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If they only had a brain

Oswego Lake Garden Club scarecrows are not just for scaring at Luscher Farm
by: Vern Uyetake, Luscher Farm is blessed by a large population of scarecrows of an amazing variety — some large, some small and some even scary. Others, like the inset photo, are genuinely friendly.

The many, many scarecrows at Luscher Farm must be working.

There was nary a crow in sight to plague the gardens with their pesky appetites, and it must be because the farm is so well populated with scarecrows of infinite variety.

As any fan of The Wizard of Oz knows, the basic ingredients of a scarecrow are a couple sticks, old clothes, floppy old hat and lots of straw for stuffing. Plus one other thing.

'A scarecrow has got to have eyes,' said Karen Davis, garden coordinator for Luscher Farm. 'There's something about eyes that startles birds.'

However, the scarecrows of Luscher Farm are very different. None of them can dance. Yet. But great effort has gone into making scarecrows of as great a variety as possible.

Actually, in its most recent project, the Oswego Garden Club provided a veritable scarecrow fashion show by making 22 scarecrows - all of them highly fashionable and not one of them alike.

Certainly, when a group starts out making a bunch of scarecrows they probably intend to make the generic model. But then inspiration sets in and almost anything can happen.

'One person is great at making clothes, another one does great faces,' said Nancy Sergeant, organizer of the project. 'Do they really scare birds? Maybe. But it does put more art in the garden.'

'They have always supported us financially and in many others ways,' Davis said of the club. 'This time they asked us, 'Is there anything special we can do this year? Something that could make the garden be more fun and interesting?''

The Oswego Garden Club has been doing bountiful good works in the community ever since it was founded in 1941. But this was the first time for the club members to come to Luscher Farm to make scarecrows, and it was something that could bring out their utmost enthusiasm.

The members did not stint on fashion accessories: a tuxedo, nose piercings, glasses, dresses, hats, a hula skirt, fashion bags, sunglasses. There was even an intense conversation about how to make a scarecrow version of Dolly Parton.

Such a display of eagerness did not surprise Davis, who has been sort of a fairy godmother to scarecrows at Luscher Farm ever since she came on as director seven years. Not only is Davis a great scarecrow maker herself, she has been a great inspiration to other scarecrow makers, especially garden plot owners and children.

Davis is always proud to give a scarecrow tour of the gardens and relive the glory these scarecrows' times.

'Look at the one with logger's suspenders,' she said. 'I saw them at a garage sale and I couldn't resist them.'

Besides logger scarecrows, there are graduates (caps and gowns), swimmers (swim fins), and monsters from outer space ('Take me to your zucchini!'). Some scarecrows are tall and stately. Some are short and unstately.

Perhaps the prize of the whole bunch is 'Lazy Fred,' who instead of standing, lounges in a lounge chair. He wears go-goo-goo-googly glasses like the old Ernie Kovacs character Percy Dovetonsils and has a face like one of those nightmare dummies from The Twilight Zone, with a dementedly happy smile. You wouldn't want to stumble upon Fred at night.

'Sometimes they really can scare you,' Davis admits.

But some of the scarecrows are so sweet and cute and expertly made that you almost want to adopt them.

Davis' scarecrow ambitions know no boundaries. She has even made up a scarecrow book with valuable information for scarecrow makers, and she still comes up with great scarecrow ideas - like having a scarecrow made up to look like a child, doing a cartwheel with his feet in the air.

'I would like to have at least 30 of them,' Davis said. 'That would give us a good base to put on different clothes and different faces. My book helps people get started. But once they start, they just sort of run with it.'

Sergeant agrees, saying, 'You get inspired once you start rolling.'

Her sister club members were proving her right. They were hard at work making a French Maid scarecrow, with pantyhose and silk apron.