New Addition || Put A Horse On It: Life Magazine, 1937

01/05/2012 § 5 Comments

This weekend while on a walk in my neighborhood, I stopped by one of my favorite shops in Tribeca, Philip Williams Posters, on a bit of a lark.  While the store is best known for its collection of vintage posters, my attention was drawn from the window by what looked like a massive stack of magazines.  Once inside, I simultaneously realized that they were Life Magazines and that my afternoon was pretty much sealed.

You already know how much I love Life Magazine: I collect them, I read virtual copies on Google Books and wander for (way too many) hours in the online archive.  Coming at this cache of vintage media from multiple directions sometimes provides the opportunity for the kind of pleasant surprise I had this weekend.

First off, you put a horse on anything and I will at least give it a second look.  You put one on the cover of a Life Magazine from the 1930s and mention it’s a polo pony?  Dead.  Before even cracking this baby open, I knew it was coming home with me.  But when I did, I realized I was already familiar with the photos inside as they were part of a set that I had discovered in the archives a few weeks ago — and trust me when I say there is nothing in there tagged “polo” that I haven’t already seen.

I especially love the advertisements.

The feature is about George H. “Pete” Bostwick (August 14, 1909 – January 13, 1982), steeplechase jockey, horse trainer, 8-goal polo player and grandson to Jabez A. Bostwick, a founder and treasurer of Standard Oil Company of New York and partner of John D. Rockefeller. Pete’s favored game, high-goal polo, was a pastime of the wealthy in the 1930s, but Pete made an unprecedented, egalitarian move: he invited the public to watch him and his friends play at Bostwick Field on Long Island, charging only fifty cents for admission.  It was an immediate hit.

These photos were taken 1937 in Long Island by Alfred Eisenstaedt.  Because relatively few actually made it into the issue, having access to the archive allowed me to really enjoy even more photos than were published.  This is about to be a long post, so I must apologize in advance if you don’t enjoy looking at black and white photos of horses, polo or people in their Sunday best.  I will apologize, but I’ll think you’re kinda crazy.

A 28 year-old Pete Bostwick, center.
“There is no use sitting in school when one
can sit on a horse and go somewhere.

Pete Bostwick: lover of polo, beer and cable knit sweaters.

If you’d like to read the feature yourself, you can find it here, via Google Books.

Philip Williams Posters || 122 Chambers St., Tribeca || 212.513.0313

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