Bizarre Photos And Their Rarely Told Stories
By Sarah Norman | August 10, 2023
Daredevils Gladys Roy and Ivan Unger play tennis up high on a plane in 1925.
Take a long look at these amazing, barely seen photos from the past… this is the only place that you’ll find snapshots that tell such rich stories.
These unseen photos show a layer of history that will astound you no matter what era you’re from. If you’re wondering what life was like during the Depression, or even the Edwardian era get ready to be amazed. We’ve collected shots of fads that have come and gone and come again, stars like you’ve never seen them before, and photos of life from more than a hundred years ago that will change your perceptions of the past.
Tennis? On an airplane? As impossible as this looks daredevils Gladys Roy and Ivan Unger actually played a game of tennis on the wings of a plane. Or at the very least they stood on the wings of a plane and hit a ball at one another. Known as “wingwalkers” and “barnstormers” these two daredevils regularly performed high flying stunts at events like state fairs and places where huge crowds could see things go wrong. According to reporting at the time the two men were hitting serves and volleys to one another which is absolutely mind boggling, and even though there was a pilot there was no umpire.
Here are the contents of a World War II breakfast ration box from 1940.
Imagine eating this every day for dinner. That’s exactly what soldiers had to do during war time. Known as K-rations, they were broken up into breakfast, lunch and dinner. The boxes were designed by Ancel Keys, a University of Minnesota physiologist, who chose ingredients that were both inexpensive and packed plenty of energy. The boxes contained dry sausages, hard biscuits and candy, as well as chocolate bars, gum and cigarettes. After extensive testing in 1941 the K-rations went into the field the next year. The ration boxes gave soldiers 2,830 calories and 79 grams of protein in an effort to keep them rocking and rolling all day. Over the course of the war the boxes were updated in order to make them weigh less and to be more nutritious.
One of the last photos taken on the Titanic.
This looks like any other day on a cruise. People are enjoying the waves, children are playing on the deck - none of them realize the destruction that’s waiting for them. On April 15, 1912, the Titanic was cracked in half by an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean about 440 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada. The 2,200 passengers and crew were thrown into disarray as they tried to save themselves from imminent death. There was a shortage of lifeboats onboard the ship which lead to more than 1,500 people going down with the ship. Most of the survivors were women and children, and they never forgot the horrors that occurred during their short ride on the Titanic.
Three street dogs protect a new-born baby that was abandoned in Kolkata, India.
These dogs are definitely very good boys. On May 23, 1996, this photo from Kolkata, India ran in a daily Bengali paper called “Aajkaal.” According to the article the baby girl had been discarded near a trashcan. She’d been left to die but these three dogs made sure she was safe and sound. The pooches guarded her through the night and the next morning she was discovered by a group of locals and brought to the police station. According to the paper the three dogs followed the baby to the police station and they didn’t leave their post until she was safely inside. It’s heartwarming stories like these that show why dogs are known as man’s best friend.
The Mask of Sorrow rests atop a hill in Magadan, Russia. The statue, which features stone "tears" in the form of faces and an eye blinded by bars, is a testimony to the 14 million people who were forced into the gulags from 1929 to 1953.
This imposing Russian statue is something that you won’t forget after standing in its in shadow. Built to commemorate the prisoners who suffered in the Gulag prison camps built in the Kolyma region of the Soviet Union from the 1930s to the ‘50s. The statue is a massive concrete face with tears streaming from the left eye to form a mask. Look closely and you’ll see that the right is a barred window, while the back of the statue is carved into the shape of a woman who’s crying near a destroyed crucifix. Beneath the statue stands stone markers in which the names of the forced labor camps of the Soviet Union are carved.
Composing the sports page section of the New York Times newspaper for the printing press, 1942.
Long before newspapers were put together on computers, designers had to sit down and put the paper together by hand. This photo was taken in September 1942 by Marjory Collin, a photographer documenting the intense process of putting the New York Times together on a day to day basis. The news that was being put into the paper on the day she was documenting the process was about the war in Europe and the Pacific and the rationing that was taking place stateside. This photo shows one of the men in the composing room creating a page layout by hand. This was one of the many time consuming jobs that had to be carried out quickly and efficiently.
The summer crowd at Coney Island, 1949.
