45(rpm), new or old, and sheet music for any size band or orchestra, at the store, in two days. At least the two-day delivery worked perfectly at the store I frequented at Dempster Street and Waukegan Road in Morton Grove, Illinois.

In 1964, record sales reached $20,000,000. David Rothfeld, merchandise manager for records, books and audio equipment, described "as hard-hitting as the rest of the young driving force behind Korvette, right up to the company's new 37-year-old President, Jack Schwadron.

Eugene Ferkauf died on June 5, 2012, in his New York Manhattan home.

Eugene Ferkauf Obituary
New York (AP) — Before the advent of the big box discount store, there was Eugene Ferkauf.

The founder of the E.J. Korvette chain died at his Manhattan home Tuesday, June 5, 2012, at the age of 91, said Yeshiva University, where he was a longtime former trustee and benefactor.

"He was a brilliant entrepreneur, innovator and pioneer of the discounting concept," said Burt Flickinger, III, managing director of the retail consultancy Strategic Resource Group. People from around the globe, including such industry giants as the founders of Kmart and Wal-Mart, studied his stores and merchandising model, Flickinger said.

Ferkauf founded Korvette in 1948, first selling luggage from a loft on 46th Street before expanding to 45 outlets throughout the New York metropolitan area, including on Fifth Avenue just blocks from the upscale Saks Fifth Avenue department store.

He offered deep discounts of up to 40 percent on merchandise ranging from appliances to bed sheets.

Ferkauf was a pioneer in "selling something for every room and apartment and every home," said Flickinger. He also was "one of the great pioneers and innovators in the record and music business," he said.

At his funeral Thursday, one speaker recalled buying his first Beatles album at a Korvette store.

The Manhattan-born Ferkauf sold his share in the store in 1966 for more than $20 million. Korvette went out of business in around 1980. 
Time magazine featured Ferkauf on its cover of the July 6, 1962 issue with the title: "Consumer Spending - Discounting Gets Respectable."

In the article, Harvard Business School retailing guru Malcolm McNair described Ferkauf as one of the six greatest merchants in U.S. history, a group that included Frank Woolworth and JCPenney.

Largest American Retailers ranked in the top ten merchants beginning in 1929. Chicago businesses include; Sears-Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, and Marshall Field. (American Business History Center)
"By succeeding at it in the sluggish 1960s, Eugene Ferkauf has seized the lead in a retailing revolution that is shaking up every U.S. merchant from Main Street to Manhattan's Fifth Avenue," the story read.

E.J. Korvette had one of the most explosive growths in any sector of chain retail during 1960s, Flickinger said. And all the major regional discount chain stores sought to emulate it.

"Sam Walton of Wal-Mart himself came to study his Korvette stores," said Flickinger. "Harry Cunningham, the founder of Kmart stores in 1962, studied Korvette stores." Other large chains that extensively analyzed the Korvette model included Zayre, Caldor and Ames.

But Ferkauf, whose name means "sell" in Yiddish, had an adverse influence on some traditional department stores, which struggled "because of what Korvette initiated and inspired through its discounts," he said.

The store's name intrigued many. Many believed it stood for [Eight or eleven] Jewish Korean War veterans, but Ferkauf had a simpler explanation: E stood for Eugene, J for his Brooklyn friend Joe Zwillenberg, and Korvette for the World War II allied sub-chasing ship known as corvette class.

Ferkauf and his wife, Estelle, were generous philanthropists who donated to Yeshiva University, (a private Orthodox Jewish university with four campuses in New York City), and other causes. The Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva is named after him.

His burial was at Cedar Park Cemetery in Paramus, N.J.

By, Ula Ilnytzky, Associated Press
Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Published by The Oregonian on June 7, 2012.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Autopsy Notes from President Lincoln on April 15, 1865.

Autopsy notes by Dr. Robert K. Stone, Lincoln's family physician. Autopsist, assistant surgeon, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Janvier (J.J.) Woodward. Woodward performed and wrote reports on the autopsies of both Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth.

