Archive for Friday, July 9, 2010

Historic cigar shop Indian statue from downtown Lawrence to be auctioned off in Jefferson County

July 9, 2010


Visitors to downtown Lawrence 30 years ago likely will remember George’s Pipe Shop. In an era when mom-and-pop shops filled the streets, 727 Mass. stood out for one reason: a talking Indian.

This Indian statue, which used to greet customers at George’s Pipe Shop in downtown Lawrence decades ago, will be put on auction July 24, 2010 in Jefferson County.

This Indian statue, which used to greet customers at George’s Pipe Shop in downtown Lawrence decades ago, will be put on auction July 24, 2010 in Jefferson County.

Shoppers were welcomed with a sign that read “If the Indian is out, George is in.” As they approached the store, the nearly life-sized Indian would greet them, entertaining some and startling others.

Bob Brown, owner of a neighboring shop, said the Indian was a memorable and unique part of downtown for more than 50 years.

“I remember the kids stopping at the door to talk to the Indian; anybody that was part of downtown during that time would remember the Indian,” Brown said.

Bob Schumm, owner of Buffalo Bob’s Smokehouse, remembers the shop and the Indian as Lawrence originals. He said the shop itself was unusual and filled with items you wouldn’t find in malls or other places.

“There is only one word to describe George’s Pipe shop and George himself: unique,” Schumm said.

George Wilson purchased the Indian from a closed tobacco shop in western Kansas. The statues were very popular during the mid to late 1800s but became increasingly obsolete with the advent of electrified signs. Tobacco is native to the Americas and often associated with Indians. The wooden statues generally depicted Indian stereotypes, with headdresses, tomahawks, or bows and arrows.

Wilson added a hidden speaker and microphone to his statue and used it to speak to shoppers from inside the store. For half a century he would wheel the moveable landmark in and out of his shop.

Wilson had inherited the store location from his father-in-law, Alfred H. Lawrence, who was a photographer in Lawrence from 1904 to 1946. When the elder man died, Wilson transformed the store into a cigar and pipe shop. Upon Wilson’s death, the store was closed and the property fell to Brown.

Brown hung on to some contents of the store, including the Indian. He decided to keep the Indian and other Lawrence memorabilia for their historical significance.

“The Indian is a historic and cultural artifact of downtown, not because of its worth in money, but because the cigar shop was an important part of downtown Lawrence for many years,” Brown said.

The Indian and other historic Lawrence items will be put on auction July 24 in Jefferson County near Valley Falls. Jeff Hoffman, auctioneer, said the nostalgic value of the Indian would make it one of the most popular items at the sale. Get more information on the auction.


frank mcguinness 7 years ago

Visitors to lawrence even 20 years ago would know of the statue.

George_Braziller 7 years ago

I think it's even closer to 15 years ago.

JayhawkAlum03 7 years ago

I'd forgotten all about the statue until now, but seeing the photos on the auction site reminded me! Hope the old guy goes home from the auction with someone who will appreciate his past!

Randall Barnes 7 years ago

how about 30 years i remember being in my teens downtown and seeing the indian.and miss seeing it.

gatekeeper 7 years ago

I wish I could get it. My sister-in-law is was really scared of them when she was a little kid. They still give her the willies. Would love to have it in my living room. I'm sure it will fetch a very nice amount.

pagan_idolator 7 years ago

You could stand it so it was looking in her living room window some dark and stormy night. I love to scare the bejesus out of people.

Bill Lee 7 years ago

While there were a lot of mom and pops along Massachusetts Street thirty years ago, there were also a lot of national chain stores since nearly all of Lawrence's retail was downtown then. If you look at a city directory from back then you'll find J.C. Penney, Woolworth's, Ben Franklin and many more. The mix we have today of local and national businesses is nothing new.

puddleglum 7 years ago

j.c.penny, woolworth's, ben franklin.... The mix we have today of local and national businesses is nothing new. yeah, except those stores were cool and offered cool stuff. today's downtown chains blow.

riverdrifter 7 years ago

I'm sure Bob considered putting it out there on Ebay but he wants it to come back to Lawrence if at all possible. Enjoy San Miguel, Bob...

