By David Pendered
Eatonton, Ga. – Millie Lane just knew she’d never again see the statue of Brer Rabbit that had perched outside the Uncle Remus Museum in Eatonton.
“I’m afraid he’s gone forever, because Sheriff Sills would have found him already already – if he is going to be found,” Lane said as she sat Saturday on the bench outside the log cabin museum, where she’s the hostess.
Lane’s faith in Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills wasn’t misplaced. Sills found the statue Monday afternoon and is in the hunt for four young men who apparently broke off Brer Rabbit’s ear and smoking pipe while kidnapping him from a pedestal in front of the museum.
Brer Rabbit’s abduction was noticed and reported last week by the museum’s director. News of the kidnapping spread around the globe, due in part to the Twitter updates filed by Stanley Lines, a retired school librarian whose followers live as far away as London.
The news struck home in Atlanta, where Brer Rabbit author Joel Chandler Harris resided in the Wren’s Nest, in the West End neighborhood. Harris’ descendant, Lain Shakespeare, who oversees the ancestral home, said last week that he feared the statue may have been taken as part of a political controversy that involved a congressman’s comparison of Barack Obama to the Tar Baby of Brer Rabbit mythology.
Here’s the full media statement issued by Sheriff Sills. (Note the formal spelling of “Brer”, as written by the high sheriff, who’s a native of Eatonton):
“I recovered the statue of ‘Brer Rabbit’ at approximately 3:30 p.m. in a wooded area of Ga. 16, some 5 miles east of Eatonton.
“Bre’r Rabbit wasn’t exactly in top form. His pipe had been broken off where he was holding it in his hand and the poor creature’s left ear had been completely amputated at the skull.
“As rabbits air condition themselves through their big ears, I suspect he has been more than a little hot over the last week, considering the temperatures we have experienced here in middle Georgia.
“Otherwise, the old boy is in good form (except being much overweight, this thing weighs at least 300 pounds) and is sitting in front of my desk right now.
“The nice people at the Uncle Remus Museum have found an expert Iron Veterinarian, and I will be transporting Bre’r Rabbit to his facility in the next several days. We are certain Bre’r Rabbit will soon be able to return to his perch in front of the museum in better condition than he was prior to his abduction.
“My investigation continues and I expect to arrest four young men later this week on charges of felonious Theft by Taking. As some of them are located around the state some distance from Eatonton, I will not release their names until my investigation is concluded. It appears the incident started as a prank, but went awry after the statue was damaged.
“I want to sincerely thank all of you for your assistance in this case. It was the attention brought to bear by the media and internet, that resulted in people calling my office with information.”