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Catsup Bottle


News and Information Archive : 1994

Date: January 1994
  • John Celuch, and his Inland Design Group of Edwardsville, continues to provide free services for shirt designs and promotional materials. Western Press of St. Louis prints 1200 posters free of charge.
  • Rumor has it that there is an effort underway to get TV weatherman Williard Scott to visit Collinsville and promote the plight of the Catsup Bottle. 

Date: January 26, 1994
  • The St. Louis alternative weekly Riverfront Times publishes a fantastic article by William Stage titled "Towering Achievement."

brooks catsup bottle labelsDate: January 29, 1994
  • A story by Ralph Finch appears in the Detroit News. It gets picked up by the Gannet News wire service and is supplied to newspapers around the country. Mail order requests for shirts soar!
  • Mr. Finch is a collector of antique ketchup, and catsup, bottles. He graciously sends two 1940s Brooks Catsup bottles that serve as the historic basis for the restoration template.

Date: January 29, 1994
  • Bethel-Eckert Enterprises officially takes over the plant, ending the era of Brooks Foods in Collinsville. Bethel-Eckert is a food distribution company that supplies product to military commissaries. 

Date: January/February, 1994
  • A photo and story appear in the St. Louis Landmarks Association's Landmarks newsletter. 

Date: February 7, 1994
  • Preservation Group gives a presentation to the Collinsville city council. Now add bewilderment to the disinterest and no support received from the city government.
  • The 30-minute presentation includes the singing of the "Catsup Bottle Song" and catsup brewing in a crockpot. The brewing catsup recreates the sweet smell that used to waft through the community during the catsup factory's hey day. 3/4 of those in attendance wear Catsup Bottle shirts.
  • "We want the city to accept ownership of the tower and set up a committee to oversee maintenance and preservation," said Judy DeMoisy. What the Group did NOT want was taxpayer money to be spent on the tower.
  • CBPG member Leon Sager presented Mayor Fred Dalton with a petition of over 3,000 signatures. $3,000 has been raised at this point. $10,000 is expected from Brooks Foods, and the CBPG intends to continue fundraising to establish a $5,000 maintenance fund. Brooks still wants to control the painting and says the lowest bid is $28,000.
  • Could this all be for nothing? Councilman Stan Schaeffer says he favors the city's involvment. But city manager Rich Mays says he has not formally presented anything to the council on the matter. "Nothing has even been discussed yet."
  • Not everyone was impressed. Constant community critic, Evans Newstrom, got up and urged the council to not get involved. He said, "I don't think that an unsightly billboard at the entry to the city will be a lure to business. This was an organized effort to pressure you into thinking that if you don't admire this rusted hulk you are not in favor of progress in the city." Huh?!? Was he even paying attention?

Date: February 10, 1994
  • The Collinsville Herald reports the "Ketchup Bottle Draws Attention From Affar." The article fills the public in on all the national media attention of which the CBPG was already fully aware. (Note the spelling in the headline. It will still be months and months before newspaper writers and editors accept the fact that it is the CATSUP Bottle and not Ketchup.)

Date: February 12, 1994
  • Members of the Preservation Group appear with Elaine Viets on her program "Friday Night Viets" on KTVI Channel 2 in St. Louis. 

Date: February 20, 1994
  • A great article by Michelle Meehan entitled "Time In A Bottle" appears in the Belleville News-Democrat Sunday Magazine. It highlights many, many great stories:
  • The Halloween night in 1980 when Rod Schmidt (40 in 1994) pulled his Toyota Celica under the water tower and asked his future wife Debbie to marry him.
  • The summer night in 1967 when Milton LePes (46 in 1994) climbed the Bottle about 2/3 of the way only to be discovered by the police. By the time he climbed down "every cop car in Collinsville showed up."
  • Francis Bauer (85 in 1994) explains she was 15 years old and working the line in 1924. She washed tomatoes until her hands cracked and made 17 cents an hour, while the men made 20 cents.
  • Wade McCormick (65 in 1994) recalls the Bottle being constructed and you could hear the riveting on a quiet evening.
  • Some factory secrets were told by Harold Drake (75 in 1994). A neighborhood kid was hanging around being a bother so "we dropped his pants and put tabasco on him. He ran off into Canteen Creek to cool down!" One guy cut the tip of his finger off in the bottle capper machine. When the big boss came down and said "I told you so" he ended up cutting off the tip of his finger, too. And get this: The inspectors would take a bottle of catsup and pour kerosene in it, shake it up, and any worms or foreign matter would then come to the top!

