Forget tigers, I'm taking a dragon by the tail, and going to do my best to hang on!
I almost danced with a lady cow as well.
The rodeo is in town for the next month, and they had a "let's get the festivities started" event downtown at city hall to start the week; everyone went away believing that cows can line dance!
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the world's largest livestock show and lasts a month; that’s a hell of a lot of methane.
I did a google search, the other day, looking for statues and monuments in Houston with a writer related theme. While all that the search could come up with were not specific answers to the query I DID find a few results worth checking out.
I had planned to make two stops on Monday but got sidetracked on my way to the second one. My first stop was a plot of land surrounded by a pipe making and supply company and I am not talking the type one uses to smoke tobacco, either.
What's the point of having a plot of land filled with creative metal statues and the only way anyone would know they shouldn't step onto the unfenced property is if they just so happen to walk past one single, solitary, tiny white, no trespassing, sign on a pole? Just because there is no real parking (right-of-way issues it seems) and no sign with the name of the park, or who owns it, if private, is no reason to expect anyone to automatically deduce that this is no ordinary park.
Initially the only info I found online was under 2 names, Sculpture Park and Iron Menagerie; I found little else. Being the curious sort, this morning I looked up the pipe company and hit pay dirt.
Texas Pipe and Supply is a family owned business founded in Houston in 1918 and proudly proclaims itself a “leading master distributor of carbon and stainless steel line pipe” in the United States.
There is a page devoted to what the company calls “The Eclectic Menagerie Park”. The page gives a little background on the creation of the sculptures and shows pictures of several of them, circa 1987. The earliest of them were created 50-60 years ago, according to the nice lady I chatted with on the phone when I called the company with some questions. They were made “as a way to give back to the community” and were for a while parked out front of the HQ on a nearby street until moved to the bit of land next to South Freeway at Bellfort.
When I got off the bus I immediately realized the park was not a city park but with no signs giving it a name it took the later search to learn more. Another thing I discovered is that getting a closer look at the sculptures further into the property from the sidewalk is a no-no, a fact that is not easily discovered by the curious.
I wandered around taking a few pictures, marveling at the beauty of the creations, and the skill it took to make them, inspired to take one photo as a parody of a popular old saying and its meaning. By moving here to Houston, to head off in new directions with my personal, work, and creative lives in a new community I am, some might say, biting off more than I can chew. I believe, however, that I am up to the challenges moving here presented me with, especially the more unexpected challenges, so taking that one photo was a way to visually express that.
As I finished taking pictures I found myself next to a pole with a small white sign at the top, on the side closest to the freeway…NO TRESSPASSING.
Um, Ruh-roh, as Astro, of the Jetsons, would say.
According to Faya, the patient and kind lady I chatted with, the sign is meant to discourage people, especially children, from doing more than admiring the sculptures from the street. It seems that, in years gone by visitors would climb onto the statues, a very dangerous practice to say the least, especially for unsupervised children.
They didn’t make the sign larger out of concern about taking away from the view of the menagerie. As I told her it was just by chance that I noticed the sign at all. They might want to consider not just a sign next to where the bus stop is, and even signs that are a little bit larger and thus more noticeable to the admiring public.
Many local and national media outlets have done stories on the sculptures, and google searches for “Eclectic Menagerie Park”, in Houston, should lead you to some of them.
After leaving the menagerie behind I headed back into downtown and found myself passing city hall where a public event with food, speeches by politicians and musical entertainment was in progress. It was all about the upcoming rodeo, and not only were the Chic Fil-A cows on hand to entertain the young and young at heart, but also 2 steers who handled posing for pictures with the city folk with all the dignity they could muster.
As I stood in line for a pic with a steer I saw a lady Chic Fil-A cow nearby, swaying to the music, and posing for pictures. I was sorely tempted to get a pic of me dancing with her, but bravely resisted the temptation for the chance to sit on the back of the steer. By the time I reached the front of the line, though, they were only allowing us to stand next to them so they could get more people through the line.
It was a very interesting day, indeed.
Websites and stories referenced for this piece:
1. Texas Pipe and Supply: Eclectic Menagerie Park
2. Seen and Heard 28: Houston Rodeo Edition (About me and that steer)
3. Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo