The Sprats, a real fairy tale couple we can aspire to on Valentine’s Day

 

JackSpratt Valentine

Love is in the air, but in fairy tales, there are not frequently couples we can aspire to.

When you think about fairy tales and romance, you might first think of innumerable princess stories. However, in them, you will find dark themes hiding beneath the surface. Many of these stories were cleaned up by Disney in order to make them more palatable to a 20th century audience, but these original stories are riddled with jealousy, attempted murder, poisoning, and abusive families. Perhaps the most blatant example of “what not to do” in a relationship is the tale of the imprisoned  and abused wife of Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater!

In these romance stories, physical beauty is revered, while those possessing inner strength are often locked away and forgotten to toil on backbreaking chores. If one theme holds constant, it is that in the end, only the most beautiful, and pure princesses find mates.

Spratt

Thinking about this, I found myself searching for a realistic couple I could respect in the fairy tale world. I wanted a pair that exhibited unconditional love for one another, and whose traits make them complete partners by virtue of their opposite strengths. I came to the unexpected realization that maybe this ideal couple is not the most obvious husband and wife. They weren’t beautiful, or wealthy. They weren’t refined. In fact, in all of my travels, I’ve only encountered one (somewhat terrifying) interpretation of them at the Magic Forest.  (Though while researching this post, I did locate a second example at Rock City’s Fairyland Caverns in Chatanooga-Which is going on the list of future visits!)

I digress, the couple in question is Jack Sprat and his wife, Joan. For you scholars, there are additional lyrics to the rhyme, (though most of us only know the first stanza pictured above). I’ve included the song in its entirety at the end of this post. There are several interpretations of this tale, with some believing it is a reference to King Charles I and Henrietta Maria. Others believe it is actually referencing Richard I.

Ignoring British history, let’s read this purely as a children’s rhyme. We get to know Jack and Joan only through one short verse, but it is clear that they work in tandem to accomplish their goals (as most successful marriages do!)  Jack and Joan make due with what they have, always ensuring that the other is cared for.  Throughout the rhyme they both have enough to eat and consistently demonstrate their love one another (just as they are).

In a comedic, but romantic gesture, after they are married, Joan is too fat for the carriage, so without judgement or hesitation, Jack wheels her home in a wheelbarrow. The plump wife, and skinny husband seem perfectly paired. When trouble befalls Joan upon falling out of the wheelbarrow, Jack is first concerned for her safety. Once settled into their roles, Joan brews beer and cooks dinner; while time and time again we see Jack portrayed as a doting husband who makes sure Joan’s clothes are mended, and her belly is full. We see him hunt ducks and buy her anything she needs. Despite the mundane life they seem to lead, we even see two embark on international travel together, while their little cat has adventures of his own.

You’ll find no beautiful princesses here, and no dashing princes. Just two simple people sharing a life together, and there’ something quite admirable about that.

For the full picture of the Jack and Joan Sprat’s life, I encourage you to read their entire story in these lesser known verses below. The thing I love about this is that even though we see both of them fail and make foolish mistakes, their love for one another stays constant. Despite the odds, the love and respect for one another never falters.

THE LIFE OF JACK SPRAT, HIS WIFE, AND HIS CAT.

This one ear’d Cat,
Belongs to Jack Sprat.

Jack Sprat could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean,
And so between them both,
They lick’d the platter clean ;

Jack eat all the lean,
Joan eat all the fat,
The bone they pick’d it clean,
Then gave it to the cat

When Jack Sprat was young,
He dressed very smart,
He courted Joan Cole,
And he gained her heart ;

In his fine leather doublet,
And old greasy hat,
O what a smart fellow-
Was little Jack Sprat.

Joan Cole had a hole.
In her petticoat,
Jack Sprat, to get a patch
Gave her a groat ;
The groat bought a patch,
Which stopp’d Joan’s hole,

I thank you, Jack Sprat,
Says little Joan Cole.

Jack Sprat was the bridegroom,
Joan Cole was the bride,
Jack said, from the church
His Joan home should ride ;
But no coach could take her,
The lane was so narrow,
Said Jack, then I’ll take her
Home in a wheel-barrow.