The shot entered 1 inch to the left of the median line traversing left lateral sinus upper edge - occipital bone touch edge of lateral sinus and lambdoid suture. The ball struck the posterior lobe traversing it in nearly a horizontal plane (passing forward), inclining to the right. In the orifice of the wound, a scale of lead 2-1/2", in track, piece of bone - 2nd piece of bone, about 4 inches in advance in the path of the ball - entered the left ventricle, behind, followed the course of ventricle accurately, inclining upwards and inwards - plowing through the upper part of thalamus Nervi Opticum and lodged in the cerebral matter, just above the corpus striatum of the left side. The brain track of the ball was in an entirely disintegrated state and both ventricles filled with blood.
The whole brain was engorged, and bloody points were more marked than usual - on severing the dura mater was displayed a long coagulum of blood - laid upon the right hemisphere of the brain - removing dura mater (no wound in which was found) was found the orbital plates of both sides, the seat of comminuted fracture - the fragments being forced, from within, outwards. The orbito ocular palpebral membrane (eyelid) and cavity were filled with blood origin, which we didn't seek. The right had been notably protruded and, afterward, sank back after death. 

Ecchymosis of left eye 1st and right eye 2nd - Great edema of serum and a little blood extravasated about the shot. Wound, clean cut, as if by a punch (2 feet off) - orbital plates, very thin. 

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Boy & Girl Scout Camp Bemis in Bemis Woods South, Western Springs, Illinois. 1920s

The Boy and Girl scouts used the Camp Bemis Log Cabin in Bemis Woods in Western Springs, Illinois. Today Bemis Woods is in Westchester. The cabin and campgrounds were also rented by other groups. Camp Bemis was split into North and South by Salt Creek.

In 1920, the first Girl Scout troop in Western Springs was organized. Shortly afterward, an effort was made to have a Girl Scout campsite built in the Bemis Woods, directly north of the village. While the Forest Preserve District of Cook County had turned down eight similar requests from other groups, they agreed to allow a log cabin to be built in the Forest Preserve for the new troop.

According to news reports from that time period, the scouts found a spot in the Bemis Woods near Salt Creek, a half mile west of Wolf Road and north of Ogden Avenue, which they felt would be ideal for a campsite. The superintendent of the Cook County Forest Preserve District agreed, and soon, plans were underway for its construction. Best of all, the Forest Preserve District agreed to build the structure at no cost to the Girl Scouts.

The log cabin, used by the scouts for overnight campouts, had seven windows, two doors, and a fireplace constructed from stones gathered from the banks of the Salt Creek. The cabin was to be called “High Banks,” a reference to the banks of the nearby Salt Creek.

Newspaper reports described the cabin as being “… an exceedingly artistic structure, with a magnificent chimney and fireplace made of rough field stone.” The cabin also had an incinerator built of rough field stone for burning refuse, a log kitchen, a water well, and “… other necessary accommodations for both men and women.”

The Forest Preserve District even supplied an additional load of logs to construct a temporary dam near the cabin. This would raise the water level in Salt Creek by another three or four feet, thereby allowing the Girl Scouts to have better swimming and canoeing in the summer and ice skating in the winter. The Western Springs American Legion Post offered to construct the dam.

On October 15, 1921, the cabin was ready to be dedicated. And no fewer than five County Board Commissioners were in attendance, no doubt drawn by the promise of a fried chicken dinner served to them at noon in the new cabin.

At 2:15 pm, a train arrived in Western Springs carrying Girl Scouts from other western suburbs located along the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, also known as the “Q.” After disembarking the train, they marched 1½ miles north to the new cabin.

At 3 pm, an American flag was raised, followed by a bugle call. The president of Western Springs, Henry Reeve, then spoke, welcoming everyone. After dedicating a bronze tablet, eight visiting Girl Scout troops sang a song, “Hail the Cabin,” which was written especially for the occasion:

On the high banks of Salt Creek, For the Girl Scouts of the “Q"
Stands a little red oak cabin, Built by foresters so true. 

To be shared by friends and neighbors, In our work and in our play,
So, to dedicate the cabin, We have gathered here today.

Hail the cabin, hail the cabin, To the Girl Scouts given free.
Hail the cabin, hail the cabin, Home of hospitality.

Grateful ever, may we never, Fail our duty to fulfill,
To make the spirit of the cabin, Be the spirit of Good Will.

Historical Society records indicate that the log cabin was used by Western Springs girls for several years thereafter. In addition, the cabin was often loaned to Girl Scout troops from other communities. It also served as a training center for Girl Scout leaders.

Unfortunately, because of what scout leaders termed “inadequate supervision for safe use of our girls,” ownership of the cabin was transferred back to the Forest Preserve District after a few years. However, the Girl Scouts continued to use the building for daytime outings until 1925 and for annual Christmas parties until 1926.

