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The Akeley Stone Revisited

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by Joe Kish, Aug 10, 2023.

  1. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Well-Known Member

    This from Melissa Lerlan.
    Melissa is the president of the Clarendon Historical Society and self appointed caretaker of the Carl E. Akeley Memorial Stone. The Akeley Stone was the exclusive brainchild of John Janelli, historian, biographer, collector of rare taxidermy artifacts and taxidermy consultant. The stone tablet in memory of Clarendon's most famous citizen was made possible by the generous donations of many taxidermists and proud people from the area. It will stand for ages as a tribute to the man who is known as the Father of Modern Taxidermy.

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  2. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Well isn't that strange. A bit over 6 years ago, John contacted many of us. He was soliciting a donation of a minimum of $100 and that would pay for the stone as well as having the donors name engraved into a single brick which would then be placed around the memorial. I bought a brick.
    Two years later (2019) my fiance' and I drove to Niagra Falls. When we readied to leave she said she'd always wanted to visit Cooperstown and see the bust of her old boyfriend, Warren Spahn. So we headed across New York. On the way, I saw the Akeley's hometown was about 30-40 miles north of the interstate. I called John about visiting the grave and he told me to call this lady. I did. No answer. I called John back and he gave me another number. No answer. I'm 3-4 hours into a ride and I got no answer to multiple calls and several messages. I get to town and I called John. I told him no one had called but since I was there, he could direct me to the stone. (Just as a note, the town has a HUGE cemetery. Some of the intricate stones are dated in the 1700s. It is divuded by a highway with the old area on the east side snd the modern on the west.) and he did. I was appalled. The stone was beautiful but it set on the very southern edge under a small tree, but the grounds were unkempt and there wasn't a brick in sight.
    I took photos and posted them here. I asked where all the bricks were and started a shitstorm. The curator lambasted me as not understanding she had a life and hadn't been able to set the bricks herself or to get anyone to help her. John skewered me and screamed I was "dead to him" before slamming the phone down. About a month later, a picture appeared with all the bricks. None of them were inset, however and the photo conspicuously show my brick being the absolutely farthest from the memorial (I suppose karma didn't tell them by placing my brick there, my name would be the very FIRST seen and not the last as intended.)
    Now I see a picture of a nice memorial with nice stones setting in a manicured area. Hmmm, wonder where all those donor bricks got to???
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2023

  3. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    I was thinking the same thing before I read your post.
    msestak likes this.
  4. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    The first is the photo I posted when I went to Cooperstown and the second was sent to me a month later. See if you can find my brick. Screenshot_20230811-201017_Gallery.jpg IMG_9341.jpg
    msestak likes this.
  5. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    The brick arrangement could be a monument by its self with the names of some of the greatest people involved in taxidermy of our time. I wish it was there for others to see.
    magicmick and msestak like this.
  6. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    It is unless they removed it.
    msestak likes this.
  7. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Well-Known Member

    You know George, I ran this thread to let new people on this taxi.net get acquainted with this enduring tribute we taxidermist made possible in memorium of the one man upon whose shoulders we ALL stand as devotees of the Art.
    The last thing I expected was for anyone to impugn the integrity of the two people who singularly dedicated many many hours of their own time to conceive of and bring to fruition this monument to THE Father of Modern Taxidermy. You have no idea how much time, out of pocket money and devotion to this project that Melissa Lerlan and John Janelli freely gave. Nevertheless, you had to pen this snotty little whiney complaint about how terribly inconvenienced you were because you had driven an hour out of your way only to discover that your bought and paid for brick wasn't on prominent display. You're the only one who complained even though none of the bricks had been laid.
    Here's your chance to apologize to Melissa and John for the unforgivable character assassination you laid on them and the shit storm you precipitated by your self centered and arrogant attitude.
    It never occurred to you that there's a reason for everything. And just because you didn't know the reason, you presumed that it wasn't a good one.
    Apologize and I'll let this go. Don't apologize and I won't let this go. My patience in this matter is not unlimited.
    Rudi Pleschutschnig likes this.
  8. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Well-Known Member

    While I’m waiting for George’s apology (which will never happen) here’s a copy of a text message (below) saved from Melissa to Janelli relevant to the donor bricks that has George’s ruffles ruffled. Note the date on it. Judge for yourself if George was treated differently than all the other donors, differently in a manner like maybe he was discriminated against because he didn’t get to see his brick installed and high on the list.
    I can already see from the number of reads and responses that this post is of very little interest to readers. It appears to me at this stage that who cares what “..he said, she said”. I did learn something however from my latest effort to inform each new batch of aspiring taxidermists that our Art has a history and those pioneers like Akeley who made it possible even for people with limited artistic or craft skills to prosper practicing the Art of Taxidermy, deserve to be remembered, honored and respected and are worthy of our appreciation for their singular contributions that have given we practitioners such satisfactions and profit.
    Truth be told, the average taxidermy practitioner couldn’t care less about a man named Akeley. And they couldn’t care less about the two people who made his memorial stone possible. So long as professional and amateur taxidermists, taxidermy associations and competitions can trade on the honor of Akeley’s name, that’s all the name is worth to them.

