Saturday, November 19, 2022

The History of Mold-A-Rama Inc., Brookfield, Illinois.

The inventor, Tike Miller (J.H. Miller), did not set out to create one of the most unique vending machines ever constructed. He merely wanted to replace a broken piece for his Holiday Nativity set. When he went to the department stores, they only sold complete sets. Seeing the need, he and his wife started making plaster Nativity pieces in their basement. Soon, he had a factory, making dozens of plaster figurines that he sold in those same department stores.

In later years, Miller crafted additional lines of figurines. They made a line of Space Invaders, Jungle Animals, Holiday Specialties, and his famous Dinosaurs. The difference in these figures was that they were made with waxy plastic instead of plaster. It is thought that this is where Miller first started his experiments with plastic and his new plastic injection process. Tike made hundreds of wax/plastic dinosaurs in his Quincy, Illinois, factory using his plastic injection molding machines.

In the late 1950s, Tike Miller sold the rights to his idea of a souvenir-making machine to Automatic Retailers of America Inc. (ARA). For the next few years, he worked with ARA to develop a new vending machine that could make a wax souvenir for anyone with a quarter. A new division of ARA was born, and the term Mold-A-Rama entered the public vernacular.

Debuting at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, the bubble-topped machines created waxy, plastic models of the Fair's showcase building, the Space Needle, a monorail, a Buddha, a 3D sculpture of the Fair's logo, and other fun designs. At 50¢ each ($5 today), the souvenirs weren't cheap, but the experience of watching the statue created before your eyes must have convinced fairgoers they were seeing the future of manufacturing. 

The William A. Jones Company was founded on April 22, 1971, when Jones purchased his first Mold-A-Rama machines from Roy Ward in Chicago.

Roy was an employee of the original Mold-A-Rama Inc. and purchased several machines and two operating locations, Brookfield Zoo & The Museum of Science and Industry, both in Chicagoland, from ARA. When they decided to dissolve the Mold-A-Rama division of ARA, he operated for only a few years and then decided to sell his machines and retire.

Jones was a Michigan State Graduate working as a supervising accountant at Interstate United, a vending & food service Company much like ARA. After a particularly long day, Bill told soon-to-be retiring coworker Doris Ward, "Why don't you have your husband sell me his business so I can get out of this rat race the same time you do." She replied, "Roy and I were discussing finding a buyer last night." A year and a half later, after working with Roy on weekends, Bill Jones acquired all the Mold-A-Rama machines in the Chicago area.

The production of the Mold-A-Rama machines ended in the mid-1960s.
By 1971, the original Mold-A-Rama Inc. had dissolved entirely, and ARA grew. Today, that company is known as Aramark Food Company (worth $10.5 Billion today). A handful of small businessmen saw the potential in Mold-A-Rama machines and kept them out and running. One of them was Paul Nathanson, an operator out of Minnesota. Paul and Bill soon began working with each other, sharing purchases of custom-made parts. Loaning each other materials and helping each other out when they needed it. Paul Nathanson was one of the original franchisees of Mold-A-Rama and had several working accounts and many more machines than William. But in the early eighties, Paul decided he wanted to call it quits, and William bought him out and became the Midwest's biggest operator of Mold-A-Rama machines.

Some years after Mold-A-Rama Inc. was dissolved by ARA, Tike Miller was back to wearing his inventor hat. Recognizing Aluminum's value and popularity, his newest creation reclaimed this precious metal and then paid the recycler cash for the aluminum cans they had deposited. Years ahead of its time, the “Golden Goat,” as it was called, could fit in any supermarket parking space, taking up only a couple of parking spaces. Tike Miller was truly ahead of his time.

William A. Jones Co. had expanded from just the Chicago area to four states, and William brought in his sons Paul and Bill Jr. to help run the business. The Mold-A-Rama machines just keep getting older and older but are a favorite for visitors at major attractions nationwide.

