Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden
In September 2021, Ray and I took a short trip to Springfield, Mass. We were headed for the Basketball Hall of Fame in that city and then on to the Volleyball Hall of Fame in nearby Holyoke, two sports we both enjoy and both were started at YMCAs in their respective towns. Along the way, we discovered signs for a complex of museums in Springfield and decided to go exploring. Well, were we ever surprised!
One of the museums was dedicated to Dr. Seuss. The writer, Theodor Seuss Geisel, lived in Springfield. He wrote and illustrated over 60 books, including favorites The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, And to Think I saw it on Mulberry Street, Green Eggs and Ham. As delightful as are his books, the sculpture garden on the grounds of the museum is pure delight. Bronze characters sculpted by his step-daughter Lark Grey Dimond-Cates are strewn over the lawn, flower gardens, and towering trees.
One of the statues is of Seuss himself flanked by none other than the Cat in the Hat over his shoulder.
Make Way for Ducklings
Growing up in New England, there was always a copy of this 1941 book by Robert McCloskey in the house. I have given it countless times to various families. The bronze sculptures located in Boston Public Garden since 1987 are the eight ducklings – Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack walking with their mother Mrs. Mallard. They are meant for petting, sitting, and of course taking pictures.
Boston Garden Is America’s first botanical garden. Its form, plantings and statuary are Victorian. Managed by the City of Boston and The Friends of the Public Garden, it contains over 41 other sculptures, tablets, plaques, and fountains in three parks. According to Friends’ Board Chair, Leslie Singleton Adam, the ducklings are the most cherished of all.
The artist is Nancy Schön of Newton, Mass. Soon after they were erected, people started leaving items for them such as birthday hats and this blossomed into regular anonymous acts of expression. These adorable figures are “adopted” by nearly everyone who adorned with symbols of Boston pride: sports outfits (Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, of course), seasonal and holiday outfits (Easter, Christmas, Halloween), cultural movements, and even grief expressions such as after the Boston bombing during the Marathon. Schön published a book, Ducks on Parade, with many of these pictures.
President George H. Bush and his wife Barbara summered in New England and were surely aware of McCloskey’s many children books, often situated in Maine (their summer home was in Kennebunkport).
In 1991 when they visited Russia as part of the START Treaty, Mrs. Bush presented to Raisa Gorbachev a duplicate set of the ducklings as a token of love and friendship to the children of the Soviet Union from the children of the United State. The ducklings and a plaque can be found in Novodevichy Park.
In Grants Park, Portland, Oregon one finds the trip of child-sized statues depicting beloved characters from multiple Beverly Cleary books. Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy. The children all resided on Kitkat Street in the neighborhood nearby Grants Park that Cleary was raised. Cleary died in 2011 at the age of 104. The children statues were tagged in February 2022 (Henry was painted blue), but quickly restored the same day, indicating how much the City cares for them. Ray and I visited them in May 2022.