Rocky Point’s Big Man On Midway

He loomed large over the Rocky Point Park midway for about 21-years.  A gap-toothed bumpkin from who knew where.  Smiling at golfers beneath him, seemingly awaiting his turn at a tee with his 10-foot long club: a driver.

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Some called him Alfred E. Newman of Mad magazine fame.

MAD-Magazine-Alfred-E-Neuman-Norman-Mingo

Others referred to him as Mortimer Snerd, the secondary dummy of legendary ventriloquist Edgar Bergen.

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Riders of the Skyliner swore he made eye contact with them on their way out to the hill.  Upon returning to the loading station, some passengers swore they could hear him laughing.

 

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When there was a performance on the midway stage, he had the best view in the house.

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In 1966, Skyliner riders got a brief glimpse of things to come.  “What’s that torso doing in the crate?” these two riders asked each other.

Crate Halfwit

By 1988, Rocky Point’s mini-golf was gone, and with it, the gentle giant, replaced by another towering structure, the Freefall.

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So where did this mysterious man come from?  And where did he go?

Research shows that he was created by International Fiberglass, a company founded in Venice, California in about 1963.  It was best known for its large molded fiberglass roadside advertising sculptures commonly called “Muffler Men”.

The company was formed when Steve Dashew purchased Prewitt Fiberglass Animals and acquired all of the molds created by Bob Prewitt.  One of the molds which Dashew acquired in the transaction was a 20-foot human figure which Prewitt had used in 1962 to create an oversized statue for the Paul Bunyan Cafe in Flagstaff, Arizona.  The Bunyan giant held an axe.

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The company had made fiberglass boats, but during the company’s downtime, Dashew decided to use the mold to stir up some new business.

He began promoting his outsize figure-making capability, and selling his giant figures in 1964.  The outsize figures eventually included a female, who could be fitted either with a bikini swimsuit or a dress.

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In 10 years of production, International Fiberglass sold hundreds of oversized figures, including cowboys, Indians, astronauts, aliens giant chickens, dinosaurs, Yogi Bears, and tigers- selling each for $1,800 to $2,800, or as low as $1000 when ordered in bulk, as when the Texaco Company ordered a batch of 300.

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Dashew ceased production in 1974, and sold the company assets in 1976. The outsized molds were destroyed after the sale.

Rocky Point’s giant, and others just like it,  have been named “Happy Half-Wit” by the Roadside America website.  In a 1999 interview with Roadside America, Dashew had this to say:

“We made those, that happy face . . . he had a hat, too. I think that was the ‘country bumpkin’ we sold to miniature golf courses. The standard unit was 20 feet.”

Halfwit4

As for the positioning of the arms in most of the giants, it was a matter of economics, Dashew said.

“The tooling was expensive, it was thousands to make new tooling. So we reused it (the original ax-holding Paul Bunyan mold) for the other statues.”

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If you’ve ever driven to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, NJ, you were likely to see this Half-Wit along the way…on Monmouth Road in Holmeson.

New Jersey Halfwit

If you ever went to King’s Castle Land in Whitman, Massachusetts before it closed in 1993, you may have seen this Half-Wit.

King's Castleland Halfwit

 

Had you been to Magic Forest in Lake George, NY, you undoubtedly saw this gent, disguised as an Amish man.  Sadly, the summer of 2018 was the last for him and many other fiberglass figures at this park.

Magic Forest Halfwit

If you went to Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, NJ in the late 1960s, you would have sworn you saw the Rocky Point giant’s twin brother.

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So the remaining question is, where did Rocky Point’s giant go after being removed in 1988 for the Freefall ride?  Was it broken down and put in storage like this one?

Halfwit Head

If so, was it auctioned off with the other Rocky Point Park items and rides in April 1996?  If anybody knows for sure, please comment below.  After all, where can a 20-foot giant be hiding?

 

Photo Credits:

American Giants – Muffler Men

Dale V Turner/Things That Aren’t There Anymore Rhode Island Edition

Robert Hamel

Roadside America

Anita Cerri Ferla/You Must Be This Tall movie collection

Jake Tasho

Castle Land Facebook Group

Roy Holt Family

Casino Pier

Burt Clark

Mad magazine

Google Images

 

 

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