Jack Sprat was wheeling
His wife by a ditch,
The barrow turn’d over,
And in she did pitch ;
Says Jack, she’ll be drown’d,
But Joan did reply,
I don’t think 1 shall,
For the ditch is quite dry.

Jack brought home his Joan,
And she sat on a chair,
When in came his cat,
That had got but one ear,
Says Joan, I’m come home puss,
Pray how do you do,
The cat wagg’d her tail,
And said nothing but mew.

Jack Sprat took his gun,
And went to the brook,
He shot at the drake,
But he kill’d a duck,
He brought it to Joan,
Who a fire did make,
To roast the fat duck,
While Jack went for the drake.

The drake was a swimming,
With his curley tail,
Jack Sprat came to shoot him,
But happen’d to fail ;
He let off his gun,
But missing his mark

The drake flew away,
Crying, quack, quack quack.

Jack Sprat, to live pretty,
Now bought him a pig,
It was not very little,
It was not very big,
It was not very lean,
It was not very fat,
It will serve for a grunter,
For little Jack Sprat.

Then Joan went to market,
To buy her some fowls,
She bought a jackdaw
And a couple of owls;
The owls they were white,
The jackdaw was black,
They’ll make a rare breed,
Says little Joan Sprat.

Jack Sprat bought a cow,
His Joan for to please,
For Joan she could make
Both butter and cheese,
Or pancakes, or puddings,
Without any fat,
A notable housewife
Was little Joan Sprat.

Joan Sprat went to brewing
A barrel of ale,
She put in some hops
That it might not turn stale
But as for the malt,
She forgot to put that,
This is sober liquor,
Says little Jack Sprat,

Jack Sprat went to market,
And bought him a mare,
She was lame of three legs,
And as blind as a bat,
Her ribs they were bare,
For the mare had no fat,
She looks like a racer,
Says little Jack Sprat.

Jack and Joan went abroad,
Puss took care of the house,
She caught a large rat
And a very small mouse,
She caught a small mouse
And a very large rat,
You are an excellent hunter,
Says little Jack Sprat.

Now I have told you the story
Of little Jack Sprat,
Of little Joan Cole,
And the one ear’d cat.
Now Jack has got rich.
And has plenty of pelf,
If you’d know any more,
You may tell it yourself.

Here’s to all the really real couples out there that are taking care of each other and making sure their loved ones stay fed and happy!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

What In God’s Name? The Chapels of Kiddieland

One of the most unusual things you’ll begin to notice when you visit a lot of kiddie parks is the amount of churches you’ll find. When you think about an amusement park today, it is hard to imagine that something so blatantly religious could be an important part of a family’s vacation. Don’t forget, most of these parks were built in the 1950s at a time when the majority of Americans were practicing Christians that attended church every Sunday. In post-war America, the nation was prosperous, and the culture shifted to a more conservative set of values. Families moved out of small city homes and into large suburban ranches. Boomers saw the church as an important pillar of these newly developed suburban communities. It was a place for families to pray, but also to socialize with their neighbors. For parks, building a church was not just culturally appropriate, but it also made good business sense. At a time when families would spend weekend getaways visiting these new amusements, many still wanted a place to worship. This unique intersection between family fun and faith resulted in many kiddie parks having small chapels on their property.

It is in these small churches that families could gather to quietly pay respect to God and step away from the commotion and excitement outside. It is no surprise that many of these small structures are nestled away in quiet forests away from the park’s sensationalism. As parks grew, many are now surrounded by noisy rides and video games. You might walk right by them today without even realizing that they are churches. In fact, most people seem to do just that! Today we’re going to take a moment to peek inside the pews of these small houses of worship.

SantasWorkshopNorthPoleNY

At Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, NY, you’ll need to cross a foot bridge in the rolling hills to find this serene chapel with a bright red roof hiding between the trees. This is Saint Nicholas Chapel, and once inside you’ll find a simple rustic church with German influenced design.
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With a mood that differs from most of the whimsical music shows, a group of actors presents a live Nativity Pageant nearby daily.

