Traveling around with Zippy

(Fun with names and language play, but mostly Zippyesque popular culture in many manifestations.)

In recent days, Zippy has gone to a psychic shop (offering “crystals, past lives, tarot cards”), to the Tropical Treat in Hanover PA, to Luna Park in Sydney (NSW), to the ghost of a  Mickey Rooney hotel in Downington PA, and to the ghost of the Justin Time diner in Meriden CT.

Past lives at the psychic shop. From October 5th:

(#1) Helmut Sanford-Sharpie, Lester Sylvester, Mimi Garneau

The first two are probably inventions of Bill Griffith’s, though the details of their lives in the strip might well be distant allusions to real things, and there have certainly been men named Lester Sylvester (though none, I think, with associations to cons, flea circuses, or Allentown PA). But Mimi Garneau is solid. From the American Sideshow Blow-Off site on 7/13/06:

(#2) Mimi on stage (but not with a neon sword)

Mimi Garneau was born as Hazel Jude Thomas in 1890 (also reported as 1894) near Phillipsburg, PA. The young woman learned to swallow swords and began performing under the name Jude by the late 1920s. She soon gained acclaim by becoming the first woman to swallow a neon sword. By the early 1930s Jude met her husband-to-be, Fred Garneau. It’s unknown why she eventually adopted the first name Mimi…  Garneau spent her final years in Tampa, FL, where she passed away on Feb. 22, 1986.

The title of the strip is an allusion to an American tv show. From Wikipedia:

I Led 3 Lives (also known as I Led Three Lives) is an American drama series which was syndicated by Ziv Television Programs from October 1, 1953 to January 1, 1956. The series stars Richard Carlson. The show was a companion piece of sorts to the radio drama I Was a Communist for the FBI, which dealt with a similar subject and was also syndicated by Ziv from 1952 to 1954.

It was loosely based on the life of Herbert Philbrick, a Boston advertising executive who infiltrated the U.S. Communist Party on behalf of the FBI in the 1940s and wrote a bestselling book on the topic, I Led Three Lives: Citizen, ‘Communist’, Counterspy (1952).

Tropical Treat. From the 6th:

(#3) Deep thoughts with fast food

The actual place, Crabbs Tropical Treat in Hanover PA, as described in a TripAdviser review of 6/12/14:


Nice Neon sign inviting you in to retro Hamburger and Ice Cream Stand on Carlisle St. between Cross Keys and Hanover, PA. Inexpensive food, decent ice cream and cute retro grounds, complete with old time gas pump signs, a giant neon ice cream cone and car hop parking stalls if you don’t care to eat on their cute patio. The kind of place we all would have hung out at for dates in high school. Good place for an ice cream in the summertime!

Back to Luna Park. From the 11th, after a couple of earlier strips on the rather menacing amusement park in Sydney NSW:

(#5) Luna Park on this blog recently: on August 25th

From NOAD2:

adj. world-weary: feeling or indicating feelings of weariness, boredom, or cynicism as a result of long experience of life: their world-weary, cynical talk.

Then the groan-inducing pun whirled weary ‘weary of being whirled’, a V-prp + Adj compound with a very unusual relationship between its elements — one of the things that makes it groan-inducing (especially for people for whom world and whirled aren’t homophonous).

That’s Mickey Rooney painted on the wall. From the 12th:


The actual place, the “Mickey Rooney inn” in Downingtown PA, in its derelict days:


From a Daily Local News by Brian McCullough on 7/14/16:

It’s been quite a few years since Mickey Rooney’s smiling face greeted travelers along Lancaster Avenue to the Tabas Hotel.

Since its closing in 1989, the immediate Downingtown area has been without a hotel. On Friday, that will change with the opening of Home2 Suites by Hilton.

While the new hotel has no plans to have celebrities appear like the closed resort did, its owners believe it can succeed by providing “very hip and very modern” rooms in an area where there’s a demand, said Patti Shores, director of sales for Home2 Suites.

The four-story hotel has 115 suites designed for business people on extended assignments as well as family vacationers.

Rooney lent his image to the Tabas Hotel, but seems not to have been an investor.

In its new incarnation, apparently a spiffy place.

Then there’s Rooney, who’s gotten a couple of mentions on this blog because of his performance as Puck in the 1935 Hollywood film of Midsummer Night’s Dream. From Wikipedia:

(#8) Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in a promotional portrait for 1938’s Love Finds Andy Hardy

Mickey Rooney (born Joseph Yule Jr.; September 23, 1920 – April 6, 2014) was an American actor, vaudevillian, comedian, producer and radio personality. In a career spanning nine decades and continuing until shortly before his death, he appeared in more than 300 films and was one of the last surviving stars of the silent film era.

At the height of a career that was marked by precipitous declines and raging comebacks, Rooney performed the role of Andy Hardy in a series of 15 films in the 1930s and 1940s that epitomized American family values. A versatile performer, he became a celebrated character actor later in his career. Laurence Olivier once said he considered Rooney “the best there has ever been.” Clarence Brown, who directed him in two of his earliest dramatic roles, National Velvet and The Human Comedy, said he was “the closest thing to a genius I ever worked with.”

Rooney first performed in vaudeville as a child and made his film debut at the age of six. At 14 he played Puck in the play and later the 1935 film adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Critic David Thomson hailed his performance as “one of cinema’s most arresting pieces of magic”. In 1938, he co-starred in Boys Town. At nineteen he was the first teenager to be nominated for an Oscar for his leading role in Babes in Arms, and he was awarded a special Academy Juvenile Award in 1939. At the peak of his career between the ages of 15 and 25, he made forty-three films, which made him one of MGM’s most consistently successful actors and a favorite of studio head Louis B. Mayer.

Rooney was the top box office attraction from 1939 to 1941, and one of the best-paid actors of that era, but his career never rose to such heights again.

… At his death, Vanity Fair called him “the original Hollywood train wreck.” He struggled with alcohol and pill addiction. He is notable for having married eight times … His first marriage was to Ava Gardner. Despite earning millions during his career, he had to file for bankruptcy in 1962 due to mismanagement of his finances

At the diner, carping about McDonald’s. From today:

(#9) The former Justin Time diner in Meriden CT

From the Roadside Architecture site:


Cassidies [or Cassidys] Diner is a Silk City [diner] from 1949. It was previously known as the Justin Time Diner. The diner was badly damaged in an automobile accident in 2008. It was still covered with tarps in 2009. In 2010, the diner was repaired and reopened. In 2014, the diner was being spruced up by new owners. For more, see this website.

If I remember correctly, the last time I ate at a McDonald’s was 1988, and that was at the insistence of a friend (who was fond of the place). Before that, sometime around 1970. I’m with Zippy here.

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