Archive for October, 2009

Lucy the elephant

October 21, 2009

Lucy the Elephant as pictured on three postcards, each from a different postcard era.  The linen era postcard proclaims in the bottom border:   THE ONLY ELEPHANT IN THE WORLD YOU CAN GO THROUGH AND COME OUT ALIVE.   Lucy the Elephant (also known as the “Margate Elephant” or “Lucy the Margate Elephant”) was recently in the news; a tent that was blown from its moorings by high winds on September 11, 2009 gave Lucy a smack on her backside that broke her tail!  Hmmm, do you call a vet or an architect?    The 65-foot high wood and tin structure was struck by lightning (not for the first time) over the fourth of July weekend of 2011.  Update of November 1, 2012:  Lucy survived Hurricane Sandy intact, according to this news feature (includes aerial photo).  Lucy the Elephant was the brain-child of James V. Lafferty, a land developer who wanted to attract attention to his 1880s South Atlantic City (New Jersey) development project.  Two other mammoth elephant buildings were constructed around the same time:  The Elephantine Colossus was a truly massive building in the Coney Island amusment park in Coney Island, New York.  Over twice the size of Lucy the Elephant, if the Colossal Elephant could have lumbered into New York City and paraded to the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, it might have stood about a third or more the height of the Flatiron Building.  The Elephantine Colossus, also known as the Elephant Hotel, succumbed to a devastating fire in 1896.  A third elephant-shaped building, this one named The Light of Asia, was constructed at the site of another land development project, this one in South Cape May, New Jersy.  Here is an excerpt from entry for Cape May, New Jersey:  “…the entire community of South Cape May fell victim to the encroaching waters of the Atlantic. A land developer named Theodore Reger purchased much of the shoreline between the lighthouse and the town of Cape May in 1882. Three years later, Reger had constructed a huge wooden and tin elephant, known as the Light of Asia, to attract interest in his development at South Cape May. For a dime, tourists could enter the elephant through its hind legs, climb a spiral staircase to a hall in its belly, and then proceed up a second set of stairs to the howdah or viewing platform on the elephant’s back. Several cottages were built in South Cape May, but erosion has wiped away almost all signs of human (and elephant) habitation, and the area is now the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge managed by the Nature Conservancy.”

Thus, Lucy the Elephant is the sole survivor of a memory of elephants in architectural form.

This architectural quadruped has been submitted into the Festival of Postcards, coordinated by Evelyn Yvonne Theriault. 

Elephant Hotel.  Divided back era - obverse

Elephant Hotel. Divided back era – obverse

Elephant Hotel.  Divided Era - reverse

Elephant Hotel. Divided Era – reverse

   The sender has written on the back of the post card this message:  “Dear Harry & all, I will send you this little fellow and you can play with him.  Hoping you are all well as we are the same.  From Earl V. Florence  ans. soon.”  The postcard is addressed to Master Harry Crouse, Aaronsburg, PA Center Co.   Since the postcard has not been postally used (no postage stamp and thus no postmark), There are only three possibilities:: 1.)  The postcard was hand delivered to Mr. Crouse, 2.)  It card was enclosed in an envelope containing a letter from Mr. Florence to Mr. Crouse or another person in the Crouse household, or 3.)  The postcard was never sent at all, so Harry Crouse would have never known of its existence.  This postcard is an example of what I term a “self-referential” postcard, since the written message contains a reference to the subject matter depicted on the front of the postcard.

Elephant Hotel. White border era.

Elephant Hotel. Linen era.


A tip of the hat

October 21, 2009

This inaugural entry in the postcardiness blog gives a tip of the hat to Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report show on Comedy Central for using some grammatical creative license to append the -ness suffix to nouns.  It was he who blew the dust off of the obscure word truthiness, and rejuvenated it in the lexicon of the English language, in “The Word”  segment on his very first show (October 17, 2005), four years ago last Saturday.  Truthiness was named the 2005 Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society.  In this blog, I will explore the “-ness” of postcards, and relate the discoveries and stories that ensue.

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