But what became of the cabin? Current aerial photographs of Bemis Woods show no trace of it, nor is there any mention of its eventual fate in Girl Scout records that were donated to the Historical Society.

Camp Bemis (north) 
West of Wolf Road, south of 31st Street and north of Salt Creek — three parking spaces — allowable picnic load, 5,000 (seven picnics) — two concrete dance platforms, one south of entrance drive and one west of upper parking space — two wells, third well one-half mile west of upper parking space on the trail — sanitary conveniences sixty-three table and bench combinations — open, level space for races and games — space available for Softball — fine woods, birds, wildflowers — bridge across Salt Creek — hiking and bridle trails — saddle stable west of Preserve — ideal for small group and family picnics.

Camp Bemis (south)
North side of Ogden Avenue, one-fourth mile west of Wolf Road, south of Salt Creek — three parking spaces, two cinders and one macadam [1] — allowable picnic load, 3,000 (two picnics only) — one type "A" picnic shelter with concrete floor and fireplace — two wells — sanitary conveniences — thirty table and bench combinations — open, level spaces for races and games — fine woods, birds, wildflowers — bridge across Salt Creek hiking and bridle trails.

The Boy & Girl Scout cabin is at the far north end.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.
Contributor: The Western Springs Patch

[1] Macadam is a type of road construction pioneered by Scottish engineer John Loudon McAdam around 1820, in which crushed stone is placed in shallow, convex layers and compacted thoroughly.

The History of No Exit Café & Gallery, Rogers Park, Chicago, Illinois.

No Exit Café ● Gallery, at 6970 North Glenwood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois was a magical place that grabbed you by the scruff of your neck and wouldn't let go," said Owner Sue Kozin. (The CTA 'L' elevated tracks run down the middle of Glenwood Avenue. The Exit Café was on the west side of the 'L' tracks; between Lunt and Morse Avenues),

No Exit Café (aka No Exit, The Exit, and The Café) was started in Evanston in September 1958 by two Northwestern University students, Bill Harmon and Dick McKernan. Housed in a narrow storefront on Foster Street next to the Foster L station, The No Exit became the hangout for the beat-generation college student. Word is that Sorority girls could be depledged if they were seen in the Café. No Exit was called a beatnik coffeehouse, but the patrons noted economic and social status diversity.

About three months after the Café opened, Joseph "Joe" Greeley Moore was hired to run the No Exit Café. After nine months, Joe bought out Harmon and McKernon in 1959. 

Joining the college student crowd was the racing crowd, the writers like Frank Robinson and folk singers like Art Thieme, Dodi Kallack, and Judy Bright. In the following years, singers like Steve Goodman, Harry Wailer, Michael Smith, Claudia Schmidt, Christy Moore, Bluesman Jim Brewer, Pat Clinton, Couple a Fat Guys, Jim Craig, and so many more graced the stage.

No Exit Café served coffee from several La Pavoni espresso machines.  The sweets were from a French pastry shop around Rush Street. The  Café served a few types of sandwiches and snacks. 

1960s La Pavoni [Pro] Europiccola
Brian Kozin started hanging out in 1961 during the hay day of the Joe Moore ownership. During the early 60s, the espresso was hot, and the Jazz was cool. Ira Sullivan led a jazz combo on Saturday afternoons. Brian also remembers one night after Jim Brewer finished his set, he needed a ride back to the west side. Brian offered to take him in Joe Moore's car. Joe asked if Brian could drive. "Sure, I can drive," Brian replied. Several months later, Brian entered No Exit and proudly showed off his new driver's license. "I thought you had a license," exclaimed Moore. "No, you asked if I could drive," was Kozin's retort.

When Northwestern University bought a large chunk of Evanston property, primarily to increase student housing in 1967, No Exit was forced to move. 

Moore started looking in Chicago's Rogers Park far north community for a new location.

No Exit opened on Glenwood Avenue (still has Chicago Paver Bricks from the 1910s) at Lunt Avenue on December 7, 1967. It was amazing how quickly new customers adopted the bar as a 'regular,' joining our friends who followed us from Evanston.

No Exit provided their extended neighborhood a smoky clubhouse full of friends and people looking for lively talk, playing games like chess, the game of GO (which was second to chess), and box games like Scrabble and Monopoly, or hoping that Moore would tell another of his stories.
Joe was politically active and a "talker," friends said, and in No Exit, which took its name from Jean-Paul Sartre's French drama, "No Exit" (the script), a 1944 existentialist play, he found both a profession and a second home. "He lived in the place, practically," said Sue Kozin, who, with her husband, Brian, owned the Café from 1977 to 2000.

