May 1, 2007

Is That the World's Largest Totem Pole or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

Remember our little road trip a while back? Well, after the stop at the Blue Whale, we headed further down the road to Foyil, Oklahoma, site of Ed Galloway's Totem Pole Park, where in 1937, a wood working teacher and veteran of the Spanish American War began to construct a monument to the American Indian. Eleven years of hard work, 28 tons of cement, 6 tons of steel, and 100 tons of native sand and rock later, the 90 foot monstrosity was complete.

Working with one bucket of cement at a time, Mr. Galloway covered the stone and steel, then carved the 200 Native American designs that encircle the pole. The totem, which is 54 feet around the base, rises from the back of a massive turtle, and depicts four 9 feet tall Indian Chiefs at the top.

Besides the totem pole, there are several other examples of Mr. Galloway's masonry work displayed on the grounds, including a large arrowhead, a tree trunk birdhouse, ornate gate posts, picnic tables, and the recently rebuilt Galloway home with its original rock foundation and walls, dating from 1936.

The park had been left to decay after Ed's death in 1962, and had fallen into disrepair. The restoration had just begun when I first visited the park in 1992. (Yes, that's my little sis and I rockin' the slouch socks.)

Here is the round "Fiddle House" Ed built to house his woodwork, including elaborately carved furniture, inlaid pictures, and numerous handmade fiddles.

The building once held over 300 fiddles, but shortly after Mr. Galloway's death several were stolen. This picture is from a postcard showing Ed inside his Fiddle House around 1955.

Each of the 300 instruments was made from a different type of wood, many of them beautifully inlaid. The fiddles that remain are on now display, along with several other pieces of Galloway's work.

Ed Galloway was a true "backyard visionary". If all of us dedicated ourselves to pursuing our own passion with his level of devotion and hard work, we'd have a lot less time to sit around bitching about not doing anything with our lives and feeling sorry for ourselves. Of course, we might also be taken away by men in white coats, but we'd be living a rich life, wouldn't we, Dollfaces?

*As always, you may click on any picture to see it in more detail.

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