The Most Iconic & Cringe-Worthy Moments in History
Actor John Candy With His Daughter Jennifer, 1983
Vintage photos are windows into the past, whether it's people and events we remember or things that happened a century before our birth. From the Princess of Wales and her baby to clown prince John Candy and his daughter, way back to president Abe Lincoln and his son -- the joy of parenthood shines through.
History's mysteries always draw us in, whether it's a 1,400-year-old monument carved by the Maya of South America or simply a candid glimpse of a geisha with her hair down, we hunger for more of the story. And we can't get enough of celebrities in a new light: teenaged Johnny Carson, Ava Gardner and Marilyn Monroe; Bob Ross in his Air Force days; Johnny Cash fishing in his back yard; Borg and McEnroe chilling away from the tennis court.
Join us on this journey into the past, we promise you'll see something new, as well as familiar things, in a new light. Onward!
Does this large man, wearing curlers in his hair and some interesting clothing, look like a world-famous comedian? Well, he wasn't -- not yet. When this photo of John Candy and his daughter Jennifer Anne was taken, in 1983, Candy was in his early 30s and his career had turned a corner. He was a character actor in the "that guy" phase -- he was that guy in Stripes (Dewey Oxburger) and Vacation (security guard Russ Lasky). He'd also done a couple of seasons on SCTV.
The following year, Candy played a scene-stealing supporting role as Tom Hanks' deviant brother in Splash. The film was a huge hit, and Candy became more than a familiar face -- he was clearly a star. Starring or co-starring roles followed in such films as Summer Rental (1985), Volunteers (1985), Armed & Dangerous (1986), Spaceballs (1987), and perhaps his greatest film, Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987).
Though the recognition and fame was undoubtedly much appreciated by Candy, it looks like he was pretty happy back in '83 -- when audiences recognized him as "that guy" from a film and his neighbors knew him as "that guy" who's not afraid to wear two violently clashing plaids.
The Grand Staircase Of The Titanic, Before And After
One of the most impressive features of the RMS Titanic and her sister ship the RMS Olympic was the Grand Staircase, located in the forward part of the ship. This ornate stairwell connected the first-class decks with public rooms. No photographs of the Titanic's Grand Staircase are known to exist, and photos such as this one use the extremely similar Olympic staircase to give us an impression of the Titanic's.
Here's how the Grand Staircases of the Titanic and Olympic were described in a promotional brochure of the time:
A STRIKING INTRODUCTION to the wonders and beauty of these vessels is the Entrance Hall and Grand Staircase in the forward section where one begins to realize for the first time the magnificence of these surpassing steamers. The Grand Staircase, sixteen feet wide, extends over sixty feet and serves seven decks, five of which are also reached by the Three Electric Passenger Elevators. It is modeled closely after the style so prevalent during the reign of William and Mary, except that instead of the usual heavily-carved balustrade, a light wrought-iron grille has been employed, a fashion found in a few of the most exclusive great houses of that period. The Entrance Hall and Grand Staircase are surmounted by a glass dome of great splendor, a fitting crown as it were to these the largest and finest steamers in all the world.
17-Year-Old Norma Jean Dougherty, 1943
This is a pretty girl on a beach, but would you pick her out to become Marilyn Monroe? That's what happened to Norma Jeane Dougherty, who was born Norma Jeane Mortenson (but often went by Norma Jeane Baker) and changed her last name when she married James Dougherty. She was 16 when they wed. In this photo, she's standing on the beach at Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California. Her husband was stationed at the island's boot camp.
While her husband was off fighting in the Pacific Teater of World War II, Norma Jeane began modeling -- against his wishes. She signed with an agency that determined her figure was better for pinup and cheesecake modeling than fashion, and she was soon appearing in magazines geared toward a male audience. She straightened her hair and dyed it blonde to make herself more marketable, and she soon proved to be one of the agency's most in-demand models. A couple of screen tests and a name change later, and she was destined for the silver screen.
Istvan Reiner Before He Was Sent To Auschwitz
This colorized portrait shows a smiling Istvan Reiner, age 4, of Mikolsc, Hungary. The photo was taken in the Jewish ghetto before Istvan was shipped off to the Auschwitz concentration camp, as evidenced by the striped uniform that inmates, even children, were made to wear.
The original photo is held by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where a caption explains Istvan's fate. He and his mother Livia
were deported to Auschwitz. Upon arrival other prisoners told Livia to give Istvan to his grandmother and to go through the selection alone. Livia told the SS men that she was four years younger than she really was and was selected for forced labor. She worked in a factory, was in the Allendorf labor camp and later sent on a forced march. She was liberated in either Bergen-Belsen or Mannheim. Istvan, then only four years old, was murdered together with his grandmother.
Stylish Amelia Earhart In Chicago 1928
Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, is remembered as a pioneer in the field of aviation. When she disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937, during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe, she was just 39 years old. In addition to being an aviator, Earhart was an educator, a feminist, and -- as you can see from this 1928 photo -- a fashion icon.
From the dawn of flight, pilots had always cut a dashing figure in their flight jackets, gloves, goggles, caps, scarves and boots. It was a look waiting for the right woman, and Amelia Earhart wore it well. Earhart used her celebrity and image to try to give American women more options when she launched her own clothing line in 1932, called Amelia Earhart Fashions. As described by the National Air and Space Museum,
Amelia’s fashion line was made up of wrinkle-free dresses, skirts, pants, and outerwear. Some designs even used materials such as parachute silk and fabric used for airplane wings. The outfits were crafted for practicality and designed to suit the needs of “active women.” They broke the mold for traditional women’s dress during the 1930s.
The Aqua-Trail Terra Marina Camper/Houseboat, Circa 1959
In the post-war era, American ingenuity seemed to know no bounds/ We'd split the atom, we were launching things into space, we could change channels on the TV without even having to get out of our La-Z-Boy recliners thanks to the "Zenith Space Command" remote. Of course we can make a roadworthy camping trailer that is also a seaworthy houseboat!
The Aqua-Trail Terra Marina was an attempt to make a go-anywhere camper/boat, and it was not a big seller. Well that's perhaps unfair -- there were only 35 made during the one year (1959-60) the thing was in production. As a trailer, it was pretty simple -- hitch it to your car and pull it down the highway thanks to the two wheels tucked underneath. In the water, it could attain a speed of 7 knots. There are still a few of them around, as anything rare is bound to become a collector's item.
Civil War Veteran Jacob Miller Was Shot In The Forehead In The Battle Of Chickamauga, 1863
Yes, that's a bullet hole in the forehead of Jacob C. Miller, who served as a soldier in the Union Army during the Civil War. A gunshot "between the eyes" is almost always fatal, but somehow Miller survived this wound, which he incurred on Brock Field at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, in the Battle of Chickamauga, 1863. Doctors examining him later were able to see his pulsating brain quite clearly.
When Miller was shot, he crumpled to the ground, and he would later say that he could hear the words of his captain: "It’s no use to remove poor Miller, for he is dead." Miller's own description of what happened next is chilling:
At last, I became conscious and raised up in a sitting position. Then I began to feel my wound. I found my left eye out of its place and tried to place it back, but I had to move the crushed bone back as together as near together as I could first. Then I got the eye in its proper place. I then bandaged the eye the best I could with my bandana.
