Through the morning haze, a bright white, unfinished ceramic piece draws people’s attention to the fountain in Legion Park.
It is a bird’s head, apparently created by a volunteer, and it replaces one that has been missing for years.
Who created the bit of statuary? That appears to be something of a puzzle.
The anonymous sculptor has stirred efforts by the city to gather information on the fountain and pursue its restoration.
Whether the new top will remain is an open question, said Steve Dutra, Lodi parks superintendent.
The statuary is the centerpiece of the fountain and consists of a pedestal and child with an unknown type of crane-like bird. The piece was purchased in the 1960s from the state, where it had been featured at the California State Fair.
The fountain was in working order in the 1980s. Dutra remembers suds created by pranksters causing a soapy mess to overflow into nearby Hutchins Street.
But it has been decommissioned for the past several years. And at some point — no one is too sure when — the bird’s head was apparently removed.
In 2005, Joseph Wood, manager of Neighborhood Services for the city, and Vern Weigum, of Weigum’s Nursery, planted roses around the empty fountain.
In 2006, as part of her senior project, Elizabeth Vaughn presented a check for $400 to Lodi Parks and Recreation. Vaughn’s project was able to raise money for the restoration of the fountain.
“How blessed we are to have a community of volunteerism. Civic clubs, churches, Rotary. The list goes on,” Dutra said, beaming.
Dutra said the new bird’s head could be part of a larger restoration of the fountain, though it may not stay.
Unfortunately the Legion Park fountain is too far gone to be repaired to working order. As Dutra fingered through photos of the pumping equipment and where pool lighting once was housed, he showed the rusted pipes and broken fixtures. He mused about whether the water perhaps spewed from the birds’ mouth. But now he hopes to bring the art piece back to its former state.
“Any help from the community would be greatly appreciated,” he said.
If you have any historical photographs or historical information about the fountain, Dutra is very interested. You can contact him at the Lodi Parks and Recreation office, 209-368-1012 or email him at email@example.com.
Contact photographer Jennifer M. Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org.