‘Haven to Heaven’ paints quirky picture of rodent control

By |  March 13, 2019 0 Comments
PHOTO: PMP ARCHIVES

Click to view.  PHOTO: PMP ARCHIVES

The cover of the September 1954 issue of Pest Control magazine, as Pest Management Professional was known, was a departure from the usual serious portraits or specimen photographs. Rather, it showcased the work of Utica, N.Y.-based artist Edward Juergensen, and was part of a mural he painted for the offices of L.A. Moore & Co. — a pest control firm headquartered in Utica. (Editor’s Note: Learn more about Juergensen’s life and career here.)

Leon Moore, whom the magazine identified as a past president of the Empire State Pest Control Association, commissioned the 5-foot-tall, 72-foot-long mural that wrapped around the perimeter of the office. “Haven to Heaven” was designed to show “in caricature form what happens to 200 mice who dare to fight against his company.” That’s straight from our article, which was written by fellow Utica resident Walter Sierak and titled “L.A. Moore’s Unusual Office Mural ‘Humanizes’ the Pest Killing Business.”

The mural, which took 250 hours to complete, tells a tale from left to right. It begins with a mouse relaxing on a hillside… [He’s] reading a book titled “How to Exterminate Exterminators.” To the right of the mouse are rolling green hills with a sign below them reading “Entering Mouse County, Haven for the oppressed mice.” There are no trees in Mouse County, but instead many various colored flowers which dot the entire country side. In a village square with odd shaped rooftops against the sky is a small boy mouse selling papers which have a headline reading “War on Moore.” Upon seeing the headline a little old lady mouse shows fear. On the wall of one of the buildings a large sign is posted reading “BUY MOUSE WAR BONDS TODAY! Get back four pieces of cheese for every three you invest.”

The description continues, down to a tent inviting all to catch a free glimpse of the beautiful Gypsy Rose Mouse — but as the article warns, “in the back of the tent is a vacuum device which sucks out the mice into an atomic mouse reducing unit.”

And did we mention the “jet propelled poison cheese dispensers, flit gun helicopters spraying mouse killing chemicals and a new version of a mouse trap”? The saga ends with a gate to Mouse Heaven, where “a sign stuck on a cloud reads ‘ALL IS FORGIVEN… L.A. Moore, Prop.’”

In the article, Moore said the lighthearted art helped add to the positive office atmosphere for employees. It also made a favorable impression on prospective customers who stopped in to make an appointment. Moore concluded: “I recommend an office mural for every one in business for it is money well invested. It’s like another salesman silently working for the company every minute of the day.”

In the mid-1970s, Moore sold his company to longtime employee Bill Hulser (who started at Moore in 1939, at age 9) and his wife, Claudia. Cindy Boehlert, a daughter of the Hulsers, tells PMP Moore was like a father figure to her dad, who lost his own dad at age 6. Cindy’s husband, Doug Boehlert, joined the company under Moore’s tutelage in 1972.

They had to relocate the business in 1970 because the state wanted the land for urban development. Unfortunately, the murals were demolished with the offices. “It was a shame,” Cindy recalls.

In 1988, the Hulsers sold the business to PCO Services, which in 1999 became known as Orkin Canada. In 1990, the Boehlerts struck out on their own with Allpest Inc., which they still run in Utica today. They also own original renderings of the murals that Juergensen sent Moore for approval.

“Dad gave us the renderings many years ago, and we put them in an envelope for safekeeping,” Cindy says, noting that in recent years, with both parents deceased, “we decided it was an important part of our family history to share. We had them framed with museum glass, and they hang in our home today.”

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