Hippie Memorial

Location: Arcola, Illinois

“The One and Only Hippie Memorial” is it’s true, official name. And the small town of Arcola, Illinois is so proud of it, they put it right next to their tiny welcome center. The memorial is dedicated to a man who hated the government in any and every way possible, Bob Moomaw.

Ironically, Bob Moomaw wasn’t even a “hippie”.
For many decades, Bob Moomaw lived and worked here. He served as a tax assessor and railroad clerk. He didn’t like either job. His joy and duty was painting messages of alert on the side of a building that he owned. According to a Chicago Tribune story from 1993, the messages included: “America you’re turning into a nation of minimum-wage hamburger flippers. Rebel. Think for yourself. It works!” And “Oh wretched world, more rank each day, and ruled by lunatics, the heroes have all gone away!” The messages changed several times a week, much like those on the outdoor signs of quirky motels, dry cleaners and churches.

He told the Tribune reporter: “My life has been the opposite of an adventure, it’s been one long dental appointment broken up by episodes of nothing happening.” Moomaw lost a leg to cancer in the late 80s and had bypass surgery just before starting the Hippie Memorial in 1992. In April 1998, Moomaw died of a heart attack, bequeathing the memorial to Gus Kelsey, a former Arcola hippie who had moved out of state. Kelsey refurbished it, and the city allowed it to be placed downtown, near the old railroad depot.

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