Start ’em Young

22/06/2015 § 2 Comments

Quite Continental: Start 'em Young Quite Continental: Start 'em Young c0b065d3b665bf4f_large Quite Continental: Start 'em Young Quite Continental: Start 'em Young Quite Continental: Start 'em YoungI hope everyone had a lovely Father’s Day!  I spent it a bit far from my dear old Dad, since he lives out west and I’m in New York, but at least we had the chance to talk on the phone.  I’ve been sitting on these photos, of Arizona rancher James A. Shugart and his children, for some time — but perhaps I was actually waiting for Father’s Day.  Taken in 1954 by Allan Grant for Life Magazine, my favorite image is probably the one of James Jr., pouring his morning coffee.

These photos are similar to an older post of mine, The Youngest Cowgirl, also featuring Allan Grant’s work for Life.


06/11/2012 § 4 Comments

Wherever you are, regardless of whatever party you belong to,
I hope you make time today to vote.

**Also, please pardon my silence lately!  Thanks to Sandy I am still unable to return home, unfortunately, and am a bit off of my regular schedule.  That said, I am very thankful to be safe, with wonderful friends, and for the fact that I have lost relatively little in comparison to others.  I have also been so blessed with caring thoughts and emails from so many people, from all circles of my life and even from some people that I’ve not yet had the pleasure to meet in person, but rather have reached through this blog.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You’re all the cat’s pajamas, truly.

You can read more about the trials and tribulations some of the buildings
in my neighborhood (Lower Manhattan)are currently facing here.

Photo of Caroline & John Kennedy in Hyannis Port on Election Day, 1960.
Taken by Paul Schutzer, via the Life Archive.

Rabbit Hole: Yasmin Le Bon for Ralph Lauren Fall 1985

03/01/2012 § 1 Comment

I know this campaign is nearly 30 years old and all, but can someone please invent a time machine and bring me back every single thing Yasmin Le Bon is wearing in these photos from the 1985 Ralph Lauren fall campaign?  The pleated stirrup pant, the paisley scarf and the herringbone duster are the most urgently needed items, if you have to prioritize.  Many thanks.

All images via the Style Registry.

Rabbit Hole: Interviews After the Day of Infamy

07/12/2011 § Leave a comment

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, in which 2,402 Americans were killed, and 1,282 were wounded.  Japanese planes inflicted heavy damages to the US Pacific Fleet stationed in Hawaii, particularly to her battleships: all eight were damaged, four were sunk, and two were never to be raised again — the Arizona and the Oklahoma.  In an instant, the isolationism that had dominated US politics and popular sentiment vanished and America was galvanized to war.

The following day President Roosevelt requested (and immediately received) a Congressional declaration of war on Japan in what has become known as his Day of Infamy speech.  That same day, the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center), dispatched their fieldworkers to collect “man on the street” reactions to both the attack and the declaration of war.  By February 1942, fieldworkers had recorded over twelve hours of opinions from more than two hundred individuals across the country.  Touching on topics such as race relations and national pride, the interviews are a revealing look at the American state of mind in the wake of Pearl Harbor.

Head here to listen to these interviews for yourself, courtesy of the US National Archives.  You will find them cross-referenced by subject, name and location.

Personally, I found these interviews to be quite the rabbit hole and I am sure you will also find this to be the case.  I have a close connection to the Pacific Theatre, as both my grandfathers served there and one of my grandmothers was born and raised in Guam.  I have been to the USS Arizona, the battleship still quietly sleeping at the bottom of Pearl Harbor with over 1,000 souls entombed.  It is amazing to have the opportunity to hear exactly what Americans thought and felt in those bewildering months, without the filter of nostalgic memories.

USS Arizona, sinking in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
She was born in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

All images via the US National Archives.

Related: Happy Liberation Day: Battle of Guam – July 21, 1944

Down the Rabbit Hole: Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information

23/08/2011 § Leave a comment

Granted, I tend to feature a lot of sepia and black and white photography, due only to my personal preference.  (This is my own little dictatorship, after all…) But every now and again, I do come across color photographs that I like just as much.  In my recent travels through the Library of Congress I found a cache of photos that had my attention for hours.

Photographers working for the U.S. government’s Farm Security Administration (FSA) and later the Office of War Information (OWI) between 1939 and 1944 made approximately 1,600 color photographs that depict life in the United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Roy Stryker led the FSA unit during its active years and played a key role in the OWI unit in 1942-43.

