What's up with that? They're not in Kansas anymore
If you're traveling through McDonald, the home and office of Loretta Kendall, attorney at law, is hard to miss.
Although there's nothing particularly noteworthy about the blue, aluminum-sided ranch on East Lincoln Street, the inhabitants of the small courtyard next to the house may make you think you're not in Kansas, er, Pennsylvania anymore.
A small yard next to the house is adorned with metallic figures representing the main characters from “The Wizard of Oz.” Statues of Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and the Wicked Witch – and a ceramic representation of Dorothy's little dog, Toto, too – stand guard along a stretch of red (not yellow) brick sidewalk.
For owner Loretta Kendall, they are a silent tribute to her late father, Richard Kendall, known around town as “Herk.”
“He just built things out of the leftover pieces that were on the farm,” Kendall said.
The works, just two in the beginning, were originally commissioned as Mr. and Mrs. Valvoline and once adorned a nearby trucking yard Loretta owned. But when the garage shut its doors in the '90s, Herk converted them into Dorothy and the Tin Man, the first of the statues built in the Oz tradition.
“People in the town would come along and say, 'Hey, where's the lion? Where's the scarecrow?'” Kendall said. “So, he went back and made them.”
Using galvanized steel mufflers and chrome parts left over from farm machines and old trucks, Herk worked busily in his shop until he had created all of the characters from the popular novel and motion picture.
Once the statues were complete, Herk continued to fix up the area. He hauled fill to flatten out the deep slope that originally ran down from the roadway. He built the brick sidewalk and a white picket fence, dug a pond and installed a fountain.
“He just wanted to make a nice area,” Kendall said. “It's just something he wanted to do to make that part nicer looking.”
Kendall said building the miniature park was a labor of love for her father, one that took him years to complete.
“He transported the fill one load at a time with a pickup truck,” Kendall said. “A lot of people comment on how nice it looks, and if you sit out there on a nice day, the number of passersby that walk by and look at the pond and look at the statues is amazing.
“That's what he loved, to sit out there and listen to the fountain and talk to all the people who enjoyed it – that was something he really loved during his final years.”
The house on East Lincoln Street was a fixture of the McDonald community long before the statues made their way into town.
“The home has been in my family since 1950,” Kendall said. “My grandmother owned it and … in the '50s she had a little ice cream stand.”
To this day, people occasionally stop in to reminisce about the Cozy Corners ice cream parlor that was once operated from the front porch.
Kendall said the current courtyard configuration has been around since the early 2000s, although it hasn't always been smooth sailing.
“I used to have koi fish that lived in the pond,” Kendall said. “But a blue heron came and picked them off, one by one. After that, I decided there would be no more fish.”