SIOUX CITY | Whatever happened to poor little "December Morn"?
Fifty-three years ago this month, the Journal ran two items about a mysterious, aging statue located in a parking lot near the former sites of the Armour and Cudahy packing plants. The name, "December Morn," was given to the statue by Journal staffers.
The first item, a standalone photo with an extended caption that ran on Dec. 4, 1964, called it a "monument to something or other," and said the statue had "sprung into viewing prominence with the demolition of the Armour plant."
In an article that ran Dec. 9, Journal reporter Cele Ferner had tracked down a tentative explanation for the statue.
In the article, a former employment and credit manager at Cudahy named S.R. Cooper (most likely Stewart Cooper, who died in 1986), identified the builder of the statue as a master mechanic at Cudahy, Jack Kolbert.
According to Cooper's account, Kolbert built the statue in about 1927 or 1928. At that time, the statue and its fountain base were surrounded by a lawn and flowers, and workers would walk past the statue as they went between the two parking lots.
Flash forward to 1964, and both the Cudahy and Armour plants had been closed and largely demolished. The statue, though still standing, was in sorry shape.
The concrete lady was propped up on one remaining leg and one piece of rebar, where her other leg had once been. A chunk of her figure floated behind her, supported only by another exposed piece of rebar.
She stood on top of a concrete base with lions' heads that appeared to serve as fountains. A large pool was the base, decorated with what looked like little Dutch boys.
The once-elegant pool was filled with weeds and garbage.
At that time, the land the statue stood on was owned by the Sioux City Cold Storage Company. The cold storage company was formed by S. David Greenberg, who in the 1950s bought the old Cudahy plant, planning to sell it as scrap.
Greenberg found, however, that the refrigeration units at the old plant were still in usable condition, and turned them into his cold storage company. Sioux City Cold Storage was sold in the 1980s, though his son and grandson are still in the business, based in the Twin Cities.
The late Greenberg's son, Dean Greenberg, said he did not have any recollection of the statue at his father's former business. Ron Graham, a former employee at the cold storage business, also said he did not remember much about the statue.
"I vaguely remember there was something there," Graham said. "But I don't have enough to shed anything on it."
A manager at the cold storage company, Russell Vogel, said in the 1964 article that "he knows of no plans either to renovate or remove the lovely but weather worn lady."
The monument's fate today is unknown. Most likely, the faded statue was bulldozed some time after 1964 -- but Tom Munson, archives manager at the Sioux City Public Museum, said that's not a given.
It could be in someone's backyard, or in a junk heap somewhere, or in a barn. The possibilities are endless.
"Last known whereabouts were from the 9th of December, 1964," Munson said. "And what happened to her after that?"