The penguins in their current location in 2015
Jane and the penguins in 1967
In Chapter Nine of The Ghost of Cheeney Creek, young Vanessa and her cousin Emma visit the Glendale Mall in Indianapolis. That was in June, 1967. Back then, the mall was open-air, with the stores arranged around a large open space filled with fountains and shoppers walking from store to store. In addition, just outside The Glendale House Restaurant, a sculpture of three child-sized, shiny bronze penguins stood in a circle around a silver ball. They were commissioned by the architect of the mall, Victor Gruen, and created by Kansas City artist, Arthur Craft (1922-1977). Craft was known for his colorful mosaics and stylized bronze animal sculptures installed in Kansas City, Cleveland, and other cities. The penguins beautifully captured a sense of movement and whimsy. They were meant to be crawled on, and affectionately mauled, by children, and they were! Named Wynkin, Blykin, and Nod after the famous poem, they stood in the elements from their installation date October 12, 1960, until the mall was enclosed in the 1970’s. After the mall was razed in 2005 and rebuilt in a different configuration as the Glendale Center, the penguins were lovingly restored and placed in the lobby just outside of the branch of the Indianapolis Public Library located at the Center. Those who had known the penguins as children sighed with relief that they would continue to be a part of the Center and protected for future generations to enjoy. One of the photos above is of my cousin Jane standing near the penguins in their original location in 1967, and the other the other is a photo of the penguins in their current location taken in 2015. At a recent book signing, a man named Joe told me that his first summer job was in maintenance at the Glendale Mall, and his first task each day was to wipe down the penguins. Joe’s an Executive Vice President at a national bank now, but you could tell he was pretty proud to tell me about his connection to the penguins.