Piper celebrates Memorial Day

A steamboat sounded its horn as it departed the pier to collect passengers from New York City. Standing upon an outdoor stage beneath a giant seashell canopy, Sam Gumpertz was greeted by cheers, whistles, clapping hands, clapping feet, and even the clapping flippers of the Seal Woman.

Sam extended his hand to the three distinctive landmarks that ascended high into Coney Island’s unblemished blue sky: The Wonder Wheel, the Thunderbolt, and the hundred-foot bejeweled structure that towered above a new roller coaster called the Bobs.

“Welcome to another summer at Dreamland. Or at least what’s left of it,” Sam announced, bowing to the small crowd. Continue reading

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Black History Month: Zip the Unsung Hero

Zip the What Is It, whose real name was William Henry Johnson, was a freak show performer famous for his tapered head. Dressing in a suit of hair and sheering most of his head to accentuate its unique shape, barkers would proclaim Zip as a creature from Africa who had lived with the apes. But he was actually born in Liberty Corner, a community located in Bernards Township, New Jersey, in 1842. He was one of six children born to former slaves. Continue reading

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Black Friday for Black Henry

Black Henry

Many of today’s young pop-culture enthusiasts are only familiar with zombies of the modern, “toxic” variety—corpses restored to life as the result of a horrifying virus or radioactive contamination from an exploded space probe. The iconic zombie owes its heritage to a much earlier period, when Haitian slaves invented stories of such a purgatory to prevent them from committing suicide. Continue reading

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