The ascent of Ceres to the Capitol dome
On October 29, 1924, a statue of the Roman goddess Ceres – goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility & motherly relationships – became the tallest object in Jefferson City, Mo. Per an article in the missouritimes.com describing that endeavor 94 years ago, “crews tied a wench to a tree and hoisted her in three pieces using a pulley system to the top of the Capitol.” For those sticklers regarding the use of the English language (like my brother who pointed out the incorrect word use), the proper word was “winch”.
“I hope, in 1924, they tied a ‘winch’ to a tree as opposed to a ‘wench’ as the article states. That was probably illegal even back then” noted my brother.
On November 15, 2018, Ceres was scheduled to be removed from the Capitol dome and transported to Chicago for a make-over.
I planned to be there on the historic occasion of Ceres return to earth from her perch overlooking beautiful Jefferson City.
The morning of November 15th, 2018, dawned clear and cold. I donned warm clothing and made my way downtown under a bright blue sky. Shortly before 9:30 am I filled a parking meter with enough quarters for the maximum 2 hours of parking and walked the two blocks to the steps of the Missouri Supreme Court building. It was a perfect vantage point to watch the operation.
When I arrived, I was so excited about witnessing history, I barely felt the cold. After two hours, my cold feet began to compete with my excitement for my attention. Though Ceres lift-off was originally planned for shortly after 10 am, technical difficulties forced a delay.
Shortly after 11 am, employees from Jimmy John’s came down the street passing out free sandwiches. Thank you, Jimmy John’s! My turkey sandwich was delicious. Not wanting to sound ungrateful, next time please bring some free napkins as well to avoid the unappetizing sight of diners with frozen mayonnaise on their chin.
At 11:30 am, the time on my parking meter expired. Should I risk missing the main event of Ceres being lowered by walking the four block round-trip to replenish my parking meter? Purely for the sake of witnessing history, I decided to take a walk on the wild side and risk getting a parking ticket rather than possibly miss Ceres descent.
Good thing I did.
At 11:45 am, following three sharp blasts from an air horn, Ceres was slowly lifted off the perch where she had rested for the past 94 years.
Ceres was originally created by New York sculptor Sherry Fry. The statue is thought to be modeled after Audrey Munson. Munson is sometimes referred to as “America’s first supermodel.”
After seeing the face of Ceres, it made me wonder who modeled for the Statue of Liberty, which came to the U.S. from France in 1886.
As near as I can tell, the face on the Statue of Liberty was modeled after the mother of the statue’s sculptor, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. In my imagination, I can envision that face saying to a misbehaving Frederic Auguste Bartholdi as a child, “God help you if you ever do that again!”
Though probably not in the “supermodel” catagory, Charlotte Beysser Bartholdi’s son, Frederic, did her no favors in the portrayal of her face on the Statue of Liberty. Instead of “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses . . . ” the face on the Statue of Liberty would seem to be saying something more like “If you get on my lawn again you are going to be sorry!”
Ceres is now safely in Chicago.
Or at least as safe as an inanimate object can be in Chicago.
She will return, all gussied up and shiny, in about a year. I plan to be there to watch her once again ascend to the tallest perch in Jefferson City where she will once more preside above the beehive of activity that is the Missouri State Capitol.
As I neared my truck to head home, I strained my eyes to see if Jefferson City’s parking enforcement division had deposited anything under my windshield wiper. Though the meter was frantically flashing an alert that I had exceeded the two-hour time limit, my windshield was free of a parking ticket.
Thank you, Jefferson City.
It won’t happen again. At least until next fall when I return to once again witness history as Ceres again ascends to the Top of the Capitol Dome.
I’ll try to remember to bring my own napkins.