Not because giant fiberglass humanoids are menacing America's highways. I'm talking about summer. Just as Memorial Day is its unofficial beginning, Labor Day is its unofficial end, and the holiday weekend is fast approaching.
Although, giant fiberglass humanoids ARE menacing America's highways -- many, not all that far from the Elgin area. They're kitschy, oversized pop sculptures, once part of a nationwide fad, now part of a disappearing (or disentigrating) breed called "Muffler Men."
The Elgin area's one example, a Streamwood tire-barn cowboy named "Big Ben," rode off to that great roundup in the sky 10 years ago this fall. Reporter Dave Gathman wrote about Ben and his remaining (albeit wooden) counterparts, The Pained Minuteman and 10-foot wooden Santa and Snowman, earlier this summer.
Now that summer -- or, as I like to think of it, Road Trip Season -- is coming to an end, I thought it might be a good idea to revisit the Muffler Men, et al, perhaps even in person. We at The Courier-News haven't verified that all these guys are around (other than our wooden locals), but if if you're feeling brave, or just not ready to say goodbye to summer, you can take one last day trip to go Muffler Man-spotting, not that far from Elgin. And send us pictures, please!
View Muffler Men Day Trip in a larger map
Learn more about Muffler Men from RoadsideAmerica.com. And have a happy Labor Day!
-- Emily McFarlan, Readers' Reporter