Lion May 2013 : Page 22

Oh, The Places Lions Can Go by Jay Copp Wherever you go, you’ll find evidence of Lions, who mark their territories with monuments, signs and obelisks. Or sometimes we open museums, erect statues, reclaim ruined buildings or construct kitschy roadside attractions. Some of these sites you may want to be sure to include on a trip; others are worth a visit if on the way to somewhere else. But the end result of so many Lions clubs in so many towns and cities are sites that reveal the ingenuity, enterprise and spirit of Lions. Happy travels. 22 LION MAY 2013

Oh, the Places Lions Can Go

Jay Copp

Wherever you go, you’ll find evidence of Lions, who mark their territories with monuments, signs and obelisks. Or sometimes we open museums, erect statues, reclaim ruined buildings or construct kitschy roadside attractions. Some of these sites you may want to be sure to include on a trip; others are worth a visit if on the way to somewhere else. But the end result of so many Lions clubs in so many towns and cities are sites that reveal the ingenuity, enterprise and spirit of Lions. Happy travels.

The Extra Mile Points of Light Volunteer Pathway
Washington, D.C.

This is the only national monument that honors individuals who selflessly championed a better America. Among the legends honored are Clara Barton, Rachel Carson, Frederick Douglas, John Muir, Martin Luther King Jr.–and Helen Keller and Lions’ founder Melvin Jones. President George W. Bush dedicated the pathway in 2005.

Helen Keller Statue United States Capitol
Washington, D.C.

A bronze statue of a 7-year-old Helen Keller solving the mystery of language graces the National Statuary Hall Collection. Each state contributed two of the 100 statues. Installed by Alabama, the Keller statue depicts the moment in 1887 when Helen’s teacher Anne Sullivan spelled out “water” in her hand while holding it under a water pump. At the statue’s dedication in 2010, Alabama Governor Bob Riley said the monument will teach visitors that “courage and strength can exist in the most unlikely places.”

The Iwo Jima Memorial
Arlington, Virginia

John Bradley served as a Lion for 31 years in Antigo, a small Wisconsin town. He also served his country. A Navy Corpsman in World War II, he was one of the six American soldiers immortalized in the photo of the flag raising on Iwo Jima in 1945. He’s second on the right in the photo and in the memorial statue (also known as the U. S. Marine Corps War Memorial) near Arlington National Cemetery. Iwo Jima, a small island 660 miles south of Tokyo, was the last territory that U.S. troops recaptured from the Japanese. Bradley, who ran a funeral home in Antigo, also ran just about everything else in town: the Lions, Elks, school board and PTA. When he died in 1994, the Antigo Daily Journal remembered his everyday valor: “John Bradley will be forever memorialized for a few moments’ action at the top of a remote Pacific mountain. We prefer to remember him for his life. … Bradley’s quiet, modest nature and philanthropic efforts shine as an example of the best of small-town American values.”

The Belskie Museum of Art & Science
Closter, New Jersey

A 57-year resident of Closter, Abram Belskie was a talented sculptor and medical illustrator. He helped create a revolutionary line of three-dimensional medical models, unveiled at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York and used to teach generations of medical students. After he died in 1988, Closter Lions approached his family and built the museum to house his works and memorabilia. The Lions held fundraisers like beefsteak dinners and did much of the work themselves such as installing the electrical and plumbing systems. The 3,000- square-foot museum, directed by the club and a couple other groups, now also holds 10 art shows annually. Past exhibits include drawings, prints of baseball legends and travel and theater photos by actress Ellen Burstyn.

