December 11 – A Monumental Pest?

Posted on December 11, 2015

 In the town of Enterprise, Alabama, city officials dedicated a an agricultural pest!

The monument was dedicated to an insect called the boll weevil, a creature that had been devastating farmers' crops left, right, and center.

Wh-wh-wh-why honor a pest? you ask?

Well, I think that the monument was really honoring people's ability to meet a challenge with change, and then come back better than before. Here's the story:

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a beetle that had been common in Mexico began to appear in southern states in the U.S., creating havoc by infesting cotton crops. In 1915 the first boll weevils appeared in Alabama, and by 1918, farmers were losing entire cotton crops to the critter.

A man named H. M. Sessions decided that this wasn't JUST a disaster; it was also an opportunity. He convinced a farmer to grow peanuts, and they met with such quick success that many other farmers switched to growing peanuts, as well.

Eventually cotton was grown in the region again, and some farmers who diversified did so with crops other than cotton and peanuts. The people of Enterprise and Coffee County, Alabama, ended up with a more stable economy because of the variety of crops grown in the area.

So REALLY the monument is a tribute to people who changed disaster into growth and a reminder to always face adversity with creativity.

So...tell me about this statue...

As you can see, the statue depicts a woman in a lovely, flowing gown. She is holding over her head a trophy. On top of the trophy is a boll weevil, but that was added 30 years after the original statue was unveiled – apparently, the original designers were perfectly happy to create a boll weevil monument with no boll weevil!

It is strange to realize that the boll weevil has been stolen many times. Apparently the entire monument has been stolen, even! Each time city officials have found the monument or beetle and restored the statue, until 1998, when the statue was so badly damaged by vandals that it would be too costly to repair. Now the original statue (which was sculpted in Italy for about $1,800) stands in a museum with security cameras, and the statue that appears at the original site, at the center of a fountain in downtown Enterprise, is a polymer-resin replica. (Polymer-resin is a sort of plastic.)

Also on this date:

Anniversary of the first recorded sighting of the Aurora Borealis in America

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