 

StoryBookLand

Story Book Land in NJ welcomes visitors to the “Chapel Of Peace”. This tiny church, The Chapel was built by 18-year-old Andrew Cresci as a gift to his parents Celestine and Augustus Cresci in 1885, and stood at their home in Vineland, NJ. Benediction was held in the chapel on the feast days of each saint until the family property was sold, and the chapel was moved to a cemetery in Union NJ where it fell into disrepair. It was later rescued by Story Book Land, who kept the interior and exterior intact, including the intricate stained glass windows made of sand.

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Nearby a ramshackle nativity is set up using mannequins with wigs, false beards and fabric clothing.

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At Santa’s Village in New Hampshire, an awe-inspiring church sits between the Sugar and Spice Bake shop and the  SS Peppermint Twist ride. A fantastically ornate interior surprises guests entering the rustic log structure. Contained within is an altar built in 1864 for the Cathedral of Manchester. Seven Bishops were consecrated in front of this impressive structure which was graciously given to Santa’s Village by All Saints’ Parish in Lancaster NH when the church was renovated.

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A young elf can be seen worshiping on this late 60s or early 70s postcard of the church.

 

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In what appears to a running theme, A fiberglass nativity is spread out in a wide area of the park, including the Three Wise Men traveling to the manger on camel back.

 

StorylandNH

Down an unassuming path, a short little building with a Queen Anne dome turret stands amongst the landscaping. In Storyland of Glenn, NH, a simple miniaturized church houses two small rows of single seat pews that lead up to fabric draped altar holding just an acrylic encased bible and a vase of fresh flowers. A token sign outside reminds visitors to finish their food and drink before entering the chapel. This is, after all, a house of the lord.

 

SantasLandVT

Santa’s Land  inVT features one of the only open air areas of worship I’ve seen, and it happens to be hog sty adjacent. I suppose no other scene more accurately captures the feeling of the nativity stable than one with live pigs running around. A crazy-eyed goat seems tacked on and out-of-place amongst the more detailed figures. There are also pipe organs mounted above the entrance, which seemingly attach to nothing. They do give the whole area a “churchy” vibe though, so its nice to see that they are still being displayed!

DutchWonderland

At Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA a simple Amish church is on the park property. Traditionally, the Amish do not include ornate or decorative elements in their building techniques, and this church is no exception. It resembles many of the larger churches found in the area, but this miniaturized one seats just 8 people!

 

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We have talked a lot about the Magic Forest on this site, and we often chuckle at some of the creepy statues that inhabit their grounds. I have to tell you that when I stepped inside this log building, I was genuinely shocked at what I found inside! Despite the run down exterior typical of this overgrown park, the inside of this rustic log church blew my mind. Log elements intersect with roman catholic elements like stained glass and a stone holy water font. From the woodsy carved altar and colored lightbulb chandeliers the design elements of this Catholic church come together to create an altogether surreal house of worship.

WildWestCity

You might think that park chapels are only for the wholesome family focused Santa parks and Fairy Tale Lands that popped up in the middle of the twentieth century, but there’s another kind of park that we’ve yet to scratch the surface on here at Kiddieland, Giddy up- it’s the Wild West Park! Once plentiful, there are only a few of these parks remaining. At Wild West City in Netcong, NJ actors recreate a day in the life of Dodge City, KS in the 1880s and while gunslinging cowboys fall off real horses and stage coaches drive by, there is a quiet escape from the shootouts on main street. Near the back of the park next to Boot Hill, a nondenominational chapel welcomes all. You can take a moment to quietly reflect while you mourn your fallen bandits at this historic house of the lord. Uncle Floyd is purportedly a fan of the chapel, as it features one modern convenience that was not available in the old west-air conditioning!

Although I’m not religious, I grew up in a town that boasted the claim of “America’s smallest chapel” which, as a fan of tourism, always attracted me, and I know this is where my fascination with tiny churches originated. As a small town teen (with no church affiliations), I remember going into the chapel with my brother and just taking in the strangeness of the place. Having grown up in a primarily Catholic area, we were accostomed to seeing ornate churches with giant steeples, and rituals we didn’t understand. This simple little place made no sense. We took rosary beads and signed the registry book even though we weren’t Catholic. My brother used to say that when he got married, he wanted to have his tiny wedding there, and coming from a very large family, we thought that was hilarious. I guess we pictured our 15 aunts and uncles and 50+ cousins crammed in the small pews. Now that I’ve been to some of these small churches, I’m not sure Decker’s Chapel can continue with their draw of “smallest church in America” (though they still claim to be!)Whether you are looking for a quiet escape from a noisy day at the park, or want a unique place to hold an intimate wedding, these small park chapels are another way that vintage attractions are keeping things weird.

