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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Poor Richard

Mecca, California

Poor Richard

Poor Richard beckoned passers-by to stop in at his mini mart near the Salton Sea. When I drove past in 2000, his head was missing. I was told that it had fallen off during a windstorm, and rolled like tumbleweed down the highway toward Mecca. Mysteriously, Poor Richard was a Cowboy rather than a Lumberjack, a faded Phillips 66 logo emblazoning his Stetson. A label above his right knee revealed he had been manufactured by International Fiberglass in Venice, California.

Location: Poor Richard’s Mini Mart, California Highway 111
Type: Cowboy
Accessories: None
Spotlight: According to owners, featured in a Hustler photo shoot
Damage: Neglect led to structural degradation, head loss
  • Poor Richard

Poor Richard in two pieces (2005). The front of the cowboy hat was likely damaged during the fall.

2023 Update

Big Josh

Big Josh

Joshua Tree, California

Around 2014, Poor Richard got a new coat of paint and his head reattached. By 2018, he had been sold, completely restored, and put up at The Station, a repurposed 1949 service station in Joshua Tree, California. Today, Big Josh is happy doing what he does best, serving as a backdrop for selfies taken by motorists pulling off the road for gas, snacks, and souvenirs.

Location: The Station, 61943 Twentynine Palms Highway
Type: Cowboy
Accessories: Dons special outfits for the holidays, wore a bandanna during COVID times
Spotlight: Selfie magnet
Damage: None recently
  • Big Josh

Left: Poor Richard put together again (2016). Right: Big Josh standing outside The Station. Photo courtesy of Michael Gaud.