"I moved up from the far south side town of Harvey because I was told of this great coffeehouse opening up," said Sue Kozin

"It took me a couple of months of peering in the door before I walked in." By spring, I was waiting tables on Thursday nights, and Steve Goodman was the entertainment. 1968 was a year of politics and demonstrations. The '68 Democratic convention and the protest riots against the Vietnam War became a hot topic around the regular's tables. 

No Exit was a polling place, and Rogers Park was then part of the Democratic 'machine.' The room became even more enriched with tie-dyed Hippies interspersed with the business types. No Exit settled into music, chess, and car racing; all was copacetic.

In 1972, Joe Moore and his wife Joanne decided to buy an old resort in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. He then sold No Exit to Peter Steinberg, his longtime manager. 
Peter Steinberg, the third No Exit Owner.
(received anonymously)
The first thing Steinberg did was to get rid of the racing crowd and throw a chair through the trophy case. It was Steinberg's gesture of freedom. The Japanese game of GO replaced chess. Mathematicians and computer programmers replaced the race car crowd. Folk music was still a staple part of the culture. Times were good, and many venues in Chicago for good music. No Exit prospered through the efforts of many artists who were working to their need to perform. Howard Berkman, Art Thieme, Dan Kedding, Roxanne Kedding, Mike Dougal, and Al Day became featured performers. The gallery space was also in use by new area artists. Ned Broderick and Pete Peterson, returning Vietnam War Veterans displayed works with humorous and grim views of life in the war.
Sue (and Brian) Kozin, No Exit's fourth owners from 1977 to 2000.
(received anonymously)
Brian and Sue Kozin purchased No Exit from Peter Steinberg in April 1977. For Sue, this realization was put into motion some seven years earlier. "The one thing Joe Moore did was to educate me in the right and wrong ways to run a coffeehouse." according to Sue. Brian seconded that statement. We took our time and returned the Café back to a vintage 50s and 60s coffeehouse. 

No Exit retained singers like Art Thieme and Howard Berkman. We added talents like Michael Smith, Suzy Boggus, Rosalie Sorels, Pat McDonald (who later headed the group Timbuk 3) and Andrew Calhoun to give a short list. Jazz was re-instituted on Saturday and Sunday afternoons with Bob Dogan, Jennie Lambert, Merle Boley, and Doug Lofstrom, and tradition was kept alive with Mike Finnerty and Mike Linn. Improv theatre was also instituted with Let's Have Lunch in the 80s and Bang Bang Spontaneous Theatre, now in its eighth year. Bang Bang was one of many springboards to send talent to Hollywood movies and TV land.

“This is such a weird place,” says Sue Kozin, “which is why we haven’t run [away] screaming . . . yet. There are so many odd things about it that you don’t really see in the real world. Where else do the customers walk behind the counter to answer the phone? Sometimes [customers] made a pot of coffee,  paid for their cup, then top off customers cups. They make their own change [from the cash resgister]. We’ve had customers who would bring their own tea  in and then pay for it by the pot.”

The Kozins managed the coffeehouse and raised three kids in the process. According to Brian, they have met everyone from rocket scientists to murderers. "With our son David being the first, we have had some 23 children born to the regulars over the years," mentioned Sue. At the beginning of the holiday season, every year, No Exit hosted a Thanksgiving potluck dinner on the last Sunday of November. This allowed Brian and Sue to relax and spend time with the customers, musicians and friends around No Exit. This tradition lasted the whole 22 years of the Kozin ownership.
No Exit Entrance. (received anonymously)

The decor was as eclectic as its customers. There were too many plants, some were donated, or a person was moving and didn't need the Elk antlers. A painting of James Dean was left one day, and an Armadillo was a gift from a waitress. The library of textbooks came from many students, and the paperback book library rule was take-one, bring-one-back. A student was doing his Cultural Anthropology paper about No Exit and spent a week cataloging everything in the Café.

