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Westport scarecrow back with high-fives
Farmer Frank
Farmer Frank, the friendly marshmallow-headed scarecrow who appeared in a Westport corn field starting in the late 1970s, is back again. He may be seen waving to Carpenter Road traffic opposite Westport Elementary School. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

People have fond memories of Farmer Frank, the friendly, pitchfork-wielding scarecrow that 30 years ago kept a watchful eye over a corn field across from Westport Elementary School on Carpenter Road.

After a 30-year hiatus, he's back, waving to passersby and turning heads from high atop his perch that has his hat 20 feet above the ground.

"The scarecrow was put up when we were children and he went away on vacation a while and we found him again and convinced him to come back and stand back in the corn field and he's waving again," said Jeanene Avila-Michelena. She and her husband Jim Michelena have reintroduced Frank to a newer generation.

"People we know that remember him are excited that he's back. Other times you're staying there and you watch cars go by and they kind of put their brakes on. We've had people make U turns and get out their cameras and take some pictures. This morning my Dad just called me and a big truck and trailer went by started honking his horn and waving at the scarecrow. People like it. It makes people smile. That's really what my parents wanted when they started this years ago and why they're so happy he's coming back."

Her parents, Martin and Eldora Avila, created the scarecrow in 1978 and in 1981 equipped him with mechanical parts so that he could give a friendly farmer wave to people. Their children, Lonny, Heather and Jeanene relished in the family tradition and assisted in stuffing him until the tradition stopped for over 30 years.

"We wanted my children and nieces and nephews to experience what we had when we were little. It's for the kids at Westport School. I remember being at Westport and being excited showing my friends the scarecrow. Now my children are at Westport and they can show their friends the scarecrow across the street."

Helping to resurrect Frank on Aug. 8 were Jeanene's children Joshua Michelena, Isabella Michelena, Tiffany Michelena, Felicity Michelena and Eli Michelena; and her sister Heather and her children Sadie Fraser, Jocelyn Fraser and Zelie Fraser.

Three decades ago Frank hovered about 14 feet in the Westport sky. He's now at 20 feet.

"He got some new things with him, some new clothes. You know over the years like everybody else he's gained a little bit of weight in his midsection. We had to get him a new shirt."

Even his head is a little fatter, resembling a marshmallow.

Frank has kept up with the times, even creating his own Facebook page with an introduction that reads: "I love to wave to every vehicle that passes by my cornfield."

Photos on the page include yellowed newspaper clippings from the Courier, Modesto Bee and Stanislaus Farm News issued from 1979 to 1981.

The public can catch Frank's wave until the corn is chopped down in late September.