Roadside Attractions II: The Sequel

Nov 28 2010 - 3:44am

Images

KRISTIN HEINICHEN/Standard-Examiner
Lee Fielding stands in front of the Hooper home where his dad, Nolan Fielding, installed a mailbox 15 feet from the ground. The mailbox was placed more than 30 years ago as a joke on a sister who was a mail carrier at the time.
ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner
Three dolphins were carved from the large stump of a tree on the Weber River Parkway in Riverdale.
KRISTIN HEINICHEN/Standard-Examiner
A statue in Layton Commons Park carved more than a decade ago bears a resemblance to Disney’s Goofy.
NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
A dinosaur made from metal parts of farm machinery stands by the side of Washington Boulevard in Ogden.
NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner
Jaime Ponce de Leon stands with his fiberglass cow as his daughter Diane sits on the cow in Harrisville.
KRISTIN HEINICHEN/Standard-Examiner
Lee Fielding stands in front of the Hooper home where his dad, Nolan Fielding, installed a mailbox 15 feet from the ground. The mailbox was placed more than 30 years ago as a joke on a sister who was a mail carrier at the time.
ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner
Three dolphins were carved from the large stump of a tree on the Weber River Parkway in Riverdale.
KRISTIN HEINICHEN/Standard-Examiner
A statue in Layton Commons Park carved more than a decade ago bears a resemblance to Disney’s Goofy.
NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner
A dinosaur made from metal parts of farm machinery stands by the side of Washington Boulevard in Ogden.
NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner
Jaime Ponce de Leon stands with his fiberglass cow as his daughter Diane sits on the cow in Harrisville.

Welcome to another installment of Roadside Attractions. If you spot an intriguing sight you'd like to know more about, call 801-625-4270, e-mail vzimmer@standard.net or drop a line to the Standard-Examiner Life section, P.O. Box 12790, Ogden, UT 84112-2790.

Air mail

Folks have been known to drive right by this Hooper mailbox -- then back up to take another look.

Perched about 15 feet above ground at Lee Fielding's childhood home is a special "air mail" box.

Fielding says his late father put the box up there about 30 years ago, as a joke for one of his daughters, a long-time mail carrier in Hooper.

"She walked the mail in that day (when she first saw the mailbox) and wanted to know how in the devil he expected her to put mail in there," Fielding, of Roy, recalled of his older sister, Noleen Cox.

Notice the red flag is up. Always has been.

Fielding says his father, Nolan, who loved to get visits from his children, explained, "Now the mail lady's got to stop every time she goes by here."

The box went airborne thanks to equipment supplied by Gordon Cox, husband of the late Noleen.

"I have a tractor with a bucket; I picked it up with the bucket and stood it up there," says Cox, of Hooper. "That's about it."

At Christmastime, Cox says, he sometimes used the bucket to stuff papers in the box, to look like mail for Santa.

The flag's red paint is faded now, and so is the box's black "air mail" lettering, but passers-by on 5100 South (at 6582 West) still get the idea.

And when it came to folks stopping to take a second look, Fielding -- whose son now owns the house and rents it out -- says, "Dad loved to see that."

-- Becky Cairns

Freshwater dolphins

You're walking or biking along the Weber River Parkway in Riverdale when, suddenly, you see them -- a trio of dolphins at play.

Full disclosure -- these aren't actually flesh-and-blood Flippers, but rather a statue carved from a single, multi-trunked tree that died, and needed to be removed by the city.

Enter sculptor Dennis Miller, who works as a park specialist for the city's public works department. He likes to joke about how his creation got there. "I used to just tell people they swam up from South America -- they are freshwater dolphins, of course."

Miller is also the artist behind a number of other large-scale carvings in Riverdale Park -- several bears, a moose and a snail.

So why do dolphins on the Wasatch Front?

"I just wanted to try dolphins and see how they turned out. With the angle of that tree, I thought I could make them look like they are diving out of the water and going in different directions."

Miller is retiring from public works in December, and hopes to use his spare time for more carving. He's already been asked to do one for the Ogden Botanical Gardens.

As to how he designs his creatures, Miller takes the Michelangelo approach: "You just remove all the tree until you've got an animal."