After Miller returned to his hometown of Logansport, Indiana, doctors were hesitant to remove the bullet, fearing the patient would die. Ultimately they did remove about a third of it, and more pieces simply fell out decades later.
Sammy Davis, Jr. And Clint Eastwood With A Revolver Backstage At The Sands Hotel 1959
This photo shows a young Clint Eastwood with Sammy Davis Jr., hanging out backstage after a performance by Davis at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. It's 1959, which is interesting -- while Davis was a much-beloved entertainer at the time, Eastwood was just getting started. The actor had done some small parts in movies, and had been appearing on Rawhide as Rowdy Yates for less than a year. Eastwood never particularly liked the Rowdy Yates character, but it established him as a convincing cowboy and factored into his getting a job in A Fistful Of Dollars, which premiered in 1964.
But this moment between Davis and Eastwood predates Eastwood's reinvention by five years. And why are they geeking out over a revolver? While it's natural that Eastwood might be interested in a gun, what was the draw for Davis?
In fact, Sammy Davis Jr. was reportedly pretty handy with a piece. In a 1992 New Yorker article, Bob Munden, who was the world-record-holder for fastest draw, ranked the four fastest gun-drawers in Hollywood. Check it out: 4th place went to Glenn Ford; 3rd to Clint Eastwood; 2nd to Sammy Davis, Jr.; and first t0 -- wait for it -- Jerry Lewis.
Wait -- Jerry Lewis?!? Didn't see that coming. Apparently you never did in a showdown with Jerry.
Model posing for billboard painters in New York City, 1947
Bob Ross Was Once A Master Sergeant In The Air Force
We all remember the late Bob Ross as host of the PBS show The Joy of Painting which aired from 1983 to 1994. Ross endeared himself to viewers with his soothing voice, perpetually happy outlook and perfectly spherical perm hairdo. Ross taught us to paint "happy little clouds," and it was impossible not to crack a smile at the sight of this joyful man creating his soothing landscape art.
Ross had a whole life before he arrived on PBS -- in fact, he served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years. He developed his interest in art during his time in the military, attending art classes put on by the USO. It was the '60s and '70s, though, and he disliked his instructors' emphasis on abstract painting -- Ross wanted to paint recognizable landscapes. He finally learned to paint landscapes in the Italian alla prima (also known as "wet on wet") style, and could finish a landscape painting in an hour. He left the Air Force in 1981 at the rank of master sergeant, because he found he could make more money selling his art than he did in Air Force salary. Two years later, his TV show debuted.
President Abraham Lincoln With Son Tad, 1865
In this rare photo from 1865, we see Tad Lincoln with his father, President Abraham Lincoln. It's an unusual moment between father and son, with Tad's presence eliciting an almost-smile from the Commander-in-Chief. This is one of several pictures taken at President Lincoln's last formal sitting, and within 10 weeks he would be dead, assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.
Tad Lincoln was a handful, a rambunctious youth who ran wild in the White House and was known to interrupt his father's meetings. His father spotted this restless quality at birth, giving him the nickname "Tad" because the baby was "as wiggly as a tadpole." Though Tad outlived his father, his life was not long, as he died suddenly in 1871 at the age of 18.
Here's Johnny Carson At The Age Of 15, 1940
Johnny Carson wasn't the first late-night talk show host, but he was the best -- in his 30 years at the desk, he built The Tonight Show into the gold standard of late-night TV. Any late night host, whether they aspire to be like Johnny or to break the mold, has to deal with the legacy he left. Though he was a familiar presence on TV, at ease chatting with the biggest stars, night after night, Carson didn't grow up famous. He didn't grow up anywhere near fame. He grew up in Norfolk, Nebraska.
Carson was born in Corning, Iowa, and moved with his family to Norfolk when he was eight years old. He lived in Norfolk through his late teens, graduating from Norfolk Senior High School before joining the U.S. Navy to serve in World War II. Like many entertainers, the young Johnny Carson's gateway drug to entertaining was a magic kit. He began learning tricks when he was 12, and by the time he was 14, he was performing locally as "The Great Carsoni." He charged $3 per show.
Violet Jessop Was The 'Queen Of Sinking Skips'
Though many people in history survived maritime disasters, none has a story quite like that of Violet Jessop. The Argentine ocean liner stewardess was serving on board the RMS Olympic in 1911 when the massive liner collided with the British cruiser HMS Hawke. The Hawke, which had a bow designed for ramming other ships, tore two large holes in the side of the Olympic, which was able to return to shore. No lives were lost, but this mishap foreshadowed events to come for Jessop. Violet Jessop was aboard The Titanic when it sank in the North Atlantic. She helped passengers get into lifeboats and also rescued a baby whose parents could not be found. She eventually made it into a lifeboat herself and survived.
In 1912, Jessop was on board for the maiden voyage of the Olympic's sister ship, the RMS Titanic -- and we all know how that transatlantic trip turned out. Jessop was one of the 706 survivors of the Titanic disaster, escaping on lifeboat 16 carrying a baby that had been handed to her by one of the ship's officers. (The baby was later recovered by someone presumed to be its mother.) Jessop resumed her career and in 1916 she set sail on the HMHS Britannic, the third of the Olympic-class ocean liners. By this point, World War I was raging, and the Britannic had been enlisted as a hospital ship. On November 21, an explosion rocked the Britannic and it sank in the Aegean Sea. Jessop survived (as did the large majority of passengers aboard the Britannic), and lived to the age of 83, dying in 1971 of congestive heart failure.
Priests Mingle With Hippies At The Glastonbury Music Festival In 1971
The Glastonbury festival of 1971 was billed as a fair in the medieval tradition. While music was a main focus, there was a lot more action happening at ground level, with drugs galore, Woodstock-style communal nudity and pagan rites for fun. Glastonbury Tor (a nearby mountain) is mentioned in Celtic and Arthurian legends, and the Holy Grail is said to be in one of the area's landmarks, the Chalice Well, so you can imagine the sort of Renaissance-faire-on-acid hijinks. The Catholic Church even showed up to provide a counterpoint to all the insanity.
These priests were part of a delegation that set up the Jesus Tent -- a fairly large tent adorned with a banner that literally said JESUS TENT. The Jesus Tent featured young, shaggy and relatively handsome priests offering mass and communion twice daily. Did the priests sneak off to the stage to enjoy sets by David Bowie, Hawkwind, Traffic and Fairport Convention? We'd be disappointed if they didn't.
A Geisha Photographed Without Makeup And With Her Hair Down, 1905
The geisha are among the most iconic symbols of traditional Japanese culture, although their complex role in society is often misunderstood. They are neither prostitutes nor courtesans, but entertainers skilled in traditional Japanese dance, music and song. Even if you don't totally grasp the concept of a geisha -- as there is no equivalent in American or European cultures -- you recognize them from their style of dress, makeup and hair.
The elaborate, sculpted hairstyles worn by geishas require a lot of hair, as this candid view of a geisha demonstrates. In fact, there are several distinct geisha hairstyles that can denote a geisha's status and stage of career. At the time this photo was taken, a geisha's own hair was styled to achieve the correct coiffure. Following World War II, there was a scarcity of stylists who could do proper geisha hair, and today the women tend to wear pre-styled wigs made of human hair.
