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Small joys, big hopes, in Tiny Town

Posted by Kevin Hartnett  May 15, 2013 01:35 PM

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There's a lot of joy and some sadness, too, in Tiny Town, a small-scale world housed in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The elaborate model was carved and assembled over the course of 68 years by Frank Moshinskie and today it's managed as a modest tourist attraction by his son, Charles. Tiny Town received a flare of attention last year when the magazine Oxford American made a mini-documentary about it. That video was nominated for a National Magazine Award, though it lost out to Mother Jones and the infamous Mitt Romney "47 percent" video when prizes were handed out earlier this month.

To judge from the documentary, though, Tiny Town isn't preoccupied with glitzy hardware. The movie shows Charles--who's no young man himself--telling about how the display began as a decoration beneath his dad's Christmas tree and grew over seven decades into an ensemble that includes scenes from 21 different states in the country. There's a replica of Dodge City from the television show Gunsmoke, a little Niagara Falls, and an island cabin tucked among the trees. Charles says his dad liked to carve figures that move, so Tiny Town includes kids poised on teeter-totters, a sheriff sticking up some poor soul, a floating hot air balloon, and a circling airplane. The whole thing is marvelous, but it becomes more acutely melancholic when Charles climbs into Tiny Town to show the audience around: He's ostensibly a giant, but really the model's smallness starts to reflect our own.




H/T The Paris Review.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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