Monday, January 21, 2008

Meanwhile, Before You Were Born...

I think I was born about 45 years too late.

I mean, I've been accused of living in the past before but this is probably a bit much. As I sit writing tonight I'm listening to an old radio episode of Dragnet from 1949. On the wall next to me is this photo in a frame. When I finish writing this post, I'll probably watch an episode from Ken Burns' Jazz documentary (excellent, by the way) that details the dawn of the Jazz Age in the 1920's. Two of my all time favorite films are Hitchcock offerings from the 1930's. Hell, all I need now is some Brylcreem and maybe a hula hoop, and I can go meet my pals down at the ice cream parlor.

Granted, today's technology is the only thing that makes any of this possible. Dragnet comes to me via an Internet radio station, for example, and you can thank Mr and Mrs. DVD for the documentary and Hitchcock films. Shorpy.com is a "100 year old photo blog" I visit every day. But still, I can't help but find it a little odd to think that I'm yearning for a time when I didn't even exist. I'm not sure why this is, exactly. To say it's because "times were simpler back then" would sound cliche, and I'm willing to bet every generation throughout history has said that about the years prior to which they lived. I don't know. Even though there were no video games and deodorant wasn't widely used, I guess I just like relics of days gone by. Maybe I should have been an archaeologist or something.

I'm waxing nostalgic (if you can even call it that) not because I'm bored, but merely to act as a preface. It's rare that you get to see photographs from this time period in color, much less in sparkling detail. But, the Library of Congress has just posted a treasure trove of such photos on Flickr of all places (you'd have thought they'd have created their own site for them.) I've posted a few of my favorites below, but make sure and check out the page. There are over 3,000 photographs to take a look at, many of them just as captivating. In fact, if you weren't paying attention, you might have thought they were taken yesterday. Enjoy.


Rural schoolchildren in San Augustine County, TX (1943)


Garage mechanic near Newark, NJ (1943)


Tenement buildings in Brockton, MA (1940)


Boy near Cincinnati, OH (1942 or 1943)


Rural schoolchildren in San Augustine County, TX (1943)


Worker at a carbon black plant. Sunray, TX (1942)


Worker in a smelting furnace in Muscle Shoals, AL (1942)

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3 Comments:

Blogger Melinda said...

Did you know, the fellow who invented the hula hoop just passed away.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

I did, actually. The founder of Wham-O! I have a vague memory of their commericals when I was little (before they got bought and went under.) I seem to remember the announcer saying, "From WHAM-O!" at the end of them. Ah, youth...

8:45 AM  
Blogger GB said...

It wasn't a simpler time. That was one of my points behind "Uncle Joe"; that life was just as stressful then as it is now. But our belief that it was simpler is based how we view our elders and their current lives to our current lives, which isn't an apples-to-apples comparison. We see people who have lived and done fairly well compared to how we currently struggle. It's the same thing as to why every woman wants to marry her father: she sees a man who is mature and established, who has life experience compared to her own insecure life. She wants a mate who has the qualities that her father has taught her a mate should have. But that isn't fair because her mate is likely to be her age and not yet at the point in his life as her father currently is. So you see you're grandparents and think, "gee, they make it look so easy" because of where they are now. But they had to go through the same things you are going through at this point in your life. There's nothing simple about it; it's just your mind hoping for the same outcome that your elders have had.

4:48 PM  

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