Young Couple Near The Waterhen River, Saskatchewan, Canada, 1931
This photo of a young couple near the Waterhen River, Saskatchewan, Canada, was taken by Paul Coze and dates from 1931. Coze was a French artist and photographer who was fascinated by the aboriginal peoples of North America, and captured many images documenting them in the four journeys he made across western Canada. He also published an influential book with Rene Thévenin, Mœurs et histoire des Peaux-Rouges (its title translates as the culturally outdated The Manners and History of Redskins).
Coze was a fascinating figure. In 1938, seven years after taking this photo, he moved to the United States, and painted educational murals at California's Mesa Verde National Park. Coze served as a technical adviser on Hollywood films, including The Razor's Edge (1946). He moved to Phoenix, Arizona, in 1951 and there he created numerous pieces of public art. This photo is one of 50 in the "Paul Coze fonds" collection held by the Royal Alberta Museum.
Marilyn Monroe Does Her Theda Bara Impression, 1958
Marilyn Monroe was the biggest American sex symbol of the 20th century (though internationally she may have had competition from Brigitte Bardot), but in the pre-Monroe era there were seductive sirens who commanded plenty of attention. In the silent film era, nobody emanated the sort of magical sexual intrigue like actress Theda Bara. Bara was known as The Vamp, and her charm combined physical beauty with an exotic origin story and a rumored taste for the occult. Marilyn Monroe dressed in a Theda Bara outfit in 1958 was hotness cosplaying as hotness.
As with so many sex symbols (including Monroe), Theda Bara's early life didn't really portend legendary Vampishness. In fact, Bara's origin story is completely modest -- she was born Theodosia Burr Goodman, daughter of a Jewish tailor, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and attended the University of Cincinnati before leaving her hometown to seek stardom in New York City. One thing led to another, and she ended up a major star of the silent era who was said to have been born in the Sahara to an Arab sheikh and a French woman -- or, in other versions, an Italian sculptor and a French actress. She adopted a public persona that mirrored her femme fatale screen roles, and she was famous for her revealing outfits.
In this photo by Richard Avedon, Monroe does a pretty good impression of Theda Bara, but Monroe's whole image was goody-two-shoes next to that of the original Vamp.
Dinner Party At The Hotel Astor In 1904
Here's a casual dinner that took place on December 7, 1904 at the Hotel Astor in New York City. The hotel had just opened in September of that year, and was the latest addition to the Astor family's hotel empire, which also included the Waldorf-Astoria and the St. Regis.
The Hotel Astor occupied a 35,000 square feet off Broadway between 44th and 45th Streets. The area today is well known as Times Square, but that was a brand new name back in 1904 -- it was called Longacre Square until the New York Times moved its offices to a new skyscraper on 42nd St. On April 8, 1904, the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue between 42nd and 47th Streets was renamed Times Square, and the Hotel Astor, with its numerous ballrooms, themed restaurants, and famous rooftop bar, was a key part of the entertainment hub. The Hotel Astor closed and was demolished in 1967.
The Three Stooges With Park Rangers, 1969
How would you like to travel all over the world with The Three Stooges? That was the concept of Kook's Tour, a planned TV series that would star the aging slapstick-comedy actors. In 1969, Moe Howard (born 1897) Larry Fine (born 1902) and "Curly" Joe DeRita (born 1909) visited Yellowstone National Park to shoot footage for the series pilot, and while they were there they snapped a few photos with park rangers.
The filming of Kook's Tour was interrupted when Larry Fine suffered a stroke in January 1970. The show's fate was uncertain as producers and the other Stooges waited to see whether Fine would recover. Unfortunately, the stroke proved to be the end of Fine's acting career, as well as that of the Stooges and the Kook's Tour project. The existing footage was edited into a 52-minute "pilot" (a pilot for a series that could never happen) and released on Super 8 film in 1975, the same year Larry Fine died.
A Police Officer Guards A Pharmacy During The Massive Flood That Hit Cambridge, Ontario, In 1974
On May 16, 1974, torrential rains struck Cambridge, Ontario and the surrounding area, overflowing the Grand River and sending flood water into the low-lying parts of the city. The flood caused approximately $5 million in damage to the city, which went on to spend $24.7 million to installing flood walls and to flood-proof buildings.
The police officer in this picture, Constable John Shuttleworth, was one of many deployed to the Galt area, which saw waist-high flooding that ruined storefronts. Those who lived through the flood recall goods and merchandise floating out through broken windows, and a real threat of looting. Shuttleworth is guarding a drug store against potential looting.
Sweet Photograph Of Princess Diana Holding Prince Harry In 1986
Prince Harry was born in 1984, the second child of Charles and Princess Diana, who were at the time Prince and Princess of Wales. At the time of his birth, Harry was third in the line of succession to the British throne, behind his father Charles and his older brother William. Though Harry was a baby of privilege, he could not possibly understand his situation when this picture was taken in August 1986, a month shy of his second birthday.
As we saw so many times during her life, Diana was a loving mother, and her displays of affection were not necessarily in keeping with British stiff-upper-lip tradition. The last time children in line for the throne were photographed in their Royal mother's arms, they were Elizabeth II's offspring: Charles himself (born 1948) and his siblings Anne (born 1950), Andrew (born 1960), and Edward (born 1964). The Royal family wasn't anywhere near as accessible in those times, and the photographs that exist are generally staged -- nothing so candid and intimate as this moment from 1986. Sadly, Diana would die just 11 years later, leaving her 15- and 12-year-old sons without a mother.
A 'Man in the Moon' Hair-Beard Combo, 1895
The next time you see a hipster with a waxed mustache and pointy vandyke, just remember it could be worse. Little is known about this "Man in the Moon" look from 1895, but the wearer sure looks proud of it. Goes to show that irony was alive and well (in France, at least) a century before Gen-Xers discovered it.
The photo was taken by Nadar, who was an interesting guy himself -- as one of the most prominent photographers in France in the 19th century. Born Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, Nadar was also a journalist, novelist and caricaturist, and his love of ballooning led to him being the first person to take aerial photographs. Feeling lazy yet? Oh, and he also hosted the first exhibition of Impressionist painters in his studio (Monet, Degas, Renoir, and others), and photographed Victor Hugo on his death bed.
Now, keep it straight, those are accomplishments of Nadar, the photographer who took this picture. We have no idea what, if anything, Mr. Man-in-the-Moon accomplished in his life.
A Russian Soldier Is United With Two Sisters He Thought Were Dead, 1943
In war-torn Europe, the knowing your loved ones had been killed wasn't the only trauma -- there was also the uncertainty of not knowing what had happened to them. Alexander Ivanovich Shirobokov, a private in the Russian Army, knew that both his parents had been killed by German soldiers during the occupation of Karachev, which had been seized by the Wehrmacht in October 1941.
Shirobokov didn't know the status of his two sisters, though, but assumed they too had perished. They survived the Nazi occupation, as he discovered in August 1943 when Karachev was liberated. This is the scene of their happy reunion -- a moment of happiness for a frazzled soldier and two sisters who seemed to have come back to him from the dead.
Dolly Parton And Mick Jagger Backstage At The Bottom Line, 1977
You know what wasn't happening in New York City in 1977? Country music. Punk rock was happening, disco was happening, and early hip hop was happening -- all cutting-edge stuff. Country music was as far from the cutting edge as could be. But Dolly Parton didn't much care, as you might expect. Big hair, big voice, big smile -- big, you know, everything -- Dolly Parton has never given the impression that she frets too much about what other people think.
