I was one of many University of Wisconsin students in 1979, who were treated to the sight of 1,008 plastic pink flamingos placed on Bascom Hill by student-government pranksters from the Pail and Shovel Party. I spent all day smiling and thinking about how grand it was.
In 1983, in our new home on Franklin Avenue, we didn’t have much money for plants or garden décor. I took garden splittings from Mom and Grandma, and nurtured them. I was particularly proud of the lily of the valley bed in front of the house. I mentioned at a friend’s party that I didn’t care if it was kitschy, I loved plastic pink flamingos. Two weeks later DB and I woke to dozens and dozens of plastic L’eggs containers all over our front lawn, two flamingos in the lily of the valley bed with a note on our front step that read “breeding pair.”
This week I learned the man who invented the flamingoes died. Donald Featherstone, a trained sculptor with a background in classical art, created the pink flamingo in 1957 based on a photo he saw in National Geographic. Featherstone is quoted telling the Leominster Champion, “I loved what I did, it’s all happy things. You have to figure, my creations were not things people needed in life. Things I did made people happy, and that’s what life is all about.”
What a great life philosophy. And yes, pink flamingos do make me happy.