Muffler Man - Barnacle Bill
Ortley Beach, New Jersey
Arm position: Standard
Accessories: Golf putting iron
Note: Peculiar gray "pinwheel iris" eyes, #13 spray-painted inside each shoe.
It's a rare road trip where all the muffler men we see are flat on their backs. But that's pretty much the situation as the Jersey shore heads into winter. At Seaside's Casino Pier, the one Half Wit has been lowered onto the boardwalk, and the other Muffler Man is still prone from storm damage.
A little further north at Ortley Beach, Barnacle Bill takes precautions early with his golfing Muffler Man. After Labor Day, it's only a matter of weeks before the miniature golf course is shut down and the huge Bunyan M-Man is stowed in the arcade building.
Owner Bill Petruzel opens up one of the wide bay doors along the front, and we see two large boots -- size 48 inches -- sticking toe up out of the shadows. Bill has the Bunyan balanced on a small wheeled palette. He pushes from behind and the 20 ft. tall fellah slides as if from a drawer in a morgue, his arms frozen in rigor mortis. A stuffed toy animal perches on his chest.
In 1967 Bill's dad found the Muffler Man behind a gas station in Lakehurst, abandoned and in pieces. With a notion of refurbishing it and using as a promotion for his business, he bought it for $500. Bill's theory is that these statues were displayed at station openings, then retired.
Teenaged son Bill, a surfer, did the repair work. "I knew fiberglass." It was erected in 1968.
Bill has done a little research into the big guys, and he believes this is one of two that appeared at the American Oil Pavilion in the 1964-65 New York World's Fair (Update: A Paul Bunyan muffler man statue was actually at the entrance to the Oregon Pavilion, though several Bunyans claim to originate from there.).
Most of Ortley Beach, including Barnacle Bill's mini-golf course, was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. But Bill Petruzel, adhering to his yearly routine, had stored away the golfing Muffler Man only days earlier, and it survived the storm. Barnacle Bill's was rebuilt and reopened on its 50th anniversary, July 31, 2013, with its Muffler Man standing tall.