The 644 color photographs produced by the FSA are less well known and far less extensive than the unit’s black-and-white photographs. Most of the color images are 35mm Kodachrome slides; a few are color transparencies in sizes up to 4×5-inches. The FSA color photographs depict life in the United States, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, with a focus on rural areas and farm labor.

The 965 color photographs from the OWI are color transparencies in sizes up to 4×5-inches. The photographs depicted life and culture in the U.S., with a focus on factories and women employees, railroads, aviation training, and other aspects of World War II mobilization.  (Via the Library of Congress)

Now, these photos aren’t new to Blogville, but I was entranced and still wanted to share a few with you.  The people are arresting and the landscapes are beautiful, especially when presented in lush, Kodachrome color.  How can you not look at these pictures and wonder about these American lives, lived 70 years ago.  Why are they wearing what they are wearing?  Where did they come from?  Where did they end up?

If you’d like to do your own wandering through all 1,600, you can find them here.

LIFE Archives: The Youngest Cowgirl, 1955

24/05/2011 § 5 Comments

I’m feeling a bit horsey lately (have you noticed?) and these pictures completely blew my mind.  At 15 months, Jean Anne Evans, a cowgirl from Texas, could ride better than she could walk.  In 1955, LIFE Magazine photographer Allan Grant captured some amazing images of Jean Anne in action on her family’s ranch near Fort Davis on a roundup of their 1,000 head herd.

Jean Anne’s first ride was at one month with her  mother, and her first solo ride followed when she was 11 months.  With her mother and father always close at hand,  she had only fallen once in her 15 months and it was only because her horse shied.

Seriously, how amazing is this mother/daughter portrait?

To view the issue of LIFE these images appeared in, head here.

LIFE Archives: The American Man {also, Nina Leen}

08/03/2011 § 9 Comments

For the August 26, 1946 issue of LIFE Magazine, photographer Nina Leen was tapped again to capture distinctly American characters.  After photographing the American girl for “The American Look” article in 1945, she then turned her lens on “The American Man.”  Leen’s European roots — she was born in Russia, and lived in Germany, Switzerland and Italy — and her seven years living in the US were touted as perfect credentials, as she had become “thoroughly familiar with American men without becoming used to them.”  Leen’s article is an amusing view on the character and habits of the “exotic” American man, coupled with beautiful images of postwar menswear.

“HE IS HUSKY, takes enormous quantities of physical exercise.
HE IS HANDSOME, but not so handsome as he thinks he is.
HE IS COLLEGIATE, manages to resmemble a Yale man for years.”

“HE LOVES SMALL ANIMALS, will often stop on the sidewalk to scratch the ears of a stray cat.
HE EATS ICE CREAM in enormous quantities, savoring it as a Frenchman would a vintage wine.
HE MARRIES EARLY, usually looks entirely too younge to be the father of his growing family.”
“HE DRINKS MILK when dining out.  In Europe only invalids or men with ulcers would do this.
HE IS TALL and likes to look taller.  He considers being six feet tall a personal achievement.
HIS SECRETARY is apt to be very pretty, something which European wives would not tolerate.
LEFT TO HIMSELF at the delicatessen, he runs amok, always buys too much beer, cold meat.”

“A BLUR is all one seems of him in the morning as he bursts from his house to make the train.
BUT HE DAWDLES, once in the city, stopped by excavations, shop windows, tennis matches.
HIS BUSINESS SUIT is his uniform.  With it he wears a four-in-hand tie, may carry a briefcase.”

“One thing that Miss Leen immediately noticed about the American is his legs…Their favorite position, particularly during business conferences, is on tables or desks, the higher the better.”

This last group of images of the “slouching American man” is my favorite.  Leen shot these at the New York office of Young & Rubicam, an ad agency founded in 1923 that still operates to this day at its original Madison Avenue address.  What we are treated to are photos of real Mad Men.

Did you notice he’s drinking milk?

I was able to dig up plenty of images Leen took for this article in the LIFE archives.  They are such a wonderful look at the 1946 American male, through the amused eyes of Leen.

How sweet is Hughie?!

Hey, mister suspenders — I really heart your anchor tattoo.

All images via LIFE.

Further reading: “LIFE: The American Man

LIFE Archives: The American Look {also, Nina Leen, Veronica Lake, Bass Weejuns}

06/03/2011 § 3 Comments

In the May 21, 1945 issue of LIFE Magazine, an article called “The American Look” appeared alongside wonderful images by photographer Nina Leen.  Asserting that during WWII, US GIs had travelled the world and found the world’s women lacking in comparison to the “girls back home,” the article is a charming celebration of the fresh-scrubbed American girl, a wonderful look back at fashion and beauty in the 1940s and, of course, is a bit unintentionally funny to the modern eye.  For someone like me, a prep with a penchant for nostalgia, this article is a beautiful, inspiration-filled time capsule of womenswear.

