Monday, October 20, 2014

maps, Martians, and badgers Re: ride idea: visit Elsie (the Jersey girl)

> Google search using keywords "more recognized than Albert Einstein" yields
> somebody you might not expect: Elsie the Cow.   There's a headstone to memorialize
> Elsie, near this easy-to-spot wooden gazebo. Its rough location is marked on this map of
> a fairly easy bike ride, mostly on the towpath.

     I've updated the map to show the location of Van Nest Park in Grovers Mill (West Windsor Twp)
     - the place made famous (infamous?) by Orson Welles in his Halloween 1938 radio play.

             "On his day off, playwright Howard Koch visited his family up the Hudson River.
              On his return, he picked up a map at a gas station to determine where the Martians
              would begin their assault. Since he was passing through New Jersey on Route 9W,
              it was a map of that state. Back in New York, Koch closed his eyes and dropped
              a pencil on the map. It fell on the tiny unincorporated hamlet of Grovers Mill, New
              Jersey. And, thus, a small village near Princeton became ground zero for the Martian
              invasion of the earth — and entered media history."

But why am I telling you about Orson Welles ?

        "He was born to affluent parents in Kenosha WI in 1915, but still endured hardship as a child. His
         father had invented and made a fortune with a popular bicycle lamp, but suffered from alcoholism. ... 
         Soon after Welles' graduation from prep school, his father passed away. Using funds from his
         inheritance Welles traveled to Europe. While on a walking tour of Ireland he boldly walked into the
         Gate Theatre of Dublin and claimed to be a Broadway star.

Welles' father Richard was co-founder and treasurer of the Badger Brass Manufacturing Co. of Kenosha.
Their product, the carbide-based Solar Bicycle Lamp, started out lighting the way for bicycles and did the same
for motorized vehicles. The Kenosha factory employed 200 people in 1917 and boasted annual sales near
the $1 million mark with an annual production of 100,000 cycle/bicycle and 400,000 auto lamps.

Orson Welles on his movie, "The Magnificent Ambersons",  based on Booth Tarkington's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1918 novel:

        "The Eugene Morgan character brings with him the whole stinking hell of the automobile age, but that doesn't mean
         he isn't a nice human being. He admits himself that what's he's doing may be a bad thing. My father felt that way
         about it. He was a motorcar pioneer, but he abandoned it early on. He got tired of it, I guess. Then he invented
         a bicycle lamp which, as it turned out, was on practically every automobile in the world! He was a friend of Booth
         Tarkington's, and really there's a lot of my father in that character. An early automobile fellow with a deep suspicion
         of what the automobile would do fascinated by it, and very much afraid of what it was going to do to the world.

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