Town Square

Post a New Topic

It's not your imagination: Large crow sculptures roost in Palo Alto

Original post made on May 8, 2019

Palo Altans are used to seeing crows flock to local neighborhoods, but three of the newest corvids in town may ruffle a few feathers. For one thing, they’re 7 feet tall.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, May 7, 2019, 2:30 PM

Comments (70)

24 people like this
Posted by Sandy
a resident of Professorville
on May 8, 2019 at 10:48 am

I love this crow installation and the artist’s reasons for creating and sharing it! THANK YOU


16 people like this
Posted by Eli Pasternak
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 8, 2019 at 11:21 am

Those smart birds are also pests that are arriving in flocks, attacking our yards and are destroying our lawns and fruits, they poop everywhere and make noise. Sylvi is right, they are a subject of discussion but is this the type of discussion she's looking for? Anyway, congratulations for the art even when it's representing the dark side.


20 people like this
Posted by Louisa
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 8, 2019 at 12:00 pm

I feel lucky to have seen these beautiful birds on my drive to work this morning. I was very excited and happy to see them, and hoping they are a permanent addition. Crows are amazing, intelligent creatures indeed! Huge "thank you" and "Great job" to the artist. NOTE: I mistakenly hit the 'like" link on the rather negative post by Eli, above, but there was no option to "undo" the like. Sorry! Thanks again for bringing this joy to the neighborhood.


20 people like this
Posted by Scottie Zimmerman
a resident of Midtown
on May 8, 2019 at 12:09 pm

Scottie Zimmerman is a registered user.

I like crows, although I have noticed that they seem to be the dominant bird in Palo Alto. Wasn't always this way.

In my back garden one day, three adult crows were on phone lines making a terrific amount of noise. I cawed back at them, then noticed they seemed to be calling attention to a particular problem. I approached my back fence and spotted a young crow on the ground. Also realized my cat was on the fence, curious about the grounded fledgling. I picked up the "helpless" youngster and went to Wildlife Rescue (at Cubberly in those days). They asked me politely to return the crowlet to the area where I found it and place it in a nearby hedge or shrub. They assured me that the adult crows would provide food & protection until the young bird learned to fly. My cat was not a serious threat after all.

When I returned to my garden, the adult crows were gone. Then I heard squawking from trees a block away. So I held up the crowlet and made my own caw sounds. The distant crows heard me and came flying back to continue caring for the youngster. I placed him in the branches of my trumpet vine, where the adults could see him.

Three adults means parents + one. Apparently not unusual for crow families to have aunts/uncles assisting with care of baby birds.

Thanks for the sculptures!


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2019 at 1:10 pm

If they work as a deterrent then I would love some in my neighborhood.

We didn't used to have crows around here, but now they are the most numerous species of bird. I like listening to birdsong, but as soon as a crow comes and starts cawing, the song birds quieten immediately. I am sure that there must be less song birds as a result.

I have also had groceries attacked by them.

Can we do anything to deter crows?


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 8, 2019 at 1:18 pm

West Nile Virus


13 people like this
Posted by Lori Hobson
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 8, 2019 at 1:46 pm

The art installation is awesome.


4 people like this
Posted by Wander3r
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 8, 2019 at 4:37 pm

@Scottie, Love your story.


39 people like this
Posted by Horrible birds
a resident of Green Acres
on May 8, 2019 at 10:43 pm

I hate crows. Ugly looking birds and so noisy and loud! Waking me up from my sleep too early in the mornings.


6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 8, 2019 at 11:24 pm

Crows are bad luck.
My neighbors home in Palo Alto did not sell because a group of crows were circling above the home during the weekend of the open house (both days). For some strange reason, they would not go away.
The only thing which would make things worse for the family of this artist would be to add a fourth crow.
Four black crows = very bad luck.


7 people like this
Posted by WilliamR
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2019 at 12:19 am

Maybe someone could get Sheryl Crow or Counting Crows to give a performance there.


2 people like this
Posted by Dinner
a resident of Barron Park
on May 9, 2019 at 4:32 am

For those that like them, try eating them and you’ll discover the origin of the term… Disgusting carrion eaters.


13 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on May 9, 2019 at 5:25 am

Annette is a registered user.

Like the installation or not, ya gotta love how artists' minds think. To me, a crow is a crow. But this woman saw something more and ran with it. I think that's pretty cool.


8 people like this
Posted by sylvi herrick
a resident of University South
on May 9, 2019 at 12:24 pm

Palo Alto is the perfect place for crows! Why do we all like it? Why have so many intelligent, creative, determined, curious people flocked to the area? Often people view power as evil or inspiring - people love to use black and white concepts to deal with the fear of or reverence for power. Crows have been the theme of many fables, stories, novels, songs, bands, sayings - have you ever had to "eat crow?" In Game of Thrones, the crow is the messenger, as it was in Greek mythology where the raven was associated with Apollo. I love the comments - look forward to more! And by the way, it takes only a few minutes to look online for humane ways to get crows out of your garden. There are quite a few options. But be careful, crows have great memories and facial recognition like people do - if you are a jerk to them they can tell other crows, and their chicks about you :)


13 people like this
Posted by Old Crow
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2019 at 1:38 pm

Once again, Palo Alto outdoes itself with hideous representations of perceived art.

If the former wooden 'Friends' sculpture near the Embarcadero bowling lawns wasn't bad enough, the crumpled bike rack and unicorn horn on California takes the cake.

For a city that prides itself on elitism and good taste, art must have slipped someone's minds.


8 people like this
Posted by Megan
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2019 at 1:47 pm

Right on, sister! You have captured the magic of these birds and sent an inspiring message out into the universe - for humanity and all life on this planet. Let's each play our part in keeping that positivity going!


5 people like this
Posted by Try Laser Pointers
a resident of Downtown North
on May 9, 2019 at 2:51 pm

I have had very good luck using higher power laser pointers to harass the crows away from my house. You can order one from eBay for approximately $10. It doesn't hurt the crow, but I have found they really dislike them and they fly away immediately. Good luck!


16 people like this
Posted by Mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 9, 2019 at 6:00 pm

How about a large pile of crow poo installed under these birds? Then everyone will know what it’s like to have them roosting in your trees. They are disgusting!


4 people like this
Posted by Crows dive bombed my cat...
a resident of Green Acres
on May 9, 2019 at 9:39 pm


Those dang crows scared my grand daughter....hoping she won't have nightmares tonight.......OK art, time consuming hard work, but please take them into your backyard.


2 people like this
Posted by someone concerned
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 9, 2019 at 11:06 pm

too many crow haters. Yes, they are dominant and that could drive away the little birds sometimes. But crows just don't hang out in one place all day long. yes, they poop on my car sometimes. is that a big deal? All birds poop. squirrels poop. dogs and cats poop everywhere. People calling them ugly are really mean and senseless people to say the least. Just because they are black and dark and not cuddly doesn't mean they are ugly. These birds have a life and they want to be happy and raise a family just like all the crow haters.


Like this comment
Posted by Lisa Bertelsen-Kivett
a resident of Downtown North
on May 10, 2019 at 2:24 am

Sylvi,

I immediately knew they were yours. Wonderful. Welcome home!

Lisa


Like this comment
Posted by mec
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 10, 2019 at 10:43 am

My wife shared these with me on a morning walk today and they are a delightful surprise. Thank you.


6 people like this
Posted by Nothing to crow about
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 10, 2019 at 8:23 pm


The "FLINTSTONE" house ~ the house you can see as you drive North towards San Francisco on your right hand side on Hiway 280~ have been fighting a dilemma due to artifacts on their property. I hope they stifle their City on trying to make them remove the atmosphere that surrounds their magical artistic home. As for those crows, Heckle and Jeckle at least gave us a smile,song and dance. The University Crows have nothing to crow about. Someone wants free publicity and I personally do not like the sight forced upon myself driving and getting distracted by them. Please remove them. Thank you.


65 people like this
Posted by New To Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 10, 2019 at 9:05 pm

Is it OK to place various sculptures in one's front yard?

My husband was going to check with the City to see if there was an ordinance or permit required...apparently not.

We just moved here from Arizona and would like to display our collection of outdoor art as well.

One of my personal favorites is the 'dozing Mexican' wearing a big sombrero and we used to line our driveway in AZ with those old style harness holders (i.e. the African American stable boy holding up a lantern).

My husband said it will require some additional electrical work in order to have them operational in our front yard along the driveway.






28 people like this
Posted by Jocko Is Historically Relevant
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 11, 2019 at 11:53 am

> One of my personal favorites is the 'dozing Mexican' wearing a big sombrero and we used to line our driveway in AZ with those old style harness holders (i.e. the African American stable boy holding up a lantern).

Are you referring to Jocko?

Web Link

I remember seeing them at Dinah's Shack on ECR when i was a child.

They were inspired by George Washington in gratitude to his stable hand during the Revolutionary War & were also used to help free the slaves during the Civil War.

We have one lying about somewhere in our garage & might consider placing it outdoors as well.


31 people like this
Posted by I Love Collecting Jockos!
a resident of Los Altos
on May 11, 2019 at 3:20 pm

My late grandfather in Georgia had these statues lined along his driveway and I always loved them.

I have about seven in my collection that I purchased in various antique stores throughout the south during the late 1970s.

There was time when we considered placing them in our front yard as well but were concerned that someone might steal them.


3 people like this
Posted by Trouble ahead
a resident of Green Acres
on May 11, 2019 at 4:29 pm

Your Jocko's will have to have white faces, as per the ones that had to be repainted over on the ones that were by Dinah's Shack..


25 people like this
Posted by I Love Collecting Jockos!
a resident of Los Altos
on May 11, 2019 at 5:51 pm

> Your Jocko's will have to have white faces, as per the ones that had to be repainted over on the ones that were by Dinah's Shack..

Why is that? To alter the traditional depiction of Jocko would make it historically irrelevant and misleading. Like putting rabbit ears on Mickey Mouse. Besides, Jocko was black not white.

Jocko was George Washington's trusted stable boy who withstood a brutal blizzard to care for General Washington's horses during the Revolutionary War and is a longstanding tribute to Jocko's fortitude and commitment. In fact, General Washington was the one who initially commissioned the classic design.

Later I learned, these statues were used to guide slaves towards the Underground Railroad access points

To whiteface them would be an insult to African American history.


29 people like this
Posted by I Love Collecting Jockos!
a resident of Los Altos
on May 11, 2019 at 6:34 pm

>> One of my personal favorites is the 'dozing Mexican' wearing a big sombrero

Those are so adorable, especially in a low-maintenance backyard with gravel, succulents and or cactus. My neighbor down the street has one and it blends in nicely with the landscaping.

I came across this article on the web & these figurines are still very popular in AZ. Why the fuss, I haven't the foggiest.

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Garden & Driveway Art
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2019 at 12:29 pm

@Trouble ahead

What's the big deal with a Jocko statue?

Although there are fewer on display, I've seen them all over the United States.

Is it because they are collector's items and prone to being stolen?


4 people like this
Posted by sylvi herrick
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 13, 2019 at 12:50 pm

This is in response to "question for Sylvi," as to how my mom, a refugee got a house in Palo Alto. Thanks for asking. Her story, like millions of other refugees, is the story of two major things. 1) Risk - situations involving exposure to danger. 2) Leaps of faith - an act of believing or attempting something whose existence or outcomes cannot be proved. Mom and her family escaped the Russian army during WWII and fled to Germany landing in a displaced persons camp for years. Risk/Leap of Faith. Eventually they were sponsored by relatives and took an American ship to Canada. Risk/Leap of Faith. She became a Neuropathologist and on vacation to Puerto Rico met my father, Tracy, and American.Risk/Leap of faith. They married and lived in Cleveland, Ohio where the pollution aggravated my mother's health. In 1970 they picked up and started a new life at 1150 University Ave, knowing nobody in Palo Alto. Risk/Leap of faith. Mom just finished a book which includes her escape which is available from amazon, "A Song of Survival: Memories of Estonian Life Spanning the Twentieth Century."

Silicon Valley might as well be called Risk/Leap of Faith Valley. For some, those are crucial qualities for survival. Here in Palo Alto, those are qualities that make this city great. Did I mention crows are risk takers?


12 people like this
Posted by We Have A Jocko Too!
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 13, 2019 at 1:02 pm

> Did I mention crows are risk takers?

So was Jocko weathering a severe blizzard to tend to General Washington's horses and except for maybe Van Gogh's venerable painting, Jocko is more famous as well.

Jocko was a real person. A crow is just a crow.

I've often wondered why people rarely display their Jocko statues anymore.


