Saturday, October 29, 2005


On a stretch of Route 309 in Wilkes-Barre between Kmart and the former location of Wal-Mart there is a giant statue of a cow. Other people just call it "The Big Cow", but in my family we always had a special name for her: Three-O-Nina.
"Giant" is a relative term. When I was a kid I thought this cow was 100 feet tall. Even this morning, as I drove to take her picture, I was certain that she stood twenty feet tall at the shoulder. I was surprised when I pulled up next to her and realized that she was perhaps ten or twelve feet high at the tips of her horns.
My mom doesn't remember how long Three-O-Nina has stood watch outside the dairy next to her. She has been there as long as I can remember - say, at least 35 years. But it is possible she is much older than that. She has had many paint jobs in her lifetime. At one point she was purple, at another she was emblazoned with the corporate logo of the owners of the dairy at that time. A decade ago a miniature golf course wound around her feet. Even the dairy has not always been a dairy; recently it was a seedy-looking bar , and for all I know it may now be only an ice cream shop. I have not been in there in over 25 years, so I'm not sure.
Giants like this were once common in the American landscape. They are less common now, having succumbed to the pressures of expansion, and vandalism, and neglect. No one would put up a giant cow to advertise the presence of a dairy anymore. The whole concept of a "dairy" - a special place to buy fresh milk, and eggs, and ice cream - is now antiquated and obsolete. You can just as easily buy these things at the local supermarket - or even the local Wal-Mart.

Someday, I fear, Three-O-Nina will no longer be there. And when she is gone, a piece of this area will be gone with her.




Betz said...

aye, she be one nice cow....

betz said...

harold, you never did explain why you called the 3-0-nina?

Anonymous said...

she's on route 309

Anonymous said...

You might be glad to hear that three-o-nina is going to be overhauled. We were talking to the owner and they are opening an ice cream shop next to her and she is getting a makeover. Should happen sometime in 2008. She is not in bad shape. She has a small hole on the back of her leg, maybe the size of a tennis ball.

D.B. Echo said...

That's good news! Sadly, some of Three-O-Nina's sister cows from the F.A.S.T. corporation have not fared so well: