#61 Elmsford, NY – Bunyan

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Picture Credit: Debra Jane Seltzer RoadsideArchitecture.com

Picture Credit: Debra Jane Seltzer RoadsideArchitecture.com

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.

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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.

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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.

Picture Credit: Debra Jane Seltzer RoadsideArchitecture.com

Photo Credit Debra Jane Seltzer RoadsideArchitecture.com

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.

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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.

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American Giants Episode #7

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IMG_0483We’re happy to release Episode #7 after a long weekend of editing. This episode continues to follow us on our journey through Chicago. The first stop on this leg is at Ced’s Muffler and Brakes on Grand  Avenue.  This statue at Ced’s is known as a Mr Bendo.   There are a couple of other Mr. Bendos elsewhere in  the U.S.. We make an interesting discovery on the roof of the building using our GoPro camera. We also make a quick stop at the “Eye Care Indian” that has been on a Chicago rooftop for a very long time.  This episode wraps up with a quick preview of Episode #8.  You will see more of Bo and Neto in that video as we move on to some of the more famous Muffler Men and try to figure out their histories. Episode #8 will be the last in the Chicago series.  Episode #9 will cover our recent trip to Dodge City, KS to visit the Dennis Hopper Muffler Men.

#52 Crystal Lake, IL – Service Man

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Although claiming to be a Bunyan version, this muffler man in Crystal Lake has been many things but I don’t believe a Bunyan has been one of them. Individual muffler man history can be a beast to piece together and often my blogs reflect my conclusions instead of the Picture 7hard facts although my quest is to always get the facts. I visited this gentle footless giant on my first muffler man trip (now showing in AG episodes). He stands with an indian version at the Greenhouse of Crystal Lake Garden Center in Crystal Lake, IL. He has suspender buttons like a bunyan version but appears to not have had the bunyan boots. He’s got suspeners painted on his shirt and a very interesting paint job around his neck line and collar. At first glance he looks like a bunyan in the face but a second look reveals a smooth chin with a painted on beard. So I would classify this one a classic Picture 9service man version. His history is a bit hazy but certainly seems to have roots in the Chicago area. He’s stood next to a green house and pallets of garden soil since 2009 when he and the indian arrived here. They 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 Selzter with RoadsideArchitecture stopped by and photographed them and Roadside America also 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. There are actually a few muffler men in the Chicago area missing their feet including these two and the one standing on the roof of Guardian Auto Rebuilders Adventureland Addin Evergreen Park, IL. Also a long lost bunyan in southern WI also had cut off feet. All four of these giants have been cut off in the same place and it’s my guess that their feet were originally installed in concrete and were simply cut off when it was time for them to be moved or sold. In 2007 Ozzie’s closed to make way for a Whole Foods supermarket and the giants were reported missing that year before reappearing a few years later at their current location. So far I have not found any hard facts about their travels before Ozzie’s but I have had a few ideas. Way back in the 60’s there was amusement park located in Addison, IL called Adventureland. Today very little of it is left but I have found old pictures of the park at Lisa’s Nostalgia Cafe that show evidence of a pirate and a indian version that stood at the parks entrance. You can even see them displayed on the cover of the parks brochures. In 1977 the place closed it’s doors and the park quickly fell into disrepair but many of the buildings and rides remained forAL Map lower many years. The giants were removed but their feet remained until around 2005 when the entire area was cleared for new development. I visited the site in 2012 and found old concrete platforms and ride foundations in the woods but the entrance area had all been cleared IMG_20121031_121401and re landscaped and a huge office complex now sits on most of the former amusement park site. Although originally suspecting the two muffler men at the green house in Crystal lake as coming from Adventure Land I still have some doubts. It appears in vintage pictures from the 60’s that the Bunyan (then a pirate) has an actual beard and pictures from the mid 70’s show the feet cut off at the

IMG_20121031_123109knee’s and not the ankles as they are today. So where did the greenhouse muffler men come from before Ozzies and how did they lose their feet. If they are not the muffler men from Adventure Land then what happened to the Indian and Pirate that once stood at it’s entrance? Another great example of the mysteries of muffler men.

