As my time living in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, draws to a close I am inspired to open my Roadside America app. It is an app that I purchased 11 months ago, when my family drove here from El Paso. In those early days of motherhood the babes were too little, and I was too frazzled to delay progress for a stop at any odd roadside novelty. Now that the girls are older I am prepared to entertain fantasies of a drive back to El Paso loaded with detours. (Much to my husband’s dismay, I’m sure.)
Fueled by anticipation for my coming adventure, I open the app only to find that a gem of a destination is under my nose. Although it bears striking resemblance to a Mayan temple snuggled in the lush greens of the Mexican jungle; it is simply a bust of former president Franklin D. Roosevelt atop a fireplace, nestled in the suburban greens of Wyomissing. An unusual sculpture in an unnoteworthy location. I found it too intriguing to miss. Its bizarre nature gives it a charm that drew me (and the girls) to walk the mile and a half to examine it.
The exact origins of the sculpture are unknown, but it is believed to have been constructed sometime between 1933-1940, by West Wyomissing residents A. Gerlach and J. Kleiner. The bust of FDR is poured concrete. The outdoor fireplace he rests on is handmade of stone and concrete as well. With so few facts, the rest is left up to interpretation. And this, my friends, is not my favorite part of Art. I like answers, explanations, and a juicy story. I don’t love being left to interpret and assume. I don’t know what the artists were thinking…if they were even thinking at all.
At the very least, one can confidently assume the sculptors were German. A leap of faith would lead me to interpret they were happy to live in America and adored the 32nd president as much as everyone else. (FDR served four terms) Continuing to postulate we’d say the composition is in reference to President Roosevelt’s fireside chats. (Through the 30’s and early 40’s FDR gave radio speeches to the people on a variety of topics. The people found comfort and confidence in his voice and manner. the speeches were nicknamed “the fireside chats”) We would be content to think this sculpture is political commentary, but more in tribute to the politics of the time. (quite dissimilar to our current condition)
And if I could take this moment to invoke the former president’s spirit I would remind us (like he did with every speech) that we the American people need to face our difficult tasks ahead with patience, understanding, and faith.
Thanks for reading. This is the last blogpost before me, Phil, and the girls hit the road!