There are few places in America that hold the kind of sway over the American imagination as Coney Island, the classic theme park at the edge of Brooklyn that houses the world-famous Cyclone. Since the Cyclone first roared to life in the summer of 1927 its whiled its way into the hearts and minds of young people all over the country. Coney Island has had ups and downs like no other amusement park in the country. The vibrant atmosphere of this park gives it a feeling of constant youth. This crowd looks like they're ready for a summer that they'll never forget.
A portrait of 10 Chiefs from 1891. Caption on the photo reads/ Indian Chiefs who had council with Gen. Miles and settled the Indian War.
This colorized photo of the ten native chiefs who help settle the Indian War features some of the most legendary men of the old west. Featuring Standing Bull, Living Bear, and High Hawk, these men helped put an end to mass bloodshed throughout the country. The main part of the end of the war was the surrender of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce as well as the decision that almost every Native American had to move onto government reservations. While this was definitely not the preferred outcome for the Native People is was much better than what would have happened had the war continued.
Clark Gable before he grew his famous mustache.
It’s hard to imagine Clark Gable without his famous mustache, but throughout the 1920s he performed with a clean shaven face. It wasn’t until 1930 when he appeared in the play Love, Honor, and Betray with Alice Brady that he tried the pencil mustache on for size. During the play his character was a French gigolo and what better way to telegraph that to the audience than with a mustache? He tried a fake statche initially but that looked weird so he grew the real thing. When he made the transition to Hollywood he immediately shaved it off (he was a clean freak), but by the time he won the Oscar for It Happened One Night the mustache was back and here to stay.
'Batman' (Adam West) filming a road safety film for children in London, 1967.
When Batman wasn’t busy saving Gotham City he was helping the children of Britain learn how to cross the street safely. In 1967 he traveled across the pond to help with a UK road safety PSA where he taught children to be wary of traffic when crossing the street. This isn’t the only time Batman has helped people learn a lesson through a public service announcement. One year earlier he asked American children to buy war bonds to help with the fight in Vietnam and a few years after that Batman starred in an ad stumping for equal pay in the workplace - although that didn’t feature Adam West under the cowl…
During World War II, it was common for soldiers to keep family photos under clear grips on their 1911 pistols. They were called “Sweetheart Grips.”
What better way to keep your sweetie close to you during the fog of war than with a sweetheart grip? These were made by removing the basic grip on a gun and placing a photo in its place before covering it with a clear, plexiglass grip so you could see your honey even on the worst of days. Seeing as how these were all custom jobs some of them have survived better than others. If the plexiglass over the grip isn’t tightened correctly then water and other elements can seep in and fade or warp the photo. And no matter how well the grip is sealed the wear and tear of battle takes away some of the sheen of the photo. No matter what they look like, they're always going to be cool.
Humphrey Bogart with a few cases of Gordon's gin.
This photo from the set of the African Queen shows Bogart with his tried and true method for staying healthy while filming south of the border. Although, it’s not entirely accurate. While everyone else on the cast and crew aside from director John Huston got sick with dysentary from drinking the water, Bogart kept kealthy while slugging scotch all day long. Bogart later said:
All I ate was baked beans, canned asparagus, and Scotch whiskey. Whenever a fly bit Huston or me, it dropped dead.
That's definitely one way to stay in character as a drunk ship's captain. It's amazing that he made it through the movie.
Driving in Idaho, 1952.
Snow walls like this are just a way of life in places like Idaho. More often than not when the snow gets this severe entire highways have to be shut down, but in some instances people will still take to the roads in order to get to work. If it was me I’d stay inside but sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. In a scenario like this you’ve got to be mindful of your own driving just as much as everyone else’s as well as the snow on each side. If one of the walls collapses it can lead to a total catastrophe. Luckily these folks look like they’re handling the driver as well as can be. Oh to be an Idahoian in the early ‘50s.
Dancing at the Whisky A Go Go club in West Hollywood. (1966)
One of the most famous buildings on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles is the Whisky a go go. This bastion of rock n roll opened in 1964 and it was the site of some of the most important moments in rock n roll history. The Byrds and The Doors played here in the ‘60s, and it was the place where go go dancing was invented (hence the name). The first artist to play the Whisky was Johnny Rivers, the singer behind “Secret Agent Man.” He played three sets a night and in between the crowd danced to music spun by a female DJ hanging in a glass booth above the dance floor. The 1960s were something else.
In 1916, Adeline and Augusta Van Buren became the first women to travel across America on solo motorcycles. They made it despite being frequently arrested for wearing pants.
These two women were born with everything a person could want. As the descendants of president Martin Van Buren, Adeline and Augusta Van Buren could do anything they wanted. They were expected to be polite members of society but as America readied itself for World War I these two women wanted to do their part to serve their country. Women were barred from working as motorcycling military dispatch riders who transported communications to the front line. Even so, they had thousands of hours of time on motorcycles and managed to be the first women to cross the country on two solo cycles. Their great-nephew and historian Robert Van Buren explained:
There were no road maps west of the Mississippi. The roads were just cow passes, dirt trails, wagon trails, things like that. They had no helmets. They just had goggles with a leather cap and leathers on. They were really exposed to the elements. They had a tough time.
The crew of the B-29 “Waddy’s Wagon” duplicate their caricatures on the plane, led by former All-American end Captain Walter "Waddy" Young, 1944.
Waddy’s Wagon is named after Walter "Waddy" Young from Ponca City, Oklahoma. He joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in the early ’40s, but during his second season on the team he enlisted in the Army Air Force and sent to save on an anti-submarine patrol in New York, Newfoundland, and Great Britain, gaining more than nine thousand combat hours. Afterwards he volunteered for the B-29 Program and earned the rank of captain. During a mission to bomb then Nakajima Aircraft Engine Factory near Tokyo things went upside down when they were hit by a kamikaze fighter. Waddy went ahead with the mission, bombed the factory and continued flying. The plane and its crew disappeared 10 miles east of Choshi Point, Japan, while it was protecting B-29 Crew A-46.
The beautiful, elegant, and kind, Grand Duchess Tatiana Romanov.
The second daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the last monarch of Russia was one of the members of the Russian royal family who met her horrific end in the basement of a lonely house in Siberia. By all accounts she was clam child who seemed much older than she really was. She was known for wearing white muslin dresses and sailor suits that featured intricate embroidery from her mother. A practical little girl, she was more adult that many of the people who helped raise her. Her nanny explained:
One day the children and I were walking in the garden of the Winter Palace. The Emperor has some really beautiful collie dogs, and these were taking exercise in the garden at the same time. One of them, a young untrained creature, jumped on Tatiana Nikolaevna’s back, and threw her down. The child was frightened and cried most bitterly. I lifted her up and said: ‘Poor Sheilka! She did not mean to hurt you; she only wanted to say ‘Good-morning’ to you.’ The child looked at me and said, ‘Was that all? I don’t think she is very polite; she could have said it to my face, not to my back.
Elton John in 1974.
There was no one bigger in the 1970s than Elton John. He was a singer-songwriter on ttop of the world with a collection of hits that filled arenas. Even when he was at the peak of his game he admitted that he was still the same music loving guy he’d always been. He told Rolling Stone:
I still basically get my kicks from the same things from listening to records and making records. I’m still a fan. Twice in the last week I’ve been at Tower Records at eight in the morning; they opened it for me so I could have a look in peace and look thoroughly through the racks.,, I’m crazy. I’ve absolutely got this vision of having – I’ve got a great library and I just like looking around to add things to it.
Picketing for miniskirts in 1966.
Who knew that miniskirts would become a political statement? These beloved pieces of clothing became a sign of liberation in the 1960s when designers like Mary Quant, André Courrèges, and Yves Saint Laurent brought hemlines up when feminism and the sexual revolution mixed. These skirts were so polarizing that Dior wouldn’t even show them on their runway. When the designer pulled the skirt from their show a group who referred to themselves as the "British Society for the Protection of Mini Skirts” protested outside the show. With their work and that of women around the world these skirts never went out of style.
Straightening hair with an iron in the 1960s.
Straight, curly, wavy, kinky, every kind of hair is beautiful but super straight hair has been going in and out of fashion for generations, but the hair straightener wasn’t invented until the 1800s, although this model required the assistance of hot ashes or fire to get steamy enough to straighten hair. In the 1950s women began using a flat iron to straighten their hair, a practice that continued well into the 1960s even though commercial hair straighteners were available at the time. Using a clothes iron on your hair can damage it, and anyone who lived through the 60s hair straightening craze can attest to that.
Late night phone calls in the women's dormitory.
Long before cell phones were a regular thing, the only way to get in touch with someone was with a terrestrial phone. Remember those days? Young people in college couldn’t just call their parents whenever - they were busy - so they had to take to the phone bank after class. Unfortunately that’s exactly when everyone else int he dorm was going to call their parents. Throughout the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and even the ‘90s students had to line up and wait for their chance to call home and if that meant hanging out in your nightshirt and waiting for an hour then that’s what you had to do. Anyone that showed up late needed to bring their homework lest they get super bored in the meantime.
Getting ready to ride a Penny-Farthing in Montreal, 1885.
Why ride a regular bicycle when you can ride a penny farthing? You know, those bicycles with a GIANT front wheel and tiny back wheel? Why weren’t people calling this vehicle the biggie-smally? According to the BBC, the oddly sized bike was named after the penny and farthing coins of the 19th century, the penny was large and the farthing was tiny. The bike was made entirely of metal the unfortunate high center of gravity caused riders to fall over forward over their handlebars whenever they hit the smallest bump. That being said, whenever a rider had some smooth road to tackle they did just fine.
Shirley Temple and her two-year old daughter Susan, 1950.
Throughout the early era of Hollywood’s talkies Shirley Temple was one of the biggest box office draws. In the 1930s she was the biggest box-office draw multiple years in a row; she could sing, she could dance, and she could act. After she retired from acting Temple was name the United States ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia and served as Chief of Protocol of the United States. Temple’s daughter, Linda Susan Agar, said that her the formal child actress was tough but loving:
She was devoted and generous, and she could be a little stern if we didn’t behave. But she was also a lot of fun. Very inventive and imaginative. She was all about her children and her husband.
Slate chalkboards with drawings from 1917 were discovered at Emerson High School in Oklahoma City in 2015 while renovating classrooms.
During the excavation of Emerson High School in Oklahoma City in 2015 early blackboard drawings were discovered and they looks extremely creepy. The chalkboards were covered over in late 1917 but when they were uncovered they acted as a time capsule of the early 20th century showing lessons of the three Rs - reading, writing, and arithmetic as well as personal hygiene, pilgrims, and God. From the board you can see names that haven’t been used in decades, at least regularly - Agnes, Gladys, Homer, and Mabel. It's fascinating how great the penmanship is, especially when you think about how long this chalk has been sitting here.
Stylish couple from Algeria, 1880s.
The 19th century in Algeria was a melange of styles and cultures that created one of the coolest cultures that the world has ever seen. The 1880s saw the French colonize the area and encourage Europeans from across the continent to move to the small country. The entire area became a stew of people from England, France, Belgium and Spain. By the 1880s the European population of Algeria was more than 350,000 which is wild to think about. It’s clear from this photo that the look of the time was still settled completely in the early 1800s, which must have been fun for people who were living in the Edwardian era.
The cost of giving birth in 1943.
It’s fascinating to see the cost of giving birth in 1943. Not only was the care that a mother and child received in the mid-20th century different than what people receive now, but even with inflation it’s far cheaper than what we pay now. In 2016 the cost of giving birth was an estimated $10,808 and adjusted for inflation the cost of this birth from 1943 only cost $409.26. It’s interesting to see that the most expensive things on this receipt are for board, nursing and delivery. It looks as if this mother was driven to the hospital by the father, which probably helped keep the cost down.
This is a photograph of a space shuttle leaving earth, Wow!
People claim that this photo shows a space shuttle leaving earth taken from the International Space Station, but nothing about this photo has anything to do with the ISS. This picture was snapped by NASA during the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavor on May 16, 2011. NASA says that the photo was snapped by a shuttle training aircraft, and the version of the photo that exists was edited with a tilt-shot effect that miniaturizes the object while blurring out parts of the images in the background. Even though this picture comes from a lower height than the ISS it’s still absolutely beautiful.
Director Martin Scorsese with Robert De Niro on the set of the 1976 film "Taxi Driver."
In 1976 Taxi Driver showed audiences the dark underbelly of New York City, and to hear Scorsese tell it much of the volatile tension of the film comes from Robert DeNiro:
Bob was very instrumental because he pointed out to me that the first line of dialogue was 'Turn off the meter.’ And I did one take, and he said to me, ‘When you say 'Turn off the meter,' make me turn it off. Just make me turn it off. I'm not going to turn it off until you convince me that you want me to turn off that meter.’ So, I learned a lot. He sort of acted with the back of his head, but he encouraged me by not responding to me. And using that tension of the inherent violence, I was able to able to take off and riff some dialogue.
