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1929 Ford Happy Time Mini Eatery

The Happy Time concession wagon purportedly was “the first mail truck in Duluth.” It’s a 1929 Model A Ford truck that obviously was converted to a popcorn wagon. It’s shown here parked in the former Super One parking lot on the 2200 block of East Fifth Street in Superior’s East End neighborhood. It was marked for sale the day these photos were shot, Dec. 2. 

A sign in one of the windows offers these historical tidbits:

  • Norman Rasmussen of Ely bought the truck after World War II. He was a painter, wood cutter and master craftsman. He worked in the woods in Grand Marais and traveled back and forth in the truck. In 1956 he converted the truck to it’s present shape and used it as his home for several years.
  • In 1968 Richard Ahola took possession of the truck and used it as living quarters. He owns and operates Ely Steam Bath and Sauna.
  • In 1984 Ahola sold the truck to “Dr. Kalan’s son-in-law (from State Farm Ins.)” who sold it to Judith Boman of Duluth. She used it “down on Park Point as the Shirt Factory.”
  • Boman bartered it to Sam Seikkula, who planned to use it “as Coney Island on the lot where the Old Post Office stands in Superior.”
  • In January 1988, Charles and Marylin Sullivan bought the truck and restored it to its present condition.
  • Walter (Bud) Smith did all the engine work, including finding original parts, head, etc.
  • Clinton Hauk worked on the wiring for the headlights, etc.
  • Ron Wick did all the electrical work on the wagon, installing electrical boxes, wiring, lights on the exterior, etc.
  • Barb Wick came up with the clown motif.
  • Mark Hutton, a professional painter, did all the lettering and painted the Happy Time Clown.
  • Marvel Donnick made all the aprons with the balloon design to follow the Happy Time motif.
  • Joe Kimmes from Kimmes Tire & Oil donated the special size tires (650×20) and tubes from St. Louis.

2 Comments

Chad S

about 1 month ago

I've seen that thing many times from a distance while at Pudge's, but somehow I hadn't realized it was an actual driveable vehicle.  I assumed it was a trailer.  Anyone up for a new business opportunity?

toyota200x

about 1 month ago

I too had seen this around Superior. Quite the history. Good work researching.

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