Earlier this week, the Internet was full of dismay when pictures began to circulate of the Octopus Car Wash’s totally adorbs mascot, Ozzie the Octopus, being dismantled from his perch high above the streets of Madison, and strapped to a flatbed truck. Octopus Car Wash originated in Madison with their University Avenue shop in 1956, and quickly franchised out to locations around the country.
In June, Octopus sold its three Madison locations, as well as its two Rockford locations, to Tucson based magnate Mister Car Wash, who operates an 18-state carwash empire. The sale meant that the sculptures of the cheerful octopi equipped with wash buckets, polish rags, and other tools of the trade, had to be wrangled and removed. Ozzie—a perfect example of what “corporate identity” meant in the 1950s—had long been a Madison landmark, and the sculptures are now in the possession of Jeff Jurkens, who operated the franchise that his father, John, had started.
But there’s good news if you feel the need to bask in Ozzie’s visage smiling down on you—a pilgrimage to see him is a mere drive to Milwaukee’s north side.
Located on a somewhat gloomy stretch of Green Bay Avenue, near a cemetery, a scrapyard, and storage garages, is the last remaining Octopus Car Wash in the Midwest. It managed to scuttle away from the grasp of the Mister Car Wash deal because although this arm of the company is operating under the Octopus banner, it was already bought from the Jurkens family and is independently owned and operated.
The Green Bay Avenue location’s management tells us they currently have no plans to sell and that nostalgic people often stop by to take a picture of Ozzie, while waiting to get their vehicle a good old fashioned, many armed, hand car wash.