By Guest Blogger Eric Carlsen
The recent blog-a-rama concerning statues and statue-worthy subjects failed to take note of Dr. Henry D. Cogswell. A man featured prominently in Plaza Park for many years, he stood near where the current fountain spouts geyser-lets.
To shamelessly quote from my own San Jose site, “San Francisco dentist/prohibitionist Henry D. Cogswell provided statues of himself to cities based on their number of saloons. California’s cities qualified for many, one of which was placed in the Plaza. The statue was constructed of cast iron, and mounted on a base that provided drinking facilities for both man and horse. In 1944, the statue was ignominiously melted down during a scrap metal drive. When the Mountain Charley chapter of E. Clampus Vitus tried to replace the statue, it was discovered that all copies had been destroyed.”
That San Jose erected the Cogswell statue prominently in the park simply because it was free, is precedent for putting up any damn nonsense, and for no good reason. Leonard McKay provided me an illustration of the statue and it is (was) very silly indeed. The doctor stands nobly, holding a bible in one hand and a glass of water in the other—to deter the “Whisky Interests” and imbibers. El Dorado St. (now Post St.) was two blocks away, so I doubt there was much of an exodus.
Quetzalcoatl, in the historical context of the dentist/prohibitionist statue, seems sane and logical. The Cogswell statue stood across from the old Germanic “gingerbread” City Hall, which was smack dab in the park. Quetzalcoatl is simply the latest flowering of foolishness. A quirky San Jose tradition.
Fallon, on the other hand, did not qualify, being actually germane to San Jose’s history, and low on the goofy factor. Though San Jose had the smarts to lock Fallon up in an Oakland warehouse for ten years—providing ten years worth of high humor—imprisonment ultimately failed, the city sadly caving in to those espousing common sense. Some grace of goofiness was salvaged by putting up Fallon in a totally inappropriate location so out of whack with the design that it too might as well be melted down for scrap, like Henry D.
Mildly amusing at best.
Eric Carlson is CEO and architect of the city-site Soft Underbelly of San Jose, a trenchant look at San Jose and environs.