Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lucy, the Margate Elephant

Let's say hypothetically that I won a property in Margate, NJ, in, say, a poker game. I'd start boxing-up my books right away. There are some gorgeous houses there, some with Spanish-tiled roofs, some cloaked in stucco, and almost all beautifully landscaped. The top non-beach pastimes seemed to be dog-walking and bike-riding. Nice, but it's not going to happen. I don't play poker. Nevertheless, I got to cruise through this lovely town on my way to see Lucy the Margate Elephant.

Blog-reading music:

Side-view of Lucy and the entrance to her park

Lucy used to stand where the brown building is now.
I had my heart set on visiting someplace I'd never seen before on this first weekend of summer, and I'm running out of ideas for extreme southern New Jersey. When a writing workshop brought me to Atlantic City, I remembered the giant elephant I've been wanting to visit. Lucy was built in 1881 by James Lafferty, Jr., a Philadelphian who owned property in South Atlantic City, now known as Margate. He had the elephant built of wood to attract attention, which it did and still does. Lucy has been moved from her original location about 300 feet away to make room for a condo building, and after that a group got together to Save Lucy. She was restored and entered as a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

Head on: Lucy's trunk ends in a barrel
You may have already heard of Lucy, but did you know that she had two sisters? The smaller one was built in what was then South Cape May, NJ, (and is now under water) around the same time as Lucy. This one was called the Light of Asia and succumbed to rough weather conditions around the turn of the twentieth century. The other elephant was built in Coney Island, NY, and called Elephantine Colossus. It was intended solely for amusement and burned down in 1896.

Let's go over Lucy's head...(the spots are raindrops)
This means Lucy is the only elephant you can tour. Go up the narrow circular stairway in one of her legs all the way up to the howdah on her back. This is where you can take in a nice view of the Margate beach and surrounding neighborhood. Then climb down the spiral staircase to the middle floor to see some exhibits about Lucy, and some rather nice art featuring Lucy (for sale), and look through Lucy's eyes to see what she sees.

Through the eye of Lucy
Our tour guide pointed out that this part of the elephant was built to look like a boat...and it does, with her eyes as portholes at the bow.

Inside Lucy's abdomen looks like the inside of a boat
Then head back down the spiral staircase in the other elephant leg to the ground and over to the gift shop for elephant gifts of all kinds, souvenir smashed pennies, and postcards.
Because I know you are wondering what the back looks like.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tasting for Tyler: Up, Up and Away!

The Balloon and the Moon
I was the lucky winner of tickets for an event known as Tasting for Tyler. This was the 26th annual installment of this fundraising event held at Bucks County Community College to benefit Tyler Hall, the 1930s French-Norman revival mansion now used to house the College's administrative offices. George F. Tyler, a banker, and Stella Elkins Tyler lived here back in the 1930s, when this building was new. They called it Indian Council Rock. Her sculpture decorates the formal gardens, some of the original buildings, and the grounds which now make up the College's campus. It's a lovely place to learn and work, but old buildings take a lot of care.

Tyler Garden, ca. 2012

Tasting for Tyler is a lavish party held each year to raise funds needed to care for and restore this glorious, uh...campus. Tents for this event start appearing on campus a week before. Arrayed over the terraces and tent area near the formal Tyler Gardens, over 25 local eating establishments offer samples of their best dishes and beverages.
Attendees are given plastic trays and a wine glass upon entry and encouraged to partake of the tasty vittles. My companion and I divided the array into three geographic areas, and ate in three installments over the course of the evening. We ended at the Orangery, an original Tyler building, where the desserts and silent auction were located.

Desserts in the Orangery
Attendees dress to impress at this event, and it was fun seeing the fashionable costumes worn by usually-businesslike college employees. As I selected my own outfit, I remembered the cobblestones and slate walkways that can be difficult to navigate in everyday shoes, and composed from the feet up. Along with my black lacy flats (designed by Fergie, I'll have you know), I wore that green chiffon-y frock with the matching green sweater, because it wasn't hot that evening.

Wearing a dress of any kind wound up being a liability for the moment-in-time that I will probably remember for years to come. Up & Away, Inc. was set up on the lawn offering hot air balloon rides in the "Fleckfolly V"! Wow. But here's the thing: in order to get into the balloon's basket for the (tethered) ride, one had to hike up their skirts and climb over the side. The balloonists supplied a stepladder on the outside, but there was no room for one inside. This would not be a graceful moment for the short-legged among us, but the thrill of the ride was worth the momentary lapse of decorum. In fact, knowing that I would blog about this experience, I had my phone in hand to take some shots while airborne. You guessed it--I forgot to snap any because I was too busy looking around. Here are some from the ground instead...

All Aboard!
The Ascent
Back on Earth
We didn't know what to expect from this party as neither of us had been before. It's rather expensive, so there aren't a lot of fellow college faculty roaming about, but I came across more colleagues than I expected. The food was mostly great, and mostly labelled for those of us with food allergies (don't ask me about my shellfish thing, okay, just don't ask), there was live entertainment inside and a dance floor and DJ outside for those so inclined.

Dancing under the tent.
All in all, it was a lovely evening, and we had perfect weather for it. "It was kind of like a wedding reception without a bride," according to my friend. Yeah, and a hot air balloon balloon instead!

Tyler Hall, after the party

Monday, June 2, 2014

Views from the Promenade (Cape May, New Jersey, USA)

Go to Cape May, take a camera, take a walk, and shoot. I used my iPhone which was also keeping track of our distance (5 miles total!) and calories burned through my pedometer app. Here's a sample of the photos you're likely to take away from the 1.4-mile Promenade...