Oh, things were so formal in days of yore! Kempt hair, belts, ties! Nothing like today, where anything goes. You think Millennials have ever worried over which fork to use? You think Generation Z was ever nagged, “No elbows at the table”? Doubtful. At church yesterday, the boy in front of me was wearing flip-flops, and at least two grown men were wearing ballcaps. That would have never flown in my day, but today we are “accepting” and “inclusive” and it’s perfectly fine to show up, dressed like you’re headed down to the “crick” to go frog-gigging or you’re next up to work the pole . Atrocious, especially if you have perfectly good Sperrys (ies) in your closet.
Anyhoo. This here is Puerto Rico in 1939, the year that I associate with both The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind. The lottery had been allowed for 35 years when in 1934, Puerto Rican legislator Maria Luisa Arcelay (evidently some women did yield political power in the 30s) suggested allowing lotteries to be legalized. By December, she had made it happen. In this image, a lottery drawing is taking place before “three prominent citizens” who act as honorary witnesses (no funny stuff!), but regular proles are allowed to attend as well. The smaller cage on the left houses the “number balls,” and the larger contains “prize amount balls.” Sounds like gambling to me, but I’m not one to turn down a flashy Stampede slot machine.
One third of the receipts were distributed to combat tuberculosis in old PR (which had a whopping 5X higher death rate than in the US proper), to relieve the destitute (of which 82% claimed to be in need of financial aid, and BTW, are the destitute ever really relieved, or do they just hang on as dependents to a government who fancies itself their Savior?), and equip hospitals (possibly with PPE). Choir boys then sang the winning number and the respective prize to the crowd gathered outside. Because that’s normal.
With grapefruits and papayas, I am familiar. But breadfruit? Never heard of it, never seen it, never scrolled past it on a menu. Evidently, you can roast and fry it. Have any of you ever tasted breadfruit?
Setting: First day of school, fall 1939, at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras.
Plot: Same old song and dance. Upperclassmen defile face of newbie frosh. Onlookers smile. Well-dressed people spank each other with paddles.
Y’all, I just don’t get it. I don’t get hazing. I didn’t do the Greek scene. I would never have allowed myself to be humiliated like that. But golly, it’s in every single one of my yearbooks. The tradition continues!
People have always been cruel, since the first brothers to exist, Cain and Abel, became murderer and murderee. Honestly, murderee rolls off the tongue better than victim. Why don’t we say that instead? Anyhoo, the point is that violence always has been and always will be, and praying for world peace (which Andie McDowell’s foolish character did in Scrooged) is like trying to boil the ocean, as they say.
Fun fact to temper bitterness: That looming tower is the FDR Tower, which contains a carillon of 25 bells. What’s a carillon? A set of bells.
The tower still stands today (unless Dorian takes it out).
It commemorates then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt, and will remain named after him until future generations decide they don’t agree with something he did–at which point, it will either be renamed in honor of a more PC and palatable figure–or toppled altogether in the name of retribution.
Sure, it looks ragtag and uncomfortable. But this 1939 stout shelter provided great protection from hurricane winds. Located near Caguas, the corrugated iron roof was secured with wire and crossed railroad ties to anchor it down.