By April Stevens (W&M Managing Editor)
Summer is beginning to wind down for many, but we are trying to hold onto some summer fun here at Wonders & Marvels. So this week we are focusing on a little more frivolous but very fun stories of yesteryear!
Let’s consider the tattoo: the ultimate symbol of rebellion from societal norms. Getting “inked” may be more common than ever, but we still hear the voices of past generations saying “back in my day…”. Well it turns out, that back in their day the tattoo was already making its mark (pun intended). A new book, 100 Years of Tattoos reveals vintage images of head-to-toe tattoos from as early as the 1920’s. So next time grandma complains about your ink, share some of these throwback photos to make your case!
Many of these tattooed ladies toured the carnival circuit where you would also find lots of daredevils risking their necks in various pursuits, like the classic roller coaster. It turns out that the roller coaster started with Russian daredevils who created flying mountains for sledding in the 1600’s. The French adapted this to include a track and wheels in 1804, much more closely resembling the modern coasters. To learn more about the history of this vintage ride, check out From Russia with Love: The History of the Roller Coaster.
As American as Apple Pie
Roller coasters are synonymous with summer fun, but perhaps your idea of fun is more along the lines of picnicking by a gurgling stream. If so, you will enjoy the depiction of a 19th century American boyhood found in the Nelson archive at Amherst College. This rare collection features photographs along with writing and drawings by the Nelson children from a typical American farm family. This rare glimpse at rural childhood will have you longing for apple pie in the sunshine.
Fast forward a few years and imagine 1950’s suburban America. Your vision of the housewife, neat home, and manicured lawn may also feature one more icon: the pink flamingo. Invented in 1957 the plastic pink flamingo perched on two metal legs has become the ultimate symbol of “kitsch”. However, a recent Time article reveals how much more this flamboyant feathered friend says about popular culture and class in America.
For more fun reads, take a look at these recent articles on Wonders & Marvels: