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🦋 Glen Island

Kind of flabbergasted that I have never encountered any mention of Glen Island amusement park in the writings of Thomas Pynchon -- it seems utterly implausible that the Chums of Chance (for instance) would never have paid a visit.

A stone's throw from David's Island, which was devoted entire to the Army post, was Glen Island. This wooded islet had been rented, for the purpose of exhibiting little colonies of foreign people, by a good old sport, who confided to me that he liked champagne when it wasn't too "corky," and who had spent his whole life up to his present ripe age in exhibiting pretty girls and tickling the American palate with new and outlandish sensations. One year he would have Eskimos living in glass huts frosted to look like ice, with real Eskimo dogs and sleds; another, he would show a community of Hottentots, as unclothed as New York laws would tolerate, with their round straw huts and African drums. And lo and behold! this year he had imported and exhibited, alongside of a group of Sioux Indians living as they lived, a colony of Puerto Ricans, living as they lived, in their little thatched houses, and making the so-called "panama" hats. These jíbaros were from Cabo Rojo, a coast town noted for the excellent straw hats made there for a century or so. And they ALL had hookworm.

A most intimate friendship sprang up between the young military doctor and these homesick sons and daughters of Borinquen, who were perfectly delighted to find someone who could speak to them in their own tongue, and to whom they could complain —for the jíbaro loves to complain. They were useful to me not only as sources for a continuation of my study, but also as living examples of this new disease, on which I now was asked to discourse at Me annual meeting of the Westchmer County Medical Society. I did so; and no detail was missing—even the sacred eggs were brought into the glaring sunlight of New York's sophistication.

posted morning of Friday, August second, 2013
➳ More posts about La casa de la loca
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One of the Puerto Rican families at the Glen Island amusement park is the subject of Marta Aponte's story "Glen Island (1900)", in La casa de la loca.

posted afternoon of August third, 2013 by Jeremy

Found another reference: From the NY Times, July 11 1898:


The "Bell of Justice" Found by Mr.
Starin in Italy—Mummy of
a Princess.

There is an old bell in one of the corners of the Glen Island Museum of Natural History that attracts unusual attention on account of the pretty story connected with it. The bell itself is not much to look at, but its story appeals to the better side of human nature.

It is to the effect that in one of the old cities of Italy, many centuries ago, the King caused the bell to be hung in a tower in one of the public squares and called it "the bell of justice." He commanded that any one who had been wronged. should go and ring the bell, and so call the magistrate and ask and receive justice. And when, in the course of time, the lower end of the bell rope rotted away a wild vine was tied to it to lengthen it. One stormy night the inhabitants were awakened by the loud clanging of the bell. An old and starving horse that had been abandoned by its owner and turned out to die wandered Into the tower, and, in trying to eat the vine, rang the bell.

The magistrate of the city, coming to see who demanded justice, found the old starving horse, and he caused the owner of the animal, in whose service it had toiled and been worn out, to be summoned before him, and decreed that, as his poor horse had rung the bell of justice, he should have justice, and that during the horse's life his owner should provide for him proper food and drink and stable.

The Hon. John H. Starin, while traveling in Italy, saw the bell, heard its history, and determined to bring it to this country. The people, however, were loath to part with it. It had been held up to the young people as an emblem of justice, and its history had been handed down from one generation to another. There was a crowd about the bell the other day reading its history and commenting upon it, when a little boy of an inquisitive turn of mind looked up in the face of a lady, presumably his mother, and asked why they did not erect justice bells about New York. The lady could not reply, but In turn looked appealingly at an elderly gentleman beside her.

" Humph! There are two reasons why," he responded. "One is that they could not manufacture a sufficient number of bells to supply the demand, and the people would never get any sleep for the continual clanging." The gentleman was recognized as a professor at one of the best known institutions of learning in this country.

The Museum of Natural History at Glen Island is particularly attractive this season. One of the great objects of interest there is the complete whaling outfit, which causes much curiosity. The Egyptian mummy found near the Pyramid of Hawara-el-Marktea. which was built by King Amenemhat III of' the Twelfth Dynasty, comes in for a great deal of attention also. The hieroglyphics about the body show it to be the remains of Menne, a Princess of the royal family, who was in her eighteenth year at the time of her death. Mr. Louis Bennett of Buffalo presented the royal mummy to the Glen Island museum. In his letter he says he cleaned out a pit two yards square and nine yards deep, cut in solid rock. From this pit a small door led into a chamber three yards square, containing the stone sarcophagus. Around it were a few statuettes, flowers, some papyrus leaves from the Book of the Dead, and two tear bottles. It was the belief of the Egyptians that a spirit would return after death and seek out and reclaim the body from which it parted, and failing to find it would he a wanderer without means of communicating with its friends or of defense against its enemies. So the dead body was treated with the greatest consideration, and every means known and available was used to preserve it against the day of the spirit's return.

posted evening of August 4th, 2013 by Jeremy

Hi Jeremy,

I'm researching exhibits of colonial subjects in early 20th century and my Glen Island search brought me to your page.

I'm interested in finding more about Marta Aponte's "Glen Island 1900" but I can't find a copy of La casa de la loca but for the one Amazon copy.
Do you know of other places that may have it? libraries?

posted morning of February 18th, 2014 by Harry

Hi Harry, I don't know where to get it -- I'll pass your inquiry along to Marta, she'll know if anyone does.

posted afternoon of February 18th, 2014 by J

I just found a pdf of the story available from this site: Textos

posted afternoon of February 18th, 2014 by J


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