Edge of extinction

photo of orange dino

Here’s the big orange guy with his tiny front legs.

I like dinosaurs. A lot. Years ago I went digging for Plateosaurus fossils in Switzerland and, upon my return, I hosted a dino-fest for my enthusiastic but bewildered friends.

So imagine my disappointment when I learned that the Route 1 Miniature Golf and Batting Cages in Saugus was sold and the fate of its well-known orange Tyrannosaurus Rex is up in the air.

Now I don’t play golf, mini or otherwise, and those tiny T-Rex arms are kinda creepy.  But I do regret seeing quirky roadside displays like the orange dino replaced by yet another commercial development. According to a story in the Boston Globe, the new owners want to incorporate the property into their master plan for the area, which includes hotels, luxury apartments, and retail and meeting space.

The property is currently under agreement and Robert Luongo, the town’s economic developer coordinator, expects the plans to move forward.  “There were a lot of different types of roadside displays that were probably indicative of the 1950s and the 1960s,” Luongo told the Globe. “We are trying to move it beyond that era and go toward a new era along Route 1.”  The chairman of the Saugus Planning Board seemed surprised by the outpouring of affection for the dino. “There was a time when people used to complain about the cactus and dinosaur and called them all tacky,” Peter Rossetti told the Globe. “Now they all love them. That just goes to show you how times change.”

Tacky or not, maybe the dino can follow the example of the Hilltop Steak House, just up the road, with its giant neon cactus and herd of fiberglass cattle.  The restaurant was torn down and the cattle were auctioned off, but there is some expectation that the sign will be incorporated into the new project (albeit with LED lights).  Or consider these tongue-in-cheek suggestions from artist Beth Wolfensberger Singer.

There’s a lively Facebook page called SAVE Our Dinosaur devoted to saving the big orange guy, and  I hope they succeed.  There’s also a petition on change.org.

Route 1 is rapidly losing its retro charm — some would say it’s already gone — but finding a new home for the dinosaur will let Saugus move forward while still acknowledging its past.

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2 Responses to Edge of extinction

  1. John Creamer November 16, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

    Couple of thoughts: The notion that anything called “luxury” could reside along those North Shore miles of Route 1 strikes me as remarkable. Also, Mr Rossetti is sort of right in his characterization of “tacky.” I was always taught as a boy that the one-off, unique, Mom-and-Pop, hand-made signs and storefronts (often with screen doors) along the nation’s secondary roads and business thoroughfares, where everything from ice cream to doughnuts to Indian moccasins could be acquired, WERE tacky. Then at some point–probably when a critical mass was achieved–maybe in the late 1970s with the blooming of the kajillionth McDonalds–these Route 1-type places all became charming. By that time, Baby Boomers had gone “cross country” several times and discovered places like Wall Drug in South Dakota, where “tacky” became a not-to-be-missed institution. Of course, Mr Luongo and Rossetti and investors in Saugus no doubt prefer a tidier (and more rapid) brand of prosperity along Route 1 than can be supplied by the Mom-and-Poppers of yore. So updating that highway no doubt makes sense; there must be an aging Baby Boomer on the North Shore with grand-kids and a few bucks whose back yard would make a happy home for the orange T-Rex.

  2. jimmie carabineris December 2, 2015 at 6:49 am #

    its just an icon

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