"CLOSED - DUE TO circumstances beyond our control." Mount Prospect village officials refused to grant a business license to a carnival-

type  exhibit which housed a 1,100-pound man. the exhibit's promoters said his weight resulted from compulsive eating caused by drug abuse.


 

'Drug Abuse' Display Closed

 

A carnival-type exhibit, billed by its promoters as a drug abuse display, had a short, and less than set run Friday in Mount Prospect.

The exhibit parked at the Mount Prospect Plaza Shopping Center at Rand and Central roads, consisted of a mobile home trailer which housed a 1,100-pound Michael Walker gained his excess poundage because of a compulsive desire to eat brought on by several years of drug abuse.

For a 50-cent admission charge, persons could view Walker through a window and see for themselves "the horrors of drug abuse."

But when village officials viewed the exhibit, according to Village Mgr. Robert Eppley, they decided:  1) "It was a sideshow attraction;"  2) "It was in poor taste." and 3) It would not operate in Mount Prospect because they would not grant a business license for it.

EPPLEY, THE MAN responsible for the issuance of business licenses in Mount Prospect, termed the exhibit "a sideshow attraction under the guise of drug abuse.  I really didn't feel it was a true representation - that his obesity was due to drug abuse."

Times hadn't always been as rough for the exhibit as they were Friday.  It was brought to the Plaza with the permission of shopping center officials (though) a few weeks ago Randhurst Shopping Center officials had turned down a request to bring it there).  On the information that it was a drug abuse exhibit, village officials were prepared to consider waiving the business license fee for it.  And earlier last week several Pump House Telephone Hotline volunteers had agreed to endorse the exhibit.  In return, the promoters said they would donate half their profits to the hotline.

 

But, said Eppley Friday, "The exhibit wasn't represented to me properly.  I was told only that it was a drug abuse exhibit.  there was no mention of a living human being in there."

And the hotline volunteers enthusiasm for the exhibit was not matched by members of the Community Action Plan (CAP) executive board, after several board members saw the exhibit Friday.  According to Trustee Ken Scholtan, who is also CAP director, the board members backed Eppley's stand after they saw the exhibit.

Adele Jeschge a spokeswoman for the shopping center, said the display was presented to her as a drug abuse exhibit:  "We know there was a man in there.  So did the village - at least from what I understand."

"OUR PERMISSION (for the exhibit to be set up at Mount Prospect Plaza) was contingent on the village's permission," she said.

The display's promoters Lawrence Salber and Robert McAllister, said the idea for the display was Walker's .  "We were contacted by him about a year ago.  He had been on drugs for a number of years and wanted to warn others about drug abuse." said McAllister.

According to McAllister, Walker's desire to "contribute something to society" led to the display.

Said McAllister: "Our interest is getting Walker back to normal, to a productive capacity.  If we can do this, we have the makings of the kind of exhibit we are interested in."

McAllister and Salber are partners in what they called an exhibit concern.  Among the other exhibits they have built and promoted are the "world's tallest woman" and "a house built inside a redwood tree."

The two said their exhibit with Walker has been on a tour of Canada and the United States.  Many of the appearances have been at county and state fairs.

The two said their exhibit with Walker was the result of drug abuse.  "But, Eppley said, "we were sold a bill of goods."

 

Article from the Chicago Daily Herald Nov 1,1971

 


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