Crazy Horse Then and Now

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Stop touching me.You stop touching me. I’m not. You are too. (pinch) Ouch! (pinch back) Stop it Dumbo ears. Make me.. upside down ears. (shove, pinch, hit..wailing cry)
That’s usually when my red faced Dad would hit the brakes, pull our 1953 Mercury over to the side of the road turn around to my older brother and me in the back seat and, with a lit Camel still in his lips and smoke coming out of his normal shaped ears, he would yell something like xxxdammit you boys that’s enough. I’ve had it with the both of ya. If I hear one more peep out of either of you I’m going to drop you off right here in the middle of the Black Hills and I don’t mean maybe. After he turned around and we were rolling again, my brother would look at me, make a face then smile and inch his forefinger and thumb toward my leg again.
My spot in the car on our annual vacation was usually behind the old man. I spent the entire time watching his eyes in the rear view mirror scanning back and forth checking..not only for traffic out the back window.. but also for any clandestine activity coming from the back seat.Our little brother usually was sandwiched between Dad and Mom up front. He had the best spot, though, because he was still small enough to stand-up in the seat and look around. Then when he got tired, he’d lay his head down on Mom’s lap.
Even though mom knew how to drive and drove lots of places when we were home, on these two week summertime sojourns, Dad was the exclusive wheel man.  He would spend months planning our trips..sitting at the dining room table pouring over road maps deciding on which routes to take, the best places to see and the most economical places to stay. I remember the quiet conversations between Mom and Dad when discussing how in the world they were going to afford to go this year and then working out a budget to somehow make it happen. 
It’s easy to remember where we went because dad always had the movie camera along to record our adventures on film.For some reason, though, he didn’t take any pictures of the Crazy Horse carving in the Black Hills when we stopped there one summer in the 50’s.  We were returning from a swim in the steamy waters of Evan’s Plunge in Hot Springs when a little north of Custer we spotted  a homemade sign pointing to Crazy Horse Memorial. We followed the arrows along a dirt road for a half mile or so where we were met by an interesting looking young woman with  long braided hair rolled up into a bun on top of her head.We paid her two dollars, parked the car and walked over to a designated area where she met us in front of a beautiful white statue of an Indian on horseback pointing his arm toward the east. In the background a mile or so away was a huge mountain of granite which, the woman said, is being transformed into the world’s largest carving by her husband. “It will look just like this statue when it’s done,” she said.  “I don’t see anything but rock,” I blurted out. “You’ll have to use your imagination for awhile,” she said pointing out some areas on the mountain that had been blasted away by dynamite. “How long?” one of us asked. “Oh, perhaps fifty years..maybe a hundred. We just don’t know. Korczak is doing all the work himself.  It will be done someday by someone,” she said.                    
   L to R: 1948 Korczak vows to honor Lakota Chief Standing Bear’s request to carve Crazy Horse out of a mountain.  Korczak and Ruth: a family of ten to carry on the work.As I stared at that mountain when I was a kid 50 years ago, I remember thinking..I wonder if I’ll still be alive when Crazy Horse finally emerges from the stone..and how long fifty years seemed.
Now, 60 years after the carving began, and 26 years after her husband’s death, 82 year old  Ruth Ziolkowski is still being asked the same question by tourists and still giving the same answer; “Someday.”Participants in the annual Volksmarch celebrate at the top of the mountain. A few years ago, work on Crazy Horse’s face was completed. Emphasis is now on the horse’s head.Our son, James visited Crazy Horse last week and got a picture of the blasting.

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