8. The War Memorial

By Jeep Collins

Along with ranching my dad did small sculptures of horses and a series of horse head plaques he titled, Quarter horse, Palomino, Arabian, and Bronc.  These were beautiful sculptures but there was not much of a market for this type of art. 

As word got around about his work the city fathers of Bandera commissioned him to do a large bronze horse to be placed in front of the courthouse as a memorial to the men of Bandera county who lost their lives in World War II. The statue was to be a four foot tall riderless horse, saddled and waiting for the rider who never returned.

After months of working on the clay model dad hired an Italian foundryman experienced in casting large bronzes to come to the ranch and help him cast the large sculpture. They build a gas furnace to melt the bronze and a wood fired kiln to burn the wax from the mold.  

When the sculpture was finished they presented it to the city fathers who loved it, but had been unable to come up with the money to pay for it. The foundry man went back to San Antonio with only the word of my dad that he would send his wages when he could. Eventually dad found a buyer for the horse and was able to pay his helper, but there was nothing left for his own work. It was this financial failure that caused my parents to look for a new way to support themselves.

Photo:  Four foot sculpture of the riderless horse waiting for the rider who never returned.  Today it stands in front of the Mayan dude ranch headquarters in Bandera, Texas.

Next:  "Collins of Texas is Born"