And so in May 1977, Dolly was booked for three performances at New York City's Bottom Line. (Though she was a fish out of water in New York, she wasn't totally without fans -- like Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler, she was a favorite of urban gay communities.) On this occasion, some boldface names of the nightlife scene came to the 400-seat venue to see her. After all, she was Dolly. Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen and John Belushi -- all of whom had respect for country music -- were all in the crowd that night, and Dolly blew the doors off the place.
A Very Upset Patient After Visiting The Dentist, 1920s
It's very easy to put up a sign that claims your dentistry won't hurt, but that doesn't make it so. In this photo from the 1920s, a young patient with a bandaged head scrawls a retort to the claim of "painless dentist:" LIAR. Who needs Yelp when you can voice your discontent using chalk?
This image brings to mind the story of Edgar R.R. "Painless" Parker, a famous street dentist. Parker provided dental services in the street (or perhaps on a sidewalk), usually to patients who couldn't afford dental care, and did so with the flair of a showman, on one occasion pulling 357 teeth in a single day (which he had made into a necklace). When Parker was accused of breaking the law against false advertisements, due to his use of the word "painless," he legally changed his name to Painless Parker.
19-year-old Don Knotts With Danny 'Hooch' Matador
Ventriloquist's dummies sure are creepy -- just ask Don Knotts. (Ok, you can't actually ask him, as he died in 2006.) As a teenager in West Virginia, Knotts dreamed of a career in show business, and developed a ventriloquist act with a wooden sidekick he named Danny "Hooch" Matador. Knotts went to New York City after high school to try his luck as a comedian, with little success, then returned home to attend West Virginia University in Morgantown.
After his freshman year, Knotts joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and shipped off to serve in the Pacific. This photo was snapped either during or just before his first year in the military. Knotts served from 1943 to 1946, earning numerous honors, and toured the Pacific as part of a comedy show called "Stars & Gripes." He used his ventriloquist's dummy, Danny, in the show -- for awhile. By then, he had grown to despise Danny. Knotts wanted to take part in comedy sketches, but the show's directors felt he should stick with the ventriloquist act. One day, while on a ship, Knotts decided he'd had enough of playing straight man to a hunk of wood, and threw Danny overboard. He told his Stars & Gripes bosses he had lost the dummy.
Knotts also confessed to a friend that he swore he could hear the drowning Danny calling to him from the water as the ship sailed on.
Defiant Armenian Women Pose For A Photograph During The Hamidian Massacres, 1895
This picture of Armenian women from 1895 shows us how a photo can illustrate a historical truth while being technically inauthentic. It's true that Armenian women fought in battle during the Hamidian Massacres that took place in the Ottoman Empire in the mid-1890s. The massacres were a result of the Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II's attempt to hold the crumbling empire together by embracing pan-Islamism. As non-Muslims, Armenians were targeted and between 100,000 and 300,000 were killed.
Whether these two Armenian women were preparing to go fight the Ottomans is a matter of debate. Experts in firearms have determined that the rifles and pistol are props, and the photo is said to have the word "souvenir" printed on the back. In other words, this staged photo tells us about the spirit of the times, and may have been an image meant to inspire Armenian resistance, but that doesn't mean that these particular women were actually fighters.
In recent years, the acclaimed keyboardist Derek Sherinian (who has worked with Alice Cooper, Kiss, Billy Idol, Slash and Joe Bonamassa) has identified the woman on the right as Elizabeth Yazidjian, his great grandmother.
Lisa Fonssagrives On The Eiffel Tower, 1939
The answer is "She was the world's first supermodel." Who is Lisa Fonssagrives?
Lisa Fonssagrives is the woman posing on the Eiffel Tower for Vogue magazine in 1939. The shot was taken by Erwin Blumenfeld, and Fonssagrives was reportedly not secured in any way. But if it's news to you that Lisa Fonssagrives was the first supermodel, that's ok.
Fonssagrives was born Lisa Bernstone in Sweden in 1911 and embarked on a promising career in dance before switching to fashion modeling. She's called the first supermodel because she was the dominant model in the industry. As Time described her in a 1949 article headlined "Billion Dollar Baby," she was "the highest-paid, highest-praised high-fashion model in the business, considered by many of her colleagues the greatest fashion model of all time."
John F. Kennedy Campaigning Door-to-door In West Virginia, 1960
Though largely forgotten today, religion and religious bigotry played a major role in the 1960 Presidential race and Democratic Primary. John F. Kennedy was a charismatic and serious contender to be the Chief Executive, but he would have to break a major barrier to do so: no Roman Catholic had ever been elected president in the nation's 180-year history.
In late 1959, Kennedy was polling better than his Democratic primary rival, Hubert H. Humphrey, in West Virginia. But by April 1960, he was 20 points down. The dramatic swing was explained to the candidate by his advisers: "No one in West Virginia knew you were a Catholic in December. Now they know."
Anti-Catholic sentiment threatened to deny Kennedy West Virginia, and even the overall nomination, so Kennedy went all-out in the Mountain State. Everywhere he went, he listened to the concerns of its poor, working-class protestants, and took special care to outline plans for how a Kennedy presidency would benefit them. Kennedy also had much more money to spend and a better organization in the state than Humphrey. The young Catholic from Boston managed to turn it around in West Virginia -- his defeat of Humphrey, by 20 points, caused Humphrey to drop out of the race. The victory cinched the nomination for Kennedy and proved that he could win with Protestants.
Steve McQueen's Mug Shot, 1972
Steve McQueen was known to live his life on the edge, but sometimes he pushed it too far -- June 22, 1972 was one of those times. On that date, McQueen was arrested in Anchorage, Alaska, for driving while intoxicated and speeding. He was 42 years old.
We don't know why McQueen was in Alaska at the time, but an eyewitness account has surfaced on the internet that explains the actor was busted doing doughnuts (or "turning brodies") in an Oldsmobile Toronado. The witness said:
My recollection is that McQueen was roaring up and down 4th Avenue at very high speed and turning brodies -- drunker than hell. It was not just a time or two -- he really raised hell for quite a while. When they did finally get him stopped they administered a field sobriety test, and he somersaulted down the white line. Once they got him arrested it was a pretty good time -- sort of an autograph party in handcuffs.
While McQueen has often been held up as one of the all-time coolest cats in Hollywood, his antics and mischievous grin in the mugshot aren't cool. These days, we consider drunk driving a serious issue, and with good reason. Fifty years ago, many offenders laughed it off. McQueen might not be held up as such a cool guy if he'd run someone over in his drunken state on that day in 1972.
Nice Squash Blossoms On A Hopi Girl In Arizona, 1912
In this 1912 photo by Charles Chester Pierce, we see a young unmarried girl of the Hopi people alongside an older woman. The girl wears her hair in the famous hairstyle known as the "squash blossom." This elaborate whorl indicates that the girl is of marrying age and is a symbol of fertility. Though it looks something like a hair bun, the squash blossom is actually a careful arrangement of loops. The girl's mother would wind her hair around curved pieces of wood, then remove the wood.