Amy Heeter 7 years ago

I do not think cigar store indians are offensive. If anything they are a symbol of gratitude to the natives for teaching the colonist how to plant & harvest Tabacco. The first cigar store indians were fashion in the image of Pocahontas. She married John Rawls for the good of the plantation. Alas she died in her early 20's. The cigar store indian honors her.

Mike Ford 7 years ago

romanticism is always this best antidote to dealing with genocide...right?

Kathy Theis-Getto 7 years ago

I see another history lesson is in order for our dear artichoke. The first of these figures were done by Europeans and resembled black slaves with headdresses. Gratitude? Really? Do you just make this racist, ignorant crap up to get a rise out of folks? I also recall John's last name being Rolfs and if you think the submission of one race to another is romantic, I pity you.

A couple of facts: Arti believes:

"spear chucker" is not a racist slur cigar store indians honor a great love story

My question for you: Do you have a lawn jockey proudly displayed in your front yard?

kernal 7 years ago

I remember when my grandfather painted the lawn jockey (which we really did use to tie the horses up) white during the civil rights marches in the South.

Liberty275 7 years ago

I remember Zappa including the jockeys in a song.

Kathy Theis-Getto 7 years ago

Yup - Uncle Remus

"...I'll take a drive to BEVERLY HILLS Just before dawn An' knock the little jockeys Off the rich people's lawn An' before they get up I'll be gone, I'll be gone Before they get up I'll be knocking the jockeys off the lawn Down in the dew"

Liberty275 7 years ago

Shouldn't this thing be called a "cigar store aboriginal American"? I seriously doubt it's a statue of Gandhi.

Tanner Stumbaugh 7 years ago

I remember that Indian, everytime I went for a walk downtown, I remember the Indian was outside and It always came alive right when I got there. I would love to have him as a hood ornament... but it really deserves to be in a LAWRENCE, KANSAS museum... a museum with rooms filled with nothing but nostalgic stuff from years past in Lawrence. There's an idea. screw Watkins, or whatever the red building is at 11th n Mass... something a bit more free-range... hmmmm

JSeraphim 7 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Amy Heeter 7 years ago

People who depend on wiki limit thier resources.

Not one of these looks Black to me. Maybe some are looking at the darker woods trying to find a connection just like they do with words.

Either way whomever bids on this will own a great piece of history.

riverdrifter 7 years ago

Probably $1200-2000. Not signed and has been altered. But, it is an auction and youneverknow.

ksjayhawk74 7 years ago

Was this during the same time that Haskel students were not allowed in the Downtown area?

Matt Torres 7 years ago

Hey wilbur, what are your thoughts on the Watkins Museum and the Civil War? Don't be afraid to tell us what you really think, now.

RaverK 7 years ago

If I had the money I'd buy George's Native Statue and a building up on the hill to name after KU Chancellor Lawrence (I avoided Kent State here) Chalmers...

yourworstnightmare 7 years ago

Man, this thing is woth something.

Makes me regret getting rid of my "wooden catholic priest" that gave out candy to little children.

yourworstnightmare 7 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

RaverK 7 years ago

Leo Braverman Defiled!!!! Wow this would be great in one of the many new resterants on Mass St. We don't need anything else down there but bars and food joints...

George was great, when my Paw Paws come in I'll bring down a box in George's memory as he gave me my first... Besides an Indian the Watkins needs one of his TV tube/screens converted into fish tanks...

But what does downtown Lawrence care about balance, history and preservation???. Why look at Tellers ability to put tables on top of the Leo Braverman plaque- How utterly classless to defile a memorial to another Lawrence original. Coming next a statue to Quantril outside an upscale restaraunch complete with eternal flame - at least Lawrence and Douglas Co residents can gather to burn their tax bills and keep warm (cheaper than burning the union again!)

MarcoPogo 7 years ago

You mean Leo Beuerman? You're obviously a big fan.

RaverK 6 years, 9 months ago

OK - sorry I got the spelling wrong but however you spell it Marco Polo he was a great man and has a great story to share... A bigger man or woman than either you or I will be..

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