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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

The Mystery of the Missing Tink and the Girl Who Would Be President

Part of what I like about this blog so much is its ability to crowdsource information.  Take my updated version of The Complete Listing of All Public Children’s Literature Statues in the United States.  The post got a nice response and an even nicer series of statues I’d never even heard of.  A new How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight in Abilene, TX (the children’s literature statue capital of America)? An Alice in Portland, OR? An L.A. Mother Goose?  I haven’t had time to update the list with all of these yet, but one suggestion came in via email that I actually felt was so cool that I had to share.

The email was titled “One more Peter Pan sculpture…in Kansas, no less”. Now, ladies and gentlemen, I was fairly certain I’d collected every last living Peter Pan statue in the States.  Carl Schurz Park (Yorkville, NY), Main Columbus Metropolitan Library (Columbus, OH), Eldridge R. Johnson Park (Camden, NJ), and Weatherford, TX.  If there are statues to be found in Kansas they’re usually of the Dorothy variety, no?  But author Beverley Olson Buller had actually located a doozy of an image.  She wrote:

“Your updated list of kid-lit landmarks in SLJ was amazing, and I was glad to see Dorothy in Liberal, KS, included.  I was not surprised to *not* see Kansas’ Peter Pan sculpture on the list but thought you might want to know about it.

It is located in Peter Pan Park in Emporia, KS.  The park was created from land donated to the city in the 1920’s by Emporia’s world-famous editor William Allen White who suggested its name.  When he editorialized his daughter Mary following her 1921 death, he stated, “She was a Peter Pan who refused to grow up.”  Editorial can be found here: https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/mary-white-obituary/10159

And here’s a photo of Kansas’ Peter Pan.  There used to be a tiny Tinkerbell by his right foot, but after the second time it was broken off, it was not restored.”

PeterPanEmporia

Wow!  This was completely unknown to me.  Indeed, tracking down information about the statue and its sculptor has turned out to be more difficult than I’d anticipated.  I loved the detail about the missing Tink (Beverley told me she and her editor had to consult newspaper archives to discover the fact that Tink had ever even existed at all).

But almost as interesting is that tidbit of information about the statue’s inspiration, Mary White.  Do be so good as to read her 1921 obituary.  In 2010 Beverly was so entranced with the child that she wrote a biography of her called A Prairie Peter Pan: The Story of Mary White. It’s rare to find a kid sound charming in their own obit, but Mary’s that rare exception.  Little wonder.  When you look at the obit’s writer you see it was her dad.  And as Beverley told me, “Edna Ferber opined in the New York World in 1916 that Mary would someday be president.”

MaryWhite

Thanks for the info, Beverley!

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About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. Roger W Heineken says:

    John Forsythe of Vertitas Bronze in Reading, Kansas created the sculpture. Not sure which year. John created the bronze sculptures for the Negro League museum in KC.

    Last I knew one of the Tinkerbells was in the Emporia City Manager’s office.

    One other sculptural element in Peter Pan Park are the bas relief stone panels. I believe there are four. These date back to the creation of the park. They may have been designed by the landscape architectural firm of Hare and Hare, students of F. L. Olmsted, which worked with J. C. Nichols in the development of the KC Country Club Plaza.
    I have a photo but not sure how to attach.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Thank you! Email me the photo and I’ll be sure to include it in this post and the full statue piece as well. You can find my email by clicking on my name at the beginning of this piece.

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