Do you know the muffler man? The one who lives on Austin Avenue?

Do you know the muffler man? The one who lives on Austin Avenue?

For more than 40 years, "Muffo" the muffler cowboy has been a constant feature along the streetscape leading into downtown Denison. However, a recent car wreck has threatened to take the cowboy out of the rodeo for good.

For S&S Muffler Shop, the sculpture of a cowboy, made completely of old mufflers and spare pieces of metal piping, has become something of a mascot for the business. When giving directions to lost customers, Owner Margaret Montgomery said she would just tell them to look for "Muffo" the cowboy out front.

"Everyone knows who he is," Montgomery said. "People say ‘Oh, you are the muffler shop, you must have the cowboy.’"

Montgomery said the original sculpture was there when her family opened shop at the location in 1975. After the original wore out, Montgomery’s son, Gaylon Montgomery, rebuilt the statue using pieces around the shop.

Muffo’s body came from an old GM pick-up truck, while his head was at one point part of a Nissan. Even Muffo’s yellow cowboy hat had its origins in an old lawnmower, Gaylon Montgomery said.

"That’s kinda like an emblem for them," said Christa Lee, who works near the shop, describing it as a constant sight in the neighborhood. "You can’t drive past without noticing it."

Andy Faber said he has done business with the Montgomery’s since they opened in 1975. He can still remember when they installed a dual-exhaust system in his 1972 Ford Ranchero.

"Back then, you put dual exhaust pipes on your car," Faber said. "They were the ones to do it."

Faber said he can’t remember a time that Muffo wasn’t there to greet him anytime he needed muffler work on a car. "That man has been there for years," he said. "I wouldn’t call it an institution, but everybody remembers it."

Gaylon Montgomery said he has seen church kids come to the shop on multiple occasions looking for the statue as a part of a scavenger hunt. "They’d say ‘I knew I’ve seen that sculpture somewhere before,’" he said.

About 20 years ago, the family added a second sculpture in the shape of a cow to the outdoor display. Gaylon Montgomery said he got the idea from a magazine and built the sculpture over the course of a month using a ford muffler.

The pair of statues remained out in front of the shop until July 7 at 3 p.m., when a driver struck the statue. Margaret Montgomery said a vehicle was driving north on Austin Avenue when it entered south-bound traffic. The vehicle struck a car in her parking lot before continuing north and striking both sculptures and the street sign they were attached to.

Margaret Montgomery said the cow sculpture was dragged down Austin Avenue, where it was later recovered. "He slaughtered my cow," she said with a laugh.

Since then, the spot where Muffo sat for nearly half a century has remained vacant. A mark on the concrete from where Muffo once stood serves as a solemn memorial for the mascot.

"To me it just looks kinda naked out there without him," Margaret Montgomery said.

Muffo’s future after his run in with a car is still in question. While he suffered a broken arm and neck, Montgomery said she said she is hopeful he can be repaired. However, they cow was more heavily damaged, and will require more extensive repairs, she said.

"I think the man could get a little surgery and be okay," Faber said. It was one a recent visit to the shop that he saw Muffo sitting on the floor, in pieces.

"The cow may need to start over," he added.

Faber said he couldn’t see an S&S Muffler without their mascot. "It is like going to the state fair and Big Tex not being there," he said.

Margaret Montgomery said she believes the driver was insured, but she is uncertain what monetary value she can put on the sculptures. "I don’t know what this type of art is valued at," she said. ""The materials don’t cost much, but it’s the time and work that count."