PLACEHappiness in a museumBy Marilyn V...

A MEMORABLE

October 17, 1999

A MEMORABLE PLACE

Happiness in a museum

By Marilyn V. Chamberlain

SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"Live Life as the Pursuit of Happiness" reads the sign for Tinkertown Museum, just off New Mexico's Turquoise Trail.

Once I read this and talked to Ross Ward, I knew Tinkertown was no ordinary roadside attraction but the life work and obsession of Ward. In the land that celebrates rugged individualism, he is one of its most individual characters. As a young man, he discovered a love for carving, collecting and tinkering, and his whole life has been dedicated to those pursuits.

Beginning with only a parcel of land years ago, he built a home and museum by himself, surrounded it with a concrete wall and studded it with thousands of colored glass bottles. The museum itself has 22 rooms, and hundreds of unusual displays that reveal the depth of his creativity and imagination.

There are working miniature models of circus figures, a general store, photography shop, blacksmith shop, western town and numerous working models all hand-carved by Ward. Among its hundreds of items are eclectic memorabilia collected over the years -- antique tools, dolls, wedding-cake figures, a Grandma Fortune Telling Machine and a 35-foot antique sailboat.

A message is contained in this little museum. Scattered throughout the fun and funk are small placards with wise advice that makes visitors stop and think about what's really important in life. But the one that best expresses Ward's philosophy -- and the one we might do well to emulate -- is hanging over Tinkertown's front gate: "Live Life as the Pursuit of Happiness."

Marilyn V. Chamberlain lives in Baltimore.

MY BEST SHOT

Clowning around

By Peter Cohn, Baltimore

This picture captures an underwater scene of an anemone and a clown anemone shrimp. The anemone is a predator armed with stinging tentacles, which the shrimp is somehow immune to. I took this shot Aug. 2 on the island of Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles. My wife, Amy, and I were on a sunrise scuba dive off Pink Beach. This site was loaded with anemone, and occasionally the anemone would hold these beautiful and shy shrimp.

READERS RESPOND...

What is your favorite place in Las Vegas? And why?

Red Rock Canyon

Colleen Richards, Shrewsbury, Pa.

"Everyone thinks Las Vegas is for gambling only, but there is a beautiful place there called Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It is breathtaking."

Water World

Diane Krejsa and Peter Levy, Towson

"As parents, we were thrilled to discover this spot. For half-price after 3 p.m., the family relaxed in the 'Lazy River,' surfed in the 'Wave Pool' and catapulted down gigantic slides and water-shoot rides. A refreshing way to spend a hot afternoon in the City of Neon."

Las Vegas Boulevard

Mark Silver, Timonium

"As I recently approached its intersection with Tropicana Avenue, lights radiated from each of its four beautiful hotels, and a Sinatra tune blared from MGM's sound system. The feeling of electricity and vibrancy epitomizing Las Vegas stopped me in my tracks."

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