Iconic Frostop mug will get a new home
Will be restored for an unveiling during 2020 Super Cruise
SALEM — The iconic Frostop mug, dismantled this week from its longtime perch on West State Street, will live to spin again.
At least that’s the plan through a partnership between owner Joe Miller and his family and the Greenamyer family led by auto enthusiast Jim Greenamyer. Miller offered up the mug for restoration and Greenamyer jumped at the chance.
“Our full intent is to get it done by the 2020 Salem Super Cruise and keep it in Salem. My entire family has worked at restoring cars and things most of our lives. This mug is huge, bigger than most realize. It will be a challenge,” Jim said.
The mug made of steel stands 10 1/2 feet tall and is 7 feet in diameter and altogether weighs an estimated 600 to 700 pounds. Joe’s parents, Edith and Howard, built and opened the Frostop in 1960 while also operating the nearby Dairy Queen. There the mug has remained for 60 years, being taken down only once for a new paint job, many many years ago, sitting atop the restaurant until this past Monday.
Just after Labor Day, he closed the Dairy Queen for good after 64 years in business. The Frostop had already been closed a long time. He recently sold the properties, including the nearby house which had been moved from the Frostop land to where it stands now, but with the understanding that they were keeping the mug. The goal is to get it restored and find a permanent home where it can be displayed and recognized as a nostalgic piece of Salem history.
Jim Greenamyer, his son Jason Alan, nephews Mike Greenamyer and Steve Bailey, and brother Bill Greenamyer will all be involved with the main restoration work. His wife Donna and daughter-in-law Stacy will handle the accuracy, originality and technical aspect of the project.
“We all remember the good times back when the Frostop was the hot spot on the west end of town. People cruised the loop…. the Red Barn or Taylor’s on the east side to the Frostop on the west. We used to always park there on the weekends watching the cars roll through. You know, kind of an American Graffiti thing. Heck, Donna even worked there for a few days,” Jim said.
Anybody who has old pictures of the Frostop and the mug are asked to please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Both Joe and Jim said they want as accurate a reproduction for the paint job as possible. Joe said he wants to hear what people think and he’s sure people have pictures of the mug. They want the mug to stay in Salem and may offer it to the Salem Historical Society, but with the idea that it be placed on display.
For now, the plan is to get the work done and have the mug ready to shine and spin for the Salem Super Cruise. An electric motor controls the spinning mechanism. The mug is actually hollow, with the electric motor and center post inside. The foam is made of fiberglass and screwed onto the outside top lip of the mug and the handle is made from a stovepipe. The rest is galvanized steel.
The mug is actually two halves bolted together with bolts and came apart for the trip off the roof. Miller, the Greenamyers and Bailey spent Monday morning carefully pulling the mug apart and using ropes and muscle to move it off the roof and onto two trailers, with Miller’s wife, Sheri recording their efforts with the video on her phone. Jim estimated that each half weighs 150 to 200 pounds and the center post and motor weigh about 350 pounds.
The Millers operated the Frostop for eight or nine years and sold the business but continued to own the property, along with operating the Dairy Queen. Howard passed away, but Edith still has fond memories of operating the restaurant that used real potatoes for the french fries and all fresh ingredients, homemade sauce, hot sauce, burgers, fish sandwiches and chicken, too.
“The frosted mugs were always a good draw,” she said, grinning when she added that some mugs disappeared as souvenirs.
The big mug won’t be disappearing from Salem anytime soon.
Coming Monday: the Salem Dairy Queen closes after“64 great years.”