Date: February 24, 1994
  • The Collinsville Rotary Club donates $500 to the effort. The check is presented by officers Bill Metzger and Fred Kaspar. The bank account suddenly has $7500 in it.
  • A letter to the editor by Ken Brigman urging the city to do what it can to help, and applauds the CBPG for using private funds. He also offers some personal memories and a brief explanation on what exactly roadside architecture is.

Date: February 1994
  • St. Louis radio station WFUN Kids Radio does a talk show spot with members of the Catsup Bottle Preservation Group.
  • Newspaper articles come in with t-shirt orders from around the country. Rockland (NY) Journal-News, Danville (IL) Commercial News, Rockford (IL) Register Star, Dover (DE) Sunday News Journal, Bradenton (FL) Herald, Denver (CO) Post, Marin (San Rafael, CA) Independent Journal. Stories also appear in Lafayette, Indiana; and Moline, Morton, and Springfield, Illinois. 

Date: February 1994 
  • Prairie Farmer magazine publishes an article entitled "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" that sheads some interesting light on the situation. It turns out that Curtice-Burns had a lot more on its plate than anyone thought. There was a heck of a lot going on! Curtice Burns and Pro-Fac Cooperative had been haggling over their sparation since March of 1993. It was a "dance of dominance" to see who would control whom. Fiscal '93 saw a decline of 5.3% which meant a loss of $23.8 million. In November 1993, legal fees had already added up to $1.3 million.

Date: March, 1994
  • St. Louis writer and photographer William Stage provides a story to the national trade publication, Signs of the Times. 

Date: March 2, 1994
  • The CBPG announces plans for a St. Patrick's Day fundraiser. "Corned Beef and Ketchup - a great combination!"

Date: March 10, 1994
  • A letter from the Collinsville Chamber of Commerce announces that the Chamber will no longer support the project. This reveals an interesting community dysfunction. Apparently some feelings had been hurt, and some long-time Collinsville "power people" are resentful of this outsider coming into town and mounting such a successful grass roots effort to get something occomplished. It wasn't the first time our conservative little community showed its true colors - and it certainly wasn't the last. (Now, many years later, after a couple turnovers in staff and board members, the relationship with the Chamber of Commerce couldn't be any better!) 

Date: March 13, 1994
  • The Collinsville Herald man-on-the-street "Voice Box" column asks: If you could change one thing to improve Collinsville what would it be? While others brought up the parking and one-way street problems, Pat Madden answered with, "I'd paint the Catsup Bottle. That's one of the premier things in Collinsville. Everywhere you go people know about the Catsup Bottle." Thanks, Pat!

Date: March 17, 1994
  • The first full-fledged fundraiser is held at the Silvermoon Country Music Nightclub. Held on St. Patrick's Day, the event featured a corn beef and cabage dinner and an auction. Radio personality Paul Jeffries from WIL was there. The Village Bakery of Maryville provided a big 6 ft Catsup Bottle shaped cake at cost. UMB 1st National Bank donated $400 to cover cost of the advertising and ticket printing. The Junior Service Club helped with the auction and Terry "Bones" Allen auctioned off items donated by local businesses. Brooks donated 75 cases of catsup.
  • Attendance was literally overwhelming with 750 folks showing up, food & drink running out, and the auction overflowing into the hallway. Some residents who arrived late were angered about not being able to get meal tickets. They showed their true colors by being very vocal and causing quite a scene about it.

  • Bank balance: $19,000

Date: April 17, 1994
  • Collinsville's 7th annual International Horseradish Festival features the Catsup Bottle as a background element on its t-shirts. The comical shirts were designed by Ron Laney of Highland, Illinois.

cheers tv showDate: April 19, 1994
  • David Reid, a producer for the TV series "Cheers," checks in from Hollywood. He purchased a souvenir sweatshirt for his mom, and included Brooks catsup on the set of the show. Keep a look out for it in reruns!
 
Date: June 8, 1994
  • State of Illinois House of Representatives adopts resolution #2908 recognizing the efforts of the Catsup Bottle Preservation Group. The resolution was presented by Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville).

Date: June 11, 1994 
  • The Route 66 Association of Illinois visits Collinsville during its 5th annual Motor Tour. The tour kick-off is at Fairmount Park race track. The Preservation Group sells shirts, orange juice, and donuts for the cause.
  • Bank balance: $23, 800 

Date: June 17, 1994
  • Bethel-Eckert Enterprises, owned by brothers Larry and Jim Eckert, finally officially closes on the property. 

