After a few delays I’m finally releasing a partial version of episode #4. On this segment of the trip we deviate off route 66 to visit one of the rare female versions of muffler men found in Peoria, IL. She is known as Vanna Whitewall and has stood at Plaza Tire since the 1960’s . We were able to talk with Terry Swisher and find out about her history and hear some of her stories over the years. She is unique in the fact that her outfit is changed out twice a year to coincide with the seasons and she also still has her original International Fiberglass platform. From there we traveled on to visit the Gemini Giant in Wilmington, IL but this section of the episode has been cut out until I can get in contact with the owners and do some fact checking and permissions.
My #53 sighting of a muffler man stands not far from the service man also located at the Greenhouse in Crystal Lake, IL. The establishment is impressive with a wide variety of plants, tree’s and everything your lawn or garden could need. The grounds are also nicely lade out and in addition to their two muffler men they have many other statues and yard art that is available for purchase (the muffler men however are not for sale). The pair of muffler men were first reported on Roadside America in 1999 when they stood at the now gone Ozzies Waterpark that was located at 20263 Rand Road between Long Grove Road and Lake Cook Road. They stood close to each other and had different paint schemes at the time. In 2001 Debra Jane Seltzer stopped by and photographed them for her website. Also Roadside America wrote an article about them on their website around the same time. It was also noticed that they were both missing their feet, not a terribly uncommon problem with muffler men. In my post about the service man I mentioned their possibly history with the now long gone Adventure Land that had two muffler men standing at it’s front entrance. Although I’m unsure if they ever stood at Adventure Land this is the indian that was at Ozzies and he still stands footless today in fresh dirt against a tree at the entrance to the buisness. He has a unique paint job and I noticed his fingers had more detail then most other muffler men I have seen. He is the indian brave version of the indian, the other being a more fierce looking war chief that International Fiberglass made. The indians versions left today can be found with a different styles of shoes. I have seen them with moccasins like the burned Indian in AZ as well as
shoes with indian tassels like the one in Parkersburg, WV. They also were sold with the same shoes that the cowboy version has. I am guessing somewhere in the Chicago area are two feet incased in concrete, what style they were we may never know.
Episode #3 is finally a reality after allot of hard work and research. The episode covers our visit to the town of Atlanta, IL and the bunyan giant that lives there. Interestingly I learned more in post production then I did during the initial visit last summer. While editing I was able to get in touch with John Wiess and the information and video he was able to provide really filled out the episode nicely. We want to thank him for his time and effort in helping us get this episode out as well as the Stephens family for their desire to help others continue the route 66 experience and for lending their giant to the town of Atlanta. I also want to thank Bill Thomas for the time he took to talk to our crew while we were in town and for all the work he has done to help the town. There are countless others who help out with keeping the giant repaired and painted, it really is a community effort. Although named “Tall Paul” during his move to Atlanta the giant is formally known as “The Bunyon’s Giant” This is to help us remember what he was for so many years while standing in Cicero. The reason for the interesting spelling is that Art Stephens didn’t want to run into any copyright issues so he named his restaurant “Bunyons”.