Ozzy Osbourne and 'Captain' Lou Albano at "Wrestlemania 2" in 1986.
First of all this photo is perfect. It’s one of the top ten photos that have ever been taken. At Wrestlemania 2 Captain Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne were in the corner of The British Bulldogs - a tag team made up of Davey Boy Smith and the Dynamite Kid. During the show these two wild men cheered on the tag team from the Hart school of wrestling and at the end of the day they ended up winning and taking home the gold. It’s more than likely that at this point in his life Ozzy had no memory of showing up to this huge sporting event. Either way he still rules.
Who grew up taking family road trips in a station wagon like this in the 1970s?
Anyone who grew up in the 1970s remembers taking road trips in a station wagon - those chariots of the American family who were perfect for taking people across the country. They can fit large families, a lot of food, and all of your camping gear (if that’s your thing) so they’re kind of the perfect vehicle for a road trip. In the mid-century era middle class families were taking to the road exploring this great country of ours and station wagons were THE cars to take on the road, whether you liked to ride up front and control the tunes or the way way back where you were alone with your thoughts.
A cat lady from 1870.
Cat ladies aren’t unique to any specific era, and even though we think of “cat ladies” as being a very 20th century thing there have always been women who are more comfortable with a group of cats than they are with other human beings. It’s clear that this woman is a classic “cat lady” but to bring your three cats (or three of your cats) to a photo shoot in the 19th century means that you really love your animals. It must have been hard to herd these felines into the studio, which makes us think that she might have had a few more cats who were less well behaved at home.
A crowded parking lot in Chicago, late 1920s.
Not much has changed in the hundred years since this photo has been taken. On a weekend day when everyone is free people head to the store. They did it in the 1920s and they do it today, filling parking lots and streets until all you can see is cars and cars and cars. This parking lot is fascinating because most of the cars of the era looked the same. It’s not like today when there are so many makes and models of cars out on the road that a parking lot looks like a jagged collection of puzzle pieces.
A family of the now-extinct Thylacine a.k.a. Tasmanian Tigers at the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart, Australia.
Unfortunately the Thylacine no longer exist, but when this Tasmanian animal was still alive they were one of the largest known carnivorous marsupials to exist. The were called the Tasmanian tiger thanks to the striped lower back of the animal. Even those these animals supposedly went extinct in the early 20th century researchers have claimed to have seen them as recently as the 1980s. Whether that’s wishful thinking or not has yet to be seen. Between 2016 and 2019 there were eight unconfirmed thylacine sightings. Hopefully this isn't the last that we've seen of this striped animal and its amazing body.
A llama in Times Square.
One of the most famous photos of 1957 was of this llama hanging out in the back of a car. Taken by Inge Morath this shot isn’t just super cute, but it shows the kind of wacky photography that was possible in the mid-century. This photo began as an assignment for Life Magazine but when it premiered in the December 2, 1957 issue of it captured the hearts of readers. This one page story featured a story about a high paid and entitled lllama riding around the big city. The issue also featured cats, dogs, birds, and kangaroo living an adult human life.
A member of the Achille Serre Ladies Fire Brigade in London, 1926.
This woman is a member of the Achille Serre Ladies Fire Brigade, a group formed by the Achille Serre cleaning company that was put together in order to put out the fires that the chemicals their companies used. This photo shows a woman working as a firefighter breaking a window in order to put out a fire. It’s wild to think that companies putting together their own fire departments but apparently that was a thing. It would be like Wal-Mart having their own fire department because of their products turning out to be extemely flammable. Maybe that’s not a terrible idea.
A steelworker just hanging out during the construction of the Empire State Building in 1930.
The Empire State building began construction in 1929, over the next three years workers from across New York threw themselves into this construction project that took them to the heights of the New York skyline. This project brought 3,400 workers to New York City, many of them from Europe and Canada, with hundreds coming from Montreal. Many of the Canadian workers were o Mohawk descent were used to the extreme heights of the as of yet unfinished Empire State Building. A company super intending said:
The Mohawks did not have a fear of heights. They would climb up into the span and walk around up there as cool and collected as the toughest of our riveters, most of whom were old sailing ship men.
A woman in the driver's seat of a van with a shag carpet interior from the 1970s.
