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A Tall-Tale Postcard In Honor Of National Watermelon Day

Vintage Wisconsin: Waupun Photographer Celebrates Agricultural Abundance With Exaggerated Images

Wisconsin Historical Images

We can’t let National Watermelon Day pass by unremarked upon. In the above image, four girls take a bite out of a giant slice of melon in this tall-tale postcard from Wisconsin’s master of the style, Alfred Stanley Johnson Jr.

Johnson began making tall-tale postcards around 1908 in Waupun. To make these images, he took two photos. First, he posed his friends and family in a background landscape (check out the image in the sidebar). Then, he took a close-up of a fruit or vegetable (and sometimes a cow, frogs, or fish) and carefully cut out the image. Finally, Johnson layered the second image on the first and reshot the combination.

He created these types of images for towns and cities around the nation, helping to sustain certain myths of abundance that might attract tourists and settlers.

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Although watermelons aren’t indigenous to Wisconsin or even North America, Wisconsin has staked a claim on the melons. Pardeeville has hosted an annual watermelon festival for nearly 50 years, an event that includes the U.S. Watermelon Speed-Eating and Seed-Spitting Championships.

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