Rodeo Cowgirls, ca. 1925

15 September 2014

Standing from left: Florence Hughes Randolph, Ruth Roach, Mabel Strickland, Reine Hafley Shelton, Mildred Douglas, Bonnie McCarroll, Rose Smith, Maud Tarr; squatting from left: Bea Kirnan, Mayme Stroud, Fox Hastings, ca. 1925.

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum wrote a little snippet about some of the women in the photo:

An outstanding trick rider and bronc rider and daughter of California Frank Hafley, Reine Hafley Shelton (1902-1979) was called the World’s Greatest Lady Trick Rider. For a time she performed a highly successful act with an Arabian horse named Lurline in which they would jump 50 feet into a tank of water. With California Frank’s show, Shelton performed trick and bronc riding, as an elephant rider and an oriental and flamenco dancer. In 1918 she began her competitive career placing second in the trick riding at Cheyenne Frontier Days. Shelton earned over $125 by winning the bronc riding event at Madison Square Garden in 1924. In 1925 she eloped with Dick Shelton while he was performing with Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show. Shelton was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1983 and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame’s Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1991.

Considered to be one of the greatest cowgirl bronc riders of her day, Mildred Douglas (1895-1983) was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 1988. At seventeen Douglas joined the Cook and Wilson Circus and rode jumping horses and learned trick riding. About 1916 she entered her first rodeo contest of bronc riding at the Joe Bartle’s RoundUp in Kansas City. Douglas went on to win the bronc riding events at Garden City, Kansas and at Pendleton, Oregon in 1917. In 1918 she repeated her Garden City win and won the event at Cheyenne Frontier Days. In 1919 Douglas won the bronc riding at Belle Fourche. Between 1921 and 1928 she was connected with the publicity departments of many rodeos.

Bronc riding champion at Madison Square Garden in 1922, Bonnie McCarroll (1897-1929) won $400. In 1923 she won the bronc riding event at Yankee Stadium followed by her winning this event at Wembley stadium in London in 1924. McCarroll was thrown and fatally trampled by a bronc at the Pendleton RoundUp in 1929. Ironically, she and her husband, Frank McCarroll had planned to retire and Pendleton was to be their last rodeo.

Married to 1965 Rodeo Hall of Fame inductee, Leonard Stroud, Mayme Saunders Stroud (?-1963) launched her competitive career at Lucille Mulhall’s RoundUp in 1916. She won the 1917 bronc riding event at San Antonio, Texas.

The Sniff Game, 1948

14 September 2014

In late 1948, LIFE revisited a topic that the magazine had covered a number of times in previous years, and would delve into again and again over the next several decades: namely, teenagers. More specifically, the mystifying habits, lingo and fashion choices of teens around the U.S. The above photograph is of Oklahoma City teenagers playing “the sniff game”, where Kleenex was passed around the circle by sniffing from nose to nose.

Eartha Kitt as Catwoman, 1967

13 September 2014
Photo Credit: Source

Photo Credit: Source

Photo of Eartha Kitt as Catwoman from the television series Batman, December 1967.

John B. Stetson Company, ca. 1910

12 September 2014

Employees of the John B. Stetson company finishing soft hats in the factory near 5th and Montgomery Avenues. The reverse of the card reads: “Finishing soft hats in the Finishing Department of the John B. Stetson Company, Philadelphia, is apparently a simple operation, but long experience is necessary to attain proficiency. Fine emery paper is used to smooth the felt, and the utmost care is taken to do the work smoothly. This is the operation which makes the felt so smooth and pleasing to the touch.”

Thirteen Years Ago

11 September 2014

9-11 Quote

Letters From the Front: Civil War

10 September 2014

Letter From the Front Photo

Letter from Harvey Black in Brandy Station, Virginia. Black, descended from the founding family of Blacksburg, Virginia, served as a surgeon to the Army of Northern Virginia. In this letter to his wife Mary (whom he affectionately nicknamed Mollie) he recounts their courtship and expresses the great love he has for her.

