Local Dinosaur Folk Art

I came across this rockin’ dino in the driveway of a house in Gill, Massachusetts, next to where a town fair was held a few Augusts ago. I strolled over to take a look and had a nice talk with the family, who were taking advantage of the fair’s crowd to have their own yard sale. The rocker was made by the late Mr. Shebell, who used to teach shop at the local high school. Extremely handy with a set of tools, he built the house several decades ago, including beautifully fitted word-work on the inside, like a little jewel box.

The house is situated on a bit of land hugging one side of Barton Cove, site of some of the best dinosaur footprint fossils excavated during their heyday the mid-19th century. When I asked, one of Mr. Shebell’s sons took me around back to see slabs of tracks lying around nearby. Dinosaur footprints had been an unremarkable part of the Shebell tribe’s growing up years. Mr. Shebell had made the rocker for his kids. I wonder if they realized back then how cool it was to have a rocking dino instead of a rocking horse.

It’s a wonderful piece of local folk art that has a special connection to a once-obscure part of local history, so I bought it on the spot (big-time art collector here). The wood is fairly well dried out, so I hope to get help in treating it before it becomes too brittle to remain intact.

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