Minerva, from her current perch on the 2nd floor of Erie’s Blasco Library. | Photo credit: me. I had to see this for myself.
Without further ado, your Idiotville feel-good story of the week:
Well, most of Minerva returned. You’ll need to buckle up for this one, because for my money this is the weirdest Idiotville story of the year.
It all began with a 2018 phone call from someone (no one is telling who – we’ll call him/her the “whistleblower”) in Colorado to the Erie County government office. The whistleblower had a lead on an old Erie mystery from years ago, a cold case, and couldn’t hold it in any longer.
Remember that old plaster statue of the Greek goddess, Athena? Minerva, actually – she apparently went by her Roman name. The Goddess of Wisdom. Well, if you’re like me you need a refresher, so here it is.
Someone made Minerva out of plaster and stuck her in the old Erie County Library back in 1899. She stayed there for 25 years before moving to the mansion on 6th & Chestnut, which was a museum back then. Eighteen years later, in 1942, Minerva was moved again to a “private home” (creepy) never to be seen or heard from until last year’s phone call. Turns out, the Coloradan whistleblower didn’t have Minerva, either. Look to some other mystery place in North Carolina, they said. You’ll find her there.
Apparently, someone did just that, and they found her. Still, something seemed missing. What was it? Oh, that’s right. Her arm.
So, uh, a few questions. What kind of person takes a big statue like that home? How did it get to North Carolina and where was it, exactly? Why has it taken 77 years to get back? Was there duct tape over her mouth? Who’s the whistleblower? Where is her arm?
Minerva left us when we needed her most. Sure, we coasted along for awhile, but then manufacturing drifted away and we spent some lean years – okay, some lean decades – when we could’ve used her wisdom around here. Pessimism set in throughout Erie probably around the time Minerva’s arm was cut off in some anonymous creeper’s basement.
Somehow, we’ve gotten to the end of our story without asking one of the more obvious questions: why did we ever have this statue to begin with? No one seems to know. In 1899, things just happened.
I, for one, am glad this whole thing happened. I’m glad some goofy turn of the century guy made a plaster Goddess of Wisdom in the first place, I’m glad we restored her to her rightful place surrounded by books – our primary way to transfer wisdom through the generations – and I’m glad there’s some mystery left at the end of it all.
It’s not unlike a lot of stories you hear from people around here. They were born here, moved away expecting greener pastures, collected some scars along the way, and they found their way home. Minerva is something good that found her way back to us in the weirdest way. Welcome home.