Helen Keller Exhibit
American Foundation for the Blind New York City

Helen Keller’s accomplishments ranged far beyond overcoming disability. She was an equal rights activist, an advocate for the blind and a goodwill ambassador. This exhibit, featuring 31 items never publicly displayed, includes artifacts, writings, photos and personal items. Included are the earliest existing words she wrote as a child, the honorary Oscar (photo) she won for the documentary based on her life, her Socialist Party of America membership cards, and a Zulu shield and a silver-encased Bible she received during her travels. Keller worked for the AFB for 44 years, and the exhibit items were culled from the 80,000 pieces in the Helen Keller Archives. Visits are by appointment only. Contact archivist Helen Selsdon at 212-502-7628 or

Perkins School for the Blind
Watertown, Massachusetts

Perkins opened in 1832 as the nation’s first school for the blind. History has happened here ever since. Charles Dickens visited the school during his ballyhooed lecture tour of America in 1842. He graciously allowed the school’s print department to produce 250 copies of his new book, “The Old Curiosity Shop,” and in “American Notes” he described the school’s progress with Laura Bridgman, who was deaf and blind. Years later, Kate Adams Keller read Dickens’ travelogue and found hope for her young daughter, Helen. Perkins graduate Anne Sullivan later brought Helen Keller to Perkins. Today Perkins educates students with multiple disabilities as well as the blind. Available by appointment, tours of the museum and the 38-acre campus on the St. Charles River reveal the history of blindness education in the United States.

Asa Packer Mansion
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

A railroad kingpin who founded Lehigh University, Asa Packer hired noted Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan to construct the 18-room, 11,000- square-foot mansion atop a hill that overlooks downtown Jim Thorpe. The home cost $14,000 in 1861, equivalent to $2.3 million today. It’s considered one of the finest Italianate Villa homes in the country. The mansion draws more than 20,000 visitors annually–thanks to the Jim Thorpe Lions, who have operated the mansion since 1956. Packer’s daughter, Mary Packer Cummings, had donated the building to the borough in 1912, and it sat idly for decades until the club opened it for tours. Lions have kept the home in top shape, installing a new roof, porch and sidewalks, reupholstering furniture and putting in a geothermal heating and air-conditioning system.

Catfish Hunter Museum
Hertford, North Carolina

Jim “Catfish” Hunter won 224 games, led his teams to five World Series titles and gained election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. But he always considered himself just a simple country boy–and a dedicated Lion. “I enjoy being a Lion. This is a good group of men,” he told LION Magazine in 1975. He autographed baseballs for Lions’ fundraisers and once brought Yankee manager Bill Virdon to Hertford to help raise money for the blind. The museum includes a Catfish action figure with a typically dirt-stained uniform, an autographed Oakland A’s pennant, his two Sports Illustrated covers and a 1975 profile of him in the LION. The likable pitching ace died in 1999 at age 53 as a result of ALS, the same disease that cut short the life of baseball legend Lou Gehrig.

Jimmy Carter Library and Museum
Atlanta, Georgia

The former president, a Lion, has devoted his postpresidency to humanitarian work, and about a third of the museum explores his efforts to eradicate disease (often in partnership with Lions), resolve conflicts and monitor elections. A touch-screen video table takes visitors to countries where The Carter Center has worked and features people who have been helped. There is plenty here for presidential buffs, too, including huge video screens that present a day-in-the-life of a president: Dec. 11, 1978. On that day Carter grappled with a Middle East crisis and moved forward in relations with China. Other exhibits focus on Carter’s segregated childhood in Georgia, his time aboard a nuclear submarine as a young naval officer and a full-scale replica of the Oval Office.

Statue of Liberty Replica
McRae, Georgia

Fanfare and celebrations marked the centennial of the Statue of Liberty in 1986. McRae Lions did most folks one better by building a replica, 1/10 the size of the original. They eschewed costly materials and instead used found or reclaimed material. The head was carved with a chainsaw from a stump pulled from a swamp. Her upraised arm was made of Styrofoam. The torch was made from cork. The hand was made by pouring plaster of Paris into a glove. But don’t assume Lady Liberty is an undignified personage. “We never knew it would be so pretty,” Lion Ray Bowers observes. The statue was refurbished with steel and fiberglass a year ago.

Helen Keller Childhood Home
Tuscumbia, Alabama

Ivy Green is a simple white clapboard home, built in 1802 on a 640-acre tract. Near the main house is an even smaller structure–Keller’s birthplace cottage, originally designed as an office for keeping the plantation’s books. The cottage later became living quarters for Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan. In the house and cottage are Keller’s complete library of Braille books, her Braille typewriter and many personal mementos, books and gifts that she accumulated during a lifetime of travel and lectures in 25 countries. Not to be missed is the actual well pump where the “miracle” occurred: Sullivan placed Keller’s hand under the flow, spelled “water” with her finger in the other hand and tore open the world of learning and knowledge to her. Lions are well-represented at Ivy Green with the Lions Memorial Fountain, a walkway with engraved bricks and a 1,600-pound concrete lion statue. The annual Helen Keller Festival in late June features performances of “The Miracle Worker,” tours, book sales and music.

Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind
Louisville, Kentucky

Since 1858, when it developed embossed books, the America Printing House for the Blind has created products for the blind such as Braille and recorded books, independent living items and educational tools. The museum covers the educational history of the blind, and a plant tour shows how Talking Books and Braille books are created. Don’t miss Helen Keller’s book of Psalms in Braille, embossed at APH in the 1920s.

Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park
Prairie Grove, Arkansas

On Dec. 7, 1862, a cold frosty Sunday morning, Confederate and Union soldiers clashed bitterly near Fayetteville. It was one of the bloodiest battles west of the Mississippi with 2,700 casualties. The Union held its ground, and Confederate fortunes in northwest Arkansas plummeted. For decades after the war aging veterans held reunions at the park that included baseball games, vaudeville acts and even mock airplane flights. But during World War II the commemorations ceased, and the site decayed until Prairie Grove Lions in the 1950s led a restoration effort for the battlefield. Acreage and historic homes were added. Today it’s nationally known as one of the most intact Civil War battlefields. The hallowed grounds include a museum, interpretive exhibits, guided tours and stirring re-enactments (photo).

Midland Downtown
Lions Club Fire Museum

Midland, Texas Midland’s first two fire trucks and early fire fighting equipment steal the show here. A visit provides a glimpse into the history of fire fighting as well as a look back on the early days of a Texas city once the home of both President Bushes.

Helen Keller Plaque
Sandusky, Ohio

Ride the roller coasters at Cedar Point amusement park and visit the site where Keller challenged Lions to be Knights of the Blind. The American legend spoke at the 9th annual convention of Lions in 1925 at a hall once at this spot and inspired Lions to help the blind as their primary mission.

Lions Lincoln Theatre
Massillion, Ohio

Built in 1915, the Lions Lincoln Theatre purports to be the nation’s oldest continuously operating movie theater. The Massillion Lions Club purchased the closed theater in 1982, saving it from demolition and gradually restoring it to its grandeur by rallying the community around the “Grand Old Dame on Lincoln Way.” Classic movies are shown on weekends, and Lions take tickets and sell popcorn. The butter is real.

Lawton Heritage Museum

Located in the “fruit belt” of southwest Michigan, Lions created the museum that highlights the local wine industry and the days of yore. The museum is part of the Lawton Lions Heritage Community Center. The Lions meet in a cobblestone winery that dates from 1903. The facility also includes a banquet room and gym. Lions bought the building in 1990 when it was in shambles and refurbished it after fundraising and receiving an LCIF grant.

Lions Den/Train Car
Sweetser, Indiana

Sweetser Lions meet in a parlor car, built in 1933. The mail car is equipped as the club’s kitchen, and standing near the caboose platform is a five-foot fiberglass Garfield. Cartoonist Jim Davis grew up nearby, and the Lions’ caboose is one of the 12 stops on the Garfield Trail, all with statues of Garfield in costumes or situations.

Lions Clubs International
Oak Brook, Illinois

A mecca for Lions, headquarters gladly welcomes Lions worldwide, who snap shots of Lions’ mementos on guided tours while 300 LCI employees work hard to facilitate the service of Lions. The two-story, modern office building, opened in 1970, is awash in all things Lions. Flapping in the wind outside are flags of eight nations, rotated daily so all Lions nations are regularly represented. On the west lawn is an arresting statue of a boy leading a blind older man by a stick–an all too common sight in Africa until Lions and the Carter Center curtailed river blindness. In the lobby is the Melvin Jones Memorial Room with his antique rollup desk and a conspicuous, plush lion rug that was a gift from Winston Churchill. The SightFirst Wall of Recognition honors Lions who donated to the SightFirst Campaign in the 1990s. The international president is usually on the road, so you can peek inside his office. The warm teakwood paneling was a gift from the Lions of Multiple District 300, and the stately grandfather clock was given in honor of Past International President Bert Mason of Northern Ireland by Lions of Multiple District 105. Also on the second floor are walls lined with official portraits of all past international presidents and a quarter century of first-place Peace Posters. Whether it’s chairs with lion carvings, lion stuffed animals propped on cubicles, a dolly with the Lions logo or a display of a tent used after disasters, you know you are in one of the world’s most unusual offices.

