Ask Geoffrey: Earl ‘Madman’ Muntz’s Crazy Chicago Story

Did a used-car salesman design and build his neat and sporty oppulance automobile right here in Chicago? Why is there an elephant relic in Woodlawn Cemetery? And what’s with black on a buildings on Pershing Avenue? Geoffrey Baer digs into 

Recently we saw a cold automobile done by Muntz in a 1950s. Supposedly they were done in Chicago or Evanston. Can we tell me more?

–Ona Kozar, Beverly

  • Crazy Muntz

    “Crazy Muntz”

  • The Muntz Dealership

    The Muntz Dealership

  • The Muntz Showroom

    The Muntz Showroom

  • A 1951 Muntz TV

    A 1951 Muntz TV

Around 350 lush four-seat Muntz Jets were done in an Evanston bureau from 1950 to 1952 by determined automaker Earl “Madman” Muntz.

The Jet was formed on a two-seater sports automobile by racecar engineer Frank Kurtis. Muntz purchased a pattern and done it some-more market-friendly by adding a backseat and a wine bar.

The initial 40 or so Jets were done in Glendale, California, with an aluminum physique and a 160-horsepower Cadillac V-8 engine. Muntz shortly changed prolongation to an industrial area of Evanston and switched a physique to steel and a engine to a Lincoln V-8. Production changed to an industrial partial of Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood by 1952.

According to Muntz, a Jet cost $6,500 to build, yet he sole them for $5,500 given they wouldn’t sell during a aloft price. But eventually, a math held adult with him – in 4 years he mislaid $400,000 on a plan and gave adult a auto-making business.

Earl Muntz was a high propagandize castaway from Elgin who started a used automobile business during a age of 20. He non-stop a dealership in Glendale in a 1940s and became famous interjection to a zany promotion campaign in that was graphic as a animation impression in red prolonged johns and a tri-cornered shawl to accelerate his “crazy” persona.

In a 1950s, he began a second business production budget-priced stripped-down black-and-white televisions. (The use of simplifying difficult wiring is famous in some circles as “Muntzing” as a result.)

Below, watch a Muntz TV blurb from 1952.

According to a few sources, including his one-time partner Phyllis Diller, Muntz indeed coined a tenure “TV.” He even named his daughter Tee Vee! But, his TV business collapsed once tone TV became a standard.

Muntz went on to marketplace a automobile audio complement he called a Muntz Stereo-Pak, as good as aluminum homes, satellite dishes, and rentals of motorcycles and engine homes. He was still offered wiring until he died in 1987 during 73.

About 130 Muntz Jets still exist and are collectors’ items. Auction houses have entirely easy Jets offered for over $100,000.

I have never listened we discuss a commemorative and a burials to a playground sight mutilate in Woodlawn Cemetery in Forest Park. There is a vast elephant relic there.

–Wes Scharlow, Glenview

People pushing along Cermak Road past Woodlawn Memorial Park competence by astounded to symbol 5 slab elephants marching among a headstones. The elephants are partial of a 750-grave tract dedicated to playground and fair performers called Showmen’s Rest that was determined by a Chicago-based Showmen’s League of America in 1917. The biggest territory of a tract is a mass grave of victims of a horrific playground sight mutilate that happened in northwest Indiana on Jun 22, 1918, not prolonged after a tract was purchased.

During this heyday of a roving circuses crisscrossing a nation by rail, a Hagenbeck-Wallace playground sight had left Michigan City in a early morning hours and was en track to Hammond for a show. An dull 21-car infantry couple ride sight followed behind it by about an hour, and a motorist had depressed asleep. He upheld dual counsel signals, dual risk signals, and a warning light before crashing into a stopped playground train.

The infantry sight tore by a playground train’s wooden cars filled with organisation and performers. Inside a cars, kerosene lanterns set a disadvantage aflame. An estimated 86 people died in a burning crash, and 56 of a passed are buried during Showmen’s Rest.

Some of a headstones were remarkable with a victim’s behaving name, like “Baldy.” But many of a victims couldn’t be identified given they were roustabouts, or short-term workers. They rest underneath stones remarkable with names like “Unknown Male No. 41.”

The mutilate didn’t spell a finish for a Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus though. As they say, a uncover contingency go on. The playground picked adult usually about where it left off, blank usually a one uncover scheduled in Hammond. Hagenbeck-Wallace stayed in business another 20 years before offered to Ringling Bros.

Local fable has it that a elephants symbol graves of tangible playground elephants who attempted to extinguish a glow with their trunks, yet no animals were killed in a mutilate and no playground animals are buried in Showmen’s Rest.

What were a buildings that are on Pershing Avenue during Wood, Honore and Damen Avenue that have a Navy Symbols on them?

–David Harper, Whiting, Indiana

The black on these 3 huge buildings during 1819 W. Pershing Rd. are not Navy, yet United States Army. The buildings were creatively warehouses for a U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, a section in assign of handling a Army’s food and uniform supplies.

The Army assembled a 3 industrial lofts in Chicago’s ancestral Central Manufacturing District, that some cruise America’s initial designed industrial park. Hundreds of companies like Goodyear, Westinghouse and Wrigley employed tens of thousands of people in a CMD.

The Central Manufacturing District’s plcae right subsequent to railroads and a former Union Stock Yards also done it a good place for shipping out Army supplies, that is because a Army sited a room buildings there in 1919 as a nation was fighting in World War I. It served as a essential supply repository again when a U.S. entered World War II.

Uniforms and food supplies, including meat from a stockyards, were purchased, processed, stored, packaged and shipped to a infantry from a depot. A Tribune story from 1941 remarkable that 30 workers packaged 3,600 units of Army C-rations a day during a Pershing Road building.

It’s also where recipes for rations were grown and tested, including a fortified fudge bar for a troops. Depot workers even staged a low-pitched revue there called “Soldiers of Supply” in 1944.

After a fight was over, a Quartermaster Corps shifted a concentration to buying and building new and improved food estimate and refuge methods. But by a ‘60s, a space had turn too large to be useful to a Army and they sole a buildings to a city in a late ‘70s and Chicago Public Schools changed in in 1979.

CPS has given downsized and relocated, initial to smaller offices during Clark and Adams in 2000 and afterwards to even smaller offices on Dearborn in 2013.

The aged Quartermaster buildings have sat mostly new given CPS changed out, yet if a Old Main Post Office can finally get redeveloped, maybe this white elephant can be subsequent on a list!

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