Like this comment
Posted by Jocko Is A Part Of Americana
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 13, 2019 at 7:18 pm

Years ago, there used to be a Barbie museum in downtown Palo Alto.

A Jocko museum would be kind of cool. There are several variants of this classic depiction and I would check it out.

A gift shop selling modern-day replicas would be a nice option as well.


2 people like this
Posted by Liz
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 13, 2019 at 9:13 pm

I love these. Whatever reason crows have become dominant here and across the country, it is not their fault. Whatever imbalance has allowed that to happen is likely caused by humans--reaping what we sew. The artist is a Paly alum and these are such a treat.


Like this comment
Posted by Betsy
a resident of another community
on May 16, 2019 at 5:42 am

I love this project and hope the crows return to my area soon. The message is very powerful and after reading comments, many have missed the point and goal of the project. Border conflict is a concern all around the globe and human lives are at stake. Please take a few moments to understand the deep message this art is reminding the viewer about in the world today. Many people live in a situation not of their choice and are desperate and must flee. Think about the message here. Great job on this project.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 16, 2019 at 6:35 am

^ Wherever people go, they always bring their problems with them.


4 people like this
Posted by P.L.
a resident of Midtown
on May 23, 2019 at 4:15 pm

Besides crows, we also have large population of squirrels... so you need to install equal amount of squirrel sculptures too.... just to be fair...


Like this comment
Posted by Xiao Ping
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 23, 2019 at 5:42 pm

Since many newcomers from China are settling in Palo Alto, it would also be appropriate to have memorial statues of our ancestors in front yard or back yard.


2 people like this
Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on May 24, 2019 at 12:04 am

Jocko's were considered racial and their faces had to be painted white. I think at that time that there was a write up about that in the old Palo Alto Times.....!! Wonder what the reaction would be if someone painted the crows different colors...:)


8 people like this
Posted by Xiao Ping
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 24, 2019 at 7:05 am

If Jocko is homage to African-Americans by George Washington, why paint them white? This does not make sense. Like portraying Abraham Lincoln as African-American on five dollar bill.

If black crow sculptures were painted white, then they could be construed as sea gulls. Another nuisance and messy bird.


12 people like this
Posted by Expatriates From PA
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 24, 2019 at 1:39 pm

> Since many newcomers from China are settling in Palo Alto, it would also be appropriate to have memorial statues of our ancestors in front yard or back yard.

I see no problem with ancestral statues lining the front yards of Crescent Park. If they are your honored forefathers and mothers, paying tribute to them is both respectful & in remembrance.

> If Jocko is homage to African-Americans by George Washington, why paint them white?

Painting them white would be an affront to Jocko's legacy as a proud African-American stable boy who steadfastly cared for General Washington's horses.

> One of my personal favorites is the 'dozing Mexican' wearing a big sombrero.

These statues are popular fixtures in many American SW gardens and they pay homage to our Mexican predecessors who inhabited the southwestern US and California prior to statehood.

Jockos, dozing Mexican figurines and Chinese ancestral statues all have a place in Palo Alto front yards (if desired) and are reflective of the city's cultural diversities.

Needless to say, we have recently retired & sold our home in CP. Now headed for Sedona, AZ & looking forward to experiencing the new PA during occasional visits to the SF Bay area.


12 people like this
Posted by Statues For Posterity
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 24, 2019 at 7:21 pm

> Jockos, dozing Mexican figurines and Chinese ancestral statues all have a place in Palo Alto front yards (if desired) and are reflective of the city's cultural diversities.

Absolutely. The miniature Jockos that used to line the driveway at Dinah's Shack were a venerable trademark of the establishment and a dozing Mexican figurine tastefully placed in a low-maintenance rock garden with cactus plants or succulents just adds to the overall presentation.

As for statues representing one's Chinese ancestry, this will be something to new to PA as a whole but eventually accepted as an extension of our emerging ethnic diversities. Life-size statues prominantly placed in the front yard will surely garner some attention.

All of this is no different from those who elect to to have garden knomes in their yards.


2 people like this
Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on May 25, 2019 at 2:49 am


I think it was the NAACP that complained about the Jockos and that's why they were painted. Possibly the downtown library has old information in the files of the Palo Alto Times newspaper....(or was it called the Palo Alto Times Tribune ?)Probably will be on microfiche. BTW, I think there are still a few still up on the pillar in the old parking lot on El Camino. And they had white faces..Curious, I am going to look is weekend....


