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Flick: The secrets found under Garlic Press

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A few weeks ago, clearing out old inventory, one of Normal’s most beloved of retail outlets, the Garlic Press in uptown, was having a “basement sale.”

Hundreds milled the store’s basement, the same area that used to be a popular campus pub, The Cellar.

Ask any Illinois State University student from the late 1960s through 2000 and you’ll be hard pressed to find one who doesn’t remember The Cellar.

When Garlic Press remodeled and expanded in 2005, it also bought what used to be the bar below.

“Even now,” says Pam Locsin, a Garlic Press co-owner, “it’s not uncommon to look out and see someone out front — an old alum or someone back in town — looking all around for the doorway down to The (former) Cellar.”

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Sarah McManus, left, and Pam Locsin at the Garlic Press in uptown Normal.

Fast forward to today.

As Garlic Press customers were ogling “basement sale” items in the ex-Cellar, noticed by customers along the floor was a 3-feet-wide swath of newer concrete that runs the length of the basement.

That is where plumbers during the Garlic Press remodel discovered the completely clogged pipes that extended out of what had been The Cellar restrooms.

“I walked down one day and saw a plumber just laughing, shaking his head,” says Locsin.

What clogged the pipes?

Plastic baggies of what apparently had been marijuana, even an old marijuana bong, and other paraphernalia, all apparently flushed down the toilets by Cellar patrons when police used to rush the place for underage drinkers.

“It (the pipe) was full!” says Locsin, laughing. “It smelled horrible down there.”

Flick: Please don’t eat our pets

Also found inside a nearby Cellar wall: a cardboard box containing a half-dozen Altoids-like metal tins filled with condoms, now at least 25 years old.

“They’d all dried up, shriveled and sort of looked like earth worms,” chuckles Sarah McManus, another Garlic Press co-owner.

As Locsin adds with a smile, “The most amazing part of our big rehab was what we didn’t talk about.”

And as for those “old alumni” who occasionally can be seen devotedly looking for the old door to The Cellar?

Hey, maybe they’re there to get their stuff back!

As the twins get more alike

July 6 is one of those subtly big days. The U.S. Declaration of Independence was announced on a July 6. Hawaii was annexed on a July 6. The first-ever “talking” movie was shown on a July 6. The Beatles’ John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time at a Liverpool church dinner on a July 6.

Which brings us to B-N.

On Tuesday — it’s July 6 — say happy birthday to first-year Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe and longtime Normal Mayor Chris Koos, both July 6 birthday boys.

“Twin Cities, two mayors with the same birthday,” smiles Koos.

Just can’t get much more appropriate than that.

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Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe, left, and Normal Mayor Chris Koos share the same birthday on July 6.

As the B-N area rises again

So when the Washington (D.C.) Ballet the other night had its first “live” event in 15 months at the famed Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, count Central Illinois as a key player.

Because Pekin-based Reditus Laboratories had donated COVID-19 testing for the performers in the months and weeks of rehearsal before its star-studded, black-tie reopening, Reditus CEO Dr. Aaron Rossi and wife, Molly (they live in Bloomington-Normal), were acknowledged grandly at the start of the performance for that very reason.

Appropriately, Reditus also conducted COVID-19 testing on the night of the “re-premier,” thereby allowing the dancers and Kennedy Center guests to prove negative so they could attend.

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Dr. Aaron Rossi, right, and wife, Molly, at the Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Wrong Bloomington … again!

A Flick Fact the other day pointed out the occasional complexity and confusion of two towns in neighboring states that have the same name.

We refer to Bloomington, Illinois, and Bloomington, Indiana, where in recent years notables such as Reba McEntire, Joe Buck and Sean Penn have flown to the wrong Bloomington.

Which brings us to Andrew Beaty, of Bloomington, as in Illinois:

"Last Thursday, I was returning home from a conference. As I sat waiting for the DFW to BMI flight, I overheard a man get VERY irritated with the American gate agent, arguing he didn't know there was a difference between the Bloomingtons and demanded she fix the problem so he could get to the right place."

As Andrew adds: "I came home and told my wife, ‘That is NOT just an urban legend that people go to the wrong Bloomington!’"

Bill Flick is at


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At age 43, in his 10th year of Congress, 18 years after being one of the youngest-ever elected members of the McLean County Board, a 2000 graduate of Illinois State University and before that, Normal West, by 2021 Adam Kinzinger has become Mr. Everywhere on the TV news dial.

"What’s interesting at a reunion of a class now long ago is that everyone has a different memory of you, stuff you never remembered but they never forgot," Bill Flick writes.

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