No. 33--Smoke Signal, Pioneers Park
The east entrance of Pioneers is guarded by a bronze buffalo, symbol of the prairie when creatures of the plains drifted over her face scarcely aware of the existence of human beings. Their cries, their calls, were for themselves and the seasons. Yet they were not entirely alone.. In and out of their orbit moved the Indian, as drifting as were the birds and the beasts. One day he might spread his camp in a valley, the smoke of his campfire lifting to the heavens. In a month, perhaps, he was beyond the horizon. The grasses rose slowly again and possession of the earth came back to the buffalo and the deer, the coyotes and the meadow larks.
Then came the white man. An early Lancaster county settler, John S. Gregory, wrote: "I reached the present site of Lincoln toward evening of a warm day in September (1862). No one lived there, or had ever lived there previous to that date. Herds of beautiful antelope gamboled over its surface during the day and coyotes and wolves held possession during the night . . . About a mile west on Middle creek the smoke was rising from a camp of Otoe Indians, and down in the bend of Ooak (sic) creek, where West Lincoln now stands, was a camp of about 100 Pawnee wigwams. I rode over, and that night slept upon my blanket by the side of one of them."
The placing of "The Smoke Signal" (by Ellis Burman) in Pioneers was a suitable gesture. Its unveiling and dedication in 1935 was a picturesque, even dramatic, occasion. More than 100 Indians attended the ceremony. Chiefs of four Indian tribes which bad roamed Nebraska sat their horses thruout the dedication, grouped at the top of the rugged hill which faces the west and the setting
No. 34--Zoo in Antelope Park
Antelope park rambles loose jointedly from the old federal treasury columns at 24th and 0 south to Sheridan boulevard. It can be and is many things to many people. Here families spread their fried chicken for a blue canopied feast, here the children point their toes to the sky as they pump up swings, here the band begins to play--evening and Sunday concerts. Here the young people dance the evening hours away, the summer Indians brandish their tennis rackets, the flower lovers stroll and gaze at elaborately laid out beds of flowers.
Or, calling all ages, there is the zoological building on south 27th, where the monkeys chatter and swing, the tigers shake their bars and little creatures of all kinds peer out from their cages. Central in the zoo is the scene above. Photographed thru the screen which surrounds it, it has the dreamlike quality of a Chinese painting. Some of the birds took to cover with the appearance of a camera. The scarlet ibis clings morosely to a branch and an African crane, with seedy headgear, is in picturesque tete-a-tete with another exotic bird in the foreground. The stork, to the left, legging its way as usual on the heights, is obliterated except for a beak and bit of curved wing.
The peace of this scene, with its pool, its rocks and flashes of bright color, is seldom disturbed. When the keeper circles the ledge symmetrically with dishes of bananas and grain the birds, big and small, float noiselessly down and begin pecking at their food in genteel manner.
© 2000, 2001 by Kathie Harrison, Ted & Carole Miller