Mount Rushmore Souvenirs
Update: A photograph of my Mount Rushmore oil lamp souvenir was featured in the cover of the book, "Crap Souvenirs" by Doug Lansky (http://amzn.com/0399537651)
I don't know what's tackier, shaking salt and pepper out of the tops of two presidents' heads, or lighting a flame on the Father of Our Country's head. Both of these items were already in my collection of "pre-souvenirs" of places I haven't visited yet. For a while, I thought it would be fun to take these to Mount Rushmore with me and release them back into their native habitat. Then I thought I might be charged with littering and gave up on the idea.
I finally visited Mount Rushmore for myself in September 2008, and I have acquired what I consider the BEST Mount Rushmore souvenir EVER. It is a decommissioned cafeteria tray from Mount Rushmore. They are selling them for $20 a piece, and I think it's a real bargain. You can't get them from the gift shop, you have to buy them from the cafeteria. I asked how many they've sold so far, and the answer was, "not many."
Sure, there are lots of souvenirs in the gift shop, but most of them were probably made in China, and had the Mount Rushmore name and sculpture slapped on them as an afterthought. But a cafeteria tray that gave years of service to the vendor at Mount Rushmore has a real connection to the place. I'm proud to say that I now own one. I can't wait to buy a plate hanger so I can put display it on my wall.
With my longstanding fascination with Big Heads, it should surprise no one that I planned to someday visit the Really Big Heads at Mount Rushmore. The sculpture is truly fine art and the engineering that brought it into existence is remarkable. The only tacky thing about Mount Rushmore (and this is not an insignificant matter) is that it's a monument to manifest destiny built on sacred Native American land. But as long as this cannot and should not be undone, I think that the National Park Service has done a good job of interpreting it to the American public. If you take the trail around to the base of the monument, there's even a ranger to explain the traditions of the Lakota people who were displaced from the Black Hills due to some bad faith actions of the U.S. government over a hundred years ago. I won't go into it here, but if you read Great White Fathers by John Taliaferro, it will open your eyes to what the local indigenous people were subjected to.
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