Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Postcard: Welcoming our new smiling blue orb overlord

Warning: Post contains stream of consciousness

Is it just me, or this a bit of a creepy scene?

Of course, it's a perfectly harmless and supposedly joyous representation of the cow jumping over the moon in "Hey Diddle Diddle," as depicted at long-gone Storyland Village in Neptune, New Jersey. Storyland Village was one of many, many children's theme parks in New Jersey in the 20th century. They popped up everywhere, like mushrooms after late summer rain. In 2004's Amusement Parks of New Jersey, author Jim Futrell states:
"Themed roadside attractions also became popular features in New Jersey during the 1950s. Like kiddielands, they catered to the automobile culture, but instead of rides, they emphasized a themed environment. The two most popular themes were nursery rhymes and the Wild West. ... While some ... were shuttered after only a few years due to increasing property values, New Jersey still has the heaviest concentration of these facilities in the country."
Futrell adds that Storyland Village was only in operation from 1956 to 1962, which would also help to date this unused postcard.

In the early 2000s, Joan and I were driving back from Atlantic City once and passed an abandoned theme park that looked like a perfect spot for a photo shoot. In later years, I spent an agonizing amount of time trying to determine which road we had been on, so that we could find it again. Turns out, I probably didn't have to be so obsessed. You can't swing a dead Jersey Devil in The Garden State without hitting an old kiddie park. This message-board post, which also references Futrell's book, features an awesomely long list of defunct parks, including Brigantine Castle.

But back to the orb...

My overlord reference in the blog headline is one that I had always attributed to Ken Jennings on Jeopardy! But it turns out — and isn't the Internet a wild thing? — that the phrase has a long history that (sort of) involves H.G. Wells, Joan Collins, giant ants, The Simpsons and sugar caves, in addition to Jennings.

Speaking of Jennings, if you'll be spending a lot of time in a car and/or in need of an audio companion this winter, I highly recommend the Omnibus! podcast co-hosted by Jennings and musician John Roderick. Each 60- or 70-minute episode features the pair chatting about life, showing off their wide range of knowledge and eventually discussing some obscure corner of history. It'll grow on you. But not like that stuff grew on Jordy Verrill. Or maybe just like that. I'm not sure.

Finally, backtracking and speaking of large ants and large creepy moons and cows jumping over the moon, how about that Knickers? (Yes, I know he's technically a steer. Details, details.)

Let the record show that while we were fretting about President Trump and Bryce Harper's destination in free agency on November 28, 2018, we were mostly just amazed by Knickers, whose udderly (udderless?) amazing story you can read about here.

OK, I think I should go to bed now...

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