At one time in the early 1970s, Mold-A-Rama machines were ubiquitous in museums, zoos, and other attractions all over the US. They were injection molding machines, and the plexiglass bubble allowed you to see a tiny part of the process — basically, the two halves of the mold coming together. Then, when they separated, you saw your molded statue in all its shiny plastic glory as a spatula-like device scraped the statue off the base underneath, dumping it into a slot for your convenient retrieval. There were dozens of designs in various colors — some specific to the place — like Disney theme parks and Sea World — while others were more generic.
The Complete Set of Disney Characters. © Moldville
Mold-A-Rama — Disneyland Toy Factory. 25¢

There were animals, vehicles (including the Space Shuttle), things like Santa, Christmas trees, and even the Houston Astrodome. The statuettes grow frail as they age and become more susceptible to catastrophic breakage after a couple of decades. 

The Mold-A-Rama figures were a delightful treat from childhood. People remember the excitement fondly at feeding quarters into the machine, waiting while the loud rumbling and hissing of the pneumatics involved, and finally, seeing the molded creation revealed before it was unceremoniously dumped into the retrieval slot. It was still quite warm at this stage, and the instructions on the machine cautioned the new owner to hold the figure upside-down by the base until it had cooled to prevent any still-liquid plastic from spilling out through the two holes in the base. The hot plastic smell was unique and highly memorable even to this day.

In 2011, Jones Co. changed the company name to Mold-A-Rama and incorporated. Now, the largest operator of Mold-A-Rama machines in the Midwest is once again known as . . . Mold-A-Rama Incorporated.

Bill Jr. died in 2014. In 2015, William A Jones decided to step back into semi-retirement.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.


        Mold                                        Location
3 Monkeys (Teal)             Tropic World Entrance
Tree (Green)                     Bookstore Annex
Santa (Red)                     Bookstore Annex
Reindeer (Brown)             West end of Pachyderm Building
Choir Girl Ornament (Blue)     Bookstore Annex
Rhino (Army Green)     East end of Pachyderm Building
Seal (Pink)                     Bookstore Annex
Gorilla (Black)                     Tropic World Entrance
Large lion (Orange)            Restrooms Coast Gifts & Café Del Sol
Penguin (White)             Restrooms Coast Gifts & Café Del Sol
Walking Bear (tan)             Underwater viewing Great Bear Wilderness
Polar Bear (White)             Underwater viewing Great Bear Wilderness
Otter (Silver)                     Just inside the Swamp exit

Gorilla (Black)                     Primates Building
Sea Lion (Red)             Aquatic Animal Building
Vintage Lion (Yellow)     Large Cats Building
Polar Bear (Light Blue)             Aquatic Animal Building

Quetzalcoatlus (Light Blue)     Upper level in front of Evolving Planet
T-Rex (Red)                     Upper level in the rear hall of Evolving Planet
Apatosaurus (Green)             Main level in front of Africa
Bushman Gorilla (Brown)     Main level in front of Becoming Jane
Stegosaurus (White)     Ground level by Sea Mammals
Ankylosaurus (Green)             Ground level by Sea Mammals

Weiner Mobile (Orange)              In front of Plum Market Kitchen
Mustang (Orange)            In the back of Liberty & Justice for All
Abraham Lincoln (White)    In the back of Liberty & Justice for All
Rosa Parks Bus (Green)             Corner of Liberty & Justice for All
Mickey Mouse (Red)     Giant Screen Theater
Henry Ford(Gray)             Giant Screen Theater
Model T (Black)             Made in America Manufacturing
Kennedy Limo (Black)             Presidential Vehicle Wall
Train (Silver)                     In front of the Allegheny Train
Gasser (Blue)                     In front of the Allegheny Train

