I spotted the familiar face of a fellow Soccer Dad at his desk in the County Assessors office. Yelling across the vast room to each other like drunk OU fanboys, Soccer Dad pointed me to where I needed to go, quantifying his directions with an inquisitive raised eyebrow and friendly warning to just head for the room where "all the arguing is coming from."
Three of the five County Commissioners were present (enough for a majority voting quorum) as well as the County Clerk and the County Sheriff ("How those new Chargers working for the Deputies?" I asked him. "Oh, they'll do 120 easy," he replied."). In the back I noticed the editor of our local news rag sitting quietly, notebook in hand.
I was first on the agenda. Agenda? Just what the heck was I doing at a County Commissioner's meeting?
Seems the artist who wanted to restore "The Farmer" statue had requested a few dollars from the county to go towards the new bronze version of the 33-year old pitchfork wielding quikrete figure. My presence at this meeting was requested to provide some background (what little I had turned up) on the statue and to help make the case for some of our counties taxpayer dollars to be used for the project.
The artist had raised the majority of funds for the bronze through private party donations, and considering the statue was originally dedicated to the residents of the county, and the statue itself sat in front of the county courthouse building, it didn't seem too much of a stretch to ask the County for a few bucks.
So, I got up, did my song-and-dance about how the previous perpetrators of the project originally intended for the statue to be made of bronze, and had they followed through with their original intent, we wouldn't be here talking about needing to revamp the existing statue, since a metal Farmer would have stood the last three+ decades with more fortitude.
My droning went on as I revealed that my digging a few feet deeper turned up a link to an art inventory catalog conducted and maintained by the Smithsonian Institution. Back in 1996 they surveyed our local farmer and categorized him as constructed of "metal" whose condition was in "need of treatment."
Even the Smithsonian was led astray.
I also discovered the original artist to be long deceased, but his offspring are still alive and kicking in various parts of the state.
Had I been an investigative journalist with nothing better to do, my next step would have been to chase down the family lead, along with surveying any surviving American Legion vets from the 70's who may have first hand knowledge of 1) whether or not they did indeed raise the funds for the bronze, and 2) if they did cough of the dough for a bronze statue, were they aware that their promised metal figurine was instead delivered in Quikrete.
However, seeing the old news hound editor furiously scribbling on his notepad (later asking me which particular issues of "his" newspaper I had found my information in) put my mind at ease that at least somebody would be hunting down leads, and tracking the whereabouts of the missing bronze.
The next day, this article turned up in the local news rag.
Funny thing is, the article all but states that I'm the Johnny-on-the-spot, man-on-the-case in tracking down the molds for the original bronze casting, when all I remember saying was that I had uncovered evidence that a mold had been made and that the surviving family of the original artist may have some knowledge of the background of the bronze-that-never-was.
In an effort to put this "Farmer" to rest, I may make a few phone calls and see what else I can find out about this small town mini-mystery.
My only fear being, what funny bone this skeleton may be holding onto as I pull it further out of it's 33-year old resting place.