I was walking down the street today when I noticed a chill in my lower torso. The zipper had broken. It was all upzipped below the slider. (That’s the technical term.) It was the coat equivalent of walking around with your fly undone. I drew down the slider and fit the parts back together. Same thing.

You’re wondering: was it a YKK or a YBS? The latter, alas. That explains it. I’ll say no more, because I’m doing a column on it. Except that I went to Amazon to see if I could get a replacement coat. Most of it looks like shiny junk, and probably infested with YBS zippers. When I bought the jacket years ago there were many places to find one's size. Get this, kids - you could walk into a store in the mall and it would be nothing but leather jackets, and you could try them on, right there. If it didn't fit, you didn't have to stick it in a box and mail it back somewhere, you just put it back on the hangar.

I know, I know - sounds like a marvelous time of ease and plenty.

Okay, that wasn't today's highlight. Today had no highlight. Today was a consistent stream of calm, steady productivity, punctuated by the usual half-hour of subdued grunting. It's only the last machine in the gym that makes me utter a sound, because it's hard. I'm allowed a minor exhalation of effort. It's not like there's anyone there to impress.

So that was today. Also, this.

Our weekly example of the happy pasttime of our era: clicking and clicking with no objective in mind. Where do we start? Where do we go? And how . . .

  . . . do we get from here . . .
  . . . to here?

You may remember from ancient Bleats the appearance of Elsie the Borden Cow in the Products section. I’ve been putting together all the Elsie ads I can find for a subsite, because someone has to.

This one is early, obviously 1939.

She wanted a meadow! Don’t worry, Elsie, it is - and it’s better! It’s a Flushing Meadow! Which means, of course, that this is 1939, and we're at the World's Fair.

Given the connotations of Flushing, you’d wonder why they’d say it's a Flushing Meadow, unless they expected that everyone would get the reference. Was it that popular? And why is it named Flushing?

Well, it’s named the river, which is named for the town. But why was the town named Flushing? Because it was an Anglicized version of a Dutch town. Vlissingen.

It’s where they built the ships for their navy, a once-formidable force. They were a great help in the early days of WW2:

A small force of submarines based in Western Australia sank more Japanese ships in the first weeks after Japan joined the war than the entire British and American navies together during the same period, an exploit which earned Admiral Helfrich the nickname "Ship-a-day Helfrich".The aggressive pace of operations against the Japanese was a contributing factor to both the heavy losses sustained and the greater number of successes scored as compared to the British and Americans in the region.

Good ol' Ship-a-day Helfrich:

(Picture from here.)


But during the relentless Japanese offensive of February through April 1942 in the Dutch East Indies, the Dutch navy in Asia was virtually annihilated, particularly in the Battle of the Java Sea (27 February 1942) in which the commander, Karel Doorman, went down with his fleet along with 1,000 sailors. The Navy sustained losses of a total of 20 ships (including two of its three light cruisers) and 2,500 sailors killed in the course of the campaign.

The Americans lost the Pillsbury and the Edsall, and the news was reported on the front page. Granted, the big headline was meant to buck up the home front: 40 planes smashed! But the enemy would probably trade 40 planes for two four-stackers.

The comics in that paper had, of course, GONE TO WAR.

Felix was gang-pressed into working for the Axis:

Trust me, he confounds their Hun perfidy, and sends many men to the bottom.

Popeye was also helping out, training a clone navy:

When I googled to see if Segar was still drawing the strip, or had farmed it out, I came across a site that noted how Popeye saved the domestic spinach industry. Kids started asking for spinach - which is delicious in raw form, but that stuff in cans? Gah. One city erected a statue to him to thank Popeye for boosting sales. Could we find it?

That's Crystal City. The Google Street View cameras have an account of the monument's overhaul.

I know, who cares. Anyway, Crystal City says it’s the Spinach Capital of the World. But so does Alma, AK. Their Popeye Shrine is much nicer.

It makes you wonder: did Elsie ever have a statue? Googling that leads you to something else. Her grave.

Borden wanted to have a topnotch dairy exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair, so they had built a "Rotolactor:" a giant, glass enclosed turntable on which cows were milked by automated machines. It was very futuristic and a hit with fairgoers, but it was only used twice a day -- during milking -- and crowds were thin in-between.

Searching for a solution, Borden's ad agency scanned a list of questions asked by visitors. They were amazed to find that six out of every ten asked, "Which cow is Elsie?" -- an animal that existed only in a series of cartoon magazine ads for Borden milk.