In 1983 a building was bought, and volunteers built a new and permanent No Exit Café. The building was an old gentlemen's card-playing club, "The Sherman Bridge Club." It was a 'No Women' allowed smoking club, where playing Bridge was last on the agenda.
EXTERIOR OF NO EXIT - Copyright © 2022, Sandra Cedrins (artist's work)
INTERIOR OF NO EXIT - Copyright © 2022, Sandra Cedrins (artist's work)
For several years after the 1983 move into the new spot, shiny black Cadillacs and Lincoln Continentals would slowly drive by looking for that bridge club. "We tried to change the decor and brighten up the place," according to Brian. "But the customers stayed away until the burlap and curios went back on the walls."

Like anything else you do for twenty years, there comes a time to stop. For the Kozins, it was the years of no vacations and the children growing up. It was time to pack it up. Lesley Kozin tried to keep the Café open one more year, but it proved too much for her. "We made it look too easy," said Sue. "There's so much that's not seen. Hiring and training, prep work, shopping, payroll, and bookkeeping are a few. It takes up a lot of time." They were burnt out. 

Brian and Sue decided to sell No Exit.

In January 2000, while Bill and Sue were looking for a buyer, this happened:  

Then one afternoon, a longtime regular, Cindy Olsen, was puttering around in the Café's kitchen. After a sojourn in Wicker Park, Olsen had just moved back to the neighborhood, and she told Brian how much she'd missed No Exit. Olsen has been a patron for 14 years. Like so many others, her introduction to No Exit came when she was a Northwestern University student and found No Exit a quiet place to study. A few years later, when she and a friend ran an antique store adjacent to the No Exit, she became a regular.

"Why don't you just rent the place from me, then?" Kozin asked, and he quoted her a price.

To Olsen's surprise, it sounded like a reasonable offer. She went home and called her boyfriend, John Kiolbasa. "I have something to ask you," she said.

Kiolbasa said it sounded like a great idea. That afternoon he'd run across "A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon" on cable and had been thinking how cool it would be to have a place like the No Exit. The next day, the couple called Kozin and discussed terms: two months' rent as a down payment and the option to buy the building in two or three years. They made a deal. 

Beginning May 1, 2000, Olsen and Kiolbasa ran No Exit Café.

No Exit Café permanently closed on New Year's Eve, 2006, after 47 years.

No Exit Café Owners:
    1. Bill Harmon & Dick McKernan
    2. Joe & Joanne Moore
    3. Peter Steinberg
    4. Brian & Sue Kozin 
    5. Michael James & Katy Hogan (owned the Heartland Cafe)

Compiled and Edited by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.
Contributor, Sue Kozin

The Abingdon Sanitary Manufacturing Company, Abingdon, Illinois.

The Abingdon Sanitary Manufacturing Company was founded in 1908 and produced vitreous (resembling glass) china plumbing fixtures. 

The company introduced the first colored plumbing fixtures in 1928 and made all the fixtures used at the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair (a nice contract). To stay in business during the Great Depression, the company started producing artware in 1934 made out of the same material.
Abingdon Little Old Lady with Flower Basket Cookie Jar.
Abingdon Depot.

Between 1934 and 1950, millions of pieces were produced; over 80% of the pieces were sprayed, and 95% were made in a glossy glaze. Increased demand for plumbing fixtures caused the company to stop producing artware in 1950.
Stone Quarry near Abingdon, Ill.

The lead found at the Abingdon Pottery factory site most likely came from lead glazing, which gave the fixtures and pottery pieces their shine.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


Thursday, October 20, 2022

The Midget Club at 4016 West 63rd Street, Chicago. (1948-1982)

The Midget [1] Club bar was owned by Chicago native Parnell St. Aubin, who’d played a Munchkin soldier in The Wizard of Oz. His wife, Mary Ellen Burbach, was a former Mae West impersonator with the vaudeville troupes Rose’s Parisian Midget Follies. Mary also performed with: Fred Roper & His Wonderful Midgets, Henry & Dolly Kramer Midget Troupe, and Nate Eagle’s Hollywood Midgets.

In 1934, at Chicago’s World Fair, ‘A Century of Progress,’ Mary was part of the cast of ‘Midget City,’ “a colony of Lilliputians, living in miniature houses, furnished with tiny furniture.” A year earlier, Parnell had appeared in the same Midget Village, playing ‘Little Elmer,’ the smallest Midget at the fair. Both shows cost 25¢ to enter.
1933 Chicago World Fair, Midget Village.

Eyes center on dainty Stella Royal performing in an outdoor theatre in the Midget Village, Century of Progress, Chicago, 1933.

