Local News

Tuesday, Jun 11 2013 09:51 AM

'First Look': Tale of the 'Big Indian' statue told

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    The statue known as the Big Indian is outside Ethel's Old Corral Cafe.

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    Kenny Barnes talks with Californian CEO and President Richard Beene about the statue known as the Big Indian, which is now at Ethel's Old Corral Cafe. They talked during a "First Look with Scott Cox" segment.

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

He's known as the Big Indian, and he lives outside Ethel's Old Corral Cafe on Alfred Harrell Highway.

But it wasn't always that way.

The family of local Realtor Kenny Barnes brought the fiberglass statue to Bakersfield in about 1965. A company in Los Angeles made them for about $1,400 and called them the Muffler Men, Barnes said Tuesday on "First Look with Scott Cox."

"I've heard stories of this thing for years. Can you bring us up to date?" Californian CEO and President Richard Beene said.

Barnes said his family built Big O Tires in 1959 on the Garces Circle.

"We brought that there as an attention-getter," Barnes said of the statue. The business also sold a line of tires called Mohawk.

"We always had a lot of comments on it," Barnes said.

And kids shot arrows at it.

"I'd have to get the ladder and pull them out," Barnes said. He'd also find arrows on the roof of the building.

The family sold the business in 1972 -- and suddenly the statue disappeared.

Barnes said he heard it went to a school in Oildale for a while.

Then it disappeared again.

One night in the late 1980s, Barnes said, one of his three sons, a sheriff's deputy, called him at about 1 a.m. to say he found the Big Indian in an Oildale yard.

"I don't know the complete story but someone got it and restored it," Barnes said.

The Big Indian was off to Ethel's Old Corral Cafe, and Barnes said he was called for the dedication.

Beene asked: How'd the Barnes family decide to buy the statue to begin with? Barnes said he didn't recall; maybe they'd received a flier on it.

Beene said he can't imagine erecting a statue like that today.

 

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