My #70th Muffler Man sighting took place in Chicopee, MA in July of 2012. This was a unique sighting, because he is a rare breed of Muffler Man. Although made by International Fiberglass, he is not made from the regular Muffler Man mold. He is a unique giant that we refer to as a waving giant and he is taller than regular Muffler Men.
Waving Giants, although they closely resemble the Texaco Big Friend, are not the same. Texaco Big Friends show teeth and actually lack the top of their heads under the cap, while these guys have closed lips and a full head of hair. Waving Giants could be ordered with a dress shirt and tie or with a full suit coat as well. We know a handful were made in the mid 1960s but only 4 originals can still be found today. The one this article is about, another in Oakwood Village OH, a third that is stored in the attic of a business near Chicago and a forth that Glenn Goode found in Garland, TX in the 80s rotting away behind a business. Glen would not only restore this waving giant but make copies of him, although all of his, including the original have regular muffler man heads.
The Waving Giant in MA is one of two that we know of that had the full suit coat. We have uncovered a vintage picture of a waving giant with a suit coat at an unknown location but have no idea where he ended up or if he still exists and feel it is very unlikely he is the one from MA.
We don’t know when the waving giant was ordered but we do known that in 1970 Mario Cantalini bought the statue from a pizza shop, for $2,000 and moved it to his Mutual Ford dealership in Springfield, MA. It is likely that the pizza shop ordered the giant new from International Fiberglass, as we have seen pictures of a waving giant head wearing a pizza chef hat on the lot at International Fiberglass. However after extensive searching I’ve never been able to find record of a pizza shop with a giant in Framingham, or any pictures.
Mario Cantalini’s new dealership used the slogan of “Buy American” so the statue was transformed into an Uncle Sam character and the statue’s chef’s hat was replaced with a top hat. The statue stood on the lot until 1988 when the dealership closed. The property was then leased to a used car dealership and things changed. The owner was not interested in keeping the statue since the “Buy American” slogan didn’t fit well with all the foreign cars they were selling. The statue was taken down and put into storage.
Cantalini was involved in many businesses over the years. He ventured into the hotel industry in the early 1990s at the age of 74. One of the hotels that he owned was known as the Chicopee Motor Inn when it was built in 1958. The hotel was designed by the highly acclaimed architect, Morris Lapidus. It went by several names over the years before Cantalini bought it and renamed it the Plantation Inn. The hotel’s heyday was in the 1960s when it was known as the Schine Inn. It was a very popular place with celebrities like Muhammad Ali and Judy Garland. In 1999, the hotel’s most famous guest arrived. The Uncle Sam statue was taken out of storage and transformed into a Southern gentleman. The statue’s suit and top hat were painted white. It was installed in front of the hotel facing a busy interstate exit.
After 14 years at this location, the giant statue was sold at an auction on Friday, November 15th. According to an article in The Republican “Plantation Man” sold at auction on Friday to Charlie Arment Jr. of Charlie Arment Trucking in Springfield. The auction generated allot of interest and over 100 people were present to witness the event. Charlie won the bid at $11,500 outbidding others as far away as KY. He was sketchy when giving future details but planned to keep the giant in the local area. According to the auction’s advertising, the statue was sculpted by Sacha Schnittman. While Schnittman did sculpt the Texaco Big Friend, I have not heard or read anywhere that he created the Waving Giant statues like this one. However, it is possible.
I have yet to find a photograph of this statue in its early days as a Pizza Man in Framingham. International Fiberglass started selling this particular model in the mid-1960s. I recently spoke with former International Fiberglass painter, Terry Nelson. He showed me photographs of statues being assembled in Venice, CA. One of the heads (see photo at left) wore a chef’s hat and could have been a Pizza Man. This may have been the same style hat that the Plantation Inn statue wore originally. I have not been able to find anything about “Too-Fy” or “Stoo-fy” which is printed on this hat. If anyone knows the correct name of the business and where this statue was located, I’d love to hear from you.
Today you can find the waving giant in Feeding Hills just outside of Agawam, MA at a shopping plaza on Springfield Street. In late 2015 the giant could be seen at the east end of the Plaza but in 2016 was moved to the west end and stands in front of construction storage building. Always great to see these giants rescued and kept on display for all to enjoy.
Thanks to the Plantation Inn for providing information about the statue during my 2012 visit. Also to The Republican newspaper (see article here) for the information and reference to my blog. Additional thanks to Hell’s Acres blog for letting me use their picture of Plantation Inn Man when he stood at Mutual Ford.