THE ANGEL’S STORY Chapter 24
Tarzan to the Rescue
As I mentioned in the previous chapter, the collapse of the Orienteering sculpture was the first crisis. The second crisis happened after I finished re-building the figure. The figure itself, I thought, was looking pretty good. He was just about finished when my neighbor Russell Jones, a retired businessman who at age eighty, had taken up the art of writing cookbooks and raising Welsh Corgis. He stopped by to see the new Running Man Sculpture. Russ lived with his wife Alice, a New York Banker, on the top of Keeler Lane. He had heard form David Keens parents that the sculpture was finished and he wanted to see the nine-foot clay of the running man. I thought it so kind of someone to bother to take an interest and was delighted to show him my work. He was very encouraging and said that he had a few suggestions and would return later.
The next Week Russ showed up at the Shepard’s Cottage with several books under his arm. “I am much older than you are Sterett, so forgive me for speaking so frankly, but someone has got to tell you Dear, I mean, well…. you see… this is my Dear, a very delicate subject. But you see… well, I mean”…. Stammering he said, “You have to redecorate!” (I did not have any idea what he was talking about.) “So I have taken the liberty of visiting our local library to find photographs of the old Greek sculptures…specifically nude males. You see, Sweetheart, his genitalia are far too large for an athlete. Now if you study these photographs, which I have brought to you, you will see that the penis is merely a little ….. “ thumpkin.” I do so hope that you are not offended but I thought that a nine-foot mistake being shipped to Sweden as a new National Monument to the sport of Orienteering would be very embarrassing. So I will leave these books for you to review and let you go back to your work.” I could feel my cheeks were flushed with embarrassment. Totally flummoxed, I thanked him and assured him that I would return the books to the library on time.
How to solve this problem?…. Russ was right ….a nine-foot mistake would be awful. Even though I had attended The Rhode Island School of Design for four grueling years, I had never seen a man nude. The women models were nude of course but our male models all wore jock straps. My Daddy was very modest man and so, the only man I ever saw nude, was my husband. I had no idea whether he was small, medium or large! The only guide I had was on the inside of his Jock strap, which was marked with an “M.” So I guessed that he must be somewhere in the middle. ( I know now, that the “M” refers only to waist size and nothing else). But when I looked at the collection of photos left by Russ Jones, the Greek sculptures had almost no penis at all! What to do? O’good grief! What to do? I called up my friend Dr. Edward Gordon, a psychiatrist with a practice close by in North Salem. I knew that in order for one to become a Psychiatrist, that one had to have graduated from medical school. “ Mmmmmm…. That should do it,” I thought. Ed Gordon will know what to do.” “Should I whack it off or not?” That was the question I put before him. “Mmmmmm,” said Ed…. “Let’s see. Now if I remember from my days in med school…I think changes do in fact happen to the male when he is exercising as opposed to when he is at rest. I think that the penis goes up and the scrotum drops down…or ”… he said thoughtfully, “maybe it is the other way around! I really do not remember off hand, but I will call Burne Hogarth. Burne and I went to school together. He is the creator of the marvelous Tarzan images for the comic books. I am absolutely sure he will have the definitive answer for you.” I thanked him for his offer of support and went back home to wait for his answer. This problem as you can imagine, was very unsettling! At this point, I was putting an awful lot of faith into Tarzan!
The days slipped by, and then one week…. two weeks…At last the phone rang! It was Ed Gordon with great news. Russ Jones had been correct. Burne Hogarth said that indeed, changes do occur to the male while pursuing an athletic activity. But that it was not one,
or the other, but both the scrotum and the penis are drawn up into the body during athletic competition. It seems that blood is distributed to every other place in the body excepting for the genitalia under such circumstances. So the question was answered…But now … What to do? Somehow I felt that the Greek sculptures were just too small and that the reason for the tiny “thumpkins” was more for practical purposes than for anatomical correctness. I mean think about it. If a penis, made of marble, is sticking out from the sculpture, the chances are that it will be knocked off. I concluded that “thumpkins” must have been built be for practical considerations. Soooo. Ok! What to do? I mean, no matter what size it is, if it is made of bronze, then I won’t have to worry… But just how big should it be? Something in the middle…. Not too big….. Not too little. A decision had to be made. I got out my butcher’s knife and Hack-Whack! The deed was done and the sculpture finished! At least I thought it was until, Ann-Dickey Parrish, a cousin of my mother’s arrived. She also wanted to see the sculpture for which her sons had modeled. In a very matter of fact tone of voice, the first words out of her mouth were: “ Well Sterett…What are you going to do about it?” “Do about what? I asked. Well… It looks Ok to me but this one is going to Sweden isn’t it? Are you going to circumcise him or not?” OMG! What do they do in Sweden? Better check that out before you ship.” “Oooops,” I said, “I hadn’t thought about that! I better call Ed Gordon back again.” Later that same day, Ed did assure me that Sweden was very up-to-date and that a circumcision was in order. So now you have another day in the life of a sculptor. I hope some of these little vignettes will give you some insight into the daily challenges faced by us sculptors. I think that most of what we do is problem solving… in one-way… or another!