Affiliation: South Jersey Postcard Club
First: SJPCC Newsletter, April 2002
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Number of words: approximately 335
Illustrations: 1 postcard
Joseph Albert Jean Lussier was born in Concord, New Hampshire in 1892 of French Canadian parents. At age 16, Lussier, after living in Quebec, returned to New Hampshire in order to learn the English language. He was working at a grocery store when he heard about the tragedy of Charles Stevens, the man who tried to ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel and died.
Lussier became interested in the challenge of going over the falls and went to an Akron, Ohio, rubber company to further his idea. Using his life savings of $1,500, Lussier came up with a design for a six-foot (diameter) rubber ball with inner and outer steel bands. The interior was lined with thirty-two inner tubes for shock protection and had an empty space in the middle for him.
The ball also contained 150 pounds of hard rubber ballast in the bottom to keep it upright. In addition, he devised a system of valves and air tanks to keep him alive for 40 hours in the event he became trapped under the falls.
On July 4th, 1928, Lussier rowed his ball about two miles upstream of the Horseshoe Falls and began his journey. At 3:35 PM the rubber ball went over the falls - a drop of 162 feet. At 4:23 PM he was picked up by a "Maid of the Mist" boat and towed to shore.
Lussier capitalized on his feat by selling pieces of his rubber ball for 50¢ to the tourists at Niagara Falls. When he ran out of pieces from the original rubber ball he went to the local tire stores for more material.
Mr. Lussier also autographed and sold post cards depicting his news making feat. The card shown here is a photo of the very minute when Lussier inside his ball went over the falls. It is dated July 28, 1938, and autographed: Jean. Today cards like this one are worth between $12.00 and $15.00.