Two cartoons for month’s end

.. and Halloween, though, pleasingly, neither has anything to do with All Hallows’ / All Souls’ / All Saints’. A One Big Happy that’s a study in American (and Antipodal) phonology; and a Zippy with a fallen roadside fiberglass hero, the Green Giant of Pahrump NV:

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Hurters and herders. Ruthie is endlessly understanding words at the periphery of her experience as words she knows well, in this case herd understood as hurt, specifically in the word herder — which for a great many North American English speakers is pronounced very close to, or identical to, hurter. From a Wikipedia article that deftly avoids a host of details and complexities in the phenomenon:

Flapping or tapping, also known as alveolar flapping or intervocalic flapping, is a phonological process found in many dialects of English, especially North American English, Australian English and New Zealand English, by which the consonants /t/ and /d/ may be pronounced as a flap (tap) in certain positions, particularly between vowels (intervocalic position). In some cases, the effect is perceived by some listeners as the replacement of a /t/ sound with a /d/ sound; for example, the word butter pronounced with flapping may be heard as “budder”. In fact, both /t/ and /d/ are replaced in such positions by an alveolar flap (or tap; IPA symbol [ɾ]), a sound produced by briefly tapping the alveolar ridge with the tongue. Also, in similar positions, the combination /nt/ may be pronounced with a nasalized flap or just [n] so winter may sound similar or identical to winner.

Don’t think that there’s some special connection between North American and Antipodal English. Flapping is just a natural lenition process (serving ease of articulation), one occurring in languages other than English. It could happen to anybody.

The Green Giant of Pahrump NV. From the site Living Las Vegas on the 17th, “The Green Giant of Pahrump Finds a New Home” by Osie Turner:

If you have driven through Pahrump recently, you may have noticed something missing form their skyline. The “Home Giant,” or “The Green Giant” as locals knew him, used to stand alongside Nevada State Route 160 greeting visitors as they entered town from Las Vegas.

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However, a few years ago he abruptly vanished without a trace. What happened to this smiling giant?

The story actually begins in 1965 when Texaco came up with a new marketing campaign of adding a company mascot to their service stations. The “Big Friend” was a larger than life fiberglass repairman who was going to greet all patrons of Texaco stations with a friendly wave and smile. The Big Friend was designed by sculptor Sasha Schnittman, and International Fiberglass was contracted to begin mass producing them.

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Big Friendly in Morrilton AR

For reasons unknown, Texaco abruptly changed its mind on the Big Friend campaign and ceased production of them and ordered all of the 300 already installed at gas stations to be destroyed. By 1967, all but four of them were. Our own Pahrump Green Giant was one of those four that survived the pogrom.

He originally stood at a Texaco station in Las Vegas somewhere along Boulder Highway, according to usagiants.com. Somehow or other, he avoided destruction until he was purchased by Jack Stanton in 1981 for the substantial sum of $18,000 and was moved out to Pahrump. The original hat was replaced with the Robin Hood styled one and he was repainted a brighter green, orange, and white to complete his transformation into the Green Giant we have come to know and love.

The Green Giant was erected on the then edge of town at 1400 S. Highway 160, with a new sign and new look. For the next thirty years, that is where he remained, until 2012 when the mobile home business he advertised went out of business. The land went into foreclosure and fell into disrepair over the next year.

Eventually the Giant was torn down and relocated to the Pahrump landfill, where he was to be salvaged for scrap metal. While his exterior is sculpted fiberglass, he had a heavy metal spine and other metallic support beams inside making him quite heavy. He had to be gutted and dismembered in the process of being taken down and transported to the landfill. There was enough of an outcry from the community for the salvage yard to change their plans. No one wanted to see a beloved town landmark scrapped, so he was temporarily stored in a container at the landfill while other arrangements were worked out.

Thankfully, something was worked out with the Pahrump Valley Museum, and his mutilated but recognizable remains were deposited in the open air lot behind the museum in December 2013. The Green Giant bided his time there over the next two and a half years in a state of disrepair until the museum sold him to a restoration company that specializes in repairing and collecting fiberglass statues.

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The Giant on the ground, in pieces

As of last Monday, The Green Giant was hauled away to Illinois to be restored to his original, pre-green state. American Giants, the new owners of The Green Giant, began as a hobby based around finding old “Muffler Men” and repairing them and learning about their unique histories along the way. It grew into a website in 2013 and now a YouTube show in its second season. Undoubtedly, our Green Giant will be the feature of a future episode once his restoration is complete. They posted a few photos of the Green Giant being loaded up on Instagram.

It is a wonderful turn of events for a local icon whose fate did not look promising. To the nostalgic types like myself, it should be comforting to know that our Green Giant will go on to experience a new life and be treated with the respect he deserves, hopefully ending up alongside some of his long lost siblings. The Green Giant will not be returning to Pahrump, unfortunately, but he will live on!

So endeth the Tale of the Green Giant’s Redemption.

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