Was the Hopi squash blossom the inspiration for he hairdo worn by Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in Star Wars? It's a reasonable guess, although George Lucas claimed a different origin. He told Time in 2002 that in conceiving Leia's look
I went with a kind of Southwestern Pancho Villa woman revolutionary look, which is what that is. The buns are basically from the turn-of-the-century Mexico.
While Hopi women are famous for the squash blossom, Mexican revolutionary women -- known as soldaderas or Adelitas -- aren't. Star Wars fans and fashion scholars expecting to find photos of Mexican woman warriors wearing side buns came up empty, but then one image surfaced that seems to give Lucas' account a bit of credibility. It's a photo of the soldadera Clara de la Rocha, a leader in the Mexican Revolution, who did indeed wear her hair in Leia-like, or Hopi-like, side buns.
Audrey Hepburn Lets Her Hair Down For Vogue, 1966
The girl who made the pixie cut famous doesn't look half bad with hair down to her waist, does she? Of course, Audrey Hepburn was one of the ideals of feminine beauty in the '50s and '60s, so it was impossible for her to look bad or even half-bad. While she sported a pixie in her early hits Roman Holiday (1953) and Sabrina (1954), she began growing her hair after those films, wearing her longer locks in a series of bobs, up-dos, buns and half-beehives.
By the time of Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Hepburn sported a full beehive, but she wasn't done yet. In My Fair Lady (1964), the girl who brought us the pixie had very long hair, piled up in dramatic tiers like a wedding cake. Though it's tempting to assume that her My Fair Lady coiffure was a hairpiece, she appeared to have just as much hair, piled nearly as high, at the movie's premiere. And then, in 1966, she did what we all must do once in awhile -- she let her hair down. Photographer William Klein snapped these pictures for a Vogue feature showing off Givenchy gowns. But it's safe to say Hepburn's extremely long mane steals the show.
The Clark Sisters Pose For A Portrait Circa 1850
Wow -- think they're related? These are the Clark sisters, the grandmother and aunts of photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston. Johnston didn't take this picture, though, as it is dated between 1840 and 1860, and she was not born until 1864. The original image isn't a photograph as we know it, but a daguerrotype, which was a process of creating a photographic image on silver-plated copper.
If these humorless ladies seem like they belong in a horror movie -- maybe they're a coven of witches imprisoned in the photograph, and one night they escape -- it's not necessarily their fault. The daguerrotype process could require long exposure times, and in the early 1840s this basically ruled out human portraiture, as people could not sit motionless for several minutes. As the process and lenses got better, the length of exposure was reduced, though it was still quite agonizing by today's standards. The Clark sisters here may look miserable, and they probably are, having to pick and hold these poses and expressions for the better part of a minute.
An American Photographer Poses With The Two Giants Of Kashmir, 1903
How short is American photographer James Ricalton? Well, not as short as he looks in this photo from 1903 -- here he's posing with the twin brothers known as the Two Giants of Kashmir. These massive men, standing 7'6" and 7'9" tall, were elite riflemen in the service of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir.
For Pratap Singh, the Maharaja (or ruler) of Kashmir and Jammu, the giants were show-stealers at the Durbar of 1903, an event arranged to celebrate the ascension of Edward VII as King of the British Empire and Emperor of India. The first two weeks of 1903 saw fantastic celebrations at a venue outside of Delhi, and one key element was the parade of Maharajas from the various regions. They arrived dripping in jewelry and riding elephants, surrounded by retinues of their elite soldiers in formal uniforms. Of all the spectacles, nothing could rival the sight of these two giants, whose presence commanded the attention of journalists and photographers.
Lady And Her Horse On A Snowy Day In 1899
This photograph of a lady and her horse on a snowy day, taken in 1899 by Félix Thiollier, shows us just how far photographic technology had come during the second half of the 19th century. In the 1850s, photographs (or daguerrotypes) were limited to portraiture and still life, as the long exposure times prevented capturing anything in motion.
The American Civil war was well documented in photographs, but still we see many more portraits and staged photos than candid shots. A major advance came in 1877 and 1878, when Eadweard Muybridge managed to capture the action of a horse running on a track with a row of cameras that fired in sequence. The relative sharpness of Muybridge's shots would have been inconceivable 20 years earlier; two decades later, in this image by Thiollier, we see the horse an woman captured with remarkable clarity in a moment of rapid motion.
Girls On Marken Island, Netherlands, 1890s
These two young women are natives of Marken Island, a place that no longer exists as such. At the time this photo was taken, the 1890s, Marken was still an island, with a distinct culture from the mainland Dutch culture. With their large buckets, aprons and wooden shoes, they may be milkmaids. Marken Island was located in the Zuiderzee, or "South Sea," a shallow bay off the North Sea.
The building of a dike, completed in 1932, at the mouth of the bay changed the Zuiderzee from a saltwater bay to a freshwater lake called the IJsselmeer. A second dike was built that enclosed the water surrounding Marken as a new body of water called Markermeer. There was a further plan to seal off the Markermeer entirely and reclaim the area as land, to be called Markerwaard. This phase of the plan was never completed due to the onset of World War II.
That's life in the Netherlands, where about a quarter of the country is below sea level and half of it is less than one meter above sea level. Areas that were once underwater have been converted to land by the installation of dams and dikes. But that's not what happened to Marken. Because the Markermeer was never converted to Markerwaard, the island remained an island until the Dutch government built a causeway that connected it to the mainland. The land that was formerly called Marken island is now, technically speaking, a peninsula.
An 'Animal Ambulance' In Britain In The 1940s Paints A Misleading Portrait
This picture of an injured Airedale Terrier being carried in an 'Animal Ambulance' was taken in England in 1940. It's a heartwarming image and thought -- with destruction all around, humans care so much about dogs that they will whisk an injured one to safety and nurse it back to health. Perhaps that is what is happening in this particular picture, but World War II was a dark time for English pets, and it wasn't German bombs doing most of the damage.
These two women are identified as agents of the National Air Raid Precautions Animal Committee, or NARPAC. The organization was formed in 1939 to wrestle with a grim question: Could Britons really afford to feed animals when food shortages hit during the impending war? NARPAC issued a pamphlet recommending that pets be relocated to the countryside, and adding that if that were not possible, they should be destroyed.
Upon declaration of war in 1939, pet owners who feared having to split their rations with their pets, or having to watch them starve to death, began euthanizing them in great numbers. When bombs began to fall on London in 1940, even more pet owners decided to put their furry friends down. In all, more than 750,000 pets were euthanized in what came to be known as the "British pet massacre."
Fisherman Johnny Cash Wearing Hip Waders, 1971
Yes, this is Johnny Cash wearing what are often described as "thigh high boots" -- and it is true that the boots do go up to his thighs. But this candid 1971 snapshot reminds us that some of the best historical photos capture our imaginations because of what we think we see. Cash, in this photo, hasn't been prancing around in his backyard singing numbers from a Broadway show -- he has been fishing, or is about to fish.
The tall boots are waders, worn over the pants to keep a fisherman's legs dry as he wades out into the water of a lake or stream. Though the word "thigh high" is visually accurate and conjures up images of saucy lingerie and fetishy footwear, waders are commonly referred to as hip waders because they reach or almost reach the wearer's hip. While Cash may look like he's studying to be on one of those drag-queen TV shows, he's actually just looking to pull a few fish out of yonder pond.
