“When you put dinosaurs out front, you’re asking for it,” says Sandra Schulman, Sales Director of Yesterday’s Treasures, arguably the most original and witty collection of life-size bronze and fiberglass statues you’re ever likely to see—certainly along County Road 39, but probably, factoring in custom design, in the country. Don’t fret over the Brontosaurus, which has just been sold, because Sandra’s husband, the talented Davis Murphy, can design other denizens from the Jurassic Period in his Quogue studio. As drivers on CR 39 well know, however, dinos are just a part of a road show that exhibits all manner of men and women and animals, solo and in their element. Recently, that element included pirates on an elaborate ship who got rented out for a theme party in. Owner Larry Schaeffer couldn’t be happier. Business is good and he loves what he’s doing.
A T-Rex is still flashing teeth out front and slowing traffic, but he’ll soon give way to more topical displays—Halloween stuff (a cackling witch with flashing eyes is on standby inside the jammed 10,000-foot workroom), and red, white and blue elephants and donkeys will move outside as election season heats up—with requisite life-size Obamas and Romneys. One G.O.P pachyderm already left for Tampa.
Oscar night may be six months away, but party planners are ordering now—a full-size Oscarette in place of Oscar, who’s copyrighted. Would you believe (of course you would) that an Oscarette recently appeared at a Hollywood-themed bar mitzvah in Manhattan? And you can always go for the gold in another popular form—Star Wars’ robo-guy, C-3PO (with or without animation). Animatronics are big no matter what the season or theme, and cows are a constant, whether they lip-synch or not. “We can custom design any animal, person or cartoon character to have endearing or other gestural motions to uniquely convey a message,” says Schaeffer. On one of his websites, he’s the figure in the center, surrounded by movie stars and a big Betty Boop hovering at his neck. The reality of the life-size figures is such that as you step around the assembled madness inside, you may find yourself saying “excuse me” to a dancing hot dog or the Blues Brothers.
It’s hard to believe that Yesterday’s Treasures has been around for 20 years, usually with sheep and cows grazing near the highway, waiting to be bought by farms and restaurants, Larry’s big commercial customers. Meanwhile, they’re being tended by the likes of Al Capone, Humphrey Bogart, Superman, Native American tribal chiefs and Greek gods.
Larry also buys antiques and vintage pieces at auction including rotary phones, old paintings in old frames, ship models, hats, a 10-foot snake, old aircraft that fly and more. His six websites feature popular animations: Santa dancing, a rotating pizza, a piggy chef twirling. Outside, cow couches rule (a favorite for Ben and Jerry), along with cast iron tabbies, gnomes, urns—these big sellers, alligators, horses, lions in all colors. Indeed, there seems to be no rationale for differentiating outside from inside. So many statues could go anywhere, and do. Online testimonials evince delight, such as Mike, from Long Island who reports that the sheep and mule are made for his circular driveway.
It’s not all whimsy. Not long ago two rhinos appeared on a Montauk beach for a one-day photo shoot to “raise awareness” of their plight (they’re being hunted to extinction for their horns). Davis Murphy collaborated with photographer Dalton Portella, but hold the beach grass—they’re sold.
It’s amazing how easily some people will plunk down big bucks for their heart’s desire, Sandra says—$50,000, for example, for a 50-foot dino. For sure, 68-year-old Brooklyn-born Larry, who thought he had retired from selling globe lamps in New Jersey, is not complaining. He’s having a ball buying, selling, designing (he’s working on a newborn calf), and Davis has not yet finished his Colorado fighting copper stallions.
Yesterday’s Treasures (1547 County Road 39), Southampton, 631-283-5591