Joe Palooka was one of the most
famous comic strip characters in the 1940's. The
cartoon figure was created by cartoonist Ham Fisher in
1928 as a 15-year-old who beat up neighborhood
bullies. As he grew older, he became a boxing champion
managed by Knobby Walsh.
Palooka became the
country's most patriotic character in 1942 when he
stepped down from the ring to enlist as a private in
the United States Army.
Palooka was such a
hero that when the Limestone Industry planned to
celebrate the business' 100th anniversary in 1948, it
decided to reproduce Palooka's likeness. Bedford stone
carvers' George Hitchcock and Harry Easton began
working on the statue at the Indiana Limestone Company
and finished the work on Bedford's square.
Fisher and 4,500
people attended the dedication on June 16, 1948. The
statue was placed at the Indiana Limestone's Dickinson
Park on old IN 37. After being vandalized numerous
times the statue was moved to the Hoosier-Joyner
Limestone Mill in Oolitic.
After several years
the statue was taken to the Bedford FOP Park. In 1984
the Bedford FOP donated the statue to Oolitic, and it
was moved to its present location on Main Street
between the Town Hall and the Post Office.
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