Saturday of last week must be the hottest day in Southern Illinois. I was even surprised that my cousin wanted to drive around in that heat. If she had said we would stay home I would have not complained but I am not one to decline an invitation to explore places I haven’t been before.
When she asked what fun place I had in mind I suggested to check out another state park but they already had in mind to bring me back at places they have discovered in my absence.
Popeye was a comic character created by Elzie Segar who was born on December 8, 1894, and was a native of Chester. He’s always wanted to be a cartoonist and enrolled in a mail order cartoon course before moving to Chicago. He broke into comics when in 1919 he created the “Thimble Theater” which featured the Oyl Family – Cole, Nana, Olive, Castor and Olive’s beau Ham Gravey. In 1929, Segar introduced Popeye to the strip which became so popular that he became the star character as Olive’s beau.
Popeye is a strong hardworking but quick tempered sailor but he has a heart of gold and his love of Olive Oyl and Spinach led him to many adventures.
Chester overlooks the Mississippi River and the tallest of Popeye’s bronze statue is situated at the foot of Chester Bridge. All over town are statues associated with Popeye – Olive Oyl, Brutus, Wimpy and the whole gang. The comic character has been totally embraced by Chester town so much so that their biggest festival is the Popeye Picnic held during the first week of September when fans travel from all over the country to participate.
Another lesser known tourist spot in Chester is the Mary’s River Covered Bridge. It was built in 1854 and was in continuous service till 1930. The state maintains the bridge and is open to the public to see. Except for the flooring the bridge has retained its original materials.