Family Vacation to Dinosaur Gardens, circa 1952
One of my favorite places in Michigan is the Dinosaur Gardens in Ossineke.
This photo was sent by a reader who had fond childhood memories of visiting the gardens as a child. She wrote:" My mom (the one on the stegosaurus's head) believes she was about 7-8 in the photo, which means it would have been taken around 1952. She is with her brother, her mother (holding her Jamie doll), and her father. I don't know if she would want her name on the photo, but if you would like a caption, you could say that it was the Burke family on vacation. "
The cool thing about the park is that is has barely changed since then. It's living retro fok art, and still embodies creature Paul Domke's strange, personal vision of dinosaurs, evolution and Christianity co-existing peacefully. A Michigan Must-See!
New: mystic Blessed Virgin Mary statue July 29 2005
This photo was taken on a recent research trip to Michigan, to the small town of Lennon which bills itself as the Lawn Ornament Capital of the World. Well, actually that's Krupp's, started years ago by Jean Krupp who staved off poverty by building and selling birdhouses from trash wood scraps. Her front lawn business expanded into the gigundo ornament business she now has, with thousands of statues to choose from. I took this shot inside the building with a digital Minolta camera, it is not altered in any way. None of the other dozens of photos I took indoors or out, including one with Jean, showed any kind of mist, let alone colored swirling lights.Notice the lights are emanating from the palms of the virgin statue. Two of the building's fluorescent fixtures are shown clearly at right and they do not appear to be affecting the light swirlor causing reflections in any manner. I was floored to see this photo emerge on my computer screen when I downloaded the Compactflash card. And I'm not even Catholic!
This photo is copyright Linda Godfrey 2005. Feel free to send or add links to this page but displaying on other sites is prohibited.
Roads UPDATE DEAD DOG IN A SLEIGH MARCH 21, 2005, SEE BELOW
Rubbernecking Along Michigan Highways...Weirdness by the Mile
photos and writing by Linda Godfrey © 2005
Road trips can be deadly boring for the unobservant. But those who take the time to look at the fast-disappearing weirdness still found along Michigan's highways will be richly rewarded by the amazing stuff to be seen. Giant Indians and ski-boys top the list in the UP, we've included a couple below for starters. Around the rest of the state you'll spy the World's Largest Wood Stove in Detroit, World's Largest Teddy Bear in Chesaning on Michigan's Thumb, a Seventeen-Foot Santa in Frankenmuth, and a horse statue designed by Leonardo da Vinci in Grand Rapids. All of these and more will eventually appear on this page, but start with the offerings below...
Dashing through the porch, in a one-horse open sleigh, sits DEAD BETTY THE DOG, decades-old mounted mascot of Crane's Pie Pantry and Restaurant outside of Fennville in Allegan County (which is also the supposed stomping grounds of the fabled Melon Head people). Betty, who lived in Chicago from 1930-1937 according to an attached sign, evidently was inherited by the aunt of one of the store's bakers. Betty ended up guarding the unheated porch of the old farm building that serves as bakery and restaurant on weekends only, her main companion a mannequin dressed in summer overalls. Around the corner is a wall-hung chicken coop occupied by a stuffed buff orphington and a Plymouth Rock hen, but thankfully the taxidermy nightmare ends there. The interior of the restaurant, however, is crammed with antique memorabilia and collections, with old war-time paratrooper toys hanging from the ceilings and mannequins posed and costumed in every nook and cranny. The food is fabulous, with even the sandwich breads home- made. And people come from miles around to carry home the pies. Two miles west of Fennville on M-89, best to check their web site for times and dates.
Dwarfing the Ironwood residential neighborhood around him, the World's Tallest Indian looms 52 feet over the abandoned iron mines that once lay at his gargantuan feet. Nicknamed Hiawatha, the fiberglass brave was raised upright in what the locals called his "Erection Cememony" in 1964. Although popular enough to inspire the sales of hundreds of replica banks sold through Ironwood's chamber of commerce, critics have rightly pointed out that this Hiawatha is dressed as a Plains Indian, not as one of the forest tribes, such as the Ojibwe, who would have populated the Ironwood area before Europeans took over. Easily the tallest object on the horizon, statue-seekers can just follow the main drag to the end of Burma Street for their own neck-stretching view. While there, you can contemplate the mysterious fact that this massive object d'art was somehow spirited away and kidnapped forty years ago the night before its, um, erection. It was found within twenty-four hours, probably when the culprits realized they couldn't fit it inside any door in Ironwood, and the thieves were never identified.
Twisting through Wakefield at the intersections of Hwys. 2 and 28 in Gogebic County, you'll come across a more stylized version of the "Giant Indian" on the southwest shore of Sunday Lake. There's a beautiful visitor center and store with plenty of off-road parking for easy access to the solemn Nee-Gaw-Nee-Gaw-Bow or"Leading Man."The imposing figure is one of a multitude of native American figures sculpted by Hungarian Peter Wolf Toth as memorials to the Red Mans' Trail of Tears. The figures are intended to "watch over the country" to keep such tragedies from recurring.
The Ski Industry is one of northern Michigan's biggest tourist pulls,
so it's natural that ski resorts would want to present the most compelling roadside attractions possible to emphasize their specialty; hence the giant fiberglass Ski-Boy you'll see bracing for his downhill slalom at the gates to Big Powderhorn Mountain along Highway 2 between Ironwood and Bessemer.
You'll admire his jutting Superman chin and ever-stylish mullet 'do. But with his permanently tinted shades and classic "knitted ski-cap," Ski-Boy may look a bit out of place from April through October when he's surrounded by green slopes, The rest of the year he's a landmark schusser.