Tuesday, October 11, 2011

VULCAN, part one

Vulcan with his lightening bolt 
Vulcan, god of fire, both beneficial and hindering.  If you were a Roman Blacksmith then Vulcan would have been one of your favorites. If you were Greek you would have known him as Hephaestus The story goes that his parents, Zeus and Hera thought he was ugly and threw him out of Olympus. This made the young god sad. 
For the Romans it was Jupiter and Juno who threw out their ugly baby.  He fell for a day and a half, breaking his leg on the way, sinking to watery depths where he was cared for by the sea nymph, Thetis, who gave him a happy childhood where he learned to appreciate beauty.    
Vulcan once found a hot coal, made fire of it and discovered that with a blowing bellows would make the fire hotter. Voila the art of blacksmithing was on its way.  As a strong young man, Vulcan made many beautiful things out of heated metal such as the thrones of many of the other gods up on Mt Aetna
By-the-way, each of these gods  had different names in Greek and Roman. Each culture made different statues and pictures of the gods according their cultural tendencies. They were the same gods, just called by different names.  Each culture attributed some of its own characteristics to the gods but basically they were the same.  After all, a god didn't change who he or she was just because someone called it by a different name or pictured it differently. Some cultures even think of just one god who combines the powers of all these little gods.  This one god is god of everything, including all of creation. In these cultures sh-he (being both male and female)  is simply called God.
Vulcan was the god of the blacksmith, god of the foundry, a place where items are cast from molten metal. 
display representing some of the items cast in a Birmingham's foundry
One of the great American cities for foundries is Birmingham, Alabama.  Birmingham civic leaders chose a giant statue of Vulcan to represent them at the World's Fair in St. Louise Missouri. in  At that time, Birmingham was just a town whose economy was based on steel casting. The statue of Vulcan was an almost miraculous casting done in a very short time under the leadership of the Italian sculpture, Guiseppe Moretti
Detail of the Colossus designed by Guisseppe Moretti and cast in Birmingham
After the World's fair closed, Vulcan was disassembled and brought back to Birmingham where he wound up on the grounds of the Alabama state fair.  There he was assembled wrong with a hand on backwards and without even the power to hold his own spear. Afforded little dignity, Vulcan was used to hold advertising, including an ice cream cone and a Coke bottle. Finally, during the depression and after much debate, the colossus was reassembled in his very own park atop Red Mountain, now the center of a large city. Painted with aluminum paint and filled with concrete, the once-hollow statue was anchored firmly to the hill.
Birmingham, over the railing with a view of the airport in the distance
photo from visitvulcan.com
By the nineteen forties, most families owned a car. Vehicle accidents were becoming common so somebody decided it would be a good idea for Vulcan to remind people to drive safely.
In place of his spear he now held a light which glowed green on days with no fatal auto accidents and red when someone had been killed.
During the seventies the park was upgraded but the concrete inside contracted and expanded causing the statue to crack.  In 2003 a repaired vulcan, panted in what is believed to be his original gray, was once again raised upon its sandstone pedestal. The entire park was upgraded and now includes a very nice information center from which I obtained much of my information.  
Comfortable informative visitor center at Vulcan Park
This story will be continued tomorrow.  It is then you will discover how this writer battled the wind at the foot of Vulcan.

I just had to include the link to this album below because I heard the band this past weekend and loved it.  I wish I could buy from my own site so I could buy it here. HaHa Tonka is named after a park in Missouri.  They are Indie Folk/Rock with an unbelievable 4-part harmony on some a cappella  tunes.  They are full of youthful energy which they mesh with traditional Ozark Mountain music influences.

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