Remember the wooden Indian sitting alone on the bench off Main Street? Many of us have a picture sitting next to the classic landmark.
Ron Hernandez of San Jose (in the green shirt) remembered that Indian very well. "I would talk to anyone who would listen to me about that old Indian", says Ron. After the park closed, Ron spent the better part of 25 years searching for the hand carved statue.
"Every one had a story on where the Indian went off to once the park closed. I heard it was sold on eBay ten years ago. I heard Elizabeth Taylor married it. I heard some art dealer in Nevada bought it and had it in a museum somewhere. I heard it sold at auction for a million dollars!! ...I heard Jimmy Hoffa was buried in it"
Ron adds: "Apparently it had been sitting in an antique store in San Jose the whole time after Frontier Village closed. The owner of the antique store eventually sold the store but kept the Indian bench and other FV stuff. He wrote to the website and mentioned he had purchased some things at the auction. I contacted him and ended up buying the Inidian bench about a year later. It was meant to be!!! :
Not content to just have the Indian stay in its original condition, which according to Ron, was in pretty bad shape, Ron set out to restore the Indian to its original condition.
"It was painted almost entirely gray, had several holes in it and a lot of the paint was chipped off.", says Ron.
After lots of poking around, Ron found the original FV painter, Jerry Ripstra who still lives in San Jose. After looking Jerry up, Ron made a cold call to Jerry's house a couple of years ago.
"All I had to do was mention Frontier Village and his wife was all ears. She gladly handed the phone to Jerry and I got the same good old fashioned friendliness we all remember. It was definitely the Frontier Village spirit! I asked Jerry about FV and he told me (in his thick accent) about his experience. He used to handle all the painting for the park among many other things. He loved working at Frontier Village and shared a lot of great memories! I asked him if he might be interested in restoring the indian for me. He was interested but unable, physically. I also mentioned the picnic, but he said he would not be able to attend for the same reason. Then he strongly encouraged me to restore it myself. (there's that Frontier Village spirit again) He told me in detail how to repair it, prep it, paint it and touch it up. He told me what specific paint to use and the colors needed. He was a library of information and this was all just from memory!! "
Ron promises to bring the Lost Indian to the picnic this year,
so come out and meet Ron and our favorite FV wooden Indian!