Date: June 29, 1994
  • While originally operating under the assumption of a $20,000 cost projection, and then realizing a low bid of $28,000, the Catsup Bottle Preservation Group is presented with some more bad news. The bids obtained by Brooks Foods were full of holes. Lead abatement and elevated tower painting issues were not addressed. Nor did any of the bids contain a guarantee. Brooks says they will provide all of their paperwork to Bethel-Eckert.

Date: June/July, 1994
  • The June/July issue of the Historic Preservation News newsletter feature a photo and article by our bud William Stage. His coverage has been wonderful and has allowed our story to reach many audiences. "We've had public participation throughout the whole project. We've been an inclusive rather than exclusive group," said Judy DeMoisy. "All the community needed was a little preservation leadership and the enthusiasm spread." 

Date: July 3, 1994
  • The real estate transaction section of the Belleville News-Democrat lists the sale of the Brooks Foods property at 800 South Morrison Ave in Collinsville at $300,000. The land, warehouses, Catsup Bottle water tower, and lots of memories. 

Date: July 15, 1994
  • At a cost of $1600, the Eckerts hire engineers Curry & Associates of Nashville, Illinois, to study the Catsup Bottle and to develop specifications and handle the bid process. New owners Larry and Jim Eckert say they are helping to restore the tower not for business reasons but because they are a part of the community. Judy and Larry agree that the money raised by the CBPG and the $10,000 donated from Brooks, probably won't be enough to get the job done right. The hope is to be done by the end of October.
  • Kansas City based Tnemec, Inc. offers to donate all of the paint for the project. This will really help to keep the cost down and we're getting the "cadillac" of paints, said Judy.

Date: July 17, 1994
  • The CBPG sell t-shirts at the Collinsville Car Show in Woodland Park. 

Date: July 1994
  • Avid model train enthusiast and retired American Steel Co mechanical engineer, Bob Blew, finishes a beautiful HO scale nodel of the Catsup Bottle water tower for his railroad layout. An article appears in the Collinsville Herald.
  • The Brooks Catsup Bottle water tower receives a Historic Landmark Award from the Historic Landmark Committee of Collinsville Progress, Inc. 

Date: August, 1994
  • A photo appears in the Tucumcari Literary Review
  • Sallie Jo Burton, tourism coordinator for the Collinsville Convention & Visitors Bureau, sends a goody basket to the PR firm handling the November taping in Chicago of the Jay Leno Tonight Show.

Date: August 4, 1994
  • Larry and Jim Eckert are still willing to deed the tower to the city. Jim said, "Our work doesn't require a water tower. We really would like to have the city take it over."
  • City Manager Rich Mays says whether the city would accept the deed would depend on a lot of factors including whether a maintenance fund was established, the paint job was done properly, and if the tower was structurally sound. "I think we'd consider it under those circumstances," he said. "But that still doesn't mean we'd take it automatically. We're just gooing to wait and see what happens with the fundraising and the rest..." 

Date: August 5, 1994
  • Italian Fest says no to Catsup Bottle shirts. The Italian Fest is Collinsville's premier celebration. It honors the city's great Italian heritage and brings 100,000 downtown to party each September. And while the Catsup Bottle was a big part of the International Horseradish Festival, the Italian Fest is another story. Chairman Becky Reinheimer said festival rules allow no souvenirs other than the Italian Fest's to be sold. "To do otherwise would take money from us," she said. "Nothing against the Catsup Bottle. It's in our rules and we follow our rules."

judy demoisyDate: August 20, 1994
  • Undaunted, the Catsup Bottle Preservation Group sets up shop and begins selling merchandise at the Catsup Bottle site along the side of Route 159. The inventory will soon include baseball caps, baby rompers, and doggies scarfs! Also included are new Catsup Bottle shaped cookies!
  • Bank balance: $29,000

Date: September 14, 1994
  • Diversified Coatings of O'Fallon, Illinois, gets the contract to restore the Catsup Bottle. The bid is $77,440 which is three times as much as originally expected. Vern Reinneck, president of Diversified Coatings said it's the close quarters, the height & shape of the bottle, and the lead paint removal that drove the cost up.

