Original Facebook post July 9 at 1:15 PM
When I was a kid, Popeye was one of my favorite characters. If memory serves me correctly, the cartoons played on local Detroit, MI shows with hosts Captain Jolly and Poopdeck Paul. I was so obsessed with the fact that he could eat spinach and immediately grow huge biceps that I asked my parents to serve it at meals and to get me a Popeye hat and pipe. Unfortunately, my arms didn't grow exponentially after choking spinach down. However, I did develop a brief, but decent impression of Popeye and a so-so one of woman with the world's greatest metabolism, Olive Oyl that I still do occasionally. So yeah, I was obsessed.
With that as a backdrop, you can imagine my delight when I crossed the bridge from Missouri to Illinois and was greeted by the sign, "Welcome To CHESTER, home of Popeye". At first, I was going to just drive through it, but my inner 9 year old wouldn't hear such crazy talk. So I got out and began photographing some of the many statues of main characters like Bluto (the original poster man for bullying) and Wimpy (who had a hamburger eating disorder), and some of the abundant artwork all over the Popeye Character Trail. That lead me to go into Spinach Can Collectables/Popeye Museum - the very building where the comic strip was born - and meet the co-owner, Debbie Brooks. She told me her incredible connection to the character started when she was kidnapped as a child, rescued before any dire harm came to her, and told adults she, "stayed strong like Popeye".
Fast forward many years later and she and her husband, Mike, began a drive to put Popeye's hometown of Chester on the cartoon map. And today, the characters - which creator, Elzie Crisler Segar based on local townspeople - are so much a part of the town's culture that even the police and fire departments now sport Popeye emblems.
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