    I don’t like to think I wasted my time with this post, but to those living and dead who matter to me, I’d do it again.
    No good deed goes unpunished.

    Last edited: Aug 13, 2023
    Rudi Pleschutschnig likes this.
  9. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Joe, I'm not positive but I'm pretty sure it's not cold enough for Hell to have been frozen over. I spent 30 years at a job where integrity and honesty were expected of everyone. I have an excellent memory but know that if I always tell the truth, I'll never have to worry about what I've said.
    These days I sit on the board of directors at an Air Force museum for carrier airplanes. We survive on the generosity of patrons but most of all, on donors. When we solicit them, both parties understand their roles. When we get a donation, we acknowledge it with a certificate. We are a 501c(3) organization so we send them a receipt for tax purposes. If they donate a brick on our "Honors Walk" we send them a picture of the brick and one of the walk marking the location of their brick. We then post, quarterly, in our "Hangar Digest" their names. You see, that's how professionals do business.
    Now John and Melissa both have personal ties to Akely and his legacy. They took on this project as a personal desire. They reached out to others. We all knew it was a project of limited scope with no tax credit and likely no publishing of gratitude. Yet we were promised that the monument honoring Akeley (he's actually buried in Africa for many of you who don't know) would be placed in his hometown along with bricks showing the appreciation for them making the wishes of John and Melissa come true. Each of us did our part. There was even a small ceremony where those of us who could make it could see the stone set in place.
    When I went there, I had no preconceived notions. When I found it, I was a bit surprised that it looked as if nothing had taken place in the time since the stone was set. It was pretty obvious, from my photos that none of the bricks had been set either.
    I know $100 isn't much by today's standards but after gifting it, I at least expected to see some return for what I'd been promised. So I just asked the question.
    Instead of giving me an answer, both individuals unsheathed their claws. John has always been an honored friend who knew my ethics. I knew nothing of Melissa except what I'd been told. If you read my post, you'll see an exact chronology of events that neither of them can deny.
    Now 5 years later you bring up an issue that was of their making. Obviously questions still remain as to "Where is the brick garden."
    Now, IN MY VIEW, there are 2 apologies that are 5 years overdue apologizing; neither of which are mine. These 2 used our money without appreciation or recognition to advance their dream. I've donated thousands of dollars to personal "good causes" but have never been shown the disrespect of this one. And now Joe, you add a third party to that insult. I won't hold my breath waiting for that admission.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2023
    Kerby Ross and magicmick like this.
  10. Sea Wolf

    Sea Wolf Well-Known Member

    It is a nice stone, but, not to beat the proverbial dead horse, the stones that were promised need to be there. I have donated a sum to the new Anchorage Mushing District being built in Anchorage, AK. With each $500 or $300 donation to the project I have made, there will be an engraved bronze disc inset into the walkway through the area that shows my support. When I get back there, I intend to walk and look for my medallions. I donated money to build a boardwalk in a town here so folks could now access a beach that had almost no way to get there but for a few. That donation included a plank on the structure across the marsh with an engraving of my choice into the wood. If I never got to AK or visited the finished boardwalk, I would never know if what I was promised as a perk for my support was ever done. But, not doing so would just be disrespectful of all the people that showed they cared. Honestly, the big block of bricks is kind of ugly. Might be prettier if they were arranged in a circle around the stone.
    msestak likes this.
  11. Keith

    Keith Well-Known Member

    I had to get after one of our church board trustee members at the last church council meeting. We have been sitting on a donation from an elderly member for a building project for over a year. I told him we need to get it done before she dies so she can see her gift in use. (She is in her 90's)

    I don't have a dog in this fight, but over 6 years to get some bricks in the ground is inexcusable if you are going to take on a project with donated money. Volunteers or not.
    msestak likes this.
  12. Can't believe I'm reading what I'm seeing. Everyone talks about young generation being selfish and needing participation trophies. Whatever happened to doing something nice or the right thing without the fame and glory. Just because it's doing the right thing ? If I'm doing something for someone or something I don't want anyone to know about it and I keep it to my self . That's a memorial for a dead guy not yourself. If you need to attach yourself to someone else and ride there coattails then by all means write a book about them. When my grandpa died and I paid for his grave I didn't put my name or likeness on anything . Donations come from the heart not as a transaction,I give you this you give me that

