ANAHEIM, Calif. – In 2021, Western Exterminator celebrated its 100-year anniversary. After preventing 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 large display screen a few times, it was even seen on the stage of rock band Van Halen’s 1984 tour.
Mr. Little has answered to many names through the years, 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 an enormous deal, which is why Rentokil “gladly” accepted a restoration provide from Classic Roadside, a small mother and pop firm positioned outdoors of Portland, Ore. devoted to the preservation and promotion of roadside historical past. Classic Roadside supplied to protect and safely transfer certainly one of its 20-foot Mr. Little statues. The one at present on show on the Valley Relics Museum in Van Nuys, Calif. stood outdoors 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 mentioned, Mr. Little stole the highlight.
Cherissa Vandergriff, senior director of promoting, residential pest, Rentokil NA, mentioned Western’s Santa Ana workplace was shifting and knew its statue was in want of restoration resulting from normal put on and tear. Across the time administration was attempting to find out what it will take to maneuver the statue, they obtained 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 mentioned.
Jeff Kunkle, proprietor of Classic Roadside, mentioned the eagerness for his enterprise was impressed by the native A&W restaurant he grew up close to. It had the “Burger Household” statues, he mentioned, and Kunkle all the time remembered how seeing these larger-than-life statues was “as huge 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 subsequent caretaker of his set of statues.
The most recent statue below its care is the not-so-little Mr. Little statue. He joins Classic Roadside’s statue assortment which additionally contains the likes of Esso Tiger, a Tastee Freez Twin, a former fuel 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 mentioned.
Shortly earlier than the pandemic, plans had been properly underway for a touring museum exhibit that included a number of of these statues. Sadly, he mentioned, these plans are at present on pause till a number of uncertainties cross. Reaching out to a couple museums relating to the show of Mr. Little, nevertheless, has yielded “improbable” response.
“We’ve begun by displaying him on the Valley Relics Museum in Van Nuys, Calif. We felt like this was an awesome match because it was pretty native to the place the statue stood initially and the museum has an awesome assortment of mid-century promoting and different historic artifacts on show,” Kunkle mentioned.
Seeing roadside giants like Mr. Little, he mentioned, reminds individuals not solely of an organization, however of a particular place and a improbable period of roadside promoting. These forms of statues are giant, heavy, awkward and dear to maneuver, and costly to revive. It’s improbable, Kunkle mentioned, that Rentokil noticed the worth in preserving one.
The touring Mr. Little statue is made from metal, plaster, and fiberglass, Vandergriff mentioned. The overall put on he sustained was largely from being uncovered to the Santa Ana climate components. Due to the statue’s peak and weight, a crane was wanted to maneuver it. Kunkle mentioned the corporate didn’t get a precise weight on it, nevertheless it was estimated to be round 1,500 kilos.
“Usually, statues of this dimension weigh round 500 kilos, however Mr. Little additionally has a metal inner construction that provides drastically to his weight,” he mentioned.
Kunkle additionally mentioned Mr. Little had the advantage of residing in a “pretty delicate” setting through the years and had additionally obtained nice periodic upkeep. After eradicating him from his authentic perch, he obtained an intensive examination and a top-to-bottom cleansing.
“In comparison with a number of the statues in our assortment he was in improbable form,” he mentioned. “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 approach and share him with the general public, Vandergriff mentioned. Control 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.