This is the third gorilla sculpture to stand in this spot (hwy 71 South, Fort Smith), and this one is about to be replaced by a fourth. The ravages of the elements have just about worn this one out, just as they wore out his predecessors.
Many years ago, Roger Bailey of Fort Smith Vacuum put together a gorilla sculpture and placed it in front of his establishment to provide his business with a distinguishing landmark. Mr. Bailey wasn't at the shop when I happened by; but his son told me, "When you're talking to somebody on the phone and they ask for directions, all you have to say is, 'The gorilla across from Wal-Mart,' and they know exactly where to go."
The younger Bailey told me of two similar gorilla advertising icons--one in Conway and one in McAlister. Maybe I'll go look them up and consolidate them all into one big "gorillarama" page. Gorillathon? Gorillatopia? Gorillapalooza?
Here we are in Conway on Tyler and there's another robotic gorilla standing like a streetcorner prophet in front of another Vacuum Cleaner store. This example contains advanced gorilla technology. The motorized upper body oscillates over an arc of about thirty degrees as the right hand raises and lowers. Note the wheels on the back of the astroturfed pedestal. The whole assembly is made so that it can be easily taken indoors every night. This is a college town, you know.
I went inside and checked with the owners. There is no connection between this vacuum cleaner store and the others. The owners of Vacuum Cleaner Hospital knew of Bailey's gorilla and jumped on the bandwagon.
Washoe banana want tickle. Cogito ergo sum. Klaatu barrada nikto. Oop, eep, orp, ah ah.
At right we have yet another vacuum cleaner store in yet another town advertised by yet another gorilla. This one lives indoors and wears clothes. This shop is found on highway 7 (Arkansas Avenue) in Russellville.
The owners of these vacuum cleaner shops all know each other, says the owner behind the counter of the shop pictured below and left. Once one proprietor discovered the advantages of having his own gorilla on display, the rest followed suit. Gorillas have been associated with vacuum cleaner repair in Arkansas for so long, he can't be sure whose shop was first to use a gorilla.
The careful observer will note that this shop has two gorillas. Note the signage above the shop shows a gorilla dressed in medical garb. And if two-count-'em-two gorillas aren't enough to get customers' attention, as you step inside you'll notice a bear to the right of the counter.
Find this gorilla on Highway 35 south in Benton. Bear is within.