Popeye and his family have come to Sun City Peachtree to take shelter from Hurricane Ida, which is pummeling the Louisiana coast as I write. He has abandoned his boat somewhere on the lower Mississippi, so I hope it will weather the storm ok.
I missed the day Popeye arrived; he was snagged off the bench before I got to him. The artist helped me out with a photo for this story. The same happened with Wimpy.
The corn cob pipe-smokin’ sailor is actually from the upper Mississippi, in Chester Illinois. We visited his birthplace in 2017, and you can read about Popeye’s hometown here.
Elzie Crisler Segar, Popeye’s creator, was born in Chester, and created his Thimble Theatre comic strip in 1928. Several of his characters were based on his experiences with people from the town.
The muttering Popeye is a language-challenged character—he mangles the easiest of words to pronounce. Although he is violent and uncivilized, the sailor is an introspective guy and has his morals.
Sporting a couple of anchor tattoos on his huge forearms, he has an interesting body type with those skinny upper arms. Since we never see his right eye, I’m not sure if he is missing it entirely or just squinting.
Those massive forearms serve Popeye well when he needs his strength. Of course, it isn’t until he eats spinach when he becomes mighty enough to lift huge, heavy objects.
Olive Oyl is Popeye’s absent-minded and flirty girlfriend. Have you wondered how she got her name? Back in the 1800’s, Chester’s chief commodity was castor oil, which was used as a lubricant. Castor Oyl and Crude Oyl are two of Segar’s comic strip characters, and Olive is their little sister.
Segar actually created Olive Oyl an entire decade before Popeye came along. The sailor became so popular, though, that Segar renamed his strip after the spinach-eating dude.
Olive, as Popeye would like to say, is “a perfect 57… 19-19-19.” Those are her measurements—extremely skinny!
Baby Swee’Pea, named for the flower (and Popeye’s term of endearment for Olive Oyl), was found in a box on Popeye’s doorstep, on July 24, 1933. Popeye adopted the baby and raised him as his son. In an August 17, 1933 comic strip, he christened his “boy-kid” as “Scooner Seawell Georgia Washenting Christiffer Columbia Daniel Boom.” It’s a bit cumbersome, don’t you think?
Finally, there’s Popeye’s lazy pal, J. Wellington Wimpy. The guy loves his burgers, and it shows! He’s smart and well-educated, but watch out, because he likes to mooch! He’ll do whatever it takes to get a free burger. Although he’ll always promise to pay you back “on Tuesday,” he never does.
I’ll keep you posted if any of Popeye’s other pals come along. Meanwhile, here are a bunch of other Betty Boop’s that I never got to see, because they were snagged before I got to the bench: