ISSAQUAH, Wash. -- When the crash of communism echoe off towering mountains and across broad plains in Eastern Europe, monumental icons were toppled from pedestals in city squares throughout the former Soviet bloc -- in one instance, right into the hands of a Washington man.
pTC Lew Carpenter was in Poprad, Slovakia, when he stumbled upon a 16-foot bronze statue of the founder of communism, Vladimir Lenin -- in a city storage yard. City officials planned to melt it down and make park benches from the metal.
For a time last winter, a homeless man had set up housekeeping inside the hollow statue. He was run off when Mr. Carpenter, an English teacher at the City University of Poprad, expressed interest in it.
After lengthy negotiations and reams of red tape, he bought it for $13,000. Now he wants to bring it to the United States and use it as a focal point in a Slovakian restaurant he hopes to build near Seattle.
But he's finding that easier said than done.
Transporting the 7-ton statue -- 16 feet tall, 16 feet wide and 9 feet from front to back -- is testing Mr. Carpenter's mettle.
Road and rail systems in Slovakia aren't the best, he said, and moving it 1,500 miles to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands for shipment by boat is posing a real problem.