My name is Christopher Bedford and I live in Texarkana TX. Peter Toth stayed at my grandparent’s house, actually their front yard, when he was creating the sculpture for the information center here. At the time there was no gate through the fence to get from my grandparents to the information center, so he just hopped the fence. For fifteen years there was a dip in that fence left from him crossing back and forth, I even used it a couple of times myself to look for our dogs when they went missing.
I have pictures from start to finish of his work here. As a child it was amazing to see him sculpt. He would stare at a tree or piece of wood and you could see him mapping out every line in his head. After his great contribution to this town was done he rolled up his extension cord from his RV and was off to another location. From that day on I watched as the beautiful Indian he created was destroyed be nature, and a lack of action by this town.
There is always a bright side to the story though. I have that statues little brother. While Peter was staying at my grandparents, they were building a car shed. Directly in the middle of where the shed was going was an elm tree that had died and needed to be cut down. It is funny how the higher powers of life work, because Peter tapped on that tree with one of his hammers and said to my grandfather "do you want an Indian?” Of course my grandfather agreed, and that was the beginning of Elmo.
He worked for three days on that tree, while still hopping the fence to finish his larger job at the information center. I watched every day as Elmo came to life. First chainsaw then chisels and he was done. It was amazing. Elmo stood there proudly attached to the earth until a couple of months later the car shed needed to be put up, so my great uncle released him from his earthly ties. Basically he cut him down :) Elmo was then tethered to another tree so he wouldn't fall over. I grew up every day seeing him.
When I would run to catch the bus, when it rained, when I went hunting with my BB gun he was always there. Then one day I noticed something, Elmo was rotting. The stump he had been placed on had rotted away and left him totally vulnerable. At the age of 11, when I noticed his state, I was determined to save him. I found an old metal trash can lid, to keep him off the ground, and a nice visible spot for his new home.
By no means was I even considered a large child, puny was more like it. But I had my mind set that I would not let him just disappear. So at the whopping weight of almost 100 pounds I moved Elmo, he is over six feet tall. With nothing other than will power and love for an old friend, I moved Elmo over 300 feet. He stayed in that spot for years. He even turned green at one point because my grandfather asked the Terminex man to give him a good dose of whatever chemical he had. When I turned fifteen I returned Elmo to his birthplace underneath the car shed where he grew up. He should have been there the whole time, but I was a child and my grandfather almost always had the final say if I could move Elmo or not.
Fast forward thirteen years. I decided to open a Tattoo studio, and of course I wanted to have my friend with me. Finally after almost two decades Elmo was allowed inside. Since then I have had two other studios and many different homes, Elmo has been with me every day. My daughter grew up knowing his name, she is seven now. My wife gasps every time I go to move him because she doesn't want him to be dropped. My grandfather asks at least every other month to make sure I still have him. Elmo has and always will be a part of my family. At this moment he is sitting in the area where I tattoo, to watch over my work. I just thought this story might interest you.
I always take for granted that things that are such a large part of my life might not be as interesting to other people, but hopefully it was. We still have all the old, and new, photos, and newspaper clippings. I'm just glad someone has kept a history of Peter's work since it was such a large part of my life. If you would like to contact me, my e-mail is email@example.com
Sincerely, Christopher Bedford