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Big Mike and his big pipe wrench.
Big Mike and his big pipe wrench.

Roadside Titans of Mike Whitman

Dallas, Georgia

Why is a plumber in Georgia buying giant roadside statues?

Wonder Woman - Uniroyal Gal.
Wonder Woman - Uniroyal Gal.

According to Mike Whitman, it has very little to do with plumbing.

Mike grew up north of New York City and was fascinated by the gas station Muffler Man in Elmsford (back when the statue still had arms). "I guess I've always wanted a Muffler Man since I was five," he said. As an adult he even tried to buy the Muffler Man, "but the guy didn't want to sell it for anything."

Mike eventually moved to Georgia, but the change of scene did nothing to cool his statue passion. He tried and failed to buy another Muffler Man outside of Atlanta, and even attempted to make one of his own (It did not turn out well). He visited auctions, haggled with owners, but always came away empty-handed. "I'd always be looking, and nobody wanted to sell."

Then Mike learned about Joel Baker and his American Giants business, which specializes in finding and restoring old roadside statues. "Joel's got a lot of passion, and he seems really excited about Muffler Men," Mike said. Joel had a Mr. Bendo for sale, and Mike was so thrilled that he got in his truck and drove a 16-hour non-stop round-trip just to pick it up.

Mike next learned of a Uniroyal Gal undergoing restoration. He bought her, then ordered a new, custom Muffler Man Plumber -- the strongest connection to his business -- through Bell Plastics in California. All three were standing in Dallas by May 2018. Later that year he learned of several Muffler Men being sold by the shuttered Magic Forest theme park; he bought a Paul Bunyan, the alarming Amish Ax Man, and the uniquely terrifying Clown.

Mr. Bendo of Dallas, Georgia.
Mr. Bendo of Dallas, Georgia.

"I've always been a collector, so I figured I'd collect all the different ones -- then I could compare them," said Mike. "I want to have the biggest collection of them in one place."

Mike said that all of his newer acquisitions will stand with Mr. Bendo at his plumbing office north of town, probably after their restoration sometime in 2019. "If I put another statue in the middle of Dallas [which is where the Plumber and Uniroyal Gal are] the mayor's gonna have a meltdown," Mike said. The Clown, in particular, will be displayed discretely, "because it's pretty freakin' weird."

Mike has adapted to his new family of giant statues with surprising ease, and views it as a way to give something to his community and travelers alike. "If someone wants to come all the way out here, there needs to be something better to look at than just one," he said. "It'll be like a roadside museum."

The Collection

Roadside Titans of Mike Whitman

Dallas, GA
RA Rates:
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Muffler Man ClownMuffler Man Clown, Dallas, GA - < 1 mi.
Mr. Bendo Muffler ManMr. Bendo Muffler Man, Dallas, GA - < 1 mi.
Paul Bunyan Muffler ManPaul Bunyan Muffler Man, Dallas, GA - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Atlanta History Center: Jeff Davis Underwear, Atlanta, GA - 26 mi.

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