    As an aside not to hero worship the guy did some great stuff . But there should be more focus on others currently making innovative changes. No one remembers in the general public who invented the lightbulb ,but they remember who brought it to market for the masses to afford and have in there daily lives.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2023
  13. msestak

    msestak Well-Known Member

    well....if the bricks are not being displayed as promised. then the money for those bricks must be returned.

    its a really nice looking memorial, well done, but......it wasnt done as promised
    Kerby Ross likes this.
  14. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    I'm assuming you've never actually been a part of a contract (either written, verbal, or implied.) You've obviously never contributed to a non-profit fund. Your statement is silly if you had. I'd have gladly donated to this project with no expectations. Yet when approached, the brick was offered as an incentive, not something I'd asked for. At that point, the brick became part of the verbal contract. I daresay none of us even got a letter of thanks. So go play your little shaming gang on someone who didnt expect a promise not to be held in the same regard that the gift.
    Kerby Ross and msestak like this.
  15. magicmick

    magicmick magicmick

    This is something the main taxidermy suppliers should paid for a way of showing respect anyway looks awesome, hope the you all get the bricks soon.:)
    msestak likes this.
  16. Joe Kish

    Joe Kish Well-Known Member

    [QUOTE="Psutaxi, post: 2990599, member: .................... That's a memorial for a dead guy not yourself. If you need to attach yourself to someone else and ride there coattails then by all means write a book about them. .................
    ...........As an aside not to hero worship the guy did some great stuff . But there should be more focus on others currently making innovative changes. No one remembers in the general public who invented the lightbulb ,but they remember who brought it to market for the masses to afford and have in there daily lives.[/QUOTE]

    "A dead guy who did some great stuff," eh?

    "...there should be more focus on others currently making innovative changes." Huh?

    No one others are currently making "innovative changes" that are in the same league with Akeley's elevating taxidermy from a craft to an Art. Go ahead and tell s about who's making what innovative changes that comes even close to Akeley's legacy.

    You are new to this field, aren't you,Sonny? And thanks for the cheap shot about riding coattails and writing a book about them. You ought to try reading at least one before you die.
    Rudi Pleschutschnig and msestak like this.
  17. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    Joe, I'm not taking anything from Akeley like you're taking away from the industry today. Akeley was still boiling skeletons and building armatures. He was using glass blobs "that followed you around the room", jawsets made from the real bones, and using chemicals (like arsenic soap) that would have your property condemned as a toxic waste site. Today's innovators were taxidermists who diversified into other fields and seldom get credit. According to Larry Blomquist, Richard Christifo was the first person to carve out a septum on a deer mount. Then there's Archie Phillips who first used foam, Tohickon who converted human glass eye quality into animals, Rick Krane who combined cosmetic tints, colored pencils, and chalks into painting fish, Steve Steinbring brought epoxies and super glue. We don't know who brought in paint-on tans or cast duck heads (but we should.) Guys like Calley Morris revolutionized turkey mounting while Brian Hendricks gave "snap together " a new meaning. And let's not forget J.W. Elwood who created dreams in every young hunter with Calorex or Burt VanDyke for creating a source of "everything" in one catalog that also taught those young guys with product narratives decades before the internet. Akeley was an exceptional self- promoter and might well have been ahead of his time, be he wasn't the last in an exceptually long line of people he wouldn't even recognize today.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2023
    Keith likes this.
  18. Tanglewood Taxidermy

    Tanglewood Taxidermy Well-Known Member

    Who ever came up with that bird fleshing rake from Research Mannikins is owed a huge about of gratitude from me.
    msestak and Richard C like this.
  19. Richard C

    Richard C Well-Known Member

    Works for me on deer and mammals also.
    msestak and Tanglewood Taxidermy like this.
  20. George, I'm not doubting you one bit, however shed some more history into that. I was always told and thought that the first to use foam was Sam Touchstone.
    Regardless of did or didn't, Sam should have made your list. Nothing was better back then and today still hasn't been bested.
    "Bess Maid Presertive "
    Another that was ahead of there time, sadly it just didn't catch on. Today with the cost of foam, his approach should be looked at again
    My Chandler of Jackson Mississippi. With his hollow deer head mankins.
    Some may grimace with the mention of Mr Dan Chases name. But back in the 1980s his catalog of supplies was second to none. What transpired way later was just a bad misjudgement on his part. Everyone in millisecond forgot all the good that he had done. I knew him personally, and haven't forgotten!!
    msestak and joeym like this.