Bat (Black)                                  Outside exit of small mammals building
Elephant (Grey)             Outside of Conservation outpost
Tiger (Orange)                     North end of Feline House
Giraffe (Red)                    Across from Giraffe yard west side of the Mall
Gorilla (Black)                     Indoor Gorilla Exhibit
Lion (Yellow)                     South end of Feline House
3 Monkeys (Brown)             Outside the west wall of Primate House
Skull (White)                     In front of the Polar Bear exhibit
Ghost (Purple)                     On the East side of the mall, across from the Giraffes
Panther (Tan)                     Walkway near Flamingo Cafe’s Patio
Standing Frank (Green)             Under the Mold-A-Rama tent next to the train station
Eagle (Blue)                     Under Mold-A-Rama tent next to the train station
Seahorse (Silver)             Outside the west wall of Primate House

Tractor (Green)             By the farm exhibit
U505 (Gray)                     Lower level near U505 entrance
Baby Chicks (Yellow)     Main level in Genetics across from hatchery
Train (Black)                     Main level by Great Train story
Chicago Skyline (Red)             Main level near the silver elevator
Robot (Silver)                     Inside Mold-A-Rama exhibit
Monorail (Green)             Inside the Mold-A-Rama exhibit
HMS Bounty                     Inside the Mold-A-Rama exhibit
Choir girl ornament (White)     Inside the Mold-A-Rama exhibit

Elephant (Gray)             Across from the Jaguar before Riverview
Giraffe & Baby (Orange)             Across from the Jaguar before Riverview
Flamingo (Red)             Next to the Crossroads Cafe
3 Monkeys (Green)             Next to the Crossroads Cafe
Rhino (Brown)                     Near Carousel Ticket Booth
Lion (Yellow)                     Across from Lory Landing
Hippo (Blue)                     Across from Lory Landing
Kangaroo (Pink)             Near Carousel Ticket Booth

Friday, November 18, 2022

The History of the Tom Tom Tamale Manufacturing Company, Chicago, Illinois.

The tamale is recorded to have originated in “Mesoamerica as early as 8000 to 5000 BC” in Pre-Columbian history. As making tamales is a simple method of cooking corn, it may have been brought from Mexico to Central and South America. However, according to some archaeologists, the tamales date from the year 100 AD. They found pictorial references in the Mural of San Bartolo, in Petén, Guatemala.” Although the tamales may have moved from one country to another, as many other countries in South and Central America seem to have their own version of tamales, there is no evidence of “where the migration of the tamales went from north to south” or vice versa within the Americas.

Modern-day manufactured tamales, called 
corn roll tamales, became popular in the early 1940s.
A Frozen Tom Tom Tamale
Tom Tom Beef Tamales have been a staple of Chicago since 1937. Served straight from metal steamers at Italian beef and hot dog stands across the city of Chicago. Corn roll tamales were invented in Chicago, and we have found ways to love them.

Unlike traditional tamales, usually made with masa (cornmeal dough), stuffed with vegetables, meat and or cheese, and then rolled in a natural wrapper, like a corn husk or a banana leaf, before warming, frequently by steam. Unlike anything you'll find in Mexico, Chicago’s corn roll tamales are an industrial product. 
Hand-made Corn Tamales.

Chicago’s original tamales are manufactured on equipment that extrudes cylindrical shafts of brownish-colored cores of lightly seasoned beef, cornmeal, and yellow cornmeal wrapped in a yellow cornmeal exterior. The two big Chicago corn roll tamales brands are Tom Tom Tamale Manufacturing Co., Chicago (est.1937) and Supreme Tamale Co., Elk Grove Village (est.1950).

Tamales were brought to the United States in the late 1800s or early 1900s by Mexican workers who may have pocketed a few before heading off to work in the fields, according to the Southern Foodways Alliance, part of the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

In those fields, specifically in the Mississippi Delta, Mexican workers likely encountered Black workers with whom they shared the tamales.

