Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Muffler Men

As I have travled the highways and byways of this great country there has never been a greater awe inspiring sight then to see one of the Muffler Men smiling down on me as I go on my way. The Muffler Men are roadside advertising icons made of fiberglass and stand about 20 feet tall. The first was made to look like Paul Bunyan and holding his axe but they usully hold a large replica of what they are advertising or a sign for the place they are advertising.
The company to make the men was International Fiberglass. They had a variety of characters that they derivied from one mold. The first was around 1962 for the BP Cafe in Flagstaff, Arizona and that was the previously mentioned Paul Bunyan.
The person who started the company was Bob Prewitt and it was originally called Prewitt Fiberglass. He was really a cowboy and preferred to ride in rodeos. He hired other cowboys to work for him between rodeos. So it's no surprise to see some of those giants were made to look like cowboys. In 1963 he sold the company and it became International Fiberglass Company. Soon they were being covered in trad magazines and the owne of the Paul Bunyan one told how his sales doubled when it was installed.

Their biggest program was with Texaco where they did the big friend. One of their more famous was with Phillips and the big cowboy. Soon they were making huge Yogi Bears and Chickens for fried chicken places. Then came the fiberglass woman. It was Miss Uniroyal. There were two versions. One with a skirt and another in a bikini. The sculptor modeled her after Jackie Kennedy.
To get one today it would cost you between $15,000 and $20,000 but back then it was between $1,000 to $2,800. Shipping was a nightmare.
That's all for now. I hope you have good day today.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Captain America in the Movies

Hello citizens! Normally I don't like to talk about myself but there is a movie coming out on my life this weekend and alot of interest in movies and other things about me. So to releave some of this interest today I will discuss movies that have been made about me.
First up is the 1944 serial called "Captain America." While I liked it for its entertainment value it did get a lot wrong. First off the lead character isn't even a solider. He is a District Attorney. His name isn't Steve Rogers but Grant Gardner played by Dick Purcell. Bucky isn't in the movie and I use a gun not a shield. Yes I am a solider and a marksman but I always prefer that a gun be used as a last resort.
In 1973 there was a Turkish film that was released called 3 Dev Adam. It translates into 3 Mighty Men but is better known as Captain America Vs. Spider-Man. Now this wasn't a movie version of Marvel Team-Up. In the film I am a government aent called to Turkey to take on a serial killer that looks a lot like an out of shape Spider-Man. If they producers didn't read the comic books then they sould have contacted me. Spider-Man is not a killer. He is often misunderstood but he is one of the good guys and one of my close friends.
In 1990 I finally thought they would get it right. Till this year it was the closest you could get. Matt Salinger actually played Steve (Captain America) Rogers. He looked great in the costume and they did use a shield. Even my old enemy the Red Skull was in it. However, he was made Italian and not German in the film. I was a little worried when I heard that Salinger was to be the star as he was pretty much an unknown. When I heard that Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox were also in it I felt better and thought this could be like Superman: the Movie. Boy was I wrong. Most of the movie Salinger wasn't in the costume and by the time he did get in it the movie was almost over. To top it off I didn't save the day but Ronny Cox, who was cast as the President, did. The movie was never released to theaters but my fans still found it in bootleg versions at comic book and science fiction conventions. Sales there forced its release to direct video. If you haven't seen it then you should at least once but only once.

Now here we are in the 21st century and finally what looks like a great movie based on myself. It even has one of my favorite actors, Tommy Lee Jones, as my Sarge in it. Don't know what the reviews will be but the commercials for it look great. Let me know what you think. Also starting next week my weekly post will be on Tuesdays from now on.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Brief History of Fireworks

Well since we just celebrated Independence Day a week ago I thought I would tell you the history of the one item that we use every year to celebrate the birth of our country. I'm talking about fireworks. They are mostly associated with the 4th of July but have been used to celebrate other events.
Their earliest known appearance in history is 7th century China.They used them in hopes that their loud sounds would frighten away evil spirits. Little children were told that it scared away monsters.
Eventually the art of making fireworks became a respected profession in China. It was always a celebration only for the wealthy or royalty until around the 14th century when they started to use them for the common people for things like weddings, births, business openings, etc.
The first Independence day celebration in 1777 was with fireworks while we were still at war and didn't know if our young country would survive.
Over the years in the USA many states outlawed the use of fireworks by private citizens due to concerns for peoples safety. You needed to be a licensed professional to use them. Lately some states are starting to make use of fireworks legal once again in their states.

Two of the largest fireworks displays in the country happen in Kentucky and Ohio. In Louisville, Kentucky they have the largest display at Thunder Over Louisville to celebrate the opening of the Kentucky Derby Festival.

In Cincinnati, Ohio radio station WEBN sponsers another large fireworks display every Labor Day Weekend. It is one of the largest in the country and broadcast on TV station WXIX. They first did in in 1977 as a one time event to celebrate the radio station's 10th anniversary. It was so well received they have done it every year since. Each year it draws over 500,000 people. Some arrive in houseboats a week early and live there floating on the Ohio river just to see the event.
That's all till next week, this is Cap signing off.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day: The History of Uncle Sam

Happy Independence Day citizens of this good ole’ United States of America. Many just call the day the Fourth of July but at first it was known as Independence Day. Today I thought in honor of Independence Day I would tell you of one of our popular American symbols. No not myself. I want to tell you of one of my good friends Uncle Sam. Some wonder if Sam was real or fiction. Well he was really both. The story of Uncle Sam starts on September 13, 1766 with the birth of Samuel Wilson in Arlington, Massachusetts to his Scottish immigrant parents. When he got older Sam moved to Troy, New York in 1789 where he became a meat packer. During the War of 1812 He supplied beef to the American Army in barrels. Since the barrels were government property he stamped the initials U.S. on them. To him it meant United States but the soldiers they jokingly said it stood for Uncle Sam. Over time people started saying that anything that was government property that had the initials U.S. on it belonged to Uncle Sam.
In 1916 artist James Montgomery Flagg did a cover of his version of Uncle Sam for Leslie’s Weekly. It was so popular that he was commissioned to do an Army recruitment poster. In 1917 he gave us the most popular version of Uncle Sam. He based it on a British Army recruitment poster that featured Lord Kitchener recruiting for the British Army. Some say that Flagg used himself as the model for Uncle Sam. Others say he based it on Sam Wilson or had another model in mind. Below are pictures of both Flagg and Wilson so you can judge for yourself.
James Montgomery Flagg

Sam Wilson

Uncle Sam was so popular that by 1940 he was a superhero in Quality Comics. He continues to this day to occasionally fight comic book crime in DC Comics alongside heroes like Superman and Batman.
Hope you all have a very happy Fourth of July.