Brandy Station,

Sunday night, Nov. 1 [1863]

My dear Mollie

I rcd a letter today from a very handsome lady to play cupid. Although not accompanied by her likeness yet her image was so indelibly impressed upon my mind that the likeness itself could not recall the features more vividly than they are impressed. I first met her in a village in Western Va when I was about 17 years old and she 8. I afterwards saw her frequently and occasionally was in her company, and nonwithstanding the disparity of our ages, I became so favorably impressed with her fair face and gentle manners that I frequently said to myself that I wished she was older or I younger.

In 3 to 4 years she had grown so much that the disparity in age seemed to grow less. Never did a lady witness the budding of a flower with more requisite pleasure than did I the budding of that pretty little girl into womanhood. She made much of my thoughts while in Mexico and more upon my return home. While at the University of Va., I not infrequently found my thoughts wandering from the dry textbook to contemplate by the aid of memory the features and form of this little girl.

After I completed my studies, I traveled in the west and expected to find a home in some western state, but not finding a place to suit me, together with the persuasions of that fair face, induced me to return.

I entered, as you know, actively into the pursuit of my profession with the determination to make at least a fair reputation and tried to withdraw my thought from everything else, but I found this little fairy constantly and pleasantly intruding into all my plans, whether of pleasure or interest. At this period she met me politely and respectfully but seemed to grow more distant, coy & reserved, so that I frequently thought that even the ordinary attentions of common politeness & courtesy were no special source of pleasure to her.

In a few instances when she has arrived at about the age of 15 this shyness and reserve seemed to be forgotten, and I would pass an hour or two in the enjoyment of her company with great pleasure to myself and I imagined with at least satisfaction, if not enjoyment, to her. I began to think that my happiness was identified with hers. I began to pay her special visits or at least seek opportunities by which I might be in her company. I sought her society on pleasure rides and thought it not a hardship to ride 65 miles in 24 hours if part of the time might be spent with her. She always exhibited or observed the decorum of modest reserve which might be construed into neither encouragement nor discouragement.

After the delibertation & reflection which I thought due to a matter which involved my happiness for life, I felt that her destiny and mine were probably intended to be united, and that all the adverse counsel which I could give myself could bring no objections. I felt that I ought both as a matter of duty and happiness give my whole life to her, who for 9 years had my attention and devotion, though concealed love.

After a few little billets and interviews, and with a full declaration of the love I desired to bestow, I received a measured and loving response and was made most happy in the anticipation of the celebration of the nuptials fixed at some 6 months hence. This time glided nicely & happily, though not too rapidly, away from me. The hours of leisure were spent with her and my visits were always welcomed with that cordial welcome, that maiden modesty, so much to be admired. Tis true that on one occasion she did rest her elbow upon my knee and look with confidential pleasure in my face and made me realize that indeed I had her whole heart.

Suffice it to say, the happy day of our marriage arrived and since then, hours, days, and years of time, confidence & happiness passed rapidly away, and only to make us feel that happy as were the hours of youthful days, they compare not with those of later years and perhaps even these may not be equal to that which is in reserve for us.

I dont know how much pleasure it affords you to go over these days of the past, but to me they will ever be remembered as days of felicity. And how happy the thought that years increase the affection & esteem we have for each other to love & be loved. May it ever be so, and may I ever be a husband worthy of your warmest affections. May I make you happy and in so doing be made happy in return. A sweet kiss and embrace to your greeting.

But maybe you will say it looks ridiculous to see a man getting grayhaired to be writing love letters, so I will use the remnant of my paper otherwise…

Yours affectionately H Black

Letter Credit: Special Collections, University Libraries, Virginia Tech

Soldier on a Harley-Davidson, 1918

9 September 2014

Soldier on a U.S. Harley-Davidson motorcycle, ca. 1918. During the last years of the war, the United States deployed more than 20,000 Indian and Harley-Davidson motorcycles overseas.

Jumping Cars, 1939

7 September 2014

Two young women stand on the hood of an automobile, one in the act of jumping to another automobile, at the motion picture stunt revue at Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles, 1939.

Steam Powered Plow, 1850-1900

6 September 2014
Photo Credit: Kansas Memory

Photo Credit: Kansas Memory

The photograph shows the first steam powered plow in Garden City, Finney County, Kansas. A  man looks to be steering the plow on the left while another man is riding on it near the back. A few buildings appear in the background. This photo was taken by Henry L. Wolf between 1890 and 1900.