Date: September 29, 1994
  • The first four weeks of sales at the Catsup Bottle set a wonderful trend of bringing in an average of $1,000 a week. Only 37 weeks to go!
  • Clyde Zelch, of Tom Cat Tank Inspectors, climbs the water tower to check it out. Unknowingly, the Collinsville Police Department shows up to arrest him. Later, the Fire Department is called upon to provide generator power to help Clyde get paint samples for testing. Everything works out just fine.

catsup bottle costumeDate: September 1994
  • The soon to be world famous Catsup Bottle costume makes its debut, lovingly crafted for her 10 year old daughter Brook by Preservation Group chief, Judy "The Catsup Bottle Lady" DeMoisy. Years later, Brook (that's her name, really, we're not kidding - and she was born in Germany before the DeMoisy family had ever even heard of the Catsup Bottle) would lovingly respond with "I'm the daughter of a dork."
  • Postcards featuring a 1949 black & white image of the Catsup Bottle go on sale to help with the fundraising.

jc corcoranDate: October 17, 1994
  • J.C. Corcoran and the Breakfast Club from radio station WFBX 101.1 The Fox in St. Louis broadcast their 4-hour morning show live from the Catsup Bottle site. Channel 4's newsman Jamie Allman and meteorologist Trish Brown were also on hand.
  • We even had a sound bite from R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe asking listeners to support the Catsup Bottle effort. (Stipe was a 1978 graduate of Collinsville High School.)
   • The Collinsville and Edwardsville high school bands each played. (The CHS band director at the time showed little interest in playing. Edwardsville High School, on the other hand, jumped at the chance. Then at the last minute, CHS decided it wanted to perform. Go figure?!?!?)
trish brown radio station babe  • The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile was also there and well over 300 people stopped by. That morning $3,000 was raised totally unexpectedly.
  • The show's producer and co-host, Karen Kelly,has her own connections. "My mom grew up in Collinsville and my aunt and grandma still live here," she said. "And John Locus did my wedding pictures!"

Date: October 1994
  • The St. Louis Construction News & Review has a nice article with a photo but erroneously reports that Bethel-Eckert had donated the Catsup Bottle to the CPBG.
  • The October issue of Sign Business magazine contains a photo and brief mention titled "Rally 'round the catsup bottle."
  • The fall issue of Heartland Highways by Loren Eyrich features the Catsup Bottle.
  • Mound City Empties publishes a great progress report article by Jim Potts. 

Date: November 1994
  • The November issue of the Federation Glass Works newsletter also carries Jim's story.
  • The Catsup Bottle is featured in the November edition of the American Planning Association's magazine, Planning. Art director, Richard Sessions, in Chicago, sends a copy.
  • The winter edition of the Society for Commercial Archeology, the SCA News, runs a story and a photo.

Date: November 3, 1994
  • Proc Fac Cooperative aquires Curtice-Burns, Inc. 

Date: November 17, 1994
  • The contract has been signed - there's no turning back now! The contract is actually between Bethel-Eckert Enterprises and Diversified Coatings of O'Fallon, Illinois. Curry & Associates of Nashville, Illinois, is the project engineer. R.L. Moore, Inc., the local rep for Tnemec will provide the paint.
  • Cindy Stauder, Diversified's sales manager, says they have 30 years in the business and specialize in water towers. She expects work to begin in April 1995 and it should take 3 weeks or so depending on the weather. She explained some of the challenges: tight quarters, unusual shape, and the large amount of logo work in reproducing the vintage Brooks label. Also, a containment structure of three 86' x 18' curtains needs to be built to catch the paint being removed.

Date: November 19, 1994
  • While the Preservation Group was selling shirts at the Catsup Bottle site, two advertising signs were posted on utility poles. Unfortunately, that was against the rules in the city of Collinsville. Leader Judy DeMoisy received a ticket from Collinsville police for violating the local sign ordinance. "He pulled up and we thought he was going to buy a t-shirt," she said. "And then he ends up writing us out a ticket!"
  • Later, St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Elain Viets covers the incident and the story runs with the headline "Bottle Backers In Pickle Over Catsup Ticket." The extra publicity only helped the cause. And with some pro bono legal help from a Sunday-school lawyer friend the charges were later dropped. 

Date: November 23, 1994
  • The Catsup Bottle Lady Judy DeMoisy was listed the Collinsville Herald police blotter and her daughter Brook was listed in the school honor roll!

Date: December 11, 1994
  • Collinsville Progress, Inc. donates $525 to the CBPG. Carl Schultze says, "It's a worthwhile thing. That's what Collinsville Progress is all about, improving and enhancing the community."

santa clausDate: December 1994
  • The jolly ole elf himself, Santa Claus, shows up to help sell Catsup Bottle shirts - the hottest Christmas gift of 1994!
  • Clyde Zelch, from Tom Cat Tank Inspectors, sends a Christmas card saying there is no charge for his work on the project.
  • Local Hallmark store, Cards Plus, reports year-end sales of $20,000 for the Catsup Bottle shirts.
  • The December Madison County Geneological Society newsletter has a brief Catsup Bottle story.
  • Bank balance: $44,100




 
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