MEMPHIS — On the morning of Dec. 11, the end of an era was marked when cranes removed Atomic Pest Control’s 10-foot-tall, 1,200-pound iconic mouse from the company’s Elvis Presley Blvd., building in Memphis.
The eye-catching mouse had become more than an Atomic Pest Control marketing tool – it had become part of the city’s skyline and character during the last 30-plus years.
“The mouse leaving the building was bittersweet,” said Atomic Pest Control Owner Carese Rice. “It was an amazing sight to see him taken off the building. The building does not look the same with that big blank spot.”
The mouse’s new home is Ringgold, Ga., home of EnvironGuard Pest Control Services, a pest control business owned and operated by Rice’s cousin, Lee Tubbs. “I felt like the mouse needed to stay in the family, so I am giving it to Lee,” Rice said.
What necessitated the mouse’s relocation was that after 55 years in business Atomic Pest Control sold to local pest control business Allied Termite & Pest Control Co., on Dec. 6. Atomic Pest Control was founded in 1958 by Rice’s father, Stanley (Lester) Tubbs, and she ran the business following his passing in 2002.
|Carese Rice, former owner of Atomic Pest Control and its famed mouse, with daughter Melanie and granddaughter Julia.|
The mouse was purchased by Tubbs in 1969, and it really came to life when he lent it to a local movie theater to promote the 1971 movie ‘Willard.’ According to a 2008 PCT article, the mouse had a speaker inside that theater promoters had used to hype their films. Tubbs used that speaker to promote his company’s services all across Memphis (pulling it on a trailer). But with fame came problems: Fraternities kept stealing the mouse, and Tubbs would have to go to the trouble of hunting him down. So, in 1978, he moved the mouse to the roof, and it had been there ever since.
A NEW HOME. The mouse will not be put to rest. Rather, it will serve a similar purpose for EnvironGuard Pest Control Services. Lee Tubbs also grew up in pest control, working for Atomic Pest Control. “The mouse and I grew up together,” he said. “It was put on the Atomic Pest Control roof in 1978 and I started working full-time for Atomic Pest Control in 1979. It’s been a family heirloom and I’m proud to be its new caregiver.”
Lee Tubbs moved to Atlanta in 1994 and founded Environguard in 1997. He said he’s building a new platform for the mouse that is expected to be completed in January. “It’s going to be facing the street that our business is located on and also interstate 75, so that drivers driving south from Chattanooga (Tenn.) will see it.”