Manti's 10th Rat Fink reunion marks 50 years for wild-eyed, green mouse

Fans celebrate legacy of Ed Roth: counter-culture innovator, Mormon convert

By Ladd Brubaker

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, June 2 2012 7:00 p.m. MDT

The Rat Fink reunion held each year in Manti is in part a tribute to Roth’s community-spiritedness, she added. Not only is it literally a reunion of a family of pin-striping hotrod artists, but it raises funds for projects in Manti and nearby communities, including the restrooms at the Manti park and, this year, the new Children’s Justice Center in Ephraim.

Big Daddy’s legacy continues not just through Rat Fink T-shirts, not just through two tribute rooms in Trixie’s home and a spacious Rat Fink convention center out back, and not just through a recently released Revell model car of Roth’s famed hot rod Tweedy Pie.

It also lives on in the T-shirt. He was the first to print art on a T-shirt, Trixie said. Before he did that, they were mostly worn as underwear — after Roth put designs on them and others followed suit, they also became an outer garment.

It was only one of many creations to spring from his fertile mind. Even later in life, Big Daddy was creating new characters and new designs.

Many times he would wake up from a dream, laughing, his widow remembers. When she asked why, he would say that he’d had a dream about his characters.

Rat Fink and the gang?

No, he would reply. There were thousands of others.

He lived from 1932 to 2001, creating right up to the end. And their popularity is living on, as well. At the last car show the Roths attended in Chicago, they completely sold out of merchandise, Trixie said. Ed was happy and amazed that Rat Fink and the gang would live on.

He left thousands of characters and designs that had never been brought to public light, stuffed away in boxes. Even today, when people ask who created a newly-issued T-shirt, Trixie will tell them simply, “Ed did.”

“I know Ed is extremely pleased that Rat Fink is carrying on,” she added. “He did not want Rat Fink to go away.”

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