“You’re familiar, of course, with the story of the frog prince…how he was enchanted by a witch and turned to a frog until such time as a beautiful princess should give him a kiss? Of course. It’s quite a familiar tale.
This particular bit of sculpture was created in tribute to that myth. The artist, a little known metal sculptor named Fernando Santee, was a great student of the significance of fairy tales. He was convinced that somewhere in the heart of each story was a kernel of truth and he pursued that truth, even to the detriment of his art. Perhaps that is why he remains unknown, yes?
At any rate, he created this giant bronze frog to memorialize the story of the frog prince. It was poured in 1965 and installed here in the Crescendo Garden in the fall of that year. To the anger of the owner of the estate, Santee did not make an appearance at the unveiling. It is said his daughters were even more upset. Rumor has it that the younger, a child of ten, cried for days because her friend Fernando did not attend the party. It was held in conjunction with her birthday and she seemed to consider the sculpture a personal gift to her.
The elder girl, a young lady of nineteen, left the area soon after. You can imagine the stories that made the rounds when she returned two years later with a child in tow. The boy had dark hair and eyes, an olive cast to his skin. He was a little over a year old. Oh, I hear the gossips had quite a good time at the expense of the girl and her son, I’m sure.
When the old man died in 1952, his will left the house and garden to his younger daughter and his business was divided between his older daughter and grandson.
From the photographs I’ve seen, the boy had become a handsome young fellow. He loved his mother and his aunt. As a child, he climbed over the bronze frog. Can you imagine the games he must have played? The frog could have served as his trusty steed, the dragon he must slay or a mighty friend. Such a wonderful playground for a boy, in a garden surrounded by lovely trees and colorful flowers.
I’m sorry, I’m rambling, aren’t I? Did you have any questions about the house or grounds? Anything else I can tell you? Well, then, thank you for visiting Crescendo House and Gardens. Please tell your friends. Remember, we are open by appointment seven days a week, every day of the year except Christmas.”
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I locked the gate behind the last visitor of the day and turned back to the garden. At last, I could have the grounds to myself again. Each day, it becomes harder to let strangers into the place that has been my home since Aunt Carina willed it to me.
Mother and I did very well with Grandfather’s business interests, but the upkeep on a place as large as Crescendo House takes a quite a bit and I enjoy my lifestyle too much to curtail it. The tours help to cover the maintenance.
I made my way to the family cemetery, tucked away in a corner of the estate. As I passed the rose garden, I cut several. The white one I laid on Grandmother’s stone. Although I never knew her, Mother told me a great deal about her. Grandfather got the yellow one. Aunt Carina’s favorite peach colored bloom and Mother’s beloved red soon took their respective places. The final rose, a silver one, went on the unmarked stone beside my mother-the grave of my father, Fernando Santee.
I don’t know how Mother forgave her father for killing Santee in a rage when he caught them together, I know she never gave her heart to another. When I learned the sad truth, I cried for the man I had not known. Now they are together. And I have only the Bronze Frog to remember them by.