Tiny Oolitic, Indiana (Lawrence County) is home to one of the biggest comic stars from the 1930s and 1940s, Joe Palooka. Joe was an upstanding and virtuous sports hero and one of the most popular comic book characters, ranking as one of the five most popular strips in 1948. He was so popular, in fact, that the strip was turned into a CBS radio show, 12 full-length movies, 9 film shorts, a TV series, and comic books and merchandise galore.
The guy was so popular, they named a mountain in Pennsylvania after him.
Here in Indiana, we loved him so much that in 1948, the Indiana Limestone Company carved a 10 foot, 10 ton statue of the boxer, where he lived in and around Bedford, Indiana before being given to Oolitic in 1984, where he still resides on Main Street today.
Joe was a little beat up during his lifetime, vandals usually trying to do him in. But the bedrock brawler, like his ink-and-paper counterpart, could never be put down for the count. Even when his nose and part of his cheek was knocked off by something harder than a bad guy’s fist, the Indiana Limestone Company put him back together.
Oolitic is also known for being the first opponent in the basketball movie, Hoosiers, one of the only teams to beat the Hickory Huskers.
If you’re looking for Indiana oddities, and have some time to kill, take a quick drive through Oolitic on SR 37, and say hi to Joe. The “Champion of Democracy” is still manning his post.