Joe Palooka Plaque Placed On Monument

September 27, 2018

HANOVER TWP. — The Home Builders Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania partnered with retired Wilkes-Barre jeweler Max Bartikowsky to place a cast bronze plaque on the Joe Palooka monument on Route 309 in Hanover Twp.

The plaque, unveiled at a ceremony Wednesday, explains the historical significance of the comic strip hero.

Created by the late Ham Fisher in Wilkes-Barre, the world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Palooka comic strip was syndicated in more than 900 newspapers for 50 years from 1930 to 1984.

Bartikowsky grew up on South Franklin Street in

Wilkes-Barre near the Fisher family residence. He was the inspiration for the comic strip character named “Little Max,” who was featured in numerous Palooka comic adventures.

Bartikowsky, 87, who now lives in Forty Fort, said he frequently dressed up in this father’s shoes and hat as a young boy, a sight Fisher noticed and adapted to “Little Max” in the cartoon strip.

Fisher “was a friend of the family’s,” Bartikowsky said.

On Wednesday, Bartikowsky brought a “Little Max” doll to the ceremony. The toy dolls were manufactured when the comic strip was popular.

In the comic strip, “Little Max” was portrayed as a shoe shine boy. Bartikowsky said he didn’t actually shine shoes, but that was part of the character.

The plaque cost nearly $1,400, Bartikowsky said. He said the monument is an important part of the “valley with a heart.”

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