Travel

Don Parks' Massive Collection of Yard Art, Statues, and Phoenix Relics

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It's kind of hard not to miss Parks' pair of houses, considering that there's a 23-foot-tall statue of Paul Bunyan wielding an axe towering over the front yard of one of the residences.

While he's without the fabled blue ox that serves as his trademark companion in both story and song, the statue probably never gets lonesome, as there are dozens of other quirky statues to keep him company. It includes a few cowboys on horseback, a Captain Crook from an old McDonald's play area, a plaster statue of a grizzly bear wearing spectacles, and a dinosaur from an old Sinclair gas station. Perched on the roof of either house are oversized pairs of spectacles that Parks made himself.

The collection fills not only Parks' front yard, driveway, and garages of both front yards, but also but also the interior of each house. When the 65-year-old Vietnam War veteran leads people on tours through either residence, he's careful where he steps as the halls and rooms are teeming with objects, toys, and statues that are stacked floor-to-ceiling.

Parks began accumulating his haul in the late '60s when he started collecting "interesting bits of junk" after buying his first house. His first ever purchase was the Paul Bunyan statue, which he acquired from a gas station in the San Francisco area.

He later sold the titanic item to a local shoe emporium in the 1980s that later went out of business. It then fell into the hands of lumber company in South Phoenix which also went defunct (but not before Bunyan's face was vandalized with a shotgun blast) and Parks ultimately bought the statue back.

Since his first purchase, he's hit up countless auctions, swap meets, yard sales, second hand stores, or other places where he could find anything and everything that's "interesting looking" and caught his eye.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.