Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gone Fishing

"Because, in order to accomplish the things I must do, I will have to travel a lot in the forthcoming years and face some other adventures. But that can't be helped. I have picked a hellish trade."
--Isaac Babel, in a letter to his sister, December 20, 1926

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bath Toy Lost at Sea Found in Brooklyn?

Artist and serious beachcomber Willis Elkins sends news of a discovery he made on the morning of August 30, along the shoreline of Kingsborough Community College, in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn: A toy frog. And not just any toy frog. There's no doubt about it. That's a Floatee.

Compare for yourself. Here's a package of the toys:

Elkins writes, "I hardly believed it when I saw it, but instantly recognized the angular shapes I had seen in photos." He adds that it's "in fairly good condition, if we were to believe it to be an original from the infamous container spill some 20 years ago. There are no punctures, serious scratches or wear, and color is consistent throughout."

So is the frog an original from the infamous container spill? Or is it just a toy that some kid left behind on a trip to the seashore?  There's no telling. Could easily be the latter, and as Elkin notes, it is in dubiously good condition. We'll have to put more question marks on the map.  A number of correspondents have sent me pictures of stranded toys--for instance, of this duck spotted on Governor's Island (right).

But Elkins's frog is the first documented discovery of a Floatee on a North Atlantic beach I know of. A tantalizing one. I spent many hours beachcombing the New York City waterfront, and I'd given up all hope of ever finding one of the toys, and here one turns up in Brooklyn.