In July 2012, I had the opportunity to go to New York to visit some Muffler Men that I had not seen before. My first stop was the Orange County Fairgrounds in Middletown to see “Chief Towaco”. This was an Indian Chief model that had been there since the 1970s. Originally, this statue was one of three Indian models installed at the Danbury Fair in Danbury, CT. Vintage photos show that this statue always had this strange looking, duct taped body. At that point, his head was in normal condition and stayed that way until the giant was taken down.
I arrived at the Orange County Fairgrounds on the 4th of July only to find out that the statue had been removed and trashed just two days earlier! I was told that the head was saved by one of the men who helped take the statue down. The rest of the body was hauled off to the dump. While I was at the Fairgrounds, I checked out the giant fiberglass cow head and some neat lights which came from the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
After that, I went to see the Muffler Man in Elmsford. This Paul Bunyan model stands on North Central Avenue just off I-287. It has been there since at least the 1970s. From the style of the statue’s shirt sleeves and arms, this appears to be an early statue from the mid-1960s. The statue’s right arm has been missing as far back as anyone can remember. It’s possible that this statue never had one or it was removed to fit next to the sign.
The statue was originally painted the standard Paul Bunyan colors with a red shirt and blue pants. By 2001, his shirt had been repainted gold. Around 2004, the Amoco station was rebranded as a BP station. The statue was painted green and yellow to match the new company’s logo. The statue’s eyes were also painted green and a flower planter was built around its feet. The statue is a classic Paul Bunyan and not the same style as Phillips 66 or or Texaco Muffler Men so I have my doubts this giant was purchased for the oil industry. I have yet to find out if this statue has always been at this site or if it was moved there from somewhere else.
In 2007, a driver accidentally backed a truck into this statue and ripped the left arm off right below the shirt sleeve. The station owner put the arm in a storage room where it has remained ever since. Although I begged to see the arm, the clerk would not allow it. He said that the owner was going to reinstall the arm at some point. While there are a few Muffler Men around the country with missing feet, I believe this is the only one with missing arms. At the time of my visit, the gas station was being remodeled and the pumps had been removed. Hopefully, the statue is also on the owner’s “to do” list and that the left arm will be reinstalled soon.