Tamales were immortalized by Delta bluesman Robert Johnson, of the Faustian bargain at the crossroads, in “They’re Red Hot:”

Hot tamales and they’re red hot,
yes, she got ’em for sale.
I got a girl, say she is long and tall.
She sleeps in the kitchen with her feet in the hall. 
Hot tamales and they’re red hot,
yes, she got ’em for sale.

During the Great Migration, Blacks brought along their tamales. The first documented sale of tamales in Chicago was at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, a hotbed of the culinary invention that also introduced such landmark innovations as Brownies, Aunt Jemima pancake mix, and a few other new food inventions.

However, the spread of corn roll tamales in Chicago may have less to do with Mexican and Black food traditions and more with Greeks and Armenians. The Petros family bought the Tom Tom Tamale & Bakery in 1937, and the Paklaian family bought Supreme Frozen Products in 1950.
Supreme Tamale Company, Inc., 1495 Brummel Avenue, Elk Grove Village, IL.,
got its start out of a factory in Chicago on the corner of Chicago
and Washtenaw Avenues in 1950.
The brand name came about, or so the story goes, because the company was once owned by two Greek fellows named `Athanasios,' explains company president Nick Petros. "Since 'Athanasios' is somewhat of an exotic name. In English, they were called 'Tom.' So, two Toms became Tom Tom. Whether or not this is a true story I don't know," Petros admits, "but it's a good story."

The “bunch” tamales, a variant of corn roll tamales still available at places like Superdawg's on Devon and Milwaukee Avenues in Chicago. Bunch-style tamales are 1/4 the size of corn roll tamales and divided with origami-like precision into four baby tamale fingers.
Bunch Tamales

This carb-heavy street food seems designed to fill up whatever belly space remains unoccupied after one puts away an Italian beef sandwich or a Chicago-style hot dog with all the fixings. Chicago corn roll tamales are usually one of the least expensive items on a menu, though it’s not exactly a value: at Superdawg, tamales are $3.50 each, and their jumbo (their regular size is 6 hot dogs to a pound) hot dog with fries is $7.25.

Corn roll tamales are the star of another Chicago food, the “tamale boat,” also called “chili cheese tamales,” in which tamales are submerged in chili to become a kind of lush, spongy cornmeal dumpling that absorbs flavors beautifully. This version of corn roll tamales is usually served with sports peppers, chopped onions and cheese, which add even more flavor.

Corn roll tamales are also used in other Chicago original foods, like the Mother-in-Law (a tamale in a hot dog bun, ladled with chili, dressed with standard Chicago hot dog condiments), as served at many hot dog joints. 

Bourdain brought the national spotlight to Chicago's southside "Mother-in-Law" sandwich, claiming it to be “disturbing in design, but strangely compelling." Back in 2009, when No Reservations aired its Chicago episode, he called the city “a colossus right smack in the middle of the country” with “everything that I love about a city — tall towers, hard corners, and sharp elbows. And, of course, food.”
The Mother-In-Law Sandwich

Few deem Chicago corn roll tamales to be a culinary masterpiece on the level of a Chicago Italian beef or a Chicago hot dog. Still, it’s Chicago, and it's ours. I recommend you have your Chicago corn roll tamales in a boat with chili, onion and cheese. Many also add sports peppers, but, of course, toppings are your choice.

Tom Dziedzic sent me some photos of his mother working at Tom Tom in 1939 or 1940.
"Mom often talked about working at Tom Tom Tamale Bakery and how much fun these women had while working together." writes Tom Dziedzic, "My mom is standing second from right, in the different uniform."
Mrs. Dziedzic, center, and Tom Dziedzic's future Godmother,
Jean Mazur, on the right.
An honorable mention goes to Veteran Tamale which began in 1946 at 33rd and Morgan streets in Chicago. In 1947 they bought the building at 3133 South Archer Avenue. The family stopped using meat in the 1960s after inspectors with the United States Department of Agriculture continually hassled them. Veteran Tamale switched to spiced, textured soy protein cooked in lard, then ditched the lard for vegetable oil. The final vegetarian recipe was ideal for Catholics abstaining from meat during Lent. Veteran Tamale closed in January 2017.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Ferrara-Lezza & Co., 2210 West Taylor Street, Chicago, Illinois, History.

