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Old Rip - House of Webster horned toad - Eastland, Texas

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    Posted 2 years ago

    (335 items)

    Near the end of the 1890s in the town of Eastland, Texas, a new county courthouse was built. As was the custom, a time capsule was assembled to be placed in the cornerstone of this new building. Someone thought it an amusing idea to toss a horned toad into the box. Horned toads (horny toads, we called them when I was young) were then a commonly encountered resident of the American Southwest; a slow, benign, fat-bodied lizard that became easy prey for American cats, dogs, and children (not to mention the pesticides).

    Moving forward thirty-one years to 1928, the Eastland County Courthouse was replaced by a more modern structure. When the old building was razed, the time capsule was opened in a public ceremony. Reports say someone noticed "a twitch", plucked out the lizard, and with a little urging it came back to life. Newspapers of the area dubbed the horned toad "Old Rip" after the character Rip Van Winkle. It became a national celebrity and toured the country, even "visiting" President Calvin Coolidge. After two years of celebrity, Old Rip died. He was taxidermied, placed in a little bier, and put on display in the new courthouse. His shrine became a tourist attraction in Eastland.

    Also located in Eastland was Horton Ceramics. Sometime in the 1930s, Horton began making Old Rip replicas for school children who toured the plant. Horton was also exclusive contractor for House of Webster (an Arkansas based vendor of jams, jellies, and honeys) and eventually (1954) changed their name to House of Webster Ceramics. They continued making these hollow castware replicas well into the 1970s and they are possibly as plentiful as the actual horny toads today.

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    1. MALKEY MALKEY, 2 years ago
      harry fabilus true story so dark yet beautiful & the ceramics adorable desirable
      smashing the technicolor glass piece in the middle
      me & me super son found a dryed out desicated toad or frog once got a piccy somewhere , we probably expected the wee thang to spring back to life as placed in watery dyke
      but we must always try
      friday 13th what a story for this day harry
      first class my friend
      all the very best malkey from newcastle north east british isles
    2. artfoot artfoot, 2 years ago
      Thank you Malkey - I appreciate the love.
      These little beasts were in my back yard. The shiny object attracted their attention just like us humans. :+)
    3. billretirecoll billretirecoll, 2 years ago
      Great post, and story Harry! :^D
      We would put time capsules in some of the buildings, that I worked on, most of them were Public Structures, bridges, train stations, or schools. Structures that were built to last a long time, but we modernized a cannery, added a new canning building. The company only used it for one season, then the plant, was demolished, time preserved, not! We put all kinds of things, from the day, credit cards, photos, all of the workers personal information, and sealed it in a welding rod can, and put it in the foundation wall, that separated the old, and new building. We were always afraid that someone found it, and all our non-expired credit cards, and personal info would be used, or sold, but we never had any trouble, because it was all turned to rubble! Thanks Harry, for bringing back the memory! :^)
    4. Newfld Newfld, 2 years ago
      Very interesting story! The ceramic toads look like iguanas
    5. billretirecoll billretirecoll, 2 years ago
      Hey Jenni, they are lizards in the west, and Texas, and are called Horny Toad Lizards, or Horny Toads, here's a link that tells about them:

      The pottery figurine actually looks like one! :^)

    6. artfoot artfoot, 2 years ago
      Thank you Bill.
      I see that CW has resorted this out of the pottery and souvenir categories and placed them with "Frogs". To repeat what Bill said, and I'm pretty sure I mentioned as well, horned toads are lizards - not toads or frogs.
    7. billretirecoll billretirecoll, 2 years ago
      You're very welcome Harry! :^D
      Yes sometimes CW will move a post to a category that isn't what you want it to be in, and I haven't tried to get them to change it to something closer to what I had in mind, and just leave it as is. Maybe I'm too easy! :^)

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