Sea Stories

Popeye the Sailor Man and Olive Oil really existed

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His real name was Frank Rocky Fiegel. He was born in 1868 in Poland. A retired sailor he was contracted by Wiebusch’s tavern in the city of Chester, Illinois, to clean the town’s lawlessness and maintain order. Rocky Fiegel was notorious for his belligerent attitude and firmly believed that everything could be sorted out with his fists.

Rocky Fiegel’s eye was deformed but it is not certain if this was a birth defect or consequence of a hard-won fight and this facial feature earned the former seaman the ‘Popeye’ sobriquet. Another distinguishing characteristic was his pipe-smoking manner which meant that when he was smoking his pipe he spoke through the corner of his mouth.

Like many rough men, he was at his most comfortable when in the company of children. However, there is no accounting of his imaginary adventures which boasts about the exploits of his physical strength, ensuring he never lost a fight.

The author of Popeye, Elzie Crisler Segar, who was born in Chester, met his friend Frank when he was a youngster and he loved to listen to the old sailor’s yarns. The years passed by and the once avid listener who had developed literary skills and aspirations honoured his old friend and mentor with the character Popeye the Sailor Man.

Olive Oil also existed as the inspiration for Olive (Oil) was the very much alive Dora Paskel. Dora was the owner of a grocery store in Chester. She is also described to dress just like Olive Oil. Segar kept in touch with Frank Rocky Fiegel and had always helped him with money. Frank and Popeye also carried some inherent features like courage, chivalry and virility. ~ Untold Sagas of the Sea: For Those in Peril on the Sea by Michael Walsh

Related books: The Leaving of Liverpool (Paperback / Ebook), Britannic Waives the Rules: Last of the White Star Liners (Paperback/Ebook), UNTOLD SAGAS OF THE SEA VOL. I (Paperback / Ebook), UNTOLD SAGAS OF THE SEA Vol II, UNTOLD SAGAS OF THE SEA VOL. III, UNTOLD SAGAS OF THE SEA VOL. IV and All I Ask is a Tall Ship by Liverpool writer Michael Walsh

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Categories: Sea Stories

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2 replies »

  1. Interesting read. I always like the background stories about famous characters. I always thought Popeye was Irish more than Polish. He spoke more Irish like to me, “I eats the spinach”

    Liked by 1 person

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