Two Men Ride Penny-farthings, 1886

5 September 2014

James Irvine (II) and Harry Baechtel rode bikes from San Fernando to Irvine Ranch (picture was taken in Santa Ana). They rode penny-farthings – also called high wheel bicycles – where one large wheel is in front of a smaller wheel.

In Their Words: André Breton

3 September 2014

Andre Breton Quote

“Let There Be Light” (1946)

2 September 2014

The man behind such classic Hollywood films like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The African Queen, and The Misfits, also directed a documentary about the emotional and psychological traumas of war. During World War II, John Huston served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. During that time he was commissioned by the Army to direct three films. One of which was called Let There Be Light. The documentary follows soldiers suffering from – what we now know as – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Let There Be Light was very much ahead of its time. When ‘shell shock’ was still the term quickly used for PTSD and, just as quickly, swept under the rug, Let There Be Light shed light on the seriousness of it. As the narrator, in his clear, commanding voice, explains that the man in the film all have “a sense of impending disaster, hopelessness, fear, and isolation.” Huston used unscripted interviews – something that would not standard for another ten years in documentaries. Additionally, he used real soldiers with different racial backgrounds – showing that it does not matter the background, upbringing or social standing of an individual, PTSD is non-discriminating. Their exact life experiences varied. Their common denominator was “death and the fear of death.”

Huston captured 375,000 feet of film or 70 continuous hours in all at Edgewood State Hospital in Deer Park, Long Island. After editing, he turned over a film that was only a little under an hour in length. However, all of Huston’s hard work and the groundbreaking insight into PTSD did not get the release it thought it would. Let There Be Light was suppose to premiere at the Museum of Modern Art but it never did. The government, after viewing the documentary, censored and refused to air it. In the end, they created a replacement documentary that consisted of all white actors with scripted roles in which PTSD was not caused by the war but, instead, by the soldiers’ upbringings.

Why did the government censor Let There Be Light? Huston later talked about the censorship and what the film meant to the soldiers involved.

The reason given was that it violated the privacy of the patients involved. I don’t think that was the real reason. The men who were in the picture—the patients whose recoveries we had witnessed—were proud of what they saw of themselves on the screen. As a matter of form, we had asked them to sign releases, and they were happy to do so. We pointed this out to the War Department, but when asked to produce these releases, we discovered that they had mysteriously disappeared. One day they were in the files at Astoria, and the next day they were gone. We then pointed out that, though the film indeed represented a deeply personal investigation into the innermost lives of these men, nothing was disclosed which might cause them to be ashamed. We proposed asking them individually to write letters of clearance, but the War Department said no. The authorities had made up their minds.

Some speculated that the main reason behind the censorship was that, by shedding light on war trauma, it would have negative impacts on recruitment. Regardless of the actual reason(s), the government locked the film away. In 1980, some notable people called for the film’s release. Among those supporters were producer Ray Stark, Vice President Walter Mondale and President of the Motion Picture Association of America, Jack Valenti, who stated that “I flew 51 combat missions and I know something about fear. This film is something I would want my son to see.” Their efforts played off. In December 1980, Let There Be Light was publicly seen for the first time.

The documentary’s message was clear and concise. The effects of war can ravish a person. It can leave them psychologically, emotionally and physically scarred but, with effective treatment and therapy, they can regain their life. That, in essence, there can be light again.

Canby, Vincent. “‘Let There Be Light,’ John Huston vs. The Army.” New York Times, January 16, 1981.
Simmon, Scott. “Let There Be Light (1946) and Its Restoration,” Film Preservation, 2012.
Vogel, Steve. “John Huston film about WW II soldiers that Army suppressed is restored,” The Washington Post, May 24, 2012
National Archives

Child Labor Demonstration, 1909

1 September 2014

Children in child labor demonstration in a New York Labor Day parade in 1909.

Departing to Manila, 1898

31 August 2014

Alice Burr took this photograph of California and Oregon volunteer infantries departing to Manila on May 23, 1898.

Aerial Photographer, ca. 1917-18

29 August 2014
An aerial photographer with a Graflex camera, ca. 1917-18.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army

An aerial photographer with a Graflex camera, ca. 1917-18.

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