My first encounter with Gilgal was in 1975, when I was in high school. A friend told me about it, and we decided to visit on a late winter night after seeing a movie at Trolley Square.
The chain link fence entrance gate was locked. On the gate was a plain sign which read GILGAL in faded bold letters. There was just enough room between the gate and the fence post to squeeze through. We forced ourselves through the narrow opening of the gate and set off on our adventure.
I remember seeing the Joesph Smith sphinx sculpture first. It seemed funny and bizarre at the same time. The “man in the brick britches” kept an eye on us as we crept around the park, trying to be quiet. The aroma of freshly-baked bread filled the air. The stones with Biblical passages made me wonder if this was a private cemetery.
The display of disembodied feet and heads fascinated me and kept me wondering what motivated the person who sculpted these stones. All in all, it was a very memorable experience.
We made return visits later the same year—always at night, and sometimes with dates. We enjoyed a macabre sense of fascination watching our girlfriend’s reactions to the unusual sculptures while begging us to take them away.
I’ve made several return trips over the years, and truly appreciate the efforts of many to help preserve this very unique garden. Gilgal is truly a historic and artistic treasure.