Carson man revels in odd yard additions

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Herman Munster's hands are protruding from Rudy Romo's mailbox. Herman's head sits smiling on a rusted old car in Romo's yard.

If you've ever sat at the stop sign at the corner of Emerson and Arrowhead drives, chances are your eyes have wandered into Romo's yard.

Lady Godiva sits on a white horse, often decorated to match the season and holiday; an odd-looking copper-and-white car sits nearby; and a Bates Motel sign hangs in the window. And despite the fact that impaled mannequin heads adorn posts in the yard along with mannequin legs sitting solo on a log, Romo insists he is not weird, psychotic or otherwise mentally unhinged. He just likes interesting things.

"I'm sure most people think, 'That guy must be a druggie or something,' " Romo said. "I'm not."

Romo, 54 and a Southern California native, moved to Incline Village in 1976, where he continues to own a plumbing and heating business. After a divorce in 1993, he moved to his Arrowhead Drive home and started collecting.

He started his unique yard collection with the Bates Motel sign. He saw it in a store around Halloween several years ago and "had to have it."

"I've probably had 20 to 30 people stop and ask me for that sign," he said. "Some of my neighbors say leave that sign on, we use it to give directions."

Since then, he's added dozens of eye-catching items to the yard. His criteria is, "If it's interesting, I like it, but it can't offend anybody, be sacrilegious or dirty."

He was married once and he said his wife was so meticulous he couldn't have anything out of the ordinary. His yard is his rebellion, home to anything out of the ordinary ... for yard decorations, anyway.

"That's my friend," Romo said, pointing to a carved wooden skeleton sitting on a bench in front of his house. "I got him in Mexico. I had to have him. I liked him so well I gave all my clothes away and put him in my suitcase."

Joe, as a passerby once named the skeleton, is now decked out in Converse tennis shoes, a dew rag and skeleton watch.

The rusted-out 1927 Ford is in no danger of moving. Lady Godiva once sat in the Kings Castle hotel in Incline Village, and a friend of Romo's bought many of the sculptures after the hotel closed.

Romo traded plumbing work to his friend to make Lady Godiva a part of his yard. She wears a witch's hat at Halloween and a Santa beard and hat during Christmas season.

The copper-and-white, dune buggy-looking creation facing Emerson Drive is a replica of the moon car that still sits on the moon, left there after the 1969 landing.

"There are only two. One on the moon and one here," Romo said.

It was once part of the Harrah's automobile collection and ended up in the ownership of another friend who bought several pieces from the collection.

Romo said he doesn't really have a connection to history with the piece, which he also traded plumbing work to purchase.

"I saw it and I liked it," he said.

The mannequin heads came from a beauty school where they were used to train hair stylists. A friend stopped and told Romo they'd look good in his yard. He wasn't too keen on taking the heads, but he thought the legs that came with the heads were cute.

Painted fire hydrants form a fence along the western side of the yard. The hydrants all came from Incline Village. When the town decided to get new ones and toss the old ones out, Romo ended up with half of the discarded hydrants. He was going to paint them into little people, but ended up with a fence instead.

Occasionally things do get stolen, but for the most part, people leave his things alone, he said. The skeleton driver of the old Ford was taken, as well as Joe's skeletal bench mate. Lady Godiva got pushed over once, and Romo had to hire a tow truck to tip her back up.

"Most people come by here and say 'I really like your house,' " he said. "Or they give me the thumbs-up sign as they go by. If nothing else, it makes people slow down."


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