Paul Hogan Painting The Sydney Harbour Bridge, 1971
Here's a high-rise rigger working on one of the largest bridges in the world, the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, 1971. Though he was simply a working man with a can of paint when this photo was snapped, he was bound for bigger things. The rigger's name is Paul Hogan and in 15 years he will be known as "Crocodile" Dundee. When Paul Hogan captured moviegoers' imagination in Crocodile Dundee and its sequel, part of the charm was his down-home Aussie charm. He was convincing as the guy who pulls out a giant knife in a bar (in a jovial way) because he just looked like the kind of guy who wouldn't leave the house without a blade.
In fact, it was his days working as a rigger on the bridge that propelled him into showbiz. He and his co-workers got to talking about a TV talent show called New Faces, and decided they didn't like the judges belittled the performers. Hogan hatched a plan to stand up for the common man. He went on New Faces claiming to be a "tap dancing knife thrower," and once on the air, he gave the judges a taste of their own medicine. He didn't tap dance or throw knives, he just made jokes at their expense. Audiences reacted strongly, and Hogan was repeatedly invited back, thus transitioning from manual laborer to entertainer.
A 2000-Year-Old Elongated Skull With A Metal Plate From Peru
This elongated skull with a metal implant was found in Peru and is estimated to be about 2000 years old. Skull elongation was a common practice in many cultures, and was achieved through binding the skull from a young age. Though it seems nutty and dangerous -- not to mention pointless -- to us today, it was done for aesthetic purposes and conveyed social status.
Ok, well what about the big metal plate? While images of this piece, with speculative captions, have long circulated on the internet, we now have a more expert opinion to share. The Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma City acquired this skull, and in 2021 posted its explanation:
This individual survived the procedure. known as trephination [or trepanation, the practice of drilling a hole in the skull], based on evidence of bone remodeling. Trephination was practiced by nearly all ancient civilizations by different means and for different reasons.
Here's the museum's comment on the plate:
The material used was not poured as molten metal. We do not know the composition of the alloy. The plate was used to help bind the broken bones. Although we can't guarantee anesthesia was used, we do know many natural remedies existed for surgical procedures during this time period.
Clint Eastwood Skateboarding In Rome, Mid-1960s
Clint Eastwood has Italy to thank for his movie career -- after all, it was the spaghetti westerns he made in the mid-'60s that transformed him from a TV star into a leading man on the big screen. Eastwood's first spaghetti western was A Fistful Of Dollars, filmed in 1964 and released later in the same year in Italy. It would not be released in the U.S. until 1967.
A Fistful Of Dollars was directed by Sergio Leone, with music by Ennio Morricone. The film's producers were Italian, as were its cinematographer and editor. It was an Italian production through and through -- thus the name "spaghetti western" -- with an American star. But it's not the Italian countryside you see in the long shots; it's actually Spain. Some of the movie was filmed in Rome, at the immense Cinecitta studios. This photo of Clint Eastwood skating down Via Veneto in Rome is thought to have been taken while he was in town shooting A Fistful Of Dollars.
Ice Delivery Man In Houston, 1920
We take a lot of things for granted -- whether you're reading this on a mobile device, tablet or laptop, it's a safe bet you have access to ice. Whenever you need it. It was not always so -- in fact, refrigerators and freezers as we know them were only available for home use starting in the 1920s. Few could afford them -- for instance, in 1922, a home refrigerator was priced significantly higher than a Ford Model T.
Most Americans in the 1920s *and even Ralph and Alice Kramden in 1950) kept their food cold with an icebox, which was essentially a big cooler. An icebox was an insulated cabinet that had a compartment for holding ice to keep everything cool. Ice melts, of course, so it was necessary to place a new block of ice into the compartment regularly -- thus, like the mailman or the milkman, the iceman made his rounds, delivering what the people needed. And if you've ever been to Houston in the summer, you know that this iceman from 1920 was a busy fellow.
Laura Ingalls, Future 'Little House' Author, With Her Sisters, 1879
This photo from 1879 or 1880 was taken in De Smet, South Dakota, and shows us three of the four Ingalls daughters: Carrie, Mary and Laura. (There was a fourth and youngest sister, Grace Pearl; a brother named Charles Frederick died when he was still a baby.) Laura Ingalls, as Laura Ingalls Wilder, rose to fame and literary immortality as the author of Little House On The Prairie, which was many years later made into a TV series starring Michael Landon and Sara Gilbert.
Little House On The Prairie is actually the third book in the series of novels, all of which are based on Ingalls Wilder's life and family. The first book, Little House In The Big Woods (1932), is based on her life growing up near Pepin, Wisconsin. The Ingalls family moved around a lot, which provided ample fodder for her books: Little House On The Prairie (1935) documents the time they lived near Independence, Kansas; By The Shores Of Silver Lake (1939), The Long Winter (1940), and Little Town On The Prairie (1941) are all set in or near De Smet, in the Dakota Territory.
Ava Gardner At Age 15 In 1937
Ava Gardner was a glamorous Hollywood star known for such films as The Killers (1946), Show Boat (1951), Mogambo (1953), and Night Of The Iguana (1964). She was also a media favorite thanks to her relationships with celebrity men, including husbands Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and Frank Sinatra. She came a long way from her roots in rural North Carolina.
Gardner was the youngest of seven children born to poor tobacco sharecroppers in Grabtown, North Carolina. When she was nine years old, her family moved to Newport News, Virginia, where her mother found work managing a boarding house for shipworkers. Her father died from bronchitis when she was 15 years old, as she is in this picture. The family returned to North Carolina, where Ava finished high school and attended secretarial school for a year.
Then, in the summer of 1940, she visited her older sister Beatrice in New York City, and Beatrice's husband, a photographer, took her portrait. That's when things started to happen. A year later, she was in Hollywood, and the year after that, she had her first movie role.
An Abandoned Villa In Savona, Italy, Built In 1907
The grandeur of architecture from centuries past is awe-inspiring, yet the sight of such exquisite buildings left neglected reminds us that the ravages of time comes for us all. Nothing lasts forever, and today's masterpiece may be tomorrow's relic, or ruin. Over 100 years ago, when the man who built this glorious house gazed upon it, he was hardly thinking that it would end up an abandoned landmark.
Villa Zanelli was built in 1907 to be the home of sea captain Nicolò Zanelli and his family in Savona, Italy. The villa looks out on the beach and the Tyrrhenean Sea beyond it; in this view, the waterfront is at our back. Cilla Zanelli is an example of the Liberty style of architecture, which is an Italian variant of Art Nouveau. Liberty style gets its name from the Liberty department store in London, which imported textiles and art from Japan and the Far East that became popular with certain Italian architects and designers.
Reading At The San Antonio Market In Barcelona, 1955
For nearly 40 years, from 1936 to 1975, Spain was ruled by the dictator Francisco Franco. Spain was a poor and repressed country, though it notably did not join Germany and Italy as an Axis power during World War II. Though officially neutral, Spain did support the Axis in some ways, which caused many European nations to shun Spain for a decade after the war ended.