Parks like Holiday World have even continued the tradition and recently transported a historic 1880s church to the park in 2012. At Knott’s Berry Farm, you can get married at the Chapel of Reflection and Snoopy can even attend your wedding, and late to the game Walt Disney World built their 300 seat nondenominational Wedding Pavillion  on the Seven Seas Lagoon in 1995 so that guests could have a fairy tale wedding with a “picturesque backdrop of Cinderella Castle”.

There’s something special about these small spaces. Whether they are built by families out of love for each other and their god, or because  that was all that was affordable for a tiny community, these humble churches are a unique testament to a time lost. Regardless of your religious affiliation, there’s something special about that.

Peace be with you.

 

A Coach to take you to your Halloween Ball

We’ve talked about Pumpkins before on this site, but they seem to hold a special place in the fairy tale world. Besides being houses, they can also be transportation! Sure we could post lots of scary things during the Halloween season, but in keeping with our fairy tale roots, we’re taking a look at the well known tale of Cinderella; the poor girl whose fairy godmother turned a pumpkin into a golden coach so she could attend a ball at the palace and meet Prince Charming. If you don’t think its a story about Halloween, I’d argue that its a supernatural tale of masquerades, dressing up, villains, and of course- pumpkins, so put up your glass slippers and unwrap that pumpkin spice muffin while we check out a few of the pumpkin coaches we’ve come across in parks around the northeast!

EnchantedForest

The Enchanted Forest has an impressive coach that I could  barely fit in my viewfinder.  They have captured the action of the story with a larger than life Fairy Godmother adorned in a lavender dress, pumpkin stems swirling about as she creates a footman from a horse, and a coach from a pumpkin. The movement in this one is really stunning, and I found myself walking around it a few times to take in all the angles and the flowing fabrics. Its just gorgeous in person! Kids (and kids at heart) can climb inside for a photo.

MagicForest
The Magic Forest’s Cinderella somehow managed to land herself square on top of the palace, but once you enter, it looks like she eventually made her way to the ball. Her ugly stepsisters are the highlight of the display here, with their jealous scowls captured perfectly. Since the piece is primarily indoors, the sculptures here are in very good condition (compared to some of the other spider-webs and dirt we saw on other Magic Forest dioramas!) It looks like it is in a different style than the rest of the park, so these may have been sculpted by a different artist.

StoryBookLand
Meanwhile in New Jersey, a glass slipper guides us to a guarded coach inside a gazebo, locked behind an inaccessible gate. It may be that the park is trying to preserve the vintage coach, as you can see that it does appear to have seats for riders. If anyone has evidence of the Story Book Land coach in Egg Harbor with passengers, please let us know in the comments! We’d love to see it in action!

StoryLand
Story Land in NH had one of the most advanced coaches we’ve ever seen, with two motorized horses pulling a gas powered pumpkin with a full door. You can ride the coach up the hill to the castle and back, but they have preserved their history by displaying an older  pumpkin coach (photo on the lower right). This smaller coach likely pulled Cinderella through the park  before the motorized coach was added.

StorylandVintage

Here is a third coach we found on a 1957 postcard. The curved windows and  arched door is different from both of the above, and we’re not sure what became of this coach. Do any of you helper mice know?

Storytown USA

Finally, at the Great Escape (which stands on the Storytown USA land) a memory from the past has been preserved. A pumpkin coach and footman (with a full pony rig) still stands near the fontain and small castle replica of this Six Flags owned park. The coach has lived through decades at the park and can be seen as a white pumpkin in the 1956 Viewmaster Slide. (Thanks to Chuck Miller for scanning the original slide).

Have you ever ridden in a pumpkin coach? Which one is your favorite?
Happy Halloween!

CinderellaPumpkin

 

 

 

 

And There He Kept Her Very Well

Since its almost fall on the east coast, and pumpkin EVERYTHING is about to start showing up at all restaurants and coffee shops, I thought we’d take a minute to look in on some of the pumpkin-dwelling residents of Kiddieland in today’s post.

