On January 7, 2014. Ray Carr of Cleveland’s WCSB 89.3 did a phone interview with me about Muffler Men for his radio show. His program features in-depth, live interviews with movers-and-shakers: politicians, journalists, athletes, and guys like me who are into Americana. He also features unusual oldies and comedy interludes from the 1950s and 1960s.
I asked if I could put the interview on the American Giants blog. He agreed to that so I decided to go the extra mile and added video to the audio. So above is the enhanced Ray Carr interview. Ray is going to check back with me from time to time to catch up with my latest adventures. The next interview is scheduled for March 4, 2014 on Cleveland’s WCSB 89.3 at 8:00 AM.
Episode #8 wraps up our first road trip up old Route 66 into Chicago. Our last two Muffler Man stops are in Evergreen Park and then at Haunted Trails in Burbank. Using the GoPro, we discover what the Evergreen Park Bunyan is missing. We also find out that he even lost his head at one point. At Haunted Trails, we check out the Frankenstein statue and compare him to the standard Muffler Man model. We also pull out the GoPro and get some close-up shots of the statue that few people get to see.
When this episode was recorded, I believed the Frankenstein statue was made by FAST. However, I realize now that FAST has only been around since 1983. Most likely, it was Creative Display that made the Frankenstein statue.
We’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.
In Episode #6, our American Giants crew continues to make its way around the Chicago area visiting Muffler Men. We start out at the Greenhouse of Crystal Lake and hop over to Lumberjacks, a firewood and mulch business. You will see the Muffler Man that we used for our American Giants Opener and find out some of its history. We end this episode at Lambs Farm in Libertyville and realize just how long this 15 foot tall lumberjack has been around!
After traveling up old route 66 through Illinois the crew finally arrives in Chicago area to check out the seven muffler men located there. In Part 1 of this Chicago section they discover some interesting facts and history on the muffler man located at the Greenhouse of Crystal Lake as well as the ruins of the old Adventureland park in Addison, IL. I think this is one of the more exciting adventures I have been on with finding the exact location of the park and going there. I was able to locate “the ruins” of the park now buried in the woods. Although the exact spot where the muffler men stood is now relanscaped much of the parks foundations can still be found in the back of the property.
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.
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”.
The second episode of “American Giants” is offically released as of July 9, 2013. The episode covers the details of International Fiberglass the company that made muffler men as well as Steve Dashew who owned it. We also continue to follow Joel and the guys up route 66 in search of muffler men. They make their second stop in Springfield, IL and visit the Lauderbach bunyan and talk to his owners and find out some very interesting history. Also Bo makes a cool discovery when he mounts a go pro camera on a boom pole. This episode is a reality due to the help of the guys at Lauterbach Tire in Springfield and also the many photographers and help I got from Roadside America. Again this episode runs 15min and although I tried to keep it under 8 I was not successful. The plan is for future episodes to be under 10 min in length.
Finally at long last we have completed and released the first episode of the series “American Giants” The episode covers the details of how muffler men got their name as myself and two of my friends head north in the state of IL near old route 66 in pursuit of muffler men. We discover the soda jerk in Macon and learn about it’s connection to the shorter muffler men that International Fiberglass built. This episode has been a long time in the making and I just want to thank everyone who was involved for your help. Big thanks to the guys at Roadside America for helping me get my facts right and for what they started so many years ago. Also to Debra Jane Seltzer for all her help and countless e-mails in helping me in my research and also for the use of many of her pictures she has taken on her travels. The episode runs 15min and because it was the first one we needed a bit more time to lay some foundation. Future episodes will run closer to 8-10 minutes in length and now that the groundwork is done there should be a new one every 3 to 4 weeks.
I have followed the unfolding story in Pahrump, NV concerning their extremely rare Big Friend very closely over the last few months. Thankfully due to those of us with an interest for this sort of thing, made it known to various key players in that town how rare this guy was. Earlier this year the news and paper got involved and soon everyone in town realized what they had (or did have). By that time the big guy had already made his way to the Pahrump Valley disposal where he still resides today. Two reporters, Deanna O’donnell and Mark Waite have been very instrumental in telling his story from the start in mid December last year when he came down. In fact channel 46 did one story that heavily used this blog and 3 of my pictures appeared in the story, including one with me in it (although it’s a wide shot) Needless to say I was surprised when I watched that clip. I’ll keep updating this blog from time to time on the developments with this Texaco Big friend. Currently none of the remaining big friends are in their original paint scheme for Texaco and it is our hope that he’s restored back to the days when he wore the Texaco star, colors, cap and all.