Illinois Statues (page 3)

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Big John
Eldorado, IL

Big John
Metropolis, IL

Big John
Carmi, IL

The Big John statues are about 30 feet tall. They originally wore checkered shirts, blue jeans, and an apron and carried giant bags of groceries. They were built for the Big John grocery store chain which was based in Carmi, IL. The company was established in 1960. These statues were produced around 1967 by the General Sign Co. in Cape Girardeau, MO. They were designed by Jimmy Boyd. The stores and statues were named after the 1961 hit song about a coal miner, "Big Bad John." There were about 30 Big John stores in Southern Illinois, Western Kentucky, and Tennessee. It's believed about 25 of these statues were produced. Some of the statues were sold and moved. However, most of the statues were moved back to the company's headquarters in Carmi as stores closed. When the company moved its headquarters to a new location around 2000, the remaining statues were destroyed. Only nine of these statues are known to have survived: the three shown here in Illinois and six others (see blue box below). In 2019, the original molds for these statues were found in Tennessee. New statues may be produced from them.

The Big Johns in Eldorado and Metropolis stand in front of still-operating Big John grocery stores. [Eldorado map]

The Big John store in Metropolis opened in 1986 and this statue has been there since then. The statue came from the Carmi headquarters. In 2014, the right arm of the Metropolis statue fell off and shattered. The arm was repaired and the statue restored in 2015. He now holds just the one grocery bag and waves with the right arm. For more, see this website. [Metropolis map]

The Big John in Carmi stands in front of the Little Giant Grocery Outlet. The photos of this statue above are from 2006. By 2013, the statue had been repainted. His shirt is now white and his apron is red. [map]

There was a statue at a Big John store in Olney, IL which is gone now.

More Big Johns:
Cape Coral, FL
Hutchinson, KS
St. Louis, MO (as two pieces)
Walls, MS
Gainesville, TX (two Big John statues)
Unger, WV

For more about Big John statues, see this website.

More Illinois:
Humpty Dumpty (Champaign)
Poopdeck Pappy (Chester)
Ricky Rocket (Hoffman Estates)
Donald Trump (Livingston)
Bicyclist (Port Byron)
Humpty Dumpty (St. Charles)
Paul Bunyan (University Park)

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