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife but couldn’t keep her;
He put her in a pumpkin shell
And there he kept her very well.

Something about this nursery rhyme has always troubled me (and my Women’s Studies degree), but we don’t hide the truth here at Enchanted Kiddieland so we’re going to delve into this tale of the controlling husband and his poor pumpkin-imprisoned wife.  That said, I’m pretty sure this isn’t what Virginia Woolf had in mind when she wrote A Room of One’s Own.

Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest-A heavily medicated housewife peers out of her pumpkin prison

At the Enchanted forest, a listless housewife peers out of a tiny window in her locked up prison house. She was built in 1956 afterall, but at least she is entertained. Among the giant seeds, she keeps books in the kitchen of “207 Pumpkin Recipes”, but still has time to read her “Goose Housekeeping” magazine.  The numb smile on her face seems to indicate that she is heavily medicated, maybe to deal with the mundanity of her daily life, and  to cope with her imprisonment. Please don’t tell Betty Freidan about this.

 

HolidayWorld

Holiday World (Call the Police)

At Holiday World, things aren’t looking much better. Here we have an inbred looking Peter with his adorable victim wife crammed in a way-too-small pumpkin house, (if you can even call it a house!) He has the look on his face that I imagine Lenny must have had when he was petting rabbits to death in Of Mice and Men. Meanwhile, she looks like a terrified horror movie victim whose motivation is “In this scene, you’re about to be baked into a pumpkin pie by a psychopathic kidnapper.” For the love of god,  can someone please help this woman?

 

MagicForest

Magic Forest GUHHHHHHHH!

Alright, that wasn’t disturbing enough for you? Let’s just move on to some nightmare fodder courtesy of the Magic Forest. In this upsetting scene, our homely, green-haired, dead-eyed wife seems to have escaped her pumpkin prison, while her  husband, Peter stands half bent over in some sort of horrific gravity defying stance. Is he trying to run away from her? His ghastly mouth agape, with his disconcerting black wig barely covering a misshapen head, his hands covering his butt, all with a cross-eyed transfixed look of terror on his face. Meanwhile his wife stands by stoically balancing a pumpkin on the back of her poorly sculpted hand. Yeah, we don’t know either, but if I were you, I’d run…Something is about to go down.

 

Storybook Forest

Storybook Forest HAAAAAY!

Now for a slightly calmer scene-Let’s swing by Storybook Forest. This wife appears to be on minimum security lockdown, as there are no padlocks, chains, or doors on her pumpkin. What a relief! Maybe that’s because she’s actually being held captive by a tiny pixie man. We photographed him twice, and he appears to have a flair for fashion, as he was spotted wearing a pastel yellow V-neck in the spring and a sassy little striped tank top in the summer. Despite the wide open doorways, there is however, a window covered with bars. Yeah, I don’t get it either, but I don’t think she’s very scared of him, she’s nowhere in sight and he seems less than concerned about it. We have reason to believe that his marriage might be a farce.

Storybook Land

Storybook Land- Pies for Days

What’s that? Another creep?-This crooked cane-carrying Peter stands guard outside his abode at Story Book Land prominently marked with the letter “P” on the door. He wants to make sure everyone knows who lives there. “You can’t miss it. Its the pumpkin shaped house, right next to the birthday cake shaped house. I’ll be standing outside in my pimp-hat and cane.” Sure, it looks cute from the outside, but inside a disheveled doll-wife is toiling away baking pies day and night. What kind of pies? Well, Pumpkin, naturally! At least it appears that in his infinite kindness, he has built her a little extra room to retire to, so when she’s done baking pies all day long and is sick to her stomach from the incessant smell of pumpkins, she can pop next door and relax insider her…other pumpkin house. Ugh. Nevermind.

 

Storyland

Storyland Everything is cuter in New Hampshire

That’s it, I can’t take anymore of this. Where is Gloria Steinem? Quick, someone please show me some pictures of a cute little small-world-esque  character peeking out of a round pumpkin window in her adorably decorated pumpkin house with wide open doors! OH, THANK YOU STORYLAND!