The 1970s were filled with some of the coolest cars that have ever been created. Muscle cars, Le Barons, and one of the coolest types of vehicles ever created - thelarge passenger van. Economy vans were THE things to drive in the ‘70s, they were bedrooms on wheels and the more tricked out they were the more it was clear that the drivers wanted to get super weird in their vans. When a van was filled with shag carpeting you knew that it was made for rocking, the kind that you didn’t want to interrupt with knocking if you catch our drift.
A woman taking photographs of the Parthenon in Acropolis, 1905.
This woman taking a photo of the Parthenon in Athens proves that people have been taking touristy photos for as long as there have been photos to take. At the time that this photo was taken there was no Instagram or social media so the photo that she was taking was just for here - that is until her computer savvy grandkids scanned the photo and uploaded it to the internet. It’s cool to see that people have been fascinated by works of ancient architecture for generations and that it’s not just the new age that’s looking back to the past.
A young Martha Stewart in 1964.
Did you know that before Martha Stewart was a world renowned food icon she was a model? She began modeling in the early ‘60s and used the cash to put herself through college and in 1964 she graduated from Barnard college with a bachelor of artisan European history in architecture. She was also married in ’64 so she and her husband travelled to Europe and where they did their best to spend less than five dollars a day. Rather than hitting the big cities like Paris and Rome they took back roads and stayed in tiny family owned inns. This is exactly the kind of low cost type of lifestyle that Stewart would suggest once she had her own show.
A young Romanian woman from 1895.
Romanians have lead a strange life. Throughout the 17th and 18th century they were thought to be a very dark part of Europe, but by the 19th century they were considered to be a part of a powerful part of Europe under the tutelage of King Ferdinand I. Most people only know about Romania as the home of Transylvania - where Count Dracula lives - but it’s a place full of rich culture and craftsmanship that has little to do with the bloodsucking that most people align them with. This young Romanian is clearly one of the most fashionable people of the era and she definitely doesn't look like the common Romanian that we think of when he think of people from the dark ages in Europe.
Abandoned castle with a moat in France.
This former party castle that dates back to the 13th century was left to dilapidate into dust until 2017 when thousands of people got together to purchase the 2,000 hectare La Mothe-Chandeniers. This castle is about 200 miles from Paris and it’s hardly been updated since it was abandoned after a fire in 1932. When it was announced that the site was going to be destroyed 7,400 people culled together €500,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to become shareholders in a company to oversee the castle’s restoration. The first family to live in the castle were the Bauçay family, although they were run out by English invaders during the Middle Ages. The castle has changed hands multiple times, but now hopefully it will be restored to its former glory.
Abandoned somewhere in Ireland.
Ireland is one of of the most magical places on Earth, from its verdant hills to the small villages filled with charming people there are so many places to explore. Anyone exploring the countryside will notice that the countryside is covered with ruins. You can’t throw a Blarney Stone without hitting a run down castle, abbey, or mill. These ruins are dazzling and peaceful - they’re just waiting to be explored by travelers who are looking for something to do off the beaten path. Many of Ireland’s scenic ruins haven’t been restored, so be careful if you visit a site like this.
An 18 year-old Madonna at the University of Michigan in 1976.
Long before she was the queen of pop Madonna a regular teenage girl from Michigan. Even so, she always had a performative streak. When she was in high school she was happy to appear in short films directed by her friends (she went so far as to have an egg cooked on her stomach) and she studied dance as well. The teenage Madonna was so good at dancing that she was awarded a scholarship to study dance at the University of Michigan. Even though she showed talent for busting a move she decided to get out of middle America and move to New York City in search of her big break.
An advertisement for bell bottoms from the 1970s.
There’s nothing that sells fashionable clothes quite like a reference to William Faulkner. In the 1970s the hippie culture of the previous decade had become so prevalent in the zeitgeist that bell bottoms were an accepted form of fashion even though they’d been looked down upon only a few years earlier. This print ad shows just how popular the bell bottom style had become - they were no longer just blue jeans, but were now being manufactured as khakis and even striped business casual outfits that could be worn with a sash. Do you remember wearing bell bottoms? Or did you buck this groovy trend?
An Edwardian woman by the name of Eva Mae "Doll" Copple shown here around 1910.
Eva Mae Copple, known as “Doll” to her friends and family was born in the late 1800s in Nebraska. Not much else is known about this classic beauty but judging from her clothing and hair she seems to have come from a fairly well to do family. Although it’s entirely possible that she just had a great fashion sense and really knew how to make her hair look stellar. Vintage photos like these give an insight into the lives of people who lived long before us. We can see what was in style, the kinds of poses that people made when they wanted to look serious, and even the way they handed out these portraits. Do you think people will look back at our photos the same way some day?