Salvatore Ferrara was just 16 years old when he left his home in Nola, Italy, in 1900 and emigrated to the United States. Salvatore Lezza came to America in 1905 with a secret recipe for spumoni ice cream. He shared his plans for a sweet shop with Salvatore Ferrara, eventually leading them to open the first Italian pastry and candy shop, Ferrara-Lezza & Co., in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood in 1908. 
Salvatore Ferrara, 772 West Taylor Street, (1801 W Taylor, today) Chicago, Illinois.
Tel: MONro-2201 - 1932 Chicago Whitepages.

An instant success, they were recognized throughout the city and suburbs for their fine pastries, wedding cakes and confections.

Salvatore soon met and married Serafina Pagano, and they labored together to provide Chicago with beautiful desserts and candies. They made a lasting name for themselves through hard work and commitment to using quality ingredients. Serafina, a dynamic business personality and philanthropist, was loved by all who knew her. She was known as "The Angel of Halsted Street." She is still remembered today.
Ferrara & Co. Pastries, 2210 West Taylor Street, Chicago, Illinois, 1963.

The third generation of Ferrara proudly carried on the tradition of providing its customers with a wide variety of delicious desserts of the highest quality. Ferrara's Signature Italian Cannoli Cake has become a tradition for thousands, enjoyed through the generations.

Eager to meet new challenges, Salvatore put Serafina in charge of the bakery and concentrated his efforts on expanding the candy business. 

With the help of his two brothers-in-law, Salvatore Buffardi and Agnello Pagano, they launched the Ferrara Pan Candy Company, headquartered at 7301 West Harrison Street, Forest Park, Illinois, today.
Ferrara & Co., Candy Factory, 7301 West Harrison Street, Forest Park, Illinois.

Owned by the Ferrero Group in 2017, the company now manufactures 100 Grand, Atomic Fireball, Baby Ruth, Boston Baked Beans, Brach's candy, Butterfinger, Chuckles, Chunky, Jujyfruits, Laffy Taffy, Lemonhead, Nerds, Now and Later, Oh Henry!, Raisinets, Red Hots, and Sweetarts to name just a few of the Ferrero candy brands.

Ferrero International S.A., more commonly known as Ferrero Group or simply Ferrero, is an Italian multinational with headquarters in Luxembourg, a manufacturer of branded chocolate and confectionery products, and the second biggest chocolate producer and confectionery company in the world. 

1891: Farley Candy Company is established.
1936: Sathers Inc. is founded.
1996: Favorite Brands International acquires Farley & Sathers.
1999: Favorite Brands is acquired by Nabisco.
2000: Kraft Foods acquires Nabisco division.
2002: Farley's & Sathers, as an independent company, was formed from assets purchased from Kraft Foods. They bought several Hershey brands that originated with Henry Heide, Inc. 
2007: Brach's Confections was sold to Farley's & Sathers Candy Co.
2012: Farley's & Sathers Candy Company Inc. merges with Ferrara Pan Candy Company.
2017: The Ferrero Group acquired the Ferrara Candy Co.

No retail stores were involved in these deals.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Six of the worst jokes Abraham Lincoln ever told.

Abraham Lincoln was a compulsive teller of stories and jokes, the first president to make laughter a tool of the office. Lincoln had a wicked sense of intellectual humor and used humor to hammer a concept or his point of view home. Lincoln was as clever in using humor as he was resourceful in political management.

6. "I heard a good story while I was up in the country. Judge D was complimenting the landlord on the excellence of his beef. "I am surprised," he said, "that you have such good beef. You must have to kill a whole critter when you want any." "Yes," said the landlord, "we never kill less than a whole critter."