-- Linda East Brady

Doggone Goofy

Dogs aren't allowed in Layton Commons Park, but there's been one there since 2001 -- at the city's request.

What's really strange about this dog is that it stands on hind legs, wears clothes, and is carrying a book. It's also made of wood.

"There were a lot of trees in the park that were getting old," said Dave Thomas, recreation supervisor for the city. "Instead of cutting them off, and them being gone, a couple of them we decided to keep and we did statues."

The dog, which looks like a certain Disney character, was carved with a chain saw by Michael Chipman.

"I was in college at the time, having fun playing around with making small animal carvings," Chipman said. "I went and looked at the tree, and it happens that very day I'd seen the cover of a Goofy movie."

Chipman noticed a nose-like knot of wood, and was inspired by the tree's proximity to the Central Branch Library, at 155 N. Wasatch Drive.

"I spent all night drawing and redrawing Goofy with various books," he said.

The city liked the idea, but had a request -- finish it in time for the library's grand opening the next week. Chipman got the job done in 2 1/2 days.

He later carved a multi-head dragon behind the administration building, and made bears from a lightning-struck tree near the park's baseball field. The dragon is gone now, and the bears are deteriorating.

Thomas says the city hasn't commissioned new statues lately, and jokes that it's hard to find a good chain-saw artist.

"I still enjoy chain-saw carving, but all the hard work made me think I better do something else," said Chipman, who now lives in Kingman, Ariz. "I became a doctor instead."

-- Becky Wright

Landmark dino

Planted in concrete along Washington Boulevard for the last 23 years has been a terrifying dinosaur, standing guard.

Bud Braegger and his wife had owned the property in Harrisville at 817 N. Washington Blvd. for decades when he decided to weld the statue in 1987.

An amazing fact behind the red dinosaur is Braegger was no artist.

"He has always been a farmer. That's what it is -- it's farm equipment," said Kim Kirby, daughter of Braegger and next-door neighbor.

A heavy-duty chain serves as the spine, with remnants of tractors and combine parts playing parts of the limbs, torso and head. Kirby said it has become a notable landmark that has locals still talking about it after all these years.

"People at my work mention it and I say, 'Oh I live right next to it,' " Kirby said.

Kirby said she is looking to move the dinosaur from the road in the future.

"People mess with it. We have got kids that are hanging on to it, and some of it is broken and bent," Kirby said.

"Me and my husband want to move it over by our house. We will have to dig it up."

Braegger passed away in 2004, and Kirby said she is happy to have this memento of him sitting outside her front door.

-- Brad Gillman

No bull

Drivers motoring south on U.S. 89 can't help notice the unblinking bovine in the front yard of Harrisville resident Jaime Ponce de Leon.

The cow, which seems a tad out of place in a residential yard with cars and bikes nearby, has a secret. It could win any staring contest, because it is made of fiberglass.

Ponce de Leon, who owns Ogden's Rodeo Market at 25th Street and Monroe, and has owned several markets in the Salt Lake City area, purchased a small "herd" of three fake cows, and one hog, from a restaurant promotion business in Southern California.

"They had giraffes and elephants. They had everything," Ponce de Leon recalled.

He had hoped to use the life-sized fiberglass beasts on the roofs of his markets, but gave up on that idea after a Salt Lake zoning official quibbled over something much more trivial, the shade of the exterior paint he chose for a store.

Ponce de Leon put one cow inside the Salt Lake City store, and when the store sold, the buyer requested the cow as part of the deal. Ponce de Leon put the hog inside his Ogden market, near the meat department.

He put one cow in storage, and five years ago, he anchored the last fiberglass cow in the front yard of his large, log home, at 1091 North and U.S. 89.

"People always look and think it is alive," Ponce de Leon said. "They get a funny look on their faces when it's summer, and the kids are mowing around the cow. Sometimes I stand with my arms on the cow, and sometimes my children or my brother's children play on the cow's back, and we get strange looks."

Occasionally, people stop and ask permission to take a photo with the nameless faux bovine. Ponce de Leon doesn't object.

"It's fun, and it gets nice comments," he said. "I've always loved ranches and cows and horses. Why not have a cow in my yard?"

-- Nancy Van Valkenburg

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