Artist of the moment……Calvin and Ruby Black….Possom Trot Amusement Park

Calvin Black was born in the year 1903. After marrying in 1933 to Ruby, the couple bought land in the mojave desert of California. The couple made a small amusement park that showcased the amazing wood carving skills of Calvin Black. Eventually the property hosted dolls shows and had wind driven merry go rounds.

Here is the famed amusement park on the couple’s California property, Possom Trot. See many of the artist’s unique wood carvings. His wife was in charge of making and designing the costumes worn by the dolls.

The Black family spent the era of the Depression in the deep south. The family decided to head west to California and bought some land sight unseen via an advertisement they saw in a magazine. The parcel of land was in the Mojave desert. The couple opened a rock and mineral store that didn’t do so well. To attract customers Calvin started to build the dolls and construct them to appear to have movement. As you can see in the clip with the older woman riding a bicycle.

Calvin used found wood from fallen telephone poles or from the many fallen redwoods on his property.

Mr. Black spent some time in the circus and whilst working for the circus found his wife Ruby. With his big tent experience  he even installed tape recorders into the dolls and gave some of the dolls more movement by adding rods to move their limbs. Calvin made the voices and brought the characters to life. The couple had no children, and the dolls became their family. The dolls were left gifts that customers seemed to think fit their personalities like perfume.

The dolls themselves are very interesting for the fact that here is a work of art that sat for many decades in the middle of the Mojave desert and was exposed to many natural elements that you would think would destroy the dolls over time.

The pieces of Possum Trot seldom come to market. Many dolls are priced between the 5,000 to $15,000 range. Occasionally you may find a sign or something like that available for $2,000 to $5,000.

Calvin Black passed away in 1972. His wife Ruby passed away in 1980.

The couple is a great example of Americana, and what used to get people excited to travel on route 66. Other artists that work with recycled and found would be Goeffrey Gorman who makes wonderful lively animals from wood and other found materials.

A link for Gorman’s very unique and entertaining website:




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