Saturday, January 30, 2016

Beyond the Alligator Man

Many years ago, I posted briefly about Jake the Alligator Man, smascot of Marsh's Free Museum in Long Beach, Washington. But beyond that glued together taxidermist dream, there are so many other wonderful things at this tourist trap/junk shop.

There are of course the standard two-headed calves and twin-bodied sheep.

But where else in on the Pacific Coast can you find a mounted Werewolf? 

Or a giant Owl?

Or a Swamp Ape? 

When given enough time, one will realize that anything can be made with the ass end of a deer, old dentures, and googly eyes. 

As a kid, this place inspired my interest in taxidermy. Ethics of hunting for trophies aside, I firmly believe we should respect this as an art. A wall mounted animal head may not be as powerful as a diorama at a museum, but there is craftsmanship involved. 

At one point in time, I considered going to taxidermy school. I researched a program located in Montana that had a dorm and a meal program. I had been out of work for close to six months at the time and was trying to reinvent my career. The dream was to learn how to do majestic mounts of animals in various poses, show my skills to local museums, and then become a curator of sorts. 

I envisioned the program to be something like Space Camp, but with more flannel, beards, and dead animals. Dorm life would have been great! I would share a bunk with a hunter with an ironic name like "Buck" or "Tracker" or some of variation of a Palin family first name. And of course, there was the meal plan.  Every morning we would eat pancakes and then work on skinning a moose or elk or something and then we would put that animal back together so it looked like it was alive. 

Once I figured out how perfect of a scenario this would be, I explained this master plan to my mother as we ate dinner. She told me that I needed to find a job. My rebuttal was that this was my next path to employment. More importantly,  I explained that taxidermy school had both a meal program and the dorm.  At that point she changed her position and simply stated, "You need a girlfriend." 

Needless to say, I never did join taxidermy school. 

And when I think about it, I wonder how good the meal plan really was.