Catlin Lions Veterans Memorial

Catlin Lions erected a World War II memorial in the 1940s. In the late 1990s members realized they were overlooking other veterans, and after three years of planning (the first sketch was made on a cocktail napkin) the club dedicated this sturdy, stirring salute to Catlin veterans of World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm in 2002. Catlin has a population of just 2,100, but, typifying small-town patriotism, the monument contains 509 names.

World’s Largest Soup Kettle
Laona, Wisconsin

Lions don’t build roadside attractions just for heck of it: they build community through them. Laona Lions hold a Community Soup on the first Sunday in August. The feeding is held not at the famous giant soup kettle but instead at Silver Lake Beach. Lions cook 175 gallons of beef vegetable in a large cast-iron pot, once used by loggers. Bring your own bowl and spoons! The world’s largest soup kettle, a big gray pot suspended from a wood tripod, is displayed nearby in the small logging town.

Caramel Rolls Caricature
Bluffton, Minnesota

District Governor Margaret Van Erp, famous for her caramel rolls, auctions two pans of the sinfully rich treat on her club visits. When husband Pete was district governor, she made sure he also never left home to see Lions without the rolls. A pan once sold for $240. The drawing was displayed at the Bluffton Community Center, where their club meets, but was recently relocated to their home.

Grainfield Opera House/ Clubhouse

Opera was never the main drawing card here: the 1887 limestone beauty typically hosted vaudeville, dancers and even hypnotists. From the 1930s onward it housed a harness shop, hardware store and a tractor showroom before falling into disrepair. Grainfield Lions secured more than a quarter million in grants to fix it up. Now it hosts school and community events and Lions twice monthly.

Johnny Spaulding Cabin
Belle Fourche, South Dakota

Frontiersman “Buckskin Johnny” Spaulding built this rustic, two-story cabin in 1876. The hunter, guide and scout was the first white person to settle in this Black Hills area. Buckskin Johnny hauled his logs from the hills and hand-hewed them. As other settlers moved in, feeling crowded, he moved further west, ultimately to California. In the 1960s, Belle Fourche Lions fixed up the neglected cabin, shingling the roof, staining the logs and adding a side porch. A building tour allows visitors to see how the pioneers roughed it.

Salem Sue
New Salem, North Dakota

Kitschy attractions dot the U.S. interstates, and few can match the sheer audacity of Salem Sue, the world’s largest Holstein cow. Made from fiberglass, Sue stands 38 feet high and stretches 50 feet. New Salem Lions built Sue in 1974 for $40,000 to honor the local dairy farmers.

Lions Club Fountain
Boulder, Colorado

The south plaza of the Boulder County Courthouse is an attractive public space that hosts festivals and craft shows, and its centerpiece is the Lions Club Fountain. Built in 1935 by Lions and restored with public funds (and a small contribution from Lions) in 1988, the gleaming-white, terra cotta fountain is an oasis of calm.

Melvin Jones Memorial
Fort Thomas, Arizona

A 50-foot obelisk honors Lions’ founder Melvin Jones at his birthplace. Lions dedicated the memorial in 1965. A museum, open only when Lions gather on Rededication Day in January, contains artifacts related to Jones and innumerable Lions pins and banners. Jones lived here in the 1880s until he was 7. His father was a U.S. Army captain, and Fort Thomas was precisely that–a fortified outpost in the battles against Apache warriors. Young Jones’ earliest years were full of bugle calls, war cries and galloping blue-clad soldiers.

Mt. McCoy Cross
Simi Valley, California

In the early 1800s Franciscan friars erected a wooden cross atop this 1,325- foot peak as a guide post for travelers trudging the dusty trails from mission to mission. In 1941, Simi Valley/Moorpark Lions replaced a wooden cross, placed in 1921 by a Sunday school teacher, with a concrete one. “It was an old wooden cross that had rotted out. It was a lot of work, but we thought we’d done some good,” Lion Newt Heflin told the Los Angeles Times. Today the 12-foot-high cross remains a well-known landmark and a destination for day hikers in the scenic region. An old dirt road from the summit leads to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

Gigantic American Flag

Redding, California

Mounted on a 120-foot flag pole, the flag has flown over Redding since Sept. 11, 2002. The Enterprise Lions Club has seen to it that it will fly in perpetuity thanks to a $150,000 endowment fund. Each day an estimated 15,000 vehicles on Interstate 5 pass the 30- by 60-foot flag.

Cottonwood Farm and Ranch Museum

Cottonwood, Idaho

Cottonwood Lions own and maintain this interesting museum that includes a replica of a Mc- Cormick reaper, a 1887 threshing machine, a 1910 Harvester and other farm devices that modernized agriculture.

North Pend Oreille Valley Train Tour

Pend Oreille County contains some of the most beautiful land in the West, and North Pend Oreille Valley Lions capitalize on that, sponsoring a thrilling train ride. Don’t worry too much about the steep, narrow route: the Pend Oreille Valley Railroad actually operates the train. Lions sell tickets and souvenirs, confirm reservations, direct parking, help passengers safely board and disembark, and answer riders’ questions. The train passes through two tunnels, crosses a 1910 trestle with views of the Box Canyon Dam and winds along cliffs 100 feet above the river, where elk graze. The route is dotted with apple trees–rail workers once tossed their apple cores onto the ground. Expect to be “robbed”–a gang of desperadoes from a local theater group will clamber aboard at some point during the 20-mile round trip.

Lions Globe Marker
Palmer, Alaska

Yes, Lions pride themselves on being part of a worldwide group, which is why this marker resonates as entirely appropriate. Topped by a metal globe, the marker lists highway distances to cities in North America and air miles to cities worldwide.

Joel Stone Heritage Park
Gananoque, Ontario

The War of 1812 hardly registers with Americans, but for Canadians the conflict helped forge a national identity. Exactly 200 years later Gananoque Lions developed the heritage park that includes a bronze diorama, an amphitheater and three cannons. The dedication included a re-enactment of the first battle of the war, which took place in Gananoque and in which militiaman Joel Stone, the town’s founder, valiantly defended his village.

Markham Museum
Markham, Ontario

Step into the past at this 25-acre site. Among the 30 historical buildings are houses, barns, a train depot, a schoolhouse, a general store, a church, a blacksmith shop, a harness shop, a saw mill and a cider mill. One of the oldest buildings is the Hoover House, built in 1824 by a Mennonite family. Markham Lions helped begin the museum, which features exhibits on the club, the benefits of volunteerism and Helen Keller.

Lions Heritage Park
Palmerston, Ontario

A weed-strewn, abandoned, 18-acre railroad yard contaminated by oil spills and coal use is now a lovely park, thanks to Palmerston Lions. The club restored the station to its original grand 1900 look, installed a restored locomotive engine at the park’s entrance and fixed the sweeping pedestrian bridge that offers a commanding view of the park.

Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre

Arkona may seem to be a sleepy village, but great geologic events transpired here. A million or so years ago the Wisconsin Glacier piled up great mounds of earth. After the glacier retreated, a monumental earthquake forced the bedrock 80 meters into the earth, creating a stunning gorge and valley and eventually revealing an astonishingly rich fossil bed. Arkona Lions opened a fossil museum in 1971, and today, now at a new location, the museum draws droves of geologists, paleontologists and curious Joes and Janes to see brachiopods, trilobites, crinoids, horned corral and other rare fossils.

The Legacy
Ponoka, Alberta

The 32-foot-high monument is the world’s largest saddle bronc horse and rider. Dedicated in 2004 for Ponoka’s centennial, it’s built to last: constructed of birchwood, steel and urethane foam, encased in fiberglass and finished in Endura paint. A tribute to the strength of pioneer families, the sculpture was made possible by Ponoka Lions.

