Frontier Former Editor

September 20, 2007

Two-armed bandit (or privateer if you’re English . . . .)

The stuff you miss out on unless you’re standing in a super Wal-mart at 9 p.m. on a weeknight . . . .

 This juicy bit of historical revisionism comes from about 360 miles due east of my chair, in the burg of Newport News, Va., named in part after Captain Christopher Newport, the skipper of the seagoing part of the first Virginia Company expedition to what became Jamestown.

 Confused? Bored? Hold on because it starts to get funny shortly.

Christopher Newport University (named after guess who? No, not Burton Cummings . . .) recently dedicated a 24-foot statue of Captain Newport at the university’s main entrance.

Now for the funny part . . . .

Here’s a photo of the official painting of Newport at the Captain Christopher Newport Mural, West Avenue Library, Newport News Public Library System, Newport News, Virginia (thank you Wikipedia):


And here’s a photo from the sculptor’s website of the new statue honoring the intrepid explorer and Elizabethan equivalent of a tourist-class airpline command pilot:


 Now, what’s wrong with the photo of the statue? If you guessed that it looks like Roy Wood in his Electric Light Orchestra phase, nice try but wrong.

Let’s try this:





You’re not the only one who noticed:

Critics want statue’s arm set right

By Sonja Barisic
September 9, 2007

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — The swashbuckling sea captain who helped found America’s first permanent English settlement lost his right arm in battle nearly two decades before bringing the colonists to Jamestown 400 years ago.

. . . .  The two-armed statue shows a lack of respect for history, said Andy Kiser, of Winchester, who graduated from Christopher Newport University (CNU) in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in history with a focus on colonial Virginia.

That’s especially galling, Mr. Kiser said, in a part of Virginia filled with historic attractions, such as Colonial Williamsburg, and at a time when Jamestown is commemorating its 400th anniversary.

“In the middle of a community that tries so hard to get it right, here’s a 4-ton ‘Oops, we got it wrong,’ ” he said.”

But you wouldn’t guess it was a problem if Christopher Newport University’s PR machine was any indication:

 “Jon Hair has created a heroic figure that powerfully communicates the strength, determination and courage of the man who, more than any other, is responsible for the survival and success of the English Settlement at Jamestown, and for whom this University is proudly named. We are thrilled that this gifted artist’s rendition of Captain Christopher Newport will greet students, faculty and visitors to our campus for many years to come,” said President Paul Trible.

And sculptor Hair certainly has his view on the matter:

“Mr. Hair, who has a studio in Cornelius, N.C., also created bronze monuments for other universities, including Purdue. He did not return repeated messages from the Associated Press seeking comment.

He told the Daily Press that the university decided to portray the captain with two arms and he agreed.

“I wouldn’t show an important historical figure like this with his arm cut off,” Mr. Hair was quoted as saying. “It’s one thing if he’d been born that way. He didn’t lose his arm ’til he was 29.”

Yep, and he didn’t sail to Virginia til he was 39. Wouldn’t want to confuse folks, would we? 

But he does have a point. And in keeping with the spirit of Mr. Hair’s views, I now announce the establishment of the “Two Eyes for Moshe Dayan Foundation.”


  1. Aar, that be yer artistic licence, as if there be somethin’ wrong with havin’ a hook fer a hand.

    Comment by azahar — September 21, 2007 @ 9:32 am

  2. In related news, the new Disney anniversary release of “Peter Pan,” includes Captain Hook’s missing hand, which has been digitized in.

    “After all,” said new Disney Animation Studios hire Jon Hair, “He wasn’t born with the hook, was he?”

    Comment by Metro — September 25, 2007 @ 1:15 pm

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