Monday, August 27, 2012

The Shrinking World of Chatty Belle the Cow

You really do not want to be in the car behind us when my brother and I go road tripping.  All too often we spot something interesting, brake and do some sort of U-turn-generally while saying something inane like "Bring us about Mr. Sulu".  Hmm, you probably do not want to be in the car with us either.

One such bad driver maneuver occurred on the outskirts of Neillsville, Wisconsin.  We had to stop.  I spotted this:
This odd looking structure is a combination radio station and cheese house.  It is also the futuristic entryway to the Wisconsin pavilion from the 1964 World's Fair.  Neither the radio station nor the wares were all that fascinating though, we really stopped to see this:

Behold "Chatty Belle", the World's Largest Talking Cow.  Chatty stands in solitary majesty overlooking the parking lot, but she once had company:

Bullet it seems was her "son", who was in some fashion stunted in growth and no larger than an ordinary Holstein. 

Of course I had to put a quarter in and hear what Chatty had to say.  It was....not what I had expected.  I had imagined a cow would have a deep, sonorous voice.  And a broad, perhaps corny sense of humor.  And that she would have a few things to say about being a cow.  Certainly I was prepared to be admonished to consume more dairy products.  I could write such good material for Chatty..."LLLLACTOSE INTOLERANCE IS A BUNCH OF COWPATTIES!", or "PLEASE BUY MORE MILK, THE FARMER HAS McDONALDS ON SPEED DIAL AND I DON'T TRUST HIM!".

But no.  Plunking in two bits got me a brief lecture about the World's Fair Pavilion.  And it was delivered in a calm, measured, well modulated "radio voice" that was without question the product of one of the radio station's female broadcasters.  By Colby, she did not even mention being a cow.  No attempt whatsoever at maintaining the illusion.

There are actually quite a few websites that discuss or picture Chatty Belle, and I understand that her pitch has evolved over the years.  Her world has changed.  Her son Bullet was removed in 2003.  Supposedly put away somewhere due to the threat of vandalism, but if you are a real cow I suppose the reality of veal cutlets can never be far from your thoughts.  She also used to have as company a glass sided refrigerated truck containing The Golden Giant, which at 17 tons was certainly the Worlds Largest Replica cheese.  Also gone in 2005, as maintaince costs on the truck got prohibitive.

So I guess Chatty's world is shrinking, is closing in on her.  We no longer have World's Fairs.  Wisconsin is to our collective shame now second to California in dairy production.  AM radio is losing popularity to those hipsters with their "devices".

So I can understand her being in denial.
For more about Chatty Belle consider this an excellent excuse to click on the Roadside America link on my side bar.  It is an indispensable travel companion for road trips.  And for the slightly obsessive work of a man who seems to have tracked down a half dozen Chatty clones (products of course of FAST Industries), go here.  I was not at all surprised to find that there was at least one identical talking cow previously in existence, but "Sissy" like Chatty, has run out of things to say about being a bovine, and is now entirely mute.

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