Monday, June 18, 2007

Junkyard Legend

For years, I've traveled State Highway 12 to Madison to work with my storytelling coach. It's a bit of a Twilight Zone experience, which my strange sense of humor enjoys. Driving along through the winding roads of the Baraboo Hills, one comes around a bend to face a huge abandoned munitions plant, Badger Ammunition. Across the road, several big bugs watch you pass by. The bugs are particularly cool examples of junk art sculpture, and for years I'd assumed it was just a come-on to visit Delaney's Surplus beyond the fence. Once we started geocaching, I learned there was much more than meets the eye. Beyond those gates is the studio of Dr. Evermor, and among his creations, there was a geocache to be found.

Yesterday I had a delightful storytelling gig in Donald Park. My husband decided he'd join me if we could do a little geocaching along the way. We found a couple caches hidden among the trails of the park and started our journey back home. Since we'd go right past Dr. Evermor's, we just had to make a point of looking for this one, too.

I'd read the logs. This is a cache that many list as one of their favorites. Still, I wasn't quite prepared for the spectacle that beheld us as we drove into the very ordinary looking scrapyard gates. There is a tendancy in our culture to look as junk as just that, and it gets tossed with reckless abandon. Tom Every, aka Dr. Evermor, sees possibilities. At every turn, another fantastical creation faces you. We enjoyed the cache search itself, one that was quietly watched by Dr. Evermor and his wife Lady Eleanor themselves. The container---well, I don't wish to ruin the element of surprise for anyone who might hunt this cache, but remember this; a man who included the decontamination chamber from the Apollo space missions on one of his works of art is a man of surprises!

We had the great pleasure of spending quite a bit of time visiting with the good doctor and his wife. I asked him what the story was behind the Forevertron looming behind us. You must realize that Disney might have more fame, but the Forevertron is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest scrap metal sculpture. Dr. Evermor looked me in the eye and said with the soft spoken demeanor of true gentleman, "Well, it's kind of a time machine." He went on to spin quite the tale about its capabilities, and later on, I told my husband, "There's no way I could remember all those details he shared." I looked around online to see if I could locate further information, and I found what I sought; a website with a feature interview, complete with his explanation of his masterpiece.

'So he built this device thinking that he could propel himself to the heavens on a magnetic lightning force beam, inside a glass ball, inside a copper egg. This was an experimental machine. He designed it with a spiral staircase, so you go up and then you go across, he'd crank a crank, up there, and the ball would go up and signal 'I'm ready to highball it to heaven' and he goes across the little bridge and gets inside the glass ball, inside the copper egg.

'The ground people would scamper around on these bridges and make sure everything was secured properly. At the right moment - in theory - they were going to fire him back into the heavens on this magnetic lightning-force beam'.

From Raw Vision, "Power On! The Fantastic Environment of Dr. Evermor."

This was pretty much the story we were told yesterday. I pressed him for more details.

"So, if I'm trying to get to a specific time or place, will I get there or am I taking my chances?"

With a completely straight face, he replied, "Well, you kind of take your chances. You might end up where you want to go, or you might find yourself over in the cornfield."

Wherever I might find myself, I knew that every time I turned around, I'd find my jaw dropping again. A squadron of larger than life mosquitoes squared off near the ground. Scrap iron monkeys cavorted on something that appeared to be a merry go round. Birds of all sizes, shapes and fantasy parentage were in my face every corner of this place. We had about an hour of time here before the gates were closed. We need several hours more, and can't wait to return and enjoy the products of a truly imaginative mind. Everyone who can should make the pilgrimage. We certainly aren't short on thrown out industrial scrap, but imagination like this is all too rare. This is a place where visitors can enjoy the marriage of a "civilization's" trash with the creative genius of a true artist. Thank you, Dr. Evermor, for sharing your genius with all who enter these gates!


At 6:43 PM, Anonymous peace b w/u said...

Great Blog! Taking a welding course at our local MATC is on my ever growing to do list after seeing his creations at various stages back in the 90's. And then it sparked that desire once again when I visited this year. The Good Doctor is currently part of the exhibit at John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan if you are going to be doing any gigs in that area be sure to check it out. "Sublime Spaces & Visionary Worlds"


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