ANAHEIM, Calif. – In 2021, Western Exterminator celebrated its 100-year anniversary. After combating for the U.S. in WWI, Carl Strom started the corporate initially of the “Roaring Twenties.” Mr. Little was first launched in 1931 as a recognizable determine for use in Western Exterminator’s Yellow Pages adverts. Since then, Mr. Little and his sidekick, Menace the Mouse, have advanced into West Coast icons. Not solely has his picture appeared excessive on billboards all through the coast, in books and on the massive display a couple of times, it was even seen on the stage of rock band Van Halen’s 1984 tour.
Mr. Little has answered to many names over time, together with “Kernel Kleenup,” “Inspector Holmes,” and “The Little Man.” In its earlier years, every Western Exterminator car even had a Mr. Little statue on it. Although Western Exterminator grew to become a Rentokil firm in late 2012, it continues to prominently function Mr. Little in its promoting.
Mr. Little is a giant deal, which is why Rentokil “gladly” accepted a restoration supply from Classic Roadside, a small mother and pop firm positioned exterior of Portland, Ore. devoted to the preservation and promotion of roadside historical past. Classic Roadside provided to protect and safely transfer one in every of its 20-foot Mr. Little statues. The one at present on show on the Valley Relics Museum in Van Nuys, Calif. stood exterior of Western’s Santa Ana, Calif. location for years. Illuminated by vintage neon indicators and surrounded by traditional automobiles and different icons of days gone previous, the corporate stated, Mr. Little stole the highlight.
Cherissa Vandergriff, senior director of promoting, residential pest, Rentokil NA, stated Western’s Santa Ana workplace was shifting and knew its statue was in want of restoration on account of basic put on and tear. Across the time administration was making an attempt to find out what it could take to maneuver the statue, they received in contact with Classic Roadside. Western Exterminator supported the group’s mission to protect historic memorabilia and share it with the general public.
“With the ability to take that lengthy, wealthy legacy and share it with the general public to allow them to all come and see him was one thing that was an ideal match for us,” she stated.
Jeff Kunkle, proprietor of Classic Roadside, stated the fervour for his enterprise was impressed by the native A&W restaurant he grew up close to. It had the “Burger Household” statues, he stated, and Kunkle at all times remembered how seeing these larger-than-life statues was “as large of a deal with because the frosty mugs of root beer.” In 2007, a former A&W proprietor requested if the corporate wish to be the following caretaker of his set of statues.
The most recent statue beneath its care is the not-so-little Mr. Little statue. He joins Classic Roadside’s statue assortment which additionally consists of the likes of Esso Tiger, a Tastee Freez Twin, a former gasoline station “Muffler Man” and a Jantzen Diving Woman.
“In working with Rentokil our shared goal is the preservation and continued enjoyment of this excellent piece of promoting and firm historical past,” Kunkle stated.
Shortly earlier than the pandemic, plans have been effectively underway for a touring museum exhibit that included a number of of these statues. Sadly, he stated, these plans are at present on pause till a number of uncertainties move. Reaching out to a couple museums concerning the show of Mr. Little, nonetheless, has yielded “incredible” response.
“We’ve begun by displaying him on the Valley Relics Museum in Van Nuys, Calif. We felt like this was an amazing match because it was pretty native to the place the statue stood initially and the museum has an amazing assortment of mid-century promoting and different historic artifacts on show,” Kunkle stated.
Seeing roadside giants like Mr. Little, he stated, reminds individuals not solely of an organization, however of a selected place and a incredible period of roadside promoting. These kinds of statues are massive, heavy, awkward and dear to maneuver, and costly to revive. It’s incredible, Kunkle stated, that Rentokil noticed the worth in preserving one.
The touring Mr. Little statue is product of metal, plaster, and fiberglass, Vandergriff stated. The overall put on he sustained was largely from being uncovered to the Santa Ana climate parts. Due to the statue’s peak and weight, a crane was wanted to maneuver it. Kunkle stated the corporate didn’t get a precise weight on it, but it surely was estimated to be round 1,500 kilos.
“Typically, statues of this dimension weigh round 500 kilos, however Mr. Little additionally has a metal inner construction that provides enormously to his weight,” he stated.
Kunkle additionally stated Mr. Little had the good thing about dwelling in a “pretty gentle” surroundings over time and had additionally obtained nice periodic upkeep. After eradicating him from his unique perch, he obtained an intensive examination and a top-to-bottom cleansing.
“In comparison with among the statues in our assortment he was in incredible form,” he stated. “When the time comes for him to maneuver to his subsequent museum we’ll route him to our restoration store in Oregon to see if there’s any work wanted.”
It is a nice alternative for Western Exterminator to have the ability to use the Mr. Little statue in a bigger manner and share him with the general public, Vandergriff stated. Keep watch over Western Exterminator’s social media for updates on the place he’ll journey subsequent. He’s anticipated to be on the Valley Relics Museum all through summer season 2022.