Ok, Finally, one that doesn’t make me want to call the police. This sweet little abode certainly has a woman’s touch; from the actual working ceiling fixtures (ooh, aaah!), to the sweet little place settings and the complimentary colors of her stove. The sweetest thing might be the working jack-o-lantern clock molded right into the wall. She’s also got a built in extension so she can really spread out here and as for location, her pumpkin house is perched atop a charming little rock bridge. This is finally one that will let me sleep soundly at night.

Feel better, everyone? Good. Now, I don’t know about you, but I could really go for a pumpkin spice latte, and maybe a piece of pie.

Tiny Kingdoms

When Walt built Disneyland, his imagineers used an optical illusion called “forced perspective” in order to make Sleeping Beauty’s castle appear much larger than it actually is. All this means is that the foundation is larger than the turrets, and as you walk down Main Street USA toward the castle, the buildings get smaller which in turn makes the castle appear larger from a distance. From the entrance gate it looks like a huge castle, but once you are standing next to it, it’s really not much taller than a large house. Disney liked  this optical illusion so much that it was used in every park that followed, including its other castles! Next time you are in Walt Disney World, note the windows on Cinderella Castle-they are actually incrementally smaller the higher up in the tower you go. This tricks our eyes and makes us think the building is much larger than it is. You can also see it put to good use in the recently erected Beast Castle in Fantasyland.

Some parks force this perspective a bit more than others, and the result is, at times, comical. I think it is fair to say that a good number of these quirky castles are more the result of limited space and resources than an attempt to create a dazzling special effect.

great escape castle2

Standing in a fountain (but we like to think of it as a moat) at the Great Escape in New England is the heart of what was formerly Storytown USA . This tiny castle is not much larger than a very elaborate doll house, but its charming pastel palette is very well maintained. This structure is a 2010 rebuild of the of the original Storytown castle, and we think its a very important gesture that the park re installed it after purchasing the land in 2006.

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Atop a stone hill sits a comparatively drab castle at the Magic Forest. This one does have an impressive amount of turrets and flags, so as tiny castles go, it’s not too shabby! There is something oddly majestic about this pint-sized kingdom!

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Storybook Land’s small castle is the epitome of 1960s kiddie park roadside kitsch. The exaggerated angles, the primary colors, and the overall strangeness of this castle makes it a favorite of mine. Goosey Gander’s Castle is put to good use as a home and pond for several geese to swim…and apparently poop.

Goony Golf (3)

While we’re on the subject of 60s style, check out Sir Goony’s Castle at Sir Goony Golf in Lake George. A fair maiden looks out hoping you’ll make the shot as the drawbridge opens and closes on the green!

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She’s thinking “You’re totally not going to make this shot, and I’m going to die in this tower.”

Storyland

Wrapping up our architectural study of zany mid-century angles, we’ll make a visit to Cinderella’s Castle at Storyland. I’ve saved the best for last. Not only can you look upon this castle in all its 1960s glory, but you can also see a bit of forced perspective in action! You can see this castle from just about every point in the park, and it looks magnificent perched atop a winding hillside. You might be asking yourself, “How do I get to a castle high on a hillside?” Why, in your PUMPKIN COACH, silly! PumpkinCoach

That’s right-you can ride an electromechanical horse drawn carriage up the hill to the castle in a faraway land. Once you arrive, you might even be lucky enough to find a princess, and her famous glass slipper inside!

Pumpkin Coach

Even if you don’t have a thing to wear to the ball,  We highly recommend hopping into this pumpkin coach, as it’s going to offer you a breathtaking view of the rest of the park! Some might even say it is a view fit for a king, a tiny king, but a king nonetheless!

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Hump-Day Dumpty Week 10

Alright, you got me, I missed a few Humpdays, so this week I’m making up for it by posting a true gem from the Magic Forest. This Humpty is a real egg-head with his round glasses and know-it-all expression. He looks a bit worried sitting up there on that wall because I think he has figured out the probability of his fall and the statistical likelihood of his breaking into a million pieces; and statistically speaking, things don’t look good for our egg-headed little friend.  In dire need of a new coat of paint, and missing at least one finger, you can almost hear his distress cry- “Oh dear!”

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Hope your Humpday is better than his!