10 people like this
Posted by Statues For Posterity
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 25, 2019 at 8:45 am

> I think it was the NAACP that complained about the Jockos...

In this era of overblown 'political correctness' I am curious...

Why didn't the NAACP remove the 'Colored People' part from National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and change it to 'Black People' or 'African-Americans' (i.e. NAABP or NAAAA)?

Complaining about a cute little statue of an African-American stable boy is borderline trivial and painting them white is historically misleading.



8 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Residential Art
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 25, 2019 at 1:15 pm

> Since many newcomers from China are settling in Palo Alto, it would also be appropriate to have memorial statues of our ancestors in front yard or back yard.

I would suggest life-size (or even larger) for maximum visual impact.

> Jockos, dozing Mexican figurines and Chinese ancestral statues all have a place in Palo Alto front yards (if desired) and are reflective of the city's cultural diversities.

Absolutely. Be proud of your ethnic heritage and display it with pride.


2 people like this
Posted by Another suggestion
a resident of Green Acres
on May 25, 2019 at 1:45 pm


I would be a bit hesitant to put a statue of my relatives in my front yard...look what happened to the Swedish couple with the bird and dog that was on Embarcadero....


10 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Residential Art
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 25, 2019 at 2:10 pm

> look what happened to the Swedish couple with the bird and dog that was on Embarcadero....

That wooden sculpture was an abomination and surprisingly, no one burned it to the ground.

In retrospect, I think the City got tired of repairing it after countless vandalism attacks and finally stashed the monstrosity in some hidden warehouse where it rightfully belongs.

> I would be a bit hesitant to put a statue of my relatives in my front yard...

Me too. My relatives are not very attractive people & the statues would probably become a subject of public ridicule or quite possibly meet the same fate as the Swedish couple on Embarcadero Road.

Then again, I could always hire stunningly beautiful people to pose as models as no one would know the difference. Looks are only skin deep anyway & might as well leave a good impression in the neighborhood.


8 people like this
Posted by Statues For Posterity
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 25, 2019 at 5:26 pm

In my book, I could care less what people put up as statues or sculptures in their front yards. Taste is subjective and to each his/her own as they own the property.

To those troubled by the various displays of subjective 'art', just look the other way or close your eyes.

Black Jockos lining one's driveway, displaying dozing Mexicans with tilted sombreros in rock gardens and Chinese ancestral statues displayed in front yards don't bother me in the least. It's trivial.


2 people like this
Posted by Think of it
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 25, 2019 at 5:35 pm




Hummm, my grandma was an exotic dancer....


2 people like this
Posted by Statues For Posterity
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 25, 2019 at 6:39 pm

> Hummm, my grandma was an exotic dancer....

Carol Doda of the Condor Club in North Beach during the 1960s?

That would make for an interesting front yard ancestral statue...especially if it was 4-5X life size.

Crescent Park would never be the same.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 26, 2019 at 1:12 am

What's the law on commercials in your yard? Limitations on size and illumination of a billboard, for instance? Where is the line drawn among art, political statement/campaign, and advertising? Apparently it is legal to earn money to store things on your property. Is a license or permit required? I doubt my neighbors would appreciated a Bob's Big Boy or Doggie Diner dachshund head.


10 people like this
Posted by Statues For Posterity
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 26, 2019 at 7:44 am

> Where is the line drawn among art...?

Open season as it is on private property. If residents can display oversized crow sculptures in their front yard then others have the same right to exhibit their perceptions of art or history.

A driveway lined with illuminated African-American Jockos should be OK along with sleepy sombrero-clad Mexican sculptures and life-size statues of Chinese ancestors as it is a personal statement of expression.

Commercially-themed 'artwork' might be construed as tacky to some but who are we to judge?

In a way this is no different than those homeowners who tend to get a bit carried away with Christmas lights and holiday-themed displays.

With the emerging ethnic 'diversity' that many Palo Altans seemingly extoll, even multi-armed Vishnu sculptures in front yards could someday make their appearance as well as symbolic references to Islam.

It all comes with the new territory and being a somewhat liberal-minded community, I am assuming that most Palo Altans will openly welcome these new expressions of culture, religion and 'diversity'.