The couple met in the Toy Department of Chicago’s State Street Goldblatt’s Department Store in 1932, where Mary Ellen worked as one of Santa’s elves during Christmas. 

Parnell had come to see the little people at Goldblatt’s. When Parnell laid eyes on Mary, attention was swift and mutual. They got engaged on St. Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1933, 49 days after their first meeting. Mary and Parnell were married on Tuesday, April 4, 1933.

And then came the bar. “We created the bar to fit our size,” said Mary in 2008. “It was custom-built. Pint-size, so we could easily maneuver around, tend bar and serve customers.”

The Chicago Reader recalls: “The club was built for people of small stature: the stools were miniature, and the pay phone was installed just feet above the floor. St. Aubin, who was three-foot-seven, would climb up on a stool to reach the cash register. A large mural of Munchkins marching along the yellow brick road was painted behind the bar.”
The Midget Club

Richard Reeder was 16 when he first visited the bar, delivering supplies for his uncle’s company, Veteran Supply, in 1962. “It blew my mind,” he recalls. “I remember photos of St. Aubin with Judy Garland and Ray Bolger. It was just so out of context and, like Oz, a place of wonder and fantasy.”

The bar welcomed patrons of any height, and they did not discriminate. “If I depended on the midget trade, Parnell said, “I’d starve.”

After Parnell died on December 4, 1987, Mary kept the Oz theme alive, becoming First Lady of the Oz Festival, an annual tribute event in Chesterton, Indiana.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

[1] Midget (from midge, a tiny biting insect) refers to a very short but normally proportioned person. While not a medical term, it has been applied to people of short stature, often with dwarfism. The word Midget has a history of association with the performance arts as little people were often employed by acts in the circus, vaudeville, etc. The term midget is now rarely used and is considered offensive. But its usage was very common until the end of the 20th century. 

"Dwarf" refers to an extremely short adult who is 4 feet 10 inches tall. The average adult height in dwarfism is four feet. Common complications include bowing of the legs, hunching of the back, and crowded teeth.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Donley's Wild West Town (Amusement Park), Union, Illinois (1974-2021)

Donley's Wild West Town (Amusement Park), Union, Illinois (1974-2021)

Sixty miles northwest of Chicago.
Kids and adults could pan for gold pyrite at Sweet Phyllis Mine, shoot slingshots at Huck Finn's, or watch a wild west show.

The owner Larry Donley displays a handful of gold pyrite in the park's gold panning section. © David Kasnic, The New York Times.

Owner Mike Donley's parents, Larry and Helene, initially built a large storage facility to hold their growing collection of Museum-quality artifacts, antiques, collectibles, and memorabilia. 

The indoor Museum displays antique phonographs, Old West and Civil War artifacts, Carousel Horses, Outdoor Porcelain Signs and sports memorabilia. Around the back of the Museum was an outdoor replica town called "Wild West Town," complete with cowboy shows, a steam locomotive and a carousel.
Copyright © 2021 by Donley's Wild West Town

Copyright © 2021 by Donley's Wild West Town

Rides and Attractions included an Archery Range, Carousel, Hand Cars, Roping, Run Away, Shooting Gallery, Streets of Yesteryear, A silent movie house, Locomotive Ride, the Wild West Stunt Show, and others.
Run Away Mine Cars Roller Coaster

Run Away Mine Cars Roller Coaster, Copyright © 2021 by Donley's Wild West Town

"Please, keep your hands inside the car at all times ..."

Even young wranglers were pleased with the food and refreshment choices of an Ice Cream Parlor & Snack Shop, a Fudge Shop, and Clayton's Sarsaparilla Saloon.
The Lazy Canoe Float.

This is the cast and crew after what turned out to be the last-ever Wild West Show at Donley's Wild West Town on October 27, 2019. Copyright © 2019 Bob Brown ran the jail as“Marshal Bob.”

Onesti's Wild West Town (formerly Donley's Wild West Town) sold the amusement park to Ron Onesti in 2019.

Unfortunately, because of Illinois and McHenry County and local COVID-19 restrictions, they did not open the park for the entire 2021 season. It was announced in May 2022 that Ron Onesti's Wild West Town is permanently closed after the Wild West Town had a 47 46-year run.

Today, Donley Auctions sits in front of the Wild West [Ghost] Town. Monthly auctions attract buyers from around the world who enjoy the excitement of a live auction as much as trying to win a bargain.

Wild West Town Highlights - 2016

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.