5. After Secretary of War Edwin Stanton replied to a telegram demanding urgent instructions with "all right, go ahead:" "I suppose you meant," said Mr. Lincoln, "that it was all right if it was good for him, and all wrong if it was not. That reminds me," said he, "of a story about a horse that was sold at the cross-roads near where I once lived. The horse was supposed to be fast, and quite a number of people were present at the time appointed for sale. A small boy was employed to ride the horse backward and forward to exhibit his points. One of the would-be buyers followed the boy down the road and asked him confidentially if the horse had a splint." "Well, mister," said the boy, "if it's good for him, he has got it, but if it isn't good for him, he hasn't."

4. "I once knew," Lincoln said, "a good sound churchman, whom we will call Brown, who was in a committee to erect a bridge over a very dangerous and rapid river. Architect after architect failed, and, at last, Brown said, he had a friend named Jones who had built several bridges and could build this. Let us have him in,' said the committee. In came Jones. Can you build this bridge, sir?' Yes," replied Jones. "I could build a bridge to the infernal regions if necessary. The sober committee was horrified. But when Jones retired, Brown thought it but fair to defend his friend. I know Jones so well,' said he, and he is so honest a man, and so good an architect, that if he states, soberly and positively, that he can build a bridge to Hades, why, I believe it. But I have my doubts about the abutment on the infernal side. When politicians said they could harmonize the northern and southern wings of democracy, why do I believe them? But I had my doubt about the abutment on the southern side."

3. The President said, "the Army dwindled on the march like a shovelful of fleas pitched from one place to the other." (John Hay's diary)

2. From February 17, 1864, New York Post, "Several Little Stories by or about President Lincoln:" One of the latest reported is his remark when he found himself attacked by people asking favors. "Well," he said, "when the contagious disease was coming upon him, I've got something I can give to everybody now."

1. Well, there was a party once, not far from here, which was composed of ladies and gentlemen. A fine table was set, and the people were greatly enjoying themselves. Among the crowd was one of those men who had the audacity — was quick-witted, cheeky and self-possessed — never off his guard on any occasion. After the men and women had enjoyed themselves by dancing, promenading, flirting, etc., they were told that the table was set. The man of audacity — quick-witted, self-possessed and equal to all occasions — was put at the head of the table to carve the turkeys, chickens and pigs. The men and women surrounded the table, and the audacious man being chosen carver whetted his great carving knife with the steel and got down to business & commenced carving the turkey, but he expended too much force & let a fart — a loud fart so that all the people heard it distinctly. As a matter of course, it shocked all terribly. A deep silence reigned. However, the audacious man was cool and entirely self-possessed; he was curiously and keenly watched by those who knew him well, and they suspected that he would recover in the end and acquit himself with glory. The man, with a kind of sublime audacity, pulled off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, put his coat deliberately on a chair, spat on his hands, took his position at the head of the table, picked up the carving knife and whetted it again, never cracking a smile nor moving a muscle of his face. It now became a wonder in the minds of all the men and women how the fellow was to get out of his dilemma. He squared himself and said loudly & distinctly: "Now, by God, I'll see if I can't cut up this turkey without farting." (via William Herndon)

I'm confident that I can find more of Lincoln's 'bad' jokes with more research.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Hotel Planters, 19 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois.

Hotel Planters was at Clark and Madison Streets. Designed by John O. Pridmore in 1910, this nine-story classical structure blends the architectural ideas of both Chicago construction and Beaux-Arts.

Columbia Burlesque theater marquee announces its show, The Flirting Widow. The burlesque house became the Clark movie theater when the hotel was renamed the Harding. Three First National Plaza is located on this site.

The Hotel Planters Restaurant, Merrie Garden, was a classically inspired find-dining room with a small orchestra pit in the early years. 