Arnold Schwarzenegger as "Conan the Destroyer."
Conan the Destroyer was never going to be as astounding as its predecessor but it did pull off some pretty neat tricks. Aside from featuring a mirror demon and Kareem Abdul Jabar, it also helped Arnold Schwarzenegger become an American citizen. The film may not have been as popular as the original film but it was big enough of a hit to nearly earn a third film, but by 1987 Schwarzenegger was working on Predator so the film never came to fruition. Even so, it’s pretty cool that we have two of these sword and sandals movies that are legitimately super fun and weird.
Barack Obama with his mother Ann Dunham.
Ann Dunham played a very important role in American politics simply by being a good mother. After moving with her son from Hawaii to Indonesia she made sure that herson kept learning English. Her biographer writes:
She believed that he deserved the kind of opportunities that she had had [like] the opportunity to a great university. And she believed that he would never get that if he didn't have a strong English-language education. So at a certain point, she decided she wasn't serving his interests well by keeping him in Indonesia and in Indonesia schools.
It’s amazing to think that such a small decision changed the world forever.
Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb would go on to form The Bee Gees just four years after this photo was taken in 1956.
Sure, The Beatles are one of the most important bands of the 20th century, but The Bee Gees are one of the most long lasting groups who have scored some huge hits in a variety of genres while managing to keep from killing one another - something that’s really hard to do when everyone in your band is related. The young boys from Manchester got started early with their first group The Rattlesnakes. When the Gibb family moved to Australia in the late ‘50s the boys began singing over the PA at the Redcliffe Speedway under their initials - the BGs.
Happy owner of a huge dog in 1950.
Is there anything better that getting to hang out with a giant dog? They have an energy that’s just impossible to ignore, and you can’t stop yourself from swooning when they slobber all over you. Seeing such a small child next to a large dog is genuinely so fun. She looks like she’s having the best time getting to hang out with and pet this very big boy, and he looks ready to rock. There’s no way that she’s able to walk him without getting dragged around. Hopefully her parents aren’t far behind to make sure that the dog doesn’t take off with her.
Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, 1967.
In 1966 Jimi Hendrix came to England for the first time. He was on the precipice of taking over the world and blowing everyone away with his manic guitar playing. At the time the scene in London was spilling over with creativity, it was perfect for a musical genius like Hendrix. At the time everyone wanted to hear him play. One night when he jammed with Cream he absolutely freaked out fellow guitarist Eric Clapton. Chas Chandler claims that after the show he walked back stage and bumped into Clapton who was smoking like a chimney and exclaimed, “You never told me he was that f*cking good.”
Manhattan, New York City, 1918.
The normally crowded streets of New York City were empty in 1918 when the Spanish Flu ravaged the country. The illness spread through the city, cutting down New Yorkers like they were Christmas trees. In the big apple, more than 20,000 died, at a rate of 400 to 500 a day at the height of the crisis. New York City was the perfect breeding ground for this nasty strain of the flu as its citizens were just getting used to rush hour and were excited about shoving themselves into subway cars which caused the infections to spread like wildfire. This stark photo shows the empty streets that were necessary in order to keep everyone healthy.
Musical guest Mariah Carey with host Patrick Swayze on "Saturday Night Live" in 1990.
Is there anything more ‘90s than this shot of Mariah Carey and Patrick Swayze hamming it up on stage at Saturday Night Live? At the time Swayze was riding high and not just on his epic hair. Oh no, he was the star of Ghost, one of the most popular movies of the year. The film is still acclaimed as one of the most romantic films of the ‘90s. Carey was promoting her debut self titled album which featured five singles and sold an astonishing nine million copies. This episode was definitely one that you wanted to tune in for.
Referred to as the "Lamborghini of Poultry," the Ayam Cemani is a rare breed of chicken from Indonesia. The feathers, skin, beak, internal organs and bones are completely black.
