Greetings From the Land of the Make-Believe Species
Postcards provided proof of lake serpents, jackalopes and assorted curious monsters
- By Peter A. Smith
- Smithsonian.com, March 29, 2012
The postcard once provided a fast, reliable means of communication. The images on the cards carried strong implications of objectivity, underscored by concise captioning. Among these postcards emerges a unique flowering of the beastly taxonomic tree: dozens of distinctive, little-known species spotted by solitary farmers, hunters and fishermen, lurking all across the country, creatures that came alive through hyperbole, exaggeration and the perceived authenticity of postcards.
(Creative Commons, Nantucket Historical Association)
As early as the 1830s, residents of Nantucket, Massachusetts, reported seeing sea serpents, ranging in size, scale and monstrosity. In 1937, local businessmen discovered giant footprints on the beach. Radio and newsreel reporters were called in and soon discovered that the creature was a rubber balloon, inflated on the beach of Coatue and sailed across the harbor by Tony Sarg, a man better known for making floats at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.