Recently Grandpa Cliff and NaNa Marian took the Beaman boys to the Odditorium (not a misspelling!) of Ripley’s Believe It or Not in St. Augustine Florida.
The Saturday excursion was billed as a Mystery Trip, so the boys didn’t know exactly where they were going, but they did know it would be fun. After a 40-minute drive south from Jacksonville, the Mystery Bus with windshield wipers chugging away pulled into the very last parking space at Ripley’s.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not is a franchise with various locations nation-wide, dealing in “bizarre events and items so strange and unusual, that readers might question the claims.” Some of the 20,000 photographs, 30,000 artifacts, and more than 100,000 cartoon panels in the collection are displayed here at The Oldest City location.
Some of the jaw-dropping oddities we saw:
- Lord’s Prayer etched onto the head of a pin
- This prayer also etched onto a grain of rice
- Erector set parts made into the World’s Largest Ferris Wheel model
- Arabian camel nose plugs
- Replica of the Notre Dame Cathedral constructed with over 160,000 match sticks
- Voodoo doll in an ancient basket
- Mannequin of man weighing over a half ton
Seeing the back of Curtis’ head (on left) reminded me of our son Joel’s image at a similar age. So I flashed back in time, and then I was struck piercingly into flash forward motion with the thought that grandson Curtis will be in middle school in the fall. With poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, I lament “O World! O Life! O TIme! (Where has all the time gone? Not long ago he was just entering first grade!)
A few weeks ago, Shirley Hershey Showalter, who publishes weekly Magical Memoir Moments, posed an engaging prompt for writers. In the March 3, 2015 edition she took her readers on a visit to the Wheel of Time. Looking at a photo of her grandson Owen staring out the window watching his mother leave for work, Showalter imagines what his thoughts might be. She remembered a similar moment years ago when her own son, perhaps wistfully, watched her leave the house for her job. Then she poses two questions for her readers:
When was the last time something pierced your heart?
Did it ignite the Wheel of Time in you?
Contemplating the second question as I gazed at Curtis and Ian, I realized a ping of joy along as three thoughts came to mind all at once: We are blessed to have them, their whole life is ahead of them, and as the photo seems to suggest, they are facing forward to meet the future . . .
Photographer Angela Strassheim, in a recent exhibition at Jacksonville’s Museum of Contemporary Art, specializes in framing the lives of her nieces and nephews as they pass through early stages of their lives. Her collection illustrates the precious, fleeting nature of childhood and adolescence. One photograph that caught my eye was the “Girl in Blue Dress” which depicts a pixie princess frozen in a childhood phase that evaporates all too quickly. This large photo of Strassheim’s niece with dimensions of 75 x 60 inches, probably foreshadows the young girl becoming a married woman, draped as she is now in a canopy over her bed that seems to mimic a bridal veil.
Robert Ripley is right. Life is full of mystery and awe. Sometimes it’s un-unbelievable too!
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