Tuesday, July 09, 2013

South Dakota adventure part 6: Presidents cast in wax and bronze

"Old Kinderhook" meets Caroline, Aunt Kris, Zack and Julie.

After seeing the gigantic greatness of Rushmore and to colossus of Crazy Horse, we opted to enjoy presidential sculptures of a more manageable size.

Our South Dakota adventure continued in search of presidents in both wax and bronze.

The National Presidential Wax Museum is in the shadow of Rushmore in nearby Keystone. So close, in fact, that you can see the four presidents off in the distance from the museum parking lot. The museum also stands on the spot where the Rushmore baseball team played its home games.

So the odds were pretty good that we were going to like this place.

Like most wax museums, some of the figures are spot on, and some look like department store mannequins in older clothes. Jimmy Carter? If you say so.

The presidential wax museum has been a fixture in the Rushmore area. Julie has some postcards from when she visited as a child, and the scenes are exactly the same.

But it’s updated. President Obama is right near the entrance. The others are sort of grouped by era.
There’s an interested grouping of vice presidents who became president, but were not re-elected – Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, John Tyler and our own Gerald R. Ford. Don’t ask what Ford is doing with his hand, I have no idea.
Gerald Ford looks uncomfortable with these other vice presidents who became president and not re-elected.

Richard M. Nixon meets the Apollo 11 astronauts.

John-John playing under his father's desk.
Lyndon B. Johnson takes the oath of office.

Others have the presidents with other leaders of their time. Then-General Grant is accepting Robert E, Lee’s surrender, Franklin Roosevelt is at Yalta with Churchill and Stalin and Ronald Reagan is with Gorbachev.

Some scenes are humorous, like John F. Kennedy with John-John playing under his desk. Others are sad, like Lyndon Johnson taking the oath of office on Air Force One with Jackie Kennedy by his side.

The most lifelike, and most moving, is President George W. Bush  standing amid the World Trade Center rubble with retired firefighter Bob Beckwith.

"I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people – and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."

Bush has among the best statues in Rapid City, too. 

Named “The City of Presidents,” the sidewalks of downtown are filled with life-sized bronze statues of the commanders-in-chief.

We found most of them. And they did a fine job with the poses. There were many little details to look for.

Thomas Jefferson is writing the Declaration of Independence, Theodore Roosevelt is in his Rough Rider uniform and Ronald Reagan has his beloved cowboy hat. Gerald Ford has his pipe.

The Rough Rider.

Zack inspecting the Declaration of Independence.
FDR at the podium.
We noticed that FDR is standing at a podium, and could see the braces poking out from under his pants. 

Kennedy is again with John-John, and his handing him a toy airplane. We thought that was kind of odd, especially since the statue was erected several years after the president’s son was killed in a plane crash.

But that's not the only mystery. William Howard Taft, who through out the first ceremonial Opening Day first pitch, is depicted getting ready to throw a baseball.
Zack, who I must boast pitched a no-hitter in his league last year, approached the statue and studied the ball.

"Why is he throwing a two-seamer?" he asked. 

Taft, the only president to become chief justice of the Supreme Court, was probably never asked that question.


Clay King said...

Thanks for visiting The National Presidential Wax Museum! I'm glad you enjoyed our wax exhibits. We have updated the museum quite a bit since your visit in 2013 and would love to see you again if you find yourselves in the Black Hills again!


Clay King
General Manager
National Presidential Wax Museum

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Thanks, Mr. King! We very much enjoyed our visit.