Not far from Tulsa lies Catoosa, Oklahoma, a town of about 6,000. It was here in 1970 that Hugh Davis, the retired director of the Tulsa Zoo, chose to express his deep, abiding love for his wife, Zelta, on their anniversary by presenting her with a giant concrete and steel whale. Not exactly a diamond tennis bracelet, but sweet nonetheless. Actually, it's extremely sweet considering he constructed the 80 foot mammal mostly by himself, with occasional help from a friend who could weld. It seems Zelta collected whale figurines, so the gesture was actually very thoughtful, and, it is assumed, put the tchochkes and knick knacks in her collection to shame. And isn't a homemade gift from the heart always better than some impersonal store bought item?
in the belly of the beast
a portal to one of the fin slides
the diving platform on the tail
In 1988, with their health failing, Hugh and Zelta could no longer maintain the attraction and made the decision to close it to the public. In 1990 Hugh died, and without his creator, the blue whale fell into a deep depression and began to deteriorate. In 1997, volunteers and the Catoosa Chamber of Commerce revived the old guy, and he once again smiles (despite the addition of a giant hook to his lip) and beckons visitors from the side of the highway. In 2002, further sprucing up was done, and the whale and his little park, complete with bathrooms, are open to the public. Swimming is no longer allowed, but looking at the algae-choked, muddy water you'd have to be a much braver soul than I to attempt it, anyway.
the old ark
It's so great to see a relic from the past resurrected and maintained with such care. Too many pieces of our shared history are slowly eroding and will not last for our children and their children to enjoy. You can learn more about the blue whale and Catoosa here and here. Well Dollfaces, I hope you enjoyed yourself on this little excursion as much as I did. I'll save the next destination on our trip for another time.