“In this most immense of wars Americans have involuntarily absorbed such a knowledge of people and races as would never come their way in peacetime years.  Naturally the GIs’ interest in racial strains involves girls.  They have seen and evaluated the relative endowments of English girls, French girls, Australian girls, Polynesian girls.  They have found some to be beautiful, some pretty, some exotic.  But none of them look like American girls and the GI has come to appreciate and miss, with a deep and genuine poignance, the look that sets American girls apart from those of all other lands.”
“A friendly, luminous smile…is a cardinal element of The American Look because American girls have the finest teeth in the world, an asset that derives from the balanced diet and good dental care that are the heritage of most American children.”

GOOD GROOMING: Good grooming shows in the American girl’s big, competent, well-cared-for hands.  She has at least one manicure a week, constantly freshens nail polish and uses much hand lotion.”
NATURALNESS: Her “natural” look is a carefully contrived one.  It means an evenly powdered, slightly rouged face, a mouth firmly and deeply outlined in bright lipstick.  She uses mascara and eye shadow sparingly and makes no attempt to hide her freckles under a heavy make-up base.  Her eyebrows are neat and brushed.  They are carefully shaped but never look plucked.”

CONFIDENCE: She walks erect, holds her head high, and she is not nonplussed by the admiring glances or whistles that follow her.  Whether short or tall she does not mince as she walks but steps forward with graceful athletic stride she acquired as a roller-skating, ball-chasing tomboy.”
AGELESSNESS: She keeps young in spirit and appearance well past the age when other women would consider themselves middle-aged and does it by minding her diet, her figure and her clothes.  No matter what her age, her favorite costume for street wear is a good, not too mannish suit and blouse.”

“THEIR LEGS ARE LONG: The American girl is growing taller and most of the additional length seems to go to her legs…Their feet are getting longer (size 7 shoe vs. 6 1/2 ten years ago), but as compensation that has the effect of making their ankles appear proportionally slimmer.”

Her penny loafers! J’adore! Even if she has big feet.

The article stands the test of time  and is ah-mazing — even if some of the ideas are more than a bit outdated at this point — mainly due to the beautiful photographs taken by Nina Leen.  Leen was one of the first female photographers for LIFE and is best known for her images of fashion, Americana and animals.  Luckily my dear, I was able to find a few additional images Leen took that did not make it into the article.

Une femme magnifique! I want this woman’s hair, her shoes, her car…
I’d even take whatever she’s got in those packages she carrying.

Aside from the adorable boy, I am swooning over her striped dress.
Do you not see the princess sleeve with the rickrack edge?  Parfait!

The epitome of classic prep style: tweed, twinsets, pleats, golf.

Even though this picture was taken in 1945, does she not still come off très élégante?  Is she not the picture of a “modern woman”?  Did you notice her darling driving gloves?

J’adore the high waist and the 3/4 sleeve of the suit, the stingy brim of the hat.
Her hair has me thinking of the iconic Veronica Lake.
(Before she changed her hair for safety, of course!)

All images via LIFE.

A better look at the adorable shoes.
Do we think they are Bass Weejuns?

Image via GH Bass.

While at a uniform-required Catholic elementary school, I requested penny loafers specifically — even though all the other girls were wearing light-up LA Gear monstrosities.  My prep runs deep, cherie.  I think spring is a perfect occasion for a new pair.  If you are similarly inclined, do stick with the original: Bass Weejuns.  Virtually unchanged since Maine shoemaker G.H. Bass began making them in 1934, the shoe is iconic, well-made and will not break your precious piggy bank.

Further reading: “LIFE: The American Look

“Vanishing America” by Michael Eastman

15/07/2010 § Leave a comment

Michael Eastman turns his lens on the disappearing American landscape, gorgeously capturing its dramatic beauty.

Eastman has such a masterful sense of color and composition.  The buildings and interiors seem proud, yet resigned to the fact that they are last members of a dying breed.  Each frame evokes faded layers of history baked in by sun and time.  Upon viewing Eastman’s collection, you yearn to discover the stories intertwined with the halls and doorways and forgotten passageways.

See more of Eastman’s Vanishing America, and other works, at his site.

Via: WebUrbanist

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