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Sunday, July 15, 2012


Luciano: Lure of late elephant just not the same
By PHIL LUCIANO, of the Journal Star
Jul 15, 2012
PHIL LUCIANO/JOURNAL STAR
Several years ago, vandals ruined the original elephant statue atop Norma Jean's marker. This replacement pachyderm now playfully accents the stone wall.
“If you can’t go through life helping people, even if it’s only a dead elephant, then there’s no use in you being here.” — Wade Meloan, Oquawka pharmacist, elephant undertaker, workaday philosopher
There’s a bit of a sad irony when townsfolk and tourists start forgetting the most famous elephant to ever grace these parts.
There’s a bit of a sad irony when townsfolk and tourists start forgetting the most famous elephant to ever grace these parts.
After all, elephants are said to have remarkable memories, an axiom that owes its roots to the beasts’ legendary ability to find their familial burial grounds. And though Norma Jean the elephant didn’t pick this Mississippi River burg as a final resting place, no pachyderm — nor most any other creature this side of Elvis Presley — could ask for a more prominent grave site.
Still, 40 years after Mother Nature struck down Norma Jean during the prime of her circus career, her legacy has begun to fade. And that’s despite a unique memorial big enough to stop a charging elephant. Well, maybe not. But it sure is impressive, as far as dead elephants go.
So in a day and age when tourism gets more corporate and streamlined, perhaps it’s worth a moment to celebrate one of central Illinois’ oddest roadside attractions. This week marks the 40th anniversary a lightning bolt forever tied together an old river town and a big-eared visitor.
Before Norma Jean lumbered into town and keeled over, Oquawka’s historical figures ran along the lines of many area towns: Lincoln, Douglas and the like. That’s all well and good. But they were no Norma Jean. And not every town can claim an elephant graveyard.
read more at:
http://www.pjstar.com/news/x1903093678/Luciano-Lure-of-late-elephant-just-not-the-same

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