By 1917, the restaurant was modified. Guests ate in the Merrie Garden and were entertained by cabaret acts. In time, the room was redesigned with a medieval theme.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The Adolf R. Harseim Merchandise Store, Secor, Illinois, and famous resident Wilhelmina "Minnie" Vautrin.

Secor, Illinois, was named after Charles A. Secor, a partner in the engineering firm that laid out the eastern branch of the Peoria & Oquawka Railroad Company. Secor is 25 miles east of Peoria.

The General Store was established by Rudolph Harseim, born May 8, 1830, an early settler arriving in 1862. The General Store was passed on to his son Adolf R. Harseim in 1910.

Rudolph died on December 21, 1905. His wife, Katharina, lived from 1836 to 1921.

Minnie Vautrin
Wilhelmina "Minnie" Vautrin (1886-1941), born in Secor, Illinois, on September 27, 1886. Miss Vautrin, an American missionary to China and known as 金陵女子大学, the "Goddess of Mercy." She was the president of Ginling College, University of Nanking, China. During WWII, Nanjing was invaded by Japanese Imperial troops in December 1937. The invasion aftermath is known as the 'Nanjing Massacre.' 

During the Nanking Massacre aka the Rape of Nanking, the college, led by its acting principal Professor Minnie Vautrin, harbored thousands of women hiding from the Japanese Imperial Army and saved hundreds of children and women from rape and worse.

The city is strangely silent—after all the bombing and shelling. Three dangers are past—that of looting [Chinese] soldiers, bombing from aeroplanes and shelling from big guns, but the fourth is still before us—our fate at the hands of a victorious army. People are very anxious tonight and do not know what to expect . . . Tonight Nanking has no lights, no water, no telephone, no telegraph, no city paper, no radio.”            December 13, 1937, The Diary of Minnie Vautrin. 

Vautrin guarded the college with the motto: "Whoever wants to go through this gate will have to do so over my dead body."

From August 12, 1937, to April 1940, Vautrin kept a daily diary, recording war crimes committed by Japanese troops in Nanjing. She returned back to the United States for medical treatment on May 14, 1940.

Vautrin is highly honored in China for establishing a sanctuary on the grounds of Ginling college to protect Chinese non-combatants  women  from the six-week massacre and other unspeakably evil things. Minnie was posthumously awarded the "Order of the Brilliant Jade" by the Chinese government for her actions during the massacre. 
Salt River Cemetery, Shepherd, Michigan.
She committed suicide in May 14, 1941 and is buried in Salt River Cemetery, Shepherd, Michigan.
Order of the Brilliant Jade.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

The Pabst Beer advertising sign on South Water Street, Chicago. 1943

Pabst Beer neon sign at South Water Street looking South. 1943
The Pabst Blue Ribbon neon [1] sign looking North at South Water Street, Chicago.

Blended 33 to 1 means that 33 vats of beer are blended together to make one batch for consistency.
The Pabst sign was removed before June 1953 for the groundbreaking of the Prudential Insurance building. 
Prudential Plaza, 1964
The Prudential building opened to the public in 1955, replacing the Pabst neon sign.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

[1] Neon was first unveiled in modern form by Georges Claude, a French engineer, at the Paris Motor Show in December 1910. In 1923, Claude brought neon signage to the United State, selling two signs to a Packard car dealership in Los Angeles, California.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Roos' Restaurant, Home of the $1, Eight Course Dinner, beginning in 1923.

Max W. Roos was the Assistant Manager at the Blackhawk Restaurant at 139 North Wabash, Chicago. The success of the Blackhawk Restaurant and Grill has inspired its former assistant manager, Max, to decide to have a loop restaurant of his own. 

Consequently, he had leased the entire basement of the Mallers Building (constructed in 1918 in an art-deco style), 5 South Wabash at Madison Street, for ten years at a term rental of $110,000 ($917/month) starting on March 1, 1923. 

