Right Palm Up, Left Palm Down
In 1984, a ten-year-old boy encountered a mysterious 20-foot-tall fiberglass statue named Louie in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Eight years later, he spotted an identical statue in Tucson. A third sighting outside a run-down convenience store made it a trend. Thus began a scavenger hunt to discover the origins of Louie and his brethren. Only one rule applied: No searching for them on the Internet!

Right Palm Up, Left Palm Down

The Log of a Cross-Country Scavenger Hunt by Gabriel Aldaz

Meet the Characters

This page is devoted to the Muffler Men in the order that I encountered them in my scavenger hunt. The names of most statues are widely accepted, and the numbers roughly correspond to the book chapters. The map and descriptions were accurate in 2009, and are being updated in 2023 with your help! Click on the numbers on the map or the names on the right to learn more about each one.
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San José, California


I serendipitously sighted Babe outside a muffler shop in 2003. Owner Kurt Nelson told me that Babe Royer had purchased the statue in the 1960s. Many more survived, scattered around the country. Based on this exciting revelation, I decided to make a scavenger hunt. Each statue I found would hopefully get me one step closer to learning who created them, when, and for what purpose.

Location: Babe and Lightning’s Muffler Shop, 808 The Alameda
Type: Service station attendant
Accessories: Hockey stick, muffler
Spotlight: San José Historical Landmark (1992)
Damage: Leg crushed when customer backed car into it (multiple incidents)
  • Babe

Left: Babe holding a hockey stick (2003). The NHL’s Sharks skate at nearby SAP Center (known as HP Pavilion in 2003). Right: Repairs to Babe’s leg after bumper damage.

2023 Update

Babe is still standing in San José and is now holding… a muffler! Otherwise, he desperately needs attention, mostly repairs to his damaged left leg and a new paint job. The Babe’s Mufflers sign behind him has only faded and chipped in the last 20 years.

  • Babe 2023

Left: Babe in front of his increasingly faded sign. Right: Babe’s legs continue to be patched up. Photos courtesy of Michael Herron.