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News and Information Archive : 1993

1964 Brooks Catsup BottleDate: May 1993
  • A St. Louis Business Journal article in the May 24-30 issue provides us with some interesting facts:
      * About 600,000 cases of product (ketchup, beans, olives, pickles, and others), or $9 million worth, are handled annually.
      * Pilots from nearby Scott Air Force Base use the Catsup Bottle as a reference point.
      * The Catsup Bottle could hold 1.5 million tomatoes.
      * Enough ketchup for about 25 million hamburgers.


Date: September 1993
  • In 1993, Brooks Foods, Inc. was headquartered in Mt. Summit, Indiana. Brooks, in turn, was owned by Curtice Burns, Inc. in Rochester, New York. In September of 1993, Curtice Burns, Inc. put the land, warehouse, and water tower up for sale. The Catsup Bottle's future was in jeopardy.

judy demoisyDate: September 1993
  • With help and support from the Collinsville Women's Club and the Friends of the Collinsville Historical Museum, the 14-member Catsup Bottle Preservation Group was created. New Collinsville resident Judy DeMoisy, an architecture and historic preservation enthusiast, heads up the group.
  • Publicity begins in earnest. 

Date: October 10, 1993
  • Collinsville city manager, Rich Mays, confirms that Brooks Foods has offered to deed the water tower to the city... "as is," of course. (After an extensive lobbying effort and letter writing campaign, the city later declines the offer, thus starting an incredible trend of indifference.)
  • Brooks was also willing to turn it over to an interested community group.

Date: October 11, 1993
  • Members of the Preservation Group appear with John Pertzborn on the "Pertzborn's People" segment of the KSDK Channel 5 news in St. Louis. It is picked up by the NBC network and is broadcast in Atlanta, Memphis, and parts of Florida.

Date: October 20, 1993
  • St. Louis radio station Y-98 FM morning show host Guy Phillips starts a $1 donation campaign. The show's producer, Tyler Richman, is a resident of Collinsville. The donations are handled by Magna Bank.
  • Fun stories begin to surface. One parent tells of how her kids would fight as to which of them got to sit on the Catsup Bottle side of the car!
  • The Catsup Bottle Preservation Group opens its account at The Bank of Edwardsville - Collinsville Center, with a $50 donation from the Collinsville Women's Club. The Bank of Edwardsville offers free banking service for the long range fundraising effort.

Mayor Fred DaltonDate: October 20, 1993
  • In an interview with the Illinois Post, Collinsville Mayor Fred Dalton says, "We, the city, have no practical use for the Catsup Bottle."

Date: October 21, 1993
  • A brief Associated Press article appears in the Decatur (IL) Herald & Review.
  • A community petition drive is started by the Preservation Group. "This is to get everyone's attention," said Judy DeMoisy. "This is in response to several people in the city leadership who said the people don't care about the Catsup Bottle."

1993 Brooks Catsup LabelDate: October 24, 1993
  • A brief Associated Press article appears in the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Early guesstimates put restoration costs at $20,000, and Brooks Foods pledges to match funds up to $10,000 under certain conditions. The company, apparently not understanding the idea and value of historic preservation, insists that the water tower be repainted "in the colors and designs as our bottle now exists."
  • Brooks also announces that they are in negotiations with Bethel-Eckert Enterprises about the sale of the property. Brooks is no longer interested in passing the Catsup Bottle to the city and says that responsibility would belong to the new owners. Brooks still insists on being in control of the painting. 

Date: October 1993
  • An extensive letter writing campaign is begun with the hopes of helping the powers that be at Brooks Foods see the light. Among the many who wrote to Brooks were the Illinois Historic Preservation Agancy, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and  Society for Commercial Archeology. Many local preservation groups also provided input.

Red Gold TomatoesDate: October 1993
  • The good folks over at Red Gold, Inc. checked in with us. They expressed great interest in helping with the restoration and repainting project if the Catsup Bottle became the property of the City of Collinsville. Although this offer didn't fit with the historic preservation objective, it was very tempting and very much appreciated.

Date: October 31, 1993
  • Gene Hermenet, president of Brooks Foods, says he is surprised by the public fervor. "We didn't realize how people felt about it," he said.

Date: November 11, 1993
  • A letter to the editor in the Collinsville Herald appears under the headline "Is The Catsup Bottle Worth Saving?" The letter by Collinsville resident Terry Sykes asks "who cares?"

Date: November 25, 1993
  • An article in the Collinsville Herald reveals that residents Debbie and Rod Schmidt have an extra special attachment to the water tower. That is where Rod proposed and gave Debbie her engagement ring 12 years earlier.

Date: November 1993
  • The Preservation Group borrows $938 from Collinsville Progress, Inc. (a non-profit community organization) in order to place the first shirt order.

Date: November 1993
  • Collinsville City Hall receives a call from Brooks Foods. It seems the folks at Brooks were a bit upset about the fact that the folks at Red Gold had been in touch with us. Their call was meant as a strong reminder to everyone that they (Brooks Foods) were still the owner of the water tower. And as the owner, they can still do with it what they want. Even with the fundraising and preservation movement under way, they can and will tear it down if they so desire! Hmmmm, sounds like someone was seeing red.

Catsup Bottle ShirtsDate: December 5, 1993
  • John Celuch of Inland Design, and intern Matt Bell, provide pro-bono work for the shirt designs. Pat Horstman and Mike Stevens of Custom Imprints provide the labor to produce t-shirts and sweatshirts.
  • Fundraising t-shirt and sweatshirt sales begin with two designs available. One being a gray shirt with a 3-color abstract Catsup Bottle image saying "Catsup Well Preserved." The other being a blue shirt with a white image of the architectural blueprints for the water tower and a red starburst saying "Roadside Architecture At Its Best."

Date: December 23, 1993
  • Ralf Schneider of Cards Plus, the local Hallmark store, sells out of his 100 shirt supply and asks for more. "We hit the jackpot on this for a fundraiser," he said.
  • Residents Renee and Rich Taake include a big Catsup Bottle decoration in their holiday lighting display with a sign saying "A gift for all of Collinsville."
  • Word begins to spread. The news media calls constantly. Letters come in from around the country. At this point we've created a monster, and it's taken on a life of it's own. The leadership of Judy DeMoisy, and the diligence of the Preservation Group members, keeps the project from spinning out of control.

Wade McCormickDate: December 1993
  • Preservation Group member Wade McCormick pens a little ditty called "The Catsup Bottle Song."
  • An article by editor Jim Potts appears in the December edition of his award-winning, Mound City Empties, the newsletter for the St. Louis Antique Bottle Collectors Association.

Date: December 26, 1993
  • The response to the shirts is overwhelming! "We can't keep them in stock!" DeMoisy says.

Date: December 24, 1993
  • On December 24, Christmas Eve, a call was received at the DeMoisy home. Merry Christmas. It was the corporate attorney for Curtice Burns, Inc. in New York.
    The purpose of his call of course, was not to ruin the holiday, but to reign in all of the activity. Curtice Burns and Brooks Foods were selling the property and wanted nothing to do with the Catsup Bottle anymore.
    They were washing their hands of it, and it seemed they wanted no one else to have anything to do with the Catsup Bottle anymore either. It appeared maybe that corporate big wigs viewed the situation as a bothersome embarrassment and enough was enough.

    Well, no retreat no surrender, baby, we were just getting started...!!!

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