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!
Your thoughts are always welcome here. Do join the conversation . . .
I look at the hospital photos of my 16 and 18 month old grandsons and ponder how very much they\’ve changed in that short span of time, and how their infancy is gone forever. But also how for their parents\’ sake, I would never want to re-roll time through the difficulties they encountered. And that\’s life. So we give thanks for the gift of their lives and the present and yes, think about their future where we\’ll be even older. Ack!
I agree, Melodie. Curtis\’ brother Ian was born 3 months earlier, and his life was touch and go for almost a year. I would certainly not want to re-roll that time either. Just now a quote from Robert Frost comes to mind: \”In three words I can sum up everything I\’ve learned about life: it goes on.\” Thanks for being the first out of the gate today!
Hi Marian, Great post. I have two reactions. One is I\’m so impressed that you voluntarily entered a Ripley\’s. I went on one at Niagra Falls as a child and was so distressed I\’ve never gone back in. So, kudos for your bravery. I can imagine young boys being particularly keen on what might be entombed there.
My second thought has to do with this circle of life idea. I have these pangs when I see my granddaughters and want badly to have them meet my grandmother.
These particular grand-boys like the odd and strange. Ian, the youngest, in particular, is fascinated with the macabre. He was a zombie for Hallowe\’en and likes to visit cemeteries. Should I/we be worried? Well, I\’m not – he seems normal otherwise and has an artistic bent.
I\’m with you on your second thought. Time just zooms on by, and it\’s so important to tighten these family connections. Thanks for posting today, Janet.
Very interesting post, Marian.
When I was young Ripley\’s Believe It Or Not was in our newspaper. I always read it with wonder…
When I look at my grandchildren, at their various ages, I can\’t help but think it was only yesterday that I was at their ages. I\’m beyond thinking that with my children… How quickly time is going by. It inspires me to be more patient, more understanding, more loving, more giving…
You are taking this inspiration in the right direction with the big bunch of family you have. Life is too short not to. I see it all reflected in your blog posts each week. Thanks, Anita.
Good morning, Marian! I love how you took what I thought would be simply a sweet description of trip your and your husband took with your grandsons and turned it into a philosophical reflection on time. I loved, too, how you captured the moment when the three thoughts leaped into your brain at once. That type of moment is so familiar to me.
I suppose any photograph captures a moment of the past, no matter how recently it was taken, but to look back at pictures of one\’s children or grandchildren when they were young brings a whole host of associations.
I\’ve never been to a Ripley\’s Believe it or Not, but here in Philadelphia we have the Mutter Museum. 🙂
This trip was a reprise of the last time we visited Ripley\’s when our children Crista and Joel were small decades ago. One change I noticed though – it is so much more commercialized with trumpery and a gaudy gift shop at the end.
I enjoy your comment about mental leaps. Some call it free association.
Philadelphia has absolutely wonderful museums to choose from. Don\’t fret about not having a Ripley\’s – ha!
What a wonderful thing to do with your grandsons. Kids just love that stuff don´t they. I have many happy memories of interesting things we have done with our grandchildren over the years. We didn´t live near them so when we saw them we made every minute count. Hoping they will come to visit us in Spain. That would be fun! (They are bigger now, the youngest being 13)
It seems your grand-kids are the perfect age for an international trip + they\’d have free lodging and personal guides. Also, you could choose the perfect season. I see from your blog you are busy with your writing and book promotion. How fortunate that in today\’s publishing there are no geographical limits – Wonderful to see that!
Enjoyed this! Great pictures!
Thanks for checking in today, Dorothy. I enjoyed the serenity of your last blog post about the sea. The photo is spectacular!
Marian — You\’ve penned a bittersweet, thought-proviking post for your readers. A delightful gift — thank you!
The thought that comes to my mind is, how on earth can so much TIME have passed since my mother died in 1991? It doesn\’t FEEL like 24 years have gone by. She was only 53 when she died, which means she would only be 77 if she were alive today. Always keen to hear anything we had to say, t\’s difficult to wrap my heart and mind around so much time having passed without sharing things — big and small — with her.
She would love that her grandchildren are having children!
She would love using a cell phone!
She would love having an iPad or laptop!
