NORTH CENTER — Is there a black market for indeterminate chunks of fungal matter?
"That's a good question," said Larry Bartoli.
The retired police officer is otherwise at a loss to explain why someone (or some persons) would steal "The Blob."
The Blob, readers may recall, is a mysterious mound that spilled out of Larry and Linda Bartoli's yard more than 15 years ago and has been a fixture ever since on the sidewalk in front of their home at 2121 W. Montrose Ave.
Patty and Matt Bubala exchange theories on the disappearance of 'The Blob.'
The couple embraced the oddity of The Blob — which Linda believed to be the "ghost" of a dearly departed mulberry tree — and even affixed signage to their fence to attract attention to the curiosity.
Sometime around Labor Day, The Blob went missing.
Larry Bartoli was sitting on his front porch and noticed that the sign was gone. Upon further investigation, he saw that The Blob itself had been prised from its concrete ledge.
Not a scrap remained. Just a stain on the sidewalk to mark the spot where The Blob once lived.
"Why? What was purpose?" Bartoli asked. "It's just amazing, after all the years it's been there...."
Bartoli is as mystified by the fungus fiend's methods as he is the person's motive.
Despite The Blob's spongy appearance, the mound was rock hard, not so much as budging even when Bartoli dinged it with his snow blower.
"You couldn't just bend down and pick it up," he said. "You'd have to use a spade. The actual piece on the sidewalk was almost three feet long."
Putting his detective hat on, Bartoli called the 47th Ward office to see if there had been any tree trimming or street sweeping scheduled for his block.
He interviewed his neighbors.
"No one saw anything going on," Bartoli said.
People told him he should call police, but Bartoli was stumped for how to report the theft.
"What do I tell them it is? The Blob?" he asked.
Though the value of the fungus was entirely sentimental, that's precisely what made it so priceless to Bartoli.
"Darnit, there goes a bit of history on Montrose Street. Gone, gone, gone," he said.
"So many people enjoyed seeing it. It was so amusing — anybody that looked at it laughed at it. It was funny to watch people kneel down and take their picture with it."
Though The Blob was quite possibly on its last legs anyway — "I could tell fresh growth and it was sort of stagnant," Bartoli said — he hasn't completely ruled out spontaneous regeneration.
"I'm hoping maybe it will grow again," Bartoli said.
Why wouldn't it? After all, it's The Blob.
Indescribable! Indestructible! Nothing can stop it! The Blob!
The Blob, the way it was. [All photos DNAinfo/Patty Wetli]
The Blob looked spongy but was rock hard.
According to Larry Bartoli, new growth appeared white, and then turned green.
Larry and Linda Bartoli with The Blob in 2013.
All that remains of The Blob is this stain on the sidewalk.
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