15 people like this
Posted by Old & In The Way
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 26, 2019 at 11:43 am

> A driveway lined with illuminated African-American Jockos should be OK along with sleepy sombrero-clad Mexican sculptures and life-size statues of Chinese ancestors... With the emerging ethnic 'diversity' that many Palo Altans seemingly extoll, even multi-armed Vishnu sculptures in front yards could someday make their appearance as well as symbolic references to Islam.

I am personally looking forward to this day!

Add some Wicca and New Age references into the mix as well...

And then watch the crosses go up.


Like this comment
Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on May 26, 2019 at 6:37 pm

It's starting to smack of Disneyland....BTW, what ever happened to that huge blue colored DUCK that was displayed in someones front yard years ago??? It was as tall as the house...anyone remember?


10 people like this
Posted by Xiao Ping
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 28, 2019 at 5:52 pm

My wife bought sculpture of small African-American child eating watermelon at garage sale. Seller says it is very old and collectible. I showed sculpture to neighbor who says it might be considered not PC. What does that mean? Everybody likes watermelon during summer months. Even Chinese people.


2 people like this
Posted by Think of it
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 28, 2019 at 8:48 pm

Was your wife going to put the sculpture in or out of your house?


2 people like this
Posted by Xiao Ping
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 29, 2019 at 6:34 am

> Was your wife going to put the sculpture in or out of your house?

In backyard on redwood deck.


2 people like this
Posted by Retired Antique Dealer
a resident of Community Center
on May 29, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Figurines & sculptural themes of Jocko & African Americans joyfully devouring watermelons is referred to in antique circles as 'Black Americana'...essentially period pieces.

I've noticed that these collectibles are more popular among Caucasians than black people and many have chosen to display them in their homes, gardens and along circular driveways (usually the Jockos).

These sculptures can run anywhere from $75.00 to $1500.00+ depending on size, condition & rarity.


2 people like this
Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on May 29, 2019 at 2:34 pm

With that amount of $ I assume you will be keeping your sculptures in your back yards....


2 people like this
Posted by Bananaphobia
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 29, 2019 at 8:57 pm

> Everybody likes watermelon during summer months.

^^^True. Which is why I've often wondered why watermelons & fried chicken are considered offensive to some African-Americans. Everybody like fried chicken as well.

It's like a Japanese person finding sushi offensive.


8 people like this
Posted by Retired Antique Dealer
a resident of Community Center
on May 30, 2019 at 2:15 pm

Regarding Jockos & statues depicting watermelon-eating African-American children...

A problem that often arises is that certain symbols are often taken out of context.

The now defunct Sambo's chain of coffee shops was founded by SAM Battistone and Newell BOhnett in 1957.

They in turn decided to use the story of 'Little Black Sambo' as their marketing theme offering menu items like Tiger Cakes and Tiger Butter along with using an image of Little Black Sambo as their chain mascot.

By the late 1970s Sambos had grown to over 1,100 coffee shops throughout the nation but the Sambo name became viewed as pejorative by some African Americans.

Bakers Square parent company acquired Sambo's in California in October 1984. Many Sambo's locations were converted to Bakers Square restaurants and the ones that weren't were sold to other chains, including Denny's.

In the decades past, I have had breakfast at many Sambo restaurants & have even invited African-American colleagues who didn't seem to mind the decor or theme.

Another restaurant controversy...

Web Link

While some Hispanics find this Hot Taco mascot offensive, the owner (who is also Hispanic) says it represents dozing after a good meal.




2 people like this
Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on May 30, 2019 at 3:59 pm

Dinah's Shack was a long time staple in Palo Alto...sorry to have seen it go. Great food, service, cozy atmosphere. I remember hearing that JFK had carved his signature on one of the wooden structured poles and when it was time for the wrecking ball to come in, the restaurant sold the pole...$$$ I wasn't clear why they closed....anyone?....


Like this comment
Posted by Xiao Ping
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 30, 2019 at 5:52 pm

Web Link

^^^ I think 'Sleeping Mexican' a bit much. Would not want something so grotesque in back yard. Front yard even worse.

Afro-American child enjoying watermelon OK. Did not know 'Black Americana' a collectible art form.

Why image of black person eating fried chicken considered offensive? I like fried chicken too. A picture of Chinese person eating chicken would not bother me.


