by Joy McClain
When a giant fiberglass bull passed through Indianapolis in 1970, Ned Wheatley got a glimpse of it. He owned Wheatley's market, a well-known establishment in Wanamaker, in eastern Marion County. Wheatley thought he had found the perfect way to advertise, and paid $3,600 for the 800-pound bull.
King the bull became a hit. He traveled to Terre Haute for a Farm Bureau parade. People there hooked a foamer to King's back side. When foam hit the pavement it was scooped up and thrown into the wagon. Folks in the wagon tossed out Tootsie Rolls.
King has his own box of memorabilia. He was dressed for the Indiana State Fair for photo ops with queen contestants in 1982. He wore a top hat and white beard for Wanamaker's 150th celebration in 1984.
Ned's son, George, took over the market and King, but George finally put King out to pasture at his cousin's farm.
Bob and Patty Marlin hosted King for a few years. Then Bob approached George about buying him. Bob put a fresh coat of paint on him and he was ready to roll again.
He's still a busy bull, sometimes gone for a month at a time. The bull has sold cars, celebrated anniversaries, birthdays and weddings and raised money for schools and churches.
Truth is that much of Wanamaker's history over the past 40 years has involved the giant, beloved, fiberglass bull. King has it easy today, stored inside a shed when he's not out helping someone market whatever it is they are selling or whatever cause they are advancing.
As they say in Wanamaker, "Long live the King" – even if he is just a lot of bull!
McClain writes from Greenwood.