But then a strange thing happened in the 1950s: Franco lightened up a bit, and Spain changed from a totalitarian state to an authoritarian one that tolerated minority political parties to some extent. While a far cry from democracy, this gradual lessening of oppression led to massive economic growth that has been called the "Spanish miracle." Photos like this one, snapped at a Barcelona market in 1955, document a people who are under the thumb of a dictator but are looking toward a democratic and capitalist future. There was a sense of optimism in Spain at the time, and it proved justified -- the growth in the latter part of Franco's regime would result in Spain becoming the world's ninth-largest economy.
Buzzer The Cat, Famed Photographed Feline, With Jocelyn Stebbins, 1912
German-born photographer Arnold Genthe took lots of pictures of celebrities and showgirls during his years in New York City, a period from 1911 until his death in 1942. Genthe's most famous subjects included U.S. Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson; writers Jack London, Pearl S. Buck, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Sinclair Lewis; John D. Rockefeller; thespians Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo and John Barrymore; and occultist Aleister Crowley. But by far his most frequent subject was his cat.
Presaging the internet's fascination with cat pictures, Genthe snapped Buzzer the cat constantly, using him as a prop, or perhaps simply indulging his (the cat's) own dreams of stardom. It seems that Buzzer enjoyed the company of many of the dancers Genthe photographed, and when these young ladies would sit for Genthe, Buzzer was likely to climb into their laps for his portrait to be taken as well. In this portrait of Miss Jocelyn Stebbins (Mrs. Fletcher), who is the sitter and who is the accessory?
Guys Relaxing In Their Dorm Room At The University Of Illinois in 1910
This photo, taken over 110 years ago, reveals that some things about college life never change. For many young people, a college dorm room is the first living space over which they have complete control. To this day, dorm-room decor is often a jumble of posters, photographs, and knickknacks that reflect their interests and college adventures.
These clever young men appear to have used a volleyball or tennis net to hold their photos, as well as some ribbons and spoons. And while the woman in the poster isn't exactly Farrah Fawcett in a red swimsuit, she is attractive and enchanting in her swashbuckling costume. The things that young men dream about.
A 120-Year-Old Wedding Dress Worn By 11 Women
In 2015, Abigail Kingston became the 11th bride in her family to wear a wedding dress that was first donned by her great-great grandmother Mary Lowry on her wedding day in 1895. Abigail Kingston's mother Leslie was the sixth to wear it, in 1977, but did not have possession of the dress when her daughter got engaged. Abigail and Leslie had to get it from Abigail's great-aunt (wearer #4, in 1960), whose daughters had worn it at their weddings in 1989 and 1991.
The dress had seen many alterations and tweaks over the years, as no two brides were exactly the same size or shape. The train was reconfigured for each one as well. The dress had only been dry-cleaned once, and when Abigail received it, it needed extensive cleaning and restoration. The dress was actually too short for Abigail, who stands 5'10", but she took the raised hem as an opportunity to show off a pair of sparkly shoes. The whole saga felt a bit like a fairy tale, as Abigail said:
I felt like Cinderella the first time I put everything on. I seriously felt like I got the dress in rags and turned it into riches.
A 100-Year-Old Veteran Of The Revolutionary War Poses In His Uniform, 1860
Nicholas G. Veeder was born on Christmas day in 1761, in Scotia, New York, and fought in the American Revolutionary War as a teenager -- joining the Second Albany County Militia at age 15 in 1777. By the time this photo was taken, around 1860 (or slightly later), Veeder was known as "the old soldier" around town. He was one of a few individuals who'd fought in the Revolutionary War and then lived long enough to have his likeness captured by the then-new technology of photography.
In this photo, we see Veeder in his Revolutionary War uniform, sitting in front of a local attraction known as the Old Fort or "Veeder's Fort." The stone building housed a collection of artifacts from the war -- including the muskets and "Schenectady Liberty Flag" on display here -- and was run as a kind of museum by Veeder himself. Known affectionately as "the old soldier," Veeder was a character who led Scotia's annual 4th of July parade in his uniform, and was said to have danced to his favorite old jig, "Soldier's Joy," on his 100th birthday in 1861. He died in 1862.
Staying Cool At The Madonna House Nursery In NYC During The Summer Of 1941
On July 1, 1941, a nun at the Madonna House Nursery in New York City did what had to be done to keep her charges cool. Here she is seen using a sprinkler head attached to a hose to douse them with cool water. There's bound to be a metaphor here about tending to the young human seedlings so that they might grow into prosperous adults who bear the fruit of moral clarity.
Anyone who's experienced a summer heat wave in New York City is not likely to forget it. The concrete and cement of buildings and streets absorb heat, making city temperatures higher than those of surrounding regions. Buildings prevent airflow -- you're less likely to catch relief from a cool breeze when you're surrounded by apartment blocks and high-rises. On top of that, the smells of a sticky-hot NYC summer are a whole new level of urban unpleasantness. We don't have a temperature for July 1, 1941 -- the date this picture was taken -- but we can tell you that on July 2 the thermometer hit 98 degrees.
13-Year-Old Ryan White, AIDS Victim
In the early '80s, the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic was not well understood by the public, nor was it well explained by the media. The affliction was thought by many to be something that only affected the gay community, as that's where it proliferated in the early days. Then, in 1984, 13-year-old Ryan White was diagnosed with AIDS due to contracting HIV through a tainted blood transfusion for hemophilia.
Ryan White's tragic case attracted national publicity -- here was a young boy who had contracted the "gay disease" through no fault of his own. For many Americans, it had been easy to dismiss AIDS as a consequence of -- or even a punishment for -- a lifestyle they disapproved of. Ryan White was an example of what we now know to be a fact: Anyone can get HIV/AIDS. White became controversial, as some parents felt he was a danger and should not return to school. Though White endured attacks in the media, he also embraced his role as an educator, and his activism fostered a better understanding of the disease by the general public.
Though his initial prognosis had been that he would only live six months, White lived wit HIV/AIDS for five years, finally succumbing to the disease in April 1990, one month before his high school graduation.
A Soldier In Vietnam Sniffs A Perfumed Letter From His Girlfriend Back Home
In this touching photograph from Vietnam, 1966, Pfc. Clark Richie smells a perfumed letter sent to him from his girlfriend back home in Jay, Oklahoma. In the jungle setting of Vietnam, surrounded not only by enemy fighters but also by strange animals and natural hazards, an American soldier -- even a country boy from Jay -- could feel like he was on another planet. Letters from home were treasured keepsakes.
The photo was taken by John Nance, an Associated Press reporter who also wrote an article (published in April 1966) about Richie's war experiences. Nance shared the contents of a letter Richie was writing to his mother on the eve of an offensive:
Dear Mom, I got your letter yesterday. Glad you and everyone else are fine. I am too, except for the heat and my blisters. By the time you read this we will have completed our first major operation. If there's anything to worry about you'll know before you get this letter.
Later in the day, Richie went into Cu Chi to teach English to some Vietnamese children. On the ride back to base, he reflected on the deadly irony of his situation:
Weird, to think that tomorrow or next week—or even right now—we could meet up with the big brothers and fathers of some of those kids back there, and we'd try to kill each other. It's a strange business.
Visiting Quarantined Family And Friends In Oslo, 1905
Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, most people did not have first-hand experience with large-scale quarantine measures. In the United States, the last outbreak of disease on such a scale had been the 1918 H1N1 flu (or "Spanish flu") pandemic. This photo was taken in 1905 during an outbreak of diphtheria in Norway. It shows women, likely mothers of the afflicted children inside, perched on ladders peering through the windows of a building.
