Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I'm missing Uncle Sam

Last week, I took a day off from work and journeyed west — all 302 miles in four hours and 20 minutes to be precise! — to my alma mater, St. Bonaventure University in Olean.

The purpose of my trip was to pick up my niece Elizabeth and a good chunk of her worldly possessions —  at least it seemed that way when I was going up and down three flights of stairs in her dorm — and bring her home for the summer. Elizabeth, an Averill Park High School graduate, just completed her sophomore year at the Franciscan university.

Uncle Sam statue in Troy
As I drove through downtown Olean, waiting for her to finish up her last final, I realized something was missing from my life.

I think it was all those darn squirrels placed around town as part of the Woodland in the City project that did it to me.

And what's missing from my life?

It's those Uncle Sam statues that were placed around downtown Troy until they were auctioned off in an online bidding process last  December. I loved driving through the Collar City, eyeing those patriotic gents on the various street corners always made my day.

Seeing those painted 4-foot tall, fiberglass squirrels in Olean made me nostalgic for all those Uncle Sams so I made a few stops to take some photos. While they' no Uncle Sam, some of them are cute and some of them are "interesting."

Check out two of my squirrel photos below:

Lady Justice in Olean
Ronald McSquirrel in Olean

Apparently this worldwide public art craze for over-sized fiberglass statues start in 1999 with cows in Chicago, moved on to guitars in Cleveland and Labrador retrievers in Aspen, Colorado. Buffalo soon was bedecked with buffaloes and Erie, Pennsylvania put up frogs.

Oh well, if I can't see Uncle Sam, I can still take delight in those fiberglass statues when I go up to Saratoga Springs twice a week to work. If you look closely on the busy main streets of the Spa City, you can still find a horse or two or a ballet slipper en pointe.

A horse at the Saratoga City Center
A ballet shoe near Stewart's in Saratoga.

The horses have decorated downtown Saratoga since 2002, while the ballet shoe sculptures joined the local arts scene last year as part of a project called Saratoga En Pointe! As any local dance enthusiast knows, the Spa City is home to the annual Dance Flurry Festival and the National Museum of Dance and features performances by the New York City Ballet each summer.

I guess there are enough statues still around to help me stop missing Uncle Sam!

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Blogger Jamie Cerri said...

Hey, Lisa, you'll have to check out the Erie Canal mules in Waterford - http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Mules-make-a-comeback-along-the-canal-5339498.php

May 17, 2014 at 2:23 AM 

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