She would be the first one to comment on my blog every week!
She wouldn\’t believe that I have silver hair!
She would adore visiting Idaho!
The list is endless…
You have her DNA, and thus she lives in you. She would be SO proud of your accomplishments, Laurie.
Good evening. My mornings have gotten busy. Wow how you brought back memories. As a child my mother worked two jobs. We were on our own all the time. And we\’d go to all the museums alone. Looking back I praise God that He protected us. We always got in free; I believe they took pity on us. We\’d get on the bus, el trains and bikes. We had a Ripleys here in Chicago on Wells Street and we visit it always. And River View-a big amusement park kiddy land which they just tore it down a few years ago. So Nikko and Pablo got to enjoy it. Taking our grandchildren out, it\’s fun to watch them explore. Just to mention I have 18 grandchildren and can\’t take them all at the same time. They are a great joy. Fun when I can see their mom and dad in them. Great times.
Gloria, you were an in-charge organizer even back then. It is interesting to see the leader that was to emerge in later life growing her \”wings\” back then. As always, thanks for chiming in today.
Such a beautiful photo of the pixie princess . I love having a day to myself when I can visit a art gallery and gaze at all that …wonder …then I go home and write poems about them .
Cherry, you the very first person to comment on the pixie princess. When I first saw it at MOCA I knew I had to share it with my family of readers because I was fascinated by it. Now seemed to be the right time. It\’s wonderful that you observe museum pieces and then take it a step further by writing poetry about it.
I love going to museums! Even just the local ones with not much to see. Yes, I love them. 🙂
I would definitely enjoy going to this place. That photo of the little girl in blue though. It looks eerie somehow to me.
Welcome, Lux! Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I\’m glad you enjoyed the museum tour. Now I\’m over to checking out your website.
Please check by again soon.
I\’ve heard that this museum is great fun!
I do love that last photo – it might be foreshadowing of her wedding, yet it could be a death shroud…. A deep photo.
As an artist, you can see the nuances in time/space that others may overlook. Thank you for the comment, Fiona.
The sweet sadness of time as it makes each moment, each day, each shared experience all the more precious. Thank you for your beautiful post. I agree the last photo is very deep and holds so much mystery about time.
Your blog reminded me of this quote: \”Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.\” ~Jorge Luis Borges
With loss, and I suspect age too, comes deeper appreciation of time and our mortality. Thank you for the Borges\’ quote and its strong metaphors.
I would have loved to be along on the trip to Ripley\’s. It looks like great fun and I\’m sure your grands enjoyed every minute of it. You\’re right, our grands grow up too fast. The photo on my post this week is of my granddaughter when she was 4. She\’s now 14. A real young lady. I\’m glad we moved to Florida and get to spend so much time with them.
Thanks for sharing those photos. One question? Why would they have nose plugs for camels? They look painful.
Your grand-daughter is adorable! Incidentally, our children who got their graduate degrees in Chicago came back to their home state of Florida shortly after their children were born. Both generations are glad we can be together and see the grands grow up.
Nose plugs for camels? To keep the sand out of their nostrils during desert storms. Thanks for asking – and again for commenting!
Well that just looked like a fun time. I can remember going to Ripley\’s when I was a child and being fascinated. Nothing better than making some memories with your grands! 🙂
They loved it – some of it was rather spooky to them too. We hadn\’t gone since the grandkids\’ parents were little, so brought back old memories. Thanks for stopping by today, Debby.
Thanks for taking us back with you Marian. 🙂
A trip down memory lane for you…my flash back into time today was seeing a little video clip of our littlest grandson riding his rocking horse. He looks so much like his uncle Mike from Texas in baby days…soon I might get to see them together, both with the front tooth gap and slight auburn blond hair 🙂
The blue ice princess reminds me of a photo I used on my blog sometime ago on time rushing us by.
…thanks for an insightful post as always.
….I seem to be doing more reading than writing these days!
Alexa-asimplelife visiting from Sydney, Australia
Thanks, Alexa, for your insightful comment. I must visit your blog again – this is a reminder. I think we have much in common.
Like you, I can\’t seem to write without reading. One fuels the other, and sometime the reading takes over – like this week! 😉