Yermo, California: Fantasy Doll Show Theatre (Gone)

Possum Trot

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Possum Trot Doll Theater - Vague Recollections

Possum Trot, a small spot near Barstow, Ca. was a true desert rat's home. Lifesize dolls made of redwood and pine rode bicycles on a revolving platform turned by wind power. They were the first thing you saw driving up. It was a delapidated building, with the doll theater next door, scorpions running across the front yard. Ruby Black was alive the first few times we went there, and I have postcards showing the place as it was then. When we went back in the early 80's, we were told Ruby had died and found the place was completely torn down. Not a board left. All the dolls had also vanished.

Today one of them can be seen in the permanent collection of the NY Folk Art Museum. There is a marvelous video online that shows Black and Ruby putting on the doll show. He would build them, Ruby made their clothes, and he would do the doll voices for his show. The dolls were animated, again driven by wind power from whirligigs on the roof, and levers inside.

[Bill Lidell, 11/16/2008]
Fantasy Doll Show Theatre - Vague Recollections

I don't know if anything is left of Ruby Black's place in Possum Trot. I've never been there. I did though have a couple month encounter with the FDST around 1987 during a folk art exhibit at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts where I was a guard, theatre attendant, etc. The Doll Show was a prominent display. At the touch of a button the bedraggled dolls (as I recall Ruby thought of them as her children) began their squeaky mechanically synchronized performance. The only doll I remember specifically was a large girl with a towering bonneted cranium. Her upper body sat motionless as her legs slowly peddled a bicycle destined to go nowhere. The performance was accompanied by a scratchy taped narration provided by Ruby herself. After thousands of listens I can still clearly hear her voice. I don't think I can accurately describe it, but imagine an old woman's voice synthesized with the sound of a mountain lion being strangled. Since the Doll Show found its way into the world of folk art collecting I imagine it lives on somewhere.

[Sean Webb, 05/28/2001]
Fantasy Doll Show Theatre - Vague Recollections

It was also known as Possum Trot California. I was last through there in 1978-79. I don't know if Ruby Black and her amazing Doll Museum are still going or not. She sold desert rocks, had a two headed snake and other desert oddities on display. Ruby was a hoot -- she had about 50 cats and a huge yard full of beautiful rocks she scrounged on her walks out in the wilderness.

[Dan Fontes, 07/30/2000]

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