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‘Have squeegee, will travel’

Ryan Carter

James Menton has done it his way, even if it means logging 125,000

miles on his bike to get the job done.

Menton, a 55-year-old Burbank resident, makes his living washing

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windows. He carries a business card that says, “Have Squeegee, Will

Travel.”

Each day, from his apartment on Cypress Street, he rides around

looking for windows to clean. It is the way he does it that attracts

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attention from everyone from bewildered hair salon employees to

police.

On his belt, Menton -- “Mr. James,” as he calls himself -- wears a

holster. He is ready to fire, not with a gun but a squeegee. On his

head is a hat that conjures up images of Indiana Jones. On his well-

ridden mountain bike are squeegee handles of various sizes and a

bottle of soap and water that hangs off the handle bar.

Consider the words scrolled on the back of his card: “He is always

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ready to quick draw. The legend of the Window Washer coming soon to a

window near you.”

A little wacky, yeah. But it is a living, said Menton, who hopes

some day to become a Las Vegas lounge singer.

The pivotal moment for Menton came in 1994, when he worked as a

security guard. He saw someone washing windows.

“I said to myself, ‘What am I doing at a job where I am just

standing?’ ” he recalled. “I thought if I could get enough windows to

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support myself, I could have a job I’d actually enjoy doing because I

was moving.”

Six months later, he was washing windows full time, riding as far

west as Woodland Hills to find work. It was his love for characters

and an elusive movie deal that prompted Menton’s cowboy image.

“I just figured I would be something of a character so people

won’t forget me,” he said.

One time he stopped in at a local salon to get his hair cut, and a

clerk called the police because of the holster. Police once detained

him and questioned him about his get-up.

“I said, ‘No, it’s not a gun, it’s only a squeegee,’ ” he said.

Menton admits he does not make much, just enough to get by. And it

has been a challenge to stay healthy after being hit by cars 12 times

since the mid-1990s, he said.

A theme that always stuck with him was his love for singing, art

and characters. He loves to sing Frank Sinatra -- “My Way” is among

his favorites -- and Tony Bennett tunes at local karaoke halls. And

he will even croon for you while washing a window: “That’s extra

charge,” he said.

He still longs for a deal to become a singer in Vegas.

But for now, window washing and surviving take priority.

“I’ve been doing this for so long, it’s part of me,” he said. “I

wouldn’t trade my life with anybody. I am happy with the way I am.”

In the same breath, he wondered if there was not a comic book

story or cartoon out there to be told about his job.

“The hero could be the window washer who comes to save the day,”

he said.

For more information, page Menton at 526-9892.


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