Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Weinermobile

“It’s a Really Big Shoe….”

Weinermobile benefited from Giant Shoe built in 1922 by Harry Hallas in Davenport, Iowa.

As readers of my blog know, I just did a story on the Weinermobile, a 27-foot vehicle that visited the Quad Cities recently, with its 2-month-old baby brother in tow, a 13-foot smaller weiner, built on a Mini Cooper chassis. [See blog archives.]

But how many Quad City readers are aware that, back in 1922, a local business (Hallas & Mead) built a giant shoe thirteen feet long that weighed about a ton and was an exact metal replica of a work shoe of the day, for advertising purposes for the Mendel Shoe Store?

Back in December of 1978, Jim Arpy (now retired) of the Quad City Times interviewed the then-77-year-old creator of the giant shoe, Harry Hallas, a sheet-metal fabricator for 25 years for his brother, George. George, along with Arthur Mead, owned Hallas and Mead Company (24th St. and 3rd Avenue.) Harry Hallas worked there for 47 years, but building the Big Shoe was among his most unusual job chores…right up there with prying six bullets out of one of John Looney’s vehicles following a gun battle.

The Hallas and Mead Company is long gone, but listen to Harry Hallas talk about one of the prototypical vehicles that the Weinermobile is based on, and a vehicle he helped build:

Harry Hallas:

“I can’t for the life of me remember where Mendel’s (Shoe Store) was located, but one day he (Mendel) came into the shop and said he wanted us to make a shoe large enough to be mounted on a Model T Ford chassis. We’d never done anything like that, but we were the only place in the area equipped to do it, so we took it on.”

[Hallas and the partners worked for about a year to complete the shoe, which had a driver who sat in the arch behind a windshield and steered conventionally, separated from the rear and uppers by a compartment door. The shoe also had eyelet hooks (three of them) on each side and four similarly-situated large holes for the same purpose and was painted work-shoe brown.]

Hallas: “It sure stirred a lot of interest. I don’t think we would have accepted any more orders like that. We didn’t want that kind of business, because it was too much work and took too much time. We didn’t make a dime on it. In fact, if the truth were known, we probably lost money, but it was a challenge we wanted to try.”

Every weekend, Mendel, (the shoe store owner), would come to the shop and create more of the shoe shape out of wire.

Hallas: “Then, following Mendel’s pattern, we’d take the wires out and replace them with one-inch channel iron every four inches. The skin was riveted galvanized iron. When we were done with it, it went to the paint shop and was painted to look just like a big brown work shoe. I never did hear what happened to it, but I’d sure like to know,” said the 77-year-old Harry Hallas back in 1978, when the original Jim Arpy interview was conducted. [If Harry Hallas were alive today, he’d be 106, so it’s probably safe to say that he never saw the Big Work Shoe again.]

If anybody knows the whereabouts of Mendel’s Giant Shoe, drop me a line.

Wienermobile Hits Town

Bill Blansett Shows Off the Goods


The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile is all over the Quad Cities and was in the parking lot of the Hy-Vee Food Store at 2351 West Locust from 2 to 5 p.m. on Friday, May 9th. Three “hotdoggers,” Bill Blansett, 23, a graduate of Pennsylvania State in Advertising, Stephanie Geidel, 24, a graduate with a degree in sports management and a Master’s in Education from the State University of New York at Cortland who plans to teach, and Nick Osiecki, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, were the three “hotdoggers” driving the two vehicles in the Quad Cities. The Oscar Mayer hotdogger team is comprised of 12 individuals who are chosen from recent college graduates. They travel the country, handing out whistles and small hot dogs and other Oscar Mayer paraphernalia at stops arranged by sponsors.

Stephanie Giedel and Bill Blanchett in Davenport, IowaThe concept of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile began seventy-two years ago (1936) with a thirteen-foot metal hot dog on wheels in Chicago. The small hotdog mobile is the eleventh design and is built upon the frame of a Mini Cooper. The small fifteen foot car gets about 25 to 30 mpg. The larger Wienermobile, at 27 feet with a sky roof, gets only 10 to 15 mpg and costs about $115 to fill the 32.1 gallon tank. Normally, the team travels about 500 miles per week.

In addition to the sky roof, there is a hot-dog-shaped instrument panel, a 27-inch color video monitor, seating for six in relish-colored seats, two exterior cameras, illuminated Oscar Mayer logos, a gull wing door and condiments decorating the carpeting of the vehicle.

Weinermobile at HyVee Foods, 2351 W. Locust St., Davenport, IAThe three in town on Friday described it as “a good thing to do for a year if you aren’t sure what you want to do permanently.” Mr. Blansett was interviewing by phone for a job while present in Davenport. Nick Osiecki has been thinking of going into television sales (after abandoning writing as a career) and Steph Geidel, whose mother is an elementary school teacher, thinks she will teach.

Hot dog Kudos to all!

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