History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. ~Winston Churchill

02 August, 2015

Fly Pan American

A selection of stunning early to mid-20th century airline posters, from a collection donated to the San Diego Air and Space Museum. 

San Diego Air and Space Museum

San Diego Air and Space Museum

San Diego Air and Space Museum

31 July, 2015

World War One Soldiers Swimming

Amidst all the misery and horror of World War One, it's always so nice to get glimpses of the breaks the troops got from all of it. In this post, photos of soldiers swimming, bathing, and/or playing (usually all three) in the water during WWI. They look like they consider it the best thing ever, which, in that period of their lives, it probably was. I'm glad they got it.

Note: Most of these fellows were not at all shy about stripping all their clothes off for a swim, so there is some nudity ahead!

© IWM (Q 19041)

British soldiers splashing in the water at Corfu. Source

© IWM (Q 25257)

British troops in the River Tigris, Baghdad, 1917. Source

© IWM (Q 54298)

Piggyback wading (location unspecified).Source

27 July, 2015

Press Photographers at Play

Leslie Jones was a Boston photojournalist, working for the Boston Herald for 39 years in the early to mid-twentieth century. He (and his friends) also really, wonderfully, liked taking silly pictures. 

Photos from 1920s-1950s, with more specific dates when noted. 

More of Jones' (serious) work here

Boston Public Library

Jones and a young fellow photographer in just a normal handshake, 1936. Source

Boston Public Library

Jones getting action with a mannequin, 1935. Source

Boston Public Library

Jones and pal posing for the camera. Source

05 June, 2015

Working Out, 1930s style

In the days of the 1930s, when 'fitness' and 'cigarettes' were yet opposed to one another, the fitness-concerned man or woman had to look no further than their nearest pack to find a handy-dandy workout routine. This particular set of 50 cigarette cards were each printed with an exercise, illustrated on the front and described on the back. There were 25 each for men and women--because, of course, men and women couldn't possibly benefit from the same exercises. I'm not a fitness-concerned woman (nor a smoker) so I can't vouch for the effectiveness of any of these exercises (though some raise my eyebrows), but, when combined with early twentieth century gym clothes, they sure make for some interesting visuals!

The backs of the cards, with the exercise descriptions, are accessible via the source links. The full set is here.

New York Public Library

For Slimming the Waist. Source

New York Public Library

A simple stretching exercise (or show-off of one's extremely short shorts). Source

New York Public Library

For the Leg Muscles. Source

03 May, 2015

The Crosses, Row on Row

One hundred years ago yesterday, a young Canadian soldier named Alexis Helmer was killed at the guns during the Second Battle of Ypres. One hundred years ago today, his good friend, a Canadian doctor named John McCrae, was moved to set down those evocative lines, "In Flanders fields, the poppies blow...." 

As McCrae himself wrote of the battle, afterwards: 

"The general impression in my mind is of a nightmare. We have been in the most bitter of fights. For seventeen days and seventeen nights none of us have had our clothes off, nor our boots even, except occasionally. In all that time while I was awake, gunfire and rifle fire never ceased for sixty seconds, and it was sticking to our utmost by a weak line all but ready to break, knowing nothing of what was going on, and depressed by reports of anxious infantry."*

McCrae was situated at an advanced dressing station, called Essex Farm, the first point of care for wounded soldiers, just behind the front line. Since many men sadly did not make it further, advanced dressing stations were usually joined by hastily constructed cemeteries, Like most front line cemeteries, the crosses were makeshift, the layouts haphazard. After the war, the crosses were gradually replaced by the carved headstones in place today. McCrae's "crosses, row on row" exist only in photographs. 

For the centenary of a poem that's struck a chord like few others, a collection of those photographs of wartime cemeteries, in Flanders fields. 

* John McCrae, "In Flanders Fields and Other Poems." 1919. Online

© IWM (Q 17851)

Cemetery at the Hospice Notre Dame, Ypres. Source

© IWM (Q 17852)

Ypres Reservoir Cemetery. Source

© IWM (Q 9042)

A British officer and his dog at Wavans War Cemetery (which includes the grave of top British ace James McCudden), 1918. Source

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