2 people like this
Posted by Cigar Store Indian Collector
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 31, 2019 at 12:52 pm

>> I think 'Sleeping Mexican' a bit much. Would not want something so grotesque in back yard. Front yard even worse.
>> I doubt my neighbors would appreciated a Bob's Big Boy or Doggie Diner dachshund head.
Web Link

^^^The 'Sleeping Mexican' at Hot Taco is a commercialized sculpture and has no place in front of a residential dwelling. It is tacky, tasteless & grotesque.

On the other hand, the smaller & more traditional dozing Mexican sculptures could be considered a part of 'Hispanic Americana' & I see no problem with displaying them at one's home.

No different than displaying wooden 'Cigar Store Indians' in one's den or game room (if so inclined).

The key is to acknowledge the antiquity value.


2 people like this
Posted by MAYFIELD CHILD
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 4, 2019 at 8:38 pm

Can you believe this add in OUR local DAILY POST newspaper??? Page 14...Monday June 3rd..." SCARE YOUR CROWS AWAY! Setting or hanging a fake crow out at night, especially upside-down so it looks like it is dead, will cause the crows in your yard to have a "funeral" and move on! Stop by the store or call for delivery. They can also be shipped anyplace in the country. Just let us know!!!!!" CROW ADOPTION: $26.98 (Was going to post up the add but can't seem to have a place to do that ...)


12 people like this
Posted by CP Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2019 at 7:19 am

^^^Very appropriate as the crows are already & appropriately dressed in black.

We used to have a scarecrow to ward off crows in the backyard but no longer since my mother-in-law passed away.

Incidentally, I came across a discarded Jocko at a house I was remodeling and it too had been painted over with tan paint.

Over the weekend, I sandblasted the tan facial paint off & now it is a vibrant example of a classic all-black Jocko. The original coloring had been blended into the ceramic material so it remained there.

I'm going to put it on our front porch next to the welcome mat.



12 people like this
Posted by Keep Jocko Black
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 5, 2019 at 12:20 pm

> Figurines & sculptural themes of Jocko & African Americans joyfully devouring watermelons is referred to in antique circles as 'Black Americana'...essentially period pieces.

And from a contemporary standpoint, retail symbols such as 'Aunt Jemima' pancake mix and 'Uncle Ben's' rice products should remain intact as they are a reflection of our nation's regional history when proud African-Americans served as devoted domestic workers...post-slavery period & 'up north' as well.

No different than the Betty Crocker depiction.

As far as Jocko is concerned, Jocko was never white & so to portray him as such is an insult to both Jocko's legacy & to African-Americans as a whole.


10 people like this
Posted by The Wonderful World Of Jockos
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 5, 2019 at 3:22 pm

>> Figurines & sculptural themes of Jocko & African Americans joyfully devouring watermelons is referred to in antique circles as 'Black Americana'...essentially period pieces.

We own several of these delightful figurines & they are in mint condition.

Being highly collectible, would they be appropriate as a wedding gift?


10 people like this
Posted by Watermelons Are A Summer Tradition
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 5, 2019 at 6:23 pm

The little sculptures of a wide-eyed African-American child savoring a wedge of watermelon are so adorable!

In years past, we had African-American neighbors & following the Memorial Day weekend we'd always give them a ripe watermelon to kick-off the summer months.


Like this comment
Posted by Richard H
a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 5, 2019 at 11:18 pm

Love it! Caught my eye while riding by on my motorcycle. I U-turned to enjoy it. Public art is wonderful and I am excited to see it in my hometown. Props to Sylvi and mom for having the vision and guts to pull this off. BTW it was an appropriate photo backdrop for my CB-1 motorcycle. Coincidentalty, many owners of my bike upgrade with components from a bike called "Blackbird".


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

After 39 years of cakes and pastries, Palo Alto institution Prolific Oven to close
By Elena Kadvany | 55 comments | 16,787 views

Local Transit to the Rescue?
By Sherry Listgarten | 7 comments | 1,358 views

The Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) Process Explained
By Steve Levy | 5 comments | 1,281 views

Do something about assault weapons, now!
By Diana Diamond | 37 comments | 1,097 views

"You Gotta Have Balls [to do counseling] . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 947 views

 

Register now!

​On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

More Info