The Healer and the Pirate

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Friday, July 22, 2011

South America's Coney Island - July 24, 1921

Busy night (good, but busy), so gonna be brief here. Come on, compelling article!

OK, how about this one? I like it because it shows how popular Coney Island was in the 1920s, that they would use it to draw attention to a story that has little to do with Coney at all. They talk about "Buenos Ayres" (interesting how foreign places used to be spelled!). The main idea of the article is to describe the seaside in South America, and to note that an enterprising American could bring some amusements (if cheaply priced) and profit.

Yet, to a modern reader, it tells you what Coney Island was in part by telling you what South America is not. There are some good details buried here that I hadn't read elsewhere.

HERE are some of the things the Coney Island "fan" will have to do without if he or she ever tries the delights of sea bathing in South American resorts, where the ocean dip is prized for its own sake and not for its attendant features:

Chutes. Nobody ever slides down a glazed trough in South America, because there are no glazed troughs here.

Roller coasters. Nobody increases the action of the heart and lungs by the Coney Island method.

Hot dogs. There never has been a strike of sausage venders in South American resorts because there are no sausages to vend.

Acid drinks. Citrus lemonade and the South American resorts are strangers.

Barkers. One's vocabulary of slang has to be increased by other instructors. There is nothing to bark for at a South American bathing beach.

Witching Waves. The only ones are the wet waves off the shore line.

Merry-go-rounds. There may be some made-in-Germany affairs later, if American manufacturers don't wake up to their opportunities.

By Charles Evers:....

Obviously, the nations of South America are afflicted with the conventions of civilization in the same measure as we are ourselves, and the people must have compensation and inducement to endure the ills attendant on their pursuit of the joyous dip. The sweltering, confined journey to the subway, the heavy bag, the hutch in which they undress, the absurd ponderous costume ordained for women by the blue laws, the long, weary waiting at the door of the bathhouse, the dripping, heavier bag on the return journey--all these impedimenta to pleasure must have their corresponding reward--the water, the friendly intercourse, the opportunities for flirtation, the scenic railway, "drop the dip," the water chute and the succulent hot dog.

In Honolulu and Tahati (sic?) the bath is sufficient inducement, but then there is no journey, no bag, no bathhouse, no waiting and no costume. The water is clearer and the friendly relations are more intimate.

In South America there is nearly always a journey to be made, a bag to be carried, a costume to be donned and a period of waiting to be endured before entering the uninviting cubicle; but there is no "giant racer" and no hot dog, and open flirtations are frowned upon with the utmost severity.......

But the poor of South America do not take much use of the sea for their pleasure. What do they do? I don't know, but I have noticed that they often utilize a guitar. It is generally spring time in South America--or at least the lovely climate would lead us to suppose--and then, we are told, "the young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love." For him the purlieus of the city are "Paradise enow."

--The New York Tribune (book section?), July 24, 1921

Not sure South American amusements took off any time in the 1920s, though. There are probably webpages on it, and they're probably in Spanish or Portuguese!

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