Max opened the Roos' Restaurant as soon as the extensive alterations were completed, probably around the end of February 1923. 

The new Restaurant was popularly priced along the lines of the Blackhawk Restaurant. The space just rented was formerly occupied by the Illinois Cafeteria.

Roos' Restaurant even offered a $1 Thanksgiving feast and all dinner choices, all the time, which would cost $17.50 today.
A visual aid.

By Roos' third week in business, a half-page Tribune ad on March 7, 1923, "It's here, my 65¢ Lunch." My $1 dinner has been such a tremendous success I know a similar luncheon will be equally as popular. So, Starting today, I will serve between 11 and 3 o'clock for a 65¢ special luncheon which I believe cannot be duplicated for the same price elsewhere. 

I will give a choice of six entrees. With each choice, I will serve potatoes, one extra vegetable, bread and butter, and your choice of pie, pastry, and ice cream, and your choice of tea, coffee, and milk. The portions will be liberal, and the food will be the same first-class quality you get with my famous $1 dinner. In fact, you will get Roos' Quality and Roos' Service in a wonderful table d'hote lunch at  65¢. March 7, 1923.

Roos' Restaurant offered a $1 Thanksgiving feast which would cost $17.50 today.

November 3, 1925, Chicago Tribune, under the heading of "Petitions in Bankruptcy," Roos' Restaurant Co. claimed involuntary bankruptcy[1]. Creditor Beatrice Creamery Co. claims $1,000 ($17,000 today). 

After 2 years and 8 months in business, Max couldn't come up with $1,000. It took some time for the bankruptcy to be discharged. 

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

[1] Involuntary bankruptcy is a legal proceeding through which creditors request that a person or business go bankrupt. Creditors can request involuntary bankruptcy if they think they will not be paid if bankruptcy proceedings don't occur. They must seek a legal requirement to force a debtor to pay their debts. Typically, the debtor is able to pay their debts but chooses not to for some reason. For involuntary bankruptcy to be brought forward, the debtor must have a certain amount of serious debt.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Standard Oil Gas Station, Odell, Illinois on Route 66.

In 1868, John D. Rockefeller formed the Standard Oil Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 
This was the beginning of the Standard Oil Trust Company, which would soon dominate oil refineries and gas stations around America. 

In 1890, the Standard Oil Company set up its first company in Illinois.

In 1932, a contractor, Patrick O'Donnell, purchased a small parcel of land along Route 66 in Odell, Illinois. There he built a gas station based on a 1916 Standard Oil of Ohio design, commonly known as a domestic-style gas station. 

This "house with canopy" style of the gas station gave customers a comfortable feeling they could associate with home. This association created an atmosphere of trust for commercial and recreational travelers of the day.

The station originally sold Standard Oil products, but after O'Donnell leased the property to others, the station began selling Sinclair and the now famous Phillips 66. 

In the late 1940s, O'Donnell added a two-bay garage to accommodate repair services, which was necessary to stay competitive with the nine other stations that occupied the short stretch of Route 66 through Odell. The gas station was in constant use during the heyday of travel on Route 66. It was a welcomed rest stop for weary travelers and a place for the kids to get out and stretch their legs.

The station sold gasoline until the 1960s and then became an auto body shop until the late 1970s when it closed its doors for good. It fell into disrepair and would have been destroyed had it not been for the town of Odell and the people who loved their gas station. In 1997, the station was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Then, thanks to a collaborative effort, the Illinois Route 66 Association, the Village of Odell, the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office, the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, and Hampton Inn Landmarks restored the station to its former glory. A Standard Oil sign hanging from the roof swings gently in the warm breeze, and an old-fashioned gas pump looks ready to serve the next customer. Although Odell's Standard Oil Gas Station no longer sells gasoline, it has become a welcome center for the Village of Odell. 

The station won the National Historic Route 66 Federation Cyrus Avery Award in 2002 for the year's most outstanding Route 66 preservation project.  

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.