23 September 2012

The Muse: Beyond the Sea

Tropigals were back making magic on Friday night at the Dorrance in downtown Providence to celebrate the 74th anniversary of the Great Hurricane of 1938.  There were mermaids, and oysters, and a sea of champagne, as well as nautically inspired outfits of every shape and kind. There were a few new numbers since the last Tropigal show, including the parasol and parachute numbers pictured below. I brought my friend Alyssa along tonight and we fought fiercely to defend our seats and keep the great view we had, with varying amounts of success. The place was packed to the gills and there were plenty of people decked out in their full vintage glory, including James and Eileen Forster Keck, a 40's obsessed couple who comes to all their shows dressed to the nines in their 1947 Roadster. They gave the crowd a treat when they did some solo swing dancing to "It Don't Mean A Thing (If You Ain't Got That Swing)"

 Blouse: Violet and Claire via Marshall's
Skirt (part of a suit): vintage, Scala of Milan, thrifted via Salvation Army Family Store
Necklace: vintage, yard sale
Hair Clip: Self made
Shoes: Karen Millen
Purse: Old Navy
Coat (next to me in the top photo): Merona via Target

Alyssa also subbed in as my guest photographer, making my life a whole lot easier. You might not believe this but taking outfit photos by yourself on city streets after midnight isn't an easy thing. That's what friends are for.

This man was too awesome not to take a photo of, he actually arrived with two companions wearing life preservers, which I presume will come in handy when the Skipper takes the SS Minnow out for that promised three hour tour.

The Keck's swing like they were born doing it, you can read about them in this article from the Providence Pheonix about one of their past shows. I did a little mild Facebook stalking and found that they also have 2 Siamese cats, which only makes me love them more.

Jen and I, post-performance, but she still found an excuse to wear her sailor's cap (and why not, if I could get away with one at the grocery store I would never take it off)

Photographer extrordinare Alyssa striking a saucy pose

Us posing in front of the 1947 Roadster, possibly the sweetest ride ever, frankly a rather awful and awkward photo of me, but the car was really the focus 
 If you aren't familiar with the Hurricane of '38 perhaps a little back ground is in store. On September 21, 1938 in the middle of the afternoon it made landfall, first on Long Island then in Connecticut before proceeding up the New England coast. Meteorologist never expected the storm, which had been a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic, to make landfall. They also didn't predict that it would move as quickly up the coast as it did. Consequently most people had no idea what hit them when the now Category 3 storm hit bringing with it 125 mph winds and a massive storm surge of more than 16 feet. Because the storm coincided with both the monthly full moon and the autumnal equinox tides were already higher than usual.

  The results were devastating,and no place was hit more severely than Rhode Island. Narragansett Bay the triangle shaped body of water that splits the state acted as a funnel as the hurricane moved up it, and with the rising water trapped with nowhere to go it caused devastating flooding, especially in the capital city of Providence. In some places the city was flooded to a depth of 13 feet, and some buildings, including the Union Trust Bank building that now houses the Dorrance, have plaques on their walls marking the high water mark. In all the storm destroyed 4,500 homes, severely damaging some 25,000 more, 26,000 automobiles, more than 20,000 telephone poles came down, and its estimated that 2 billion trees were killed in the course of the single storm. In today's currency the damage would exceed 39 billion dollars. Rhode Island also suffered the bulk of human casualties, overall death toll estimates range from 680-800, with at least 600 occurring in Rhode Island. The entire beach community of Napatree Point in Westerly was washed away, taking 40 homes and their occupants with it. Whale Rock Lighthouse at the mouth of the bay was washed completely off its foundation killing Walter Eberle the lighthouse keep whose body was never found.
 The devastation by the docks. This location is not far from where the Fox Point Hurricane barrier now stands. After the devastation of the '38 storm, then the repeat pounding Providence received from Hurricane Carol in 1954 where 8 feet of water flooded the city it was decided that preventative measures were necessary since the low lying city (only 8 feet above sea level) was too vulnerable. Construction of the barrier was complete in 1966 and while it has never seen a category 5 storm, it has been closed many times and saved millions in damage.
This picture of the steamer Mohegan was the inspiration for the logo for this show, it was floated up onto land where it stopped in between too factories far from the water.

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