A collector’s postcards stir memories of his lifelong link to Lucy

achotel_0013 [800x600]Doesn’t everybody collect something? Their reasons and manner vary enormously. There are collectors of ancient artifacts, first day covers, comic books, Pez dispensers, medieval armor, a myriad of other items—and thankfully, old postcards.

2 Lucy pix (Copy)Perhaps a bigger draw for website visitors here than even the archive of Riverton images is the collection of vintage views of the New Jersey shore, possibly because they trigger so many fond memories of summers gone by.

Enjoy these images from a collector who has been a fan of Margate’s Lucy the Elephant for more than sixty years. He writes:

Lucy 018As you can readily see, postcard image #18 is a most unusual pair of views (divided) of the interior of Lucy.  This is essentially how she appears now.  No longer is she compartmentalized as she was originally with numerous interior “closets” or rooms.  Today, she is a large, cavernous room with two doors for gaining access to the “howdah” which sits atop this historic landmark.  Spectacular views can be had from the lofty perch as one gets a 360 degree panoramic view of the surroundings.

The view on the left side of this postcard is looking toward the front or head of Lucy.  Two circular windows or portholes are the eyes of Lucy through which patrons can look out of after climbing a short set of stairs.  The view on the right side of this image was taken facing the rear-end of Lucy with an entrance and an exit via the spiral staircases in each hind leg.

stuffed LucyNotably, Lucy is six-stories high and built in 1881 was designed after an Asian elephant.  This tourist attraction has served as a home, a tavern, and now has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.  As the viewer can readily see, we are told that the interior is painted in its original color, a “gastric pink” if you will.

According to architect Margaret Westfield, “Lucy is actually a male.” This is because female Asian elephants do not have big tusks!

For a fact-filled history of Lucy and detailed description of her, er… his dimensions, go right to the experts at lucytheelephant.org

Check out the Official Lucy Plush while you are there.

Enjoy these old and not-so-old views of Lucy. – JMc



Boardwalk Empire scenes and old postcards recall shore visits

Boardwalk Empire, Season Two, Episode 5, Opening Scene
Boardwalk Empire, Season Two, Episode 5, Opening Scene

You know you’re from New Jersey if you recognize the unusual structure in the distance of this scene from an episode of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

New York Times piece entitled The Atlantic City the Boardwalk Emperor Knew outlines some of the familiar places and landmarks of old Atlantic City in the popular series.

Like at the beginning of Episode 5, Season Two when my wife and I each caught sight of Lucy the Elephant Hotel in the distance, and then we reminisced so much about visiting it as kids that we had to rewind the DVR to catch the Nucky Thompson dialogue we had just missed.

It is amazing how a glimpse of an image can transport me back many years to the 1950s when a climb of the spiral staircase to the howdah on Lucy’s back rewarded this visitor with a spectacular view. It would make an impression on anyone.

Built in 1881 and now National Historic Landmark, this amazing and strange, larger than life-size pachyderm-shaped architectural structure has survived the ravages of devastating storms, neglect, and even re-location.

Lucy the Elephant 1909
Lucy the Elephant 1909

Yeah, I know there are already seven Lucy postcards on the site, but there’s always room for another variation on Lucy, The Margate Elephant.

This colorful 1909 postcard captures the simple beauty and charm of a familiar sight in South Atlantic City, now Margate, New Jersey.  Many families and especially children will recall their visits to see and even go inside Lucy while vacationing at the Jersey Shore. Certainly countless family photo albums must contain photographic images of Lucy, The World’s Largest Elephant.

Postmarked at Longport, N.J. on JUL 31, 1909, the sender inscribed a novel handwritten message on the address side. It says:

“Hello Elizabeth,  This thing is a place of amusement.  See the doors and windows just like a house.  It is just as large as a good size house.  Hilda”  On the front of the postcard the writer adds, “This is close to our cottage.”

Lucy  Foldcard #1Lucy  Foldcard #2Also, displayed here is another piece of Lucy-inspired ephemera – an unused folded mailer, copyright 1929, with the bonus of some facts about the architectural marvel.

Read much more about the history of Lucy right up to the present-day on the official website of the Save Lucy Committee.

Find more Lucy images and many more of Atlantic City on our ATLANTIC CITY, NJ Images page.  – John McCormick