The building is today known as Ullevål Hospital, but in 1905 it had a slightly different purpose -- it was what's called a lazaretto. A lazaretto or lazaret was traditionally a facility -- such as an anchored ship, an island, or an isolated building on the mainland -- used to quarantine individuals arriving by sea who might be carrying disease. When a disease like diphtheria broke out in an urban area, the lazaretto concept was applied to containment buildings like this one. It acted somewhat like a hospital, in that it contained many people who were sick, but their recovery was, sadly, only a secondary goal -- more important was preventing them from spreading the disease to the rest of the community.
Man At The Wheel Saloon, San Pedro, 1895
The Man At The Wheel Saloon was located in San Pedro, a harborside area of Los Angeles, California. The imagery of a sailor steering his ship was certainly appropriate to the environment and clientele, but it also likely served another purpose -- to help illiterate or inebriated customers find the place.
The Man At The Wheel seems to be firmly in a tradition that goes back many centuries, that of naming your pub with some kind of symbol that can be easily described or recognized. Thus a bar called The Red Hen would have a large sign showing a hen that was red -- customers could then agree to meet at the Red Hen even if they couldn't actually read the words R-E-D H-E-N. Sailors stepping off a boat in San Pedro harbor didn't need to be able to read or speak English to find their way to the Man At The Wheel -- just look up for the man at the wheel, you can't miss 'im.
Rivals And Friends Bjorn Borg And John McEnroe, 1980
Men's professional tennis never knew a more delicious rivalry than the one between Sweden's Bjorn Borg and the American star John McEnroe. The two players' contrasting styles earned them the nicknames "Fire and Ice" -- McEnroe was a notorious hothead on the court, while Borg was a cool, unflappable and methodical player. The two faced off on the court 14 times, and the series ended tied, 7-7.
McEnroe wrote in a memoir:
There was something about our matches that sparked people’s emotions, and created a special atmosphere. Everyone knew what side they were on: that was what drew the crowds. You were either a Borg or a McEnroe fan. A supporter of the Ice Man or of the Superbrat, as those London tabloids liked to call me.
Though the two men were nothing alike on the court, they relished their matches and developed a friendship. Borg said in 2018:
John respected me and I was probably the only guy who respected him out of all the people in tennis history.
This Villa In Upstate New York Was Abandoned 70 Years Ago
The Wyckoff Villa on Carleton Island, in upstate New York, was built by architect William Miller in 1894 for William O. Wyckoff, who made his fortune helping the Remington Arms Company develop a typewriter. Its namesake owner hardly got to enjoy it, as Wyckoff died the day after he moved in. Over the years, doors and windows have been removed, leaving the interior of the house exposed to the elements. But you can buy it!
In 2018, this famous semi-ruin was put on the market for $495,000. Here's the description from the listing at Realtor.com:
This Carleton Island Villa is on 6.9 acres, has three waterfronts 198' in front of the Villa, North Bay 287' and South Bay 330'. The home has not been lived-in in over 70 years. It has a stone foundation and wood frame upper floors have deterioration. There is electricity to the Island and water is taken from the River although there are no utilities connected to the Villa.
It may need some work, but it's a party house waiting to happen -- the listing says it has 11 bedroome.
Bonnie And Clyde's Arsenal, From 1934
When lawmen killed Bonnie and Clyde on a back road in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, in 1934, it brought to an end one of the most infamous crime sprees in American history. Bonnie and Clyde were psychopathic leaders of a gang that had been robbing and murdering for years. Authorities were determined not to take any chances with the couple, who'd cheated death numerous times. The Ford that Bonnie and Clyde were driving the day they got caught was riddled with some 130 bullet holes. "We kept shooting at the car even after it stopped," said one of the officers. "We weren't taking any chances."
Their instincts were correct -- Bonnie and Clyde were armed to the teeth, and if the posse had failed to kill them, the criminal couple would have returned fire. According to one source, their arsenal consisted of:
- 1 .32 caliber Colt automatic pistol
- 1 sawed-off 20 gauge Remington Model 11 shotgun (Bonnie’s favorite)
- 3 .30-06 Browning Automatic Rifles (Clyde’s favorite)
- 1 double action Colt revolver
- 1 sawed-off Winchester 10 gauge lever action shotgun
- 1 .380 caliber Colt automatic pistol
Furthermore, there were also 3,000 rounds of various ammunition, and 100 BAR magazines with 20 cartridges in each.
A 'Shadowgraph' (X-Ray) Of Nikola Tesla's Foot, 1896
There's a reason why Nikola Tesla's name is on a cutting-edge electric car in the 21st century -- the man was a scientific genius. His discoveries about electricity and its practical applications amounted to a massive leap forward in our understanding of technology that we now depend on every day. Tesla was a futurist as well as a showman whose public demonstrations of scientific advances thrilled audiences.
Here's an X-ray of Nikola Tesla’s foot that he took himself using a machine he designed in 1896. He had learned of William Rontgen's discovery of X-ray technology the previous year, and decided to investigate the technology himself. This shot of his own foot, wearing a boot with many nails through the heel (which is how boots were and still are made), is a remarkable X-ray image for 1896, although it likely exposed Tesla to dangerous amounts of radiation.
Photographer John Drysdale, Getting Punched In The Face By A Kangaroo, 1962
Photographer John Drysdale is known for his animal pictures but on this occasion he got a little too close for comfort. While trying to snap a shot of a kangaroo (who was conveniently wearing boxing gloves), Drysdale took an uppercut to the face. If you're wondering whether a kangaroo really packs a punch, take a look at Drysdale's airborne camera in the second frame.
Do kangaroos actually box? Well, yes and no. A fighting kangaroo, standing upright, will use its forelegs (or "arms") to steady its adversary, and thus the kangaroo can appear to be punching. In the 1800s, sideshows in Australia featured kangaroos trained to box against a human opponent, and the gimmick has occasionally been captured on film.
But it's a gimmick -- as we mentioned, the boxing-like pose is used by the kangaroo to steady its enemy. Then the animal can inflict real damage by kicking, slashing and even disemboweling the adversary with its powerful hind legs.
The lesson here is: Don't fight a kangaroo. Even if you're a good boxer.
An Intricate Maya Statue Discovered In Honduras In 1885
In 1885, the British archaeologist Alfred Maudslay visited the Maya site of Copan, an abandoned city in western Honduras that proved to be a trove of art and artifacts of Maya culture. Copan includes an acropolis with numerous temple structures, a Ballcourt, a Monument Plaza, and the Hieroglyphic Stairway -- a massive stairway whose component stones feature 2200 glyphs. Put together, the Hieroglyphic Stairway is the longest known Maya hieroglyphic text.
In this photo, a person stands next to Stela N, one of the more than 80 stelae at Copan. Stela N was built by the 15th ruler, named K'ak' Yipyaj Chan K'awiil or "Smoke Shell." It was dedicated in 761 AD. Smoke Shell was one of the last rulers of Copan, and his stela is arguably the most ornate and impressive of all the stelae at the site. The king is depicted in full relief, accompanied by symbols of his divine power and decorated at the sides with glyphs that relate to history and mythology.