Ashley, Pennsylvania: Joe Palooka MonumentA stone memorial to America's once-favorite two-fisted Sunday Funnies boxer. Artist Ham Fischer was born and raised in nearby Wilkes-Barre.
- Rt. 309, Ashley, PA
- I-81 exit 165A (northbound) or 165 (southbound). East of the interstate around a mile on Hwy 309. On the westbound side of Hwy 309, just west of Pine Run Rd.
Visitor Tips and News About Joe Palooka Monument
If you're heading uphill on 309 from the cow and/ or the interstate, stay in left lane and be prepared to turn into road on left just beyond the monument. If you don't make that left turn, you're forced to drive way up the mountain on 309 until you have a chance to turn around. You may annoy some drivers racing uphill on 309, but being prepared to make that left turn will save you time and gas.[Hal Clarke, 09/22/2012]
The Joe Palooka monument along Route 309 in Hanover Township (just outside Wilkes-Barre, PA) is all granite, not a plaque mounted on granite. It is, of course, actually a monument dedicated to Ham Fisher, who created the Joe Palooka comic strip. The strip ran until 1984.
The current monument, which replaced the bronze plaque that was stolen, was dedicated in 1976.[David DeCosmo, 02/26/2012]
Joe Palooka Monument
If you are heading up 309, toward Mountain Top, after getting off I-81, the plaque is located on the left -- first spot you can turn.[Sue, 06/27/2010]
Here is the true story of the current Joe Palooka Monument:
The original plaque, bronze on a stone base, was stolen in or around the early or the mid 1970's. I was Assistant Manager and new director of a radio station licensed to the city of Nanticoke which was know as WMJW-FM at that time.
I aired an editorial calling for the replacement of the old monument because the character was created locally and because that character stood for an all-American hero who always did the right thing. A local newspaper, the Sunday Independent, picked up the idea and formed a committee to raise funds for a new monument. I was one of four individuals selected for the committee because of my editorial. We decided to have a stone memorial to avoid future theft problems. The comic strip was still in circulation at that time and the artist actually wrote the committee members into one story line as judges for a beauty contest. He joined us when the new memorial was dedicated and left a space in the official photo in which he drew Joe Palooka! The photo appeared in the Sunday Independent. I believe the original still hangs on the wall of a bar not far from Myers High School in Wilkes-Barre.
The monument itself has held up well, although there is some deterioration of the base stone. I believe a boy scout group originally agreed to police the grounds. I'm not sure if anyone has officially assumed those duties these days.
The original committee (for the existing monument) included Samuel Greenberg, Fred Ney, the late John Cicero and myself, David DeCosmo (WYOU TV Ret.)[David DeCosmo, 05/11/2009]
Mount Palooka site does have a photo relief of the boxer on the monument. It was sponsored by the Wilkes-Barre Jaycees. I, then a Jaycee, photographed the dedication ceremonies and I am sure it is in the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader newspaper archives. Ham Fisher, a W-B native, was the creator of the comic strip and was at the dedication. Palooka's manager, Knobby Walsh, was allegedly based on the T-L's sports editor. I wish I had a copy of the picture I took to send you but alas that was back in the late '40s or early '50s.[Dick Paul, 01/26/2009]