The agency combed the Borden herd of 150 Fair cows and quickly settled on a good-natured, big-eyed Jersey named "You'll Do Lobelia." She was rechristened Elsie, put on the Rotolactor between milkings, and a celebrity was born. By the time the Fair closed in 1940, "Elsie" had become its #1 attraction.

Lobelia was killed in transport in 1941, in New York City. Her tomb is a cenotaph now, just a marker that does not stand over her actual remains. This made me think of the tomb for the dog in the RCA ads.

Nipper died of natural causes in 1895 and was buried in Kingston upon Thames at Clarence Street, in a small park surrounded by magnolia trees. As time progressed, the area was built upon, and a branch of Lloyds Bank now occupies the site. On the wall of the bank, just inside the entrance, a brass plaque commemorates the terrier that lies beneath the building.

On 10 March 2010, a small road near to the dog's final resting place in Kingston upon Thames was officially named Nipper Alley in commemoration of this well-known resident.

That’s where I stopped, because mascot history could keep us linking and linking for eons.











We’re continuing with Danville, to see if we can find this. If, in fact, this is Danville! (Pretty sure it is.)

We return to the end of the street, where we left off last week.

You know, civic buildings aren’t what they used to be.

This is what they used to be.

And that's the pride of Danville.

The newspaper, 2019:

As another construction season slips away, scaffolding sits at the base of the former Bresee Tower in Danville. But there’s still no indication that any work will be done to fix the crumbling facade of the city’s tallest building, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

It was vacant in 2006, and purchased by two people named Collins, who intended to turn it into a hotel.

May 2021:

The mayor of Danville, Illinois, has made public statements favoring the demolition of the 12-story Bresee Tower, the tallest building in that eastern Illinois city of about 30,000 people.

According to a Jan. 27 article on the website of the Danville-based Commercial-News, the city’s mayor Rickey Williams Jr. indicated in a city council meeting on Jan. 26 that the owners of the building have no current revenue stream from the building, and seemingly none in sight. “I think that, unfortunately, the time to save that building has gone,” Williams reportedly told a city council committee.

May 26 2022:

DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA)– The tallest building in Vermilion County now belongs to the City of Danville per a judge’s order Thursday morning, moving the 100-year-old Collins “Bresee” Tower one step closer to a proposed demolition.

Previous owners Chris and Jeri Collins plan to appeal the order, insisting there’s an investor-backed plan to refurbish the 12-story structure. Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said “no one has ever come through with a viable plan” and he’s ready to spend the millions necessary to tear it down.

And now? We'll have to drop by later, and hope it's still standing.

It’s hard to say exactly what did happen here. Could be a good story. Could be an ordinary story.

Whatever afflicted the top stories seems to have infected one of the store fronts. The other is carrying on as best as it can.


The door looks as if the bank only serves people under four feet.

Nice work, well preserved, although the building on the right is not well served by recent decisions.


An auditorium, not a theater, I think.

Oh, well, I should look ahead.

When you see a blurry shot, you know what’s coming next.

The absence, the lot, the left-behind bits.

What, they haven’t gotten around to pulling this one down yet?


DALE. That would be owner John Dale, who rebuilt the old Opera House after a fire, dressing it in the Commercial style.

Daniel’s. The only remnant of the commercial enterprise, perhaps.

Peculiar upper floor. The band of stone and brick seems hiked up a bit higher than it should be.

Blurry. The old tile roof tells you it had another look, once. Something romantically Spanish.

Annnd gone.

Same with the Temple.

Demolished in 2001. It was six floors! A department store, I believe. It anchored the corner.

They haven’t gotten this one, but give them time.

It looks underloved. You can tell by the windows. The top is rather unique, and you'd like to think it could be brought back to usefulness.

The Fischer Theater.

It’s been restored, after the usual zenith and nadir.

The Illinois National Guard, with all the stern civic style of the time:

I would say: hotel. Right?

Built in 1926 as the Wolford. Closed. Now it’s apartments. Emporis says it’s a retirement home, and there's a stunning surprise.

A home for old Beatles fans, perhaps.

Google doesn’t want you to know the celebrities of Danville.

(One of your fellow Bleatniks emailed to tell me that Dick Van Dyck was one of them. Thanks, Bob! Now I can ID one of the images.)

I didn’t know Gomez Addams spent some time as an architect.


Well, did we find the site of the downtown mall? Yes. Passed it long ago. Then:


From what I understand, downtown was subsequently hollowed out by a shopping mall in the outlying area.

Everyone was really thrilled when it opened. We always were.


Now two ways to chip in!

That will suffice, I hope. Some pretentious Google Street View pages await your inspection and shoulder-shrugging. See you around!




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