One more thing to check off my “weird stuff I’ve seen” life list.
Yesterday we drove to the middle of nowhere, aka Ona, Florida, to see Solomon’s Castle. (Although, as the tour guide said, “We’re in the middle of everything – only an hour and a half away from everywhere!”) The view on the way was citrus groves, cows, citrus groves, cows, and oh yes, citrus groves.
It’s a 60-foot tall, 12,000 square homemade structure built with aluminum printing plates discarded by a local newspaper. Within it are Howard Solomon’s creations made from recycled materials: coat hanger sculptures of an elephant and unicorn, a chair made of 86 beer cans, or a 1/8th size truck of discarded metal parts, with rebar heated and shaped to form its wheels. There were also renditions in wood of paintings by Modigliani, Dr. Seuss, and Norman Rockwell.
Solomon passed away several years, but his spirit lives on in the ghastly script relentlessly full of puns that he wrote and which all the tour guides (local women from Ona is my guess) are still required to use: A 12inch model T was created with two front ends (this kind of whimsy is seen in almost every creation), and as the poor guide stated, “So you can never get rear-ended!” Ba-Da-Bump-Bump!
He had a successful sand-blasting business, but his wood, metal, and glass artwork was a hobby that morphed and morphed again. His was that quintessential old Florida swampland story. He’d bought umpteen acres in the 1970s in March. By June the summer floods came and everything was under at least a foot of water. He persevered on, though, and to this day the staff just moves everything to high ground and closes up for the summer, then reopens when the water recedes.