Friday, November 8, 2013


Adele had her mind set on seeing these Whirligigs ever since her California British friends gave her a present of an “Off the beaten path” book. On our way north in June we missed seeing them due to a communications snafu. After researching the Lucama, North Carolina area for an RV Park Tom fixed on Wilson and what a great selection that turned out to be.

The morning after we arrived we headed into Wilson to visit the Visitors Center to obtain more information on where to find Lucama and the whirligigs. As our luck would once more have it the town of Wilson was busy setting up the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park (Mr. Simpson died in June of this year in his mid-nineties) for a weekend " whirligig festival " event; over we trotted and watched workmen busily hanging pieces onto an enormous whirligig, there were four other whirligigs already erected with another sixteen to follow. A multimillion dollar project, the park will be landscaped to become the focal point of the town. The whirligigs are in different sizes with some as high as street lamps with enormous additions, sometimes as wide as 25ft hanging vertically and horizontally from them; when the wind blows the different components turn in opposite directions. At the park we learned that a refurbishment facility was a couple of blocks away so we walked over and started chatting to a gentleman named Mel who invited us in and gave us a personal grand tour explaining how difficult it was, due to age and corrosion, to dismantle the whirligigs, the challenge of sourcing the correct paint and how they replaced some very rusty moving pieces with newly fabricated pieces. He had photos of what the whirligigs looked like when Vollis Simpson originally made them. The town is also opening a museum to display and archive the smaller pieces that are beyond repair.
The next day we drove out to Lucama a farming community about 15 miles from Wilson and where Vollis Simpson had his home and workshop. On arrival at the farm we parked beside a gate to a field where four geese set up an almighty racket – particularly the male, the other three were female. They made so much noise that their owner came by; he happened to be Michael Simpson one of Vollis’ sons. He told us some interesting anecdotes about his Dad Vollis who went to his workshop every day right up to a few weeks before he passed. The field the geese were in had several enormous Whirligigs (Vollis called them Windmills) as Michael was feeding the geese he invited us to admire them and then gave us a tour of the workshop; it was like a scrap metal barn full of all sorts of knick-knacks, small, big and gigantic, there were lots of little Whirligigs dotted around on every surface. Vollis made these when he got too old to climb up the enormous poles; this was his pastime hobby, to make his living Vollis farmed and moved houses and barns.

Four whirligigs commissioned from him for the Atlanta Olympics are still on display in Atlanta with other pieces in Baltimore, Raleigh and Greensboro. The US Embassy in Moscow has a whirligig in its lobby.
This was a very enjoyable stop made all the more so as everyone was so welcoming.

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