Well, here's one that's for sale on highway 265 between Springdale and Sonora. Just knock on the door of that house in the background. Ask for Leo Case and have your checkbook ready. Until recently, this yard was filled with statues of mules and giant rabbits in addition to dinosaurs. Of late, though, Leo has been dispersing his collection. You're likely to cart one of his sculptures off for a bargain basement price because the highway department has declared this land to be "emminent domain" and has already purchased the property. Mr. Case quoted me a price of $3500 for the steggo; but as the highway project approaches, that price is likely to drop.

Other works by septegenarian Case have been purchased by "Chuck" and are yet on display at the Fayetteville MiniGolf. During the holiday season, his reindeer are on display in Alma, where interstate-40 meets highway 71. Also, if you've been to "Dinosaur World" near Beaver Lake west of Eureka Springs, you've already seen some of his work.

This is Leo standing beside his most recent effort. Today his private collection has dwindled to these two pieces--the cement stucco steggo and this great green polyfoam/reinforcing wire T-rex. The eyes are golf balls set into the skull sockets and the teeth are made of durable and flexible plastic (speaking of the T-rex, that is). The teeth are actually Rex's second set. The original teeth were broken off by vandals. Leo told me that the plans for the T-rex were scaled up from a plastic toy dinosaur.


In the neighborhood: The Very First Wal-Mart


My mistake. Leo's last name is Cate, not Case, and here's some more of his work on display at Nate's Fun Land at 1946 N. College (that's Highway 71B, phone 501-571-1152) in Fayetteville. That stegosaurus is one of his favorite designs. He's got one just like it north of Huntsville and I saw another at the highway 265 address above.

Nate's Fun Land consists of a nine-hole mini golf and an arcade. It used to be called Fun Land, but the name was changed when a youngster named Nate was killed in a traffic accident in front of the arcade. A cross attatched to a utility pole marks the approximate spot.

Dinosaurs are a favorite roadside art subject among amateur sculptors. I conjecture they have the proper combination of the exotic-yet-familiar, the scientific-yet-fanciful that allows an unschooled enthusiast enough license to give it a spin without too much fear of criticism. If he tried to make an elephant or a bear, surely some smart aleck would come along ten minutes after the mortar had set up and say, "That ain't right. You got the knees bent the wrong way." But dino subject matter allows the artist to beg off. He's just trying to have a little fun, scientific accuracy notwithstanding.

The teeth on this bronto are made from the same stuff as the teeth on the T-rex above. Notice the tongue extends beyond the jaw. No real dinosaur ever stuck out its tongue. They weren't built that way. But as I mentioned above, this is a mini golf course, not the Field Museum, so I'll stop sucking the fun out of the air.

RTJ -- 12/01/2002

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