This jet black chicken didn’t fall into a pot of ink, it’s actually an Indonesian animal that’s gone through a genetic mutation so that its entire body, from feathers to beak, tongue, eye, everything is black. Even the animal’s internal organs are black, making it look like its been dyed through and through. Leif Andersson, a geneticist at Sweden’s Uppsala University explains that the black organs and exterior come from a “complex rearrangement in the genome.” He continues:
What is interesting is that all chickens with this phenotype carry exactly the same mutation. It suggests that some humans saw these black birds and were excited about them, kept them, and sold them and they spread over the world.
Smoking beauty, circa 1920s.
Aside from the Great Depression, World War One, and prohibition there was a lot of fun happening in the 1920s. It’s amazing the way that photos from the early 20th century show that people act similarly to the way that they do today. People have always loved lounging and having a good time. Whether this was taken on a picnic or just while she was lounging around the backyard, either way it’s obvious that she’s not letting the stress of the era get to her. It's also fascinating to see that just like today this woman has done her hair and dressed up for an early hang out photo.
Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane in 1965.
Stephen Hawking and his former wife Jane got together in spite of the fact that he was suffering from terminal motor neurone disease which was crippling him even though his brain was working as hard as ever. The couple did their best and even had three children together before splitting up 25 years after marrying. The two remained friends but the marriage was hard to endure. She told The Guardian:
The truth was, there were four partners in our marriage. Stephen and me, motor neurone disease and physics. If you took out motor neurone disease, you are still left with physics. Mrs Einstein, you know, cited physics as a difference for her divorce...
The Dracula Vampira Orchid; Dracula means "little dragon" referring to the mythical Count Dracula. This striking orchid is only found in the cloud forests of one mountain range in Ecuador.
No, this isn’t a bloodsucking flower, it’s just got a bad reputation. This orchid has large flowers that are both distinctive and mesmerizing. They’re 11 centimeters in length and green but dappled with blackish purple veins. The flower can be found in South America along the slopes of Mount Pichincha between 1900 and 2200 meters above sea level. As rare as they sound they’re actually all over the place when you get to the right place on the mountain. Even though they were classified as vulnerable on the list of threatened plants in 1997 they've since been regarded as safe from extinction.
The Undertaker and his grandma.
It’s crazy to think that The Undertaker, the scariest wrestler in the WWE, has a grandmother or that he’s even born of human flesh. The man behind the Undertaker - Mark Calaway is very real. He was born in Houston, Texas to a large family and not just because of their size - he had four brothers who must have put him through the paces. WIth his size it was easy for him to get into sports and he played football and basketball during his time in high school, but he went to college on a basketball scholarship in 1983. It wasn’t until 1986 that he began training and performing under the name “Texas Red.” It would be another four years before he took on the mantle of The Undertaker. His grandmother must have been so proud.
Who remembers road trips in the back of a station wagon growing up in the 1970s?
Was there anything better than hopping into the way way back of a station wagon during a road trip and hanging out? It was like you were on your own trip without your family even though you were far too young to drive. These cars were built to carry everything you needed on a road trip, from your family and friends to a cooler full of food and drinks. This family looks like they had their hands full with all of these kids, hopefully they had plenty to do on their cross country drive like a good game of slug bug or “mountain man.”
Young oyster shuckers, Josie, six years old, Bertha, six years old, Sophie, ten years old, Port Royal, South Carolina, 1912.
These young women were employed at the Maggioni Canning Company in Port Royal, South Carolina, and while that would be a good job today in 1912 it was no way for a group of young girls to spend their time. In another photo taken at the time, Sophie explains that she shucks six pots of oysters a day which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Her mother explained, “She don't go to school. Works all the time.” At least these girls had one another to hang out with, it would have been incredibly boring if they were left to work on their own. Thankfully child labor laws made this illegal not long afterwards.
Two Americans defending their shops during the LA riots. (1992)
Following the Rodney King verdict in 1992 riots broke out across Los Angeles. Shop owners like the two pictured here had to protect their stores at all cost, even if it meant resting to violence. Kee Whan Ha, a Korean-American business owner told NPR how the riots changed his life completely:
I know the owner of that Radio Korea, so I brought my handgun and I put it on the table. I told him that we established Koreatown. It's been more than 20 years (unintelligible) riot, even to be able - insurance and everything, but I want to protect my business, as well as all other Koreatown business… The riot people took the next building, put it on fire. Then these people want to come to our store. Then we are shooting each other. Somehow, the people stationed on roof, then their line of fire got my security guard, and he really get blown off. So... Actually, we are not shooting people. We are shooting the - in the air, so make afraid that these people coming to us.