Special thanks to Debra Jane Selzter for the use of her picture showing the service man at Ozzie’s in 2001. For more info on Adventure Land please visit Lisa’s Nostalgia Cafe

#24 North Platte, NB M Man (Fort Cody)

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North Platte, the county seat of Lincoln County is the home to about 24,000 and happens to be the home to Bailey Yard, one of Union Pacific’s large railroad yards. It also has some interesting museums and history but my attention was centered on an attraction just off of the interstate, Fort Cody. In 1963 the Henline family opened the first Fort Cody on the western end of North Platte on highway 30 and it stood until 1968 when it was moved to it’s present location along I-80. It was moved to coincide with the new interstate being put in and has been drawing travelers off the road ever since. It is now in second generation ownership and is known for it’s old western museum, Buffalo Bills wild west miniature show, large gift shop and fort and stockade, and of course a muffler man. As far as muffler men go this is one of the stars or famous one’s out there. Hundreds of visitors each year stand next to him in the stockade behind the fort for their picture, so he is no stranger to Facebook, flicker and google image searches.

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I was fortunate to visit on a day when owner Chuck Henline was in and was able to visit with him a bit and talk about the his muffler man out back. As muffler men often do, this one holds a few secrets and has a very interesting history. One thing I noticed right away was that he’s actually not an indian at all! Although International Fiberglass made indian versions of muffler men, Fort Cody happened to come across the service man model and turned him into an indian to meet their needs. Chuck told the story how in 1970 a gas station across the street was either going out a business or getting rid of some extra’s and had their muffler man taken down and was laying on the lot. Chuck’s dad walked across the street and a price of $100 was agreed on for the sale. Chuck remember’s helping haul the giant across the street and they set him up in the stockade in the back and painted him to look like an Indian. He has braids and a cloth around his waist (which is always blowing to the side) and has been repaired and repainted many times since that day in 1970. Interestingly this is one of the muffler men that the guys at Roadside America came across on their travels in the late 80’s or early 90’s and it was featured in their article in the Smithsonian. I’m not sure if the gas station that the M man came from was a phillips 66 but he is one of the rare bow tie wearing versions if you look closely at the indian paint at the top of his shirt. Fort Cody is proud of their muffler man and rightly so and he will continue to greet visitors for many years to come. Thanks to Brian Butko and his blog about the books he has written http://www.brianbutko.wordpress.com for sharing the picture of the Fort Cody Indian taken shortly after arriving at the fort.

 

#9 Bakersfield, CA M Man

The Bakersfield Indian was my second indian sighting and he has unique history (as many do). The first thing you notice about him is how dark his skin is. Other then the Muffler Man in Helper, UT this is one of the darkest skinned muffler men out there and I’m not sure who picked out the skin color but I think it’s a bit on the dark side even for an Indian. However he is in great shape considering his rough history. At his feet is a stone plaque that tells his history, something I wish more muffler men had, perhaps not as elaborate but something to tell us of their history. The M Man in Atlanta, IL has a nice board in front of him with his history and pictures and inside the Plantation Hotel in Chicopee, MA there is a plaque on the wall stating it’s history so fromg time to time you do find out the history without having to ask or dig through Roadsideamerica.com but then again, digging is most of the fun!

The stone at his feet tells the story of how he once stood in town in the middle of a roundabout where the town enjoyed him. He was taken down and moved to the High school to be the mascot for the Warriors. However due to regulations and new rules he was taken down and stored in an empty lot where he suffered some vandalism and ended up by 1990 in really rough shape. He was found and restored by a cowboy who eventually had him set up at his current location. He is a bit hard to get to with the interesting highway system in the area but well worth the effort. Image