There’s a neat blog called Junking in Georgia where the woman explains the history behind some of the finds she makes. A friend and I went antiquing last Saturday. I was on the hunt for ephemera to use in my collages. I found a fantastic photo album that contained ephemera from the 1940s instead of photos. Inside was an occupation currency bill from Japan’s occupation of Malaya, and French occupation bill. 1940s and 1950s travel brochures. Postcards from wartime Europe. Empty envelopes from a convalescing soldier in CA to a woman in NC. He had carefully and beautifully drawn art on the front of the envelope, with tiny notes to the woman he as writing to. All kinds of stuff.
I was intrigued by the Bridal Chamber brochure. What on earth is going on with that disembodied hand wearing a bracelet? First I researched Silver Springs and learned that it is Florida’s first real tourist park. Since at least the mid 19th century, the natural beauty of Silver Springs has attracted visitors from around the country. Glass bottom boat tours of the springs began in the late 1870s. In the 1920s, Carl Ray and W.M. Davidson made the land around the headwaters of the Spring into something resembling the attraction that is there today, now known as the Silver Springs Nature Theme Park. (According to Wikipedia). These wealthy tourists lodged at robber baron Henry Flagler hotels, using his railroad of course. When the 1920s and 30s rolled around, folks had bought their own automobiles, and streamed into this previously undiscovered warm weather mecca. They were called Tin Can Tourists and that pretty much did Flagler in, because they stayed at the more cost effective campsites, B&Bs and guest houses.
Silver Springs is known for the clear springs and thus, the glass bottom boat rides. The legend goes that an 100-year-old black woman named Aunt Silla told the story of local poor woman Bernice Mayo and wealthy son-of-a-magnate Claire Douglass fell in love. They met at Silver Springs often, where, fascinated by the undersea world, Bernice would gaze longingly into the waters while Claire rowed. Eventually, they decided to marry. Of course, Claire’s father was opposed, sent his son on a lengthy business trip, and destroyed all incoming letters from Bernice. Pining away, perhaps like the Norwegian Blue parrot, Bernice with her dying breath begged to be buried in a cavern below her beloved clear waters and then she expired. Assuredly, she was not “just resting.”
Arriving home Claire sought to meet with Bernice, and discovering what had happened, disconsolately rowed out and drifted around, whereupon he saw a hand waving to him, wearing a crystal bracelet he had given Bernice his beloved. Diving into the water, Claire and Bernice embraced and now dwell forevermore under the caverns, in a perpetual watery Bridal Chamber.
Interestingly, in the 1970s and 1980s the story changed from two locals Claire and Bernice to an Indian princess named Winona and rival prince Chulcotah from another tribe. Political correctness?