“Freedom Train” Clubhouse
Squamish, British Columbia

The Freedom Train toured America twice: in the late 1940s when millions stepped aboard to gape at original versions of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and in 1975-76 to celebrate the Bicentennial, when cultural artifacts such as Dorothy’s dress from the “Wizard of Oz” and the Rev. Martin Luther King’s pulpit were displayed. The Squamish Lions bought the car in 2000 for the town’s railway heritage park, which offers guided tours. The Lions use the car as a clubhouse.

Gastown Steam Clock
Vancouver, British Columbia

Time heals all. A century ago Gastown was the center of the city, but by the 1960s it was skid row. Now the neighborhood is booming again, and its renaissance is symbolized by the world’s first steam-powered clock, a two-ton wonder that emits a piercing whistle each hour and sounds the Westminister Chimes each quarter hour. Vancouver Lions, timeless civic boosters, helped sponsor the clock.

Itabun Lions Club Marker

The first Lions club in Brazil was chartered in 1954 in Itabun, a city of 210,000 known for its huge cocoa production, and 50 years later Lions commemorated the anniversary with a hefty obelisk.

Melvin Jones Monument
Madrid, Spain

Melvin Jones was a larger than life figure, as evidenced by this made-to-last tribute to him in stone by Spanish Lions.

Juliet Statue
Verona, Italy

See how she leans her cheek upon her hand! O that I were a glove upon that hand, That I might touch that check! Romeo’s love for Juliet as conceived by Shakespeare was immortal and timeless, but the lovely bronze sculpture of Juliet in the courtyard at the 13th-century home designated by tourist officials as Juliet’s residence dates from the beginning of the 20th century. Sculptor Nereo Constantini created the statue, and Verona Lions donated it to the site.

Phone Booth Book Store
Frankenberg, Germany

Frankenberg-Eder Lions operate perhaps Germany’s smallest book store–inside an old phone booth the club bought on eBay. Patrons determine the book’s price and leave the cash in a money box. So if you’re tooling around central Germany after the convention in Hamburg in July pick up a literary souvenir at Neustädterstraße 1.

Abbot Statue
Harsefeld, Germany

Just a few kilometers southwest of Hamburg stands a monastery founded in the early 12th century. Five years ago Harsefeld Lions, proud of the contribution of the monks to learning and civility, donated the statue of a long-ago abbot.

Tawau Monument
Tawau, Malaysia

Lions worldwide erect markers to proclaim their presence. Tawau Lions sponsored this towering concrete landmark in their city of 370,000.

Lion’s Head
near Baguio City, Philippines

Lions mark their territory. Rising 40 feet into the air, the popular, massive tourist attraction was built from limestone and wood by Baguio City Lions in 1972.

Wine Barrel
Te Kauwhata, New Zealand

Te Kauwhata & District Lions reconstructed this historic wine barrel in 2005 to mark 50 years of Lions in New Zealand. The wood was taken from rotting, empty barrels of wine that Germany had sent to New Zealand as reparations after World War I. The barrels of wine had been happily emptied over the years by workers at a horticultural research station in Te Kauwhata.

Totem Pole
Tokyo, Japan

Japan’s most popular park, expansive Ueno Park is famous for its many museums and cherry blossoms. Its broad variety of attractions is a deliberate imitation of parks elsewhere in the world. That’s why the totem pole, normally found among Native Americans in North America, fits right in. Tokyo Ueno Lions placed the seven-foot-high pole in 1964. Carved by Misaka Koh’ichiro of the Japan Art Academy, it features a lion, a monkey and an elephant–all found at nearby Ueno Zoo.

Peace Clock Tower
Hiroshima, Japan

One of dozens of monuments at the somber Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the clock twists unnaturally–symbolizing the agony of the victims of the atomic bomb. Hiroshima Rigo Lions built the tower in 1967. The plaque reads: “Uniting the wide world with one heart, the role of Lions Club members in establishing peace is big. … The chime of the clock tower resounds every day at 8:15, the time when mankind received its baptism of the atomic bomb for the first time, calling out to the world for ‘no more Hiroshima.’”

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