Serious About Chess

Brackenridge High School, San Antonio, Texas 1933

Lovely Weather For A Desert Sleigh Ride Together

June 1963, Kodachrome by Laurence K. Marshall

Yep, this is the classic National Geographic you know and love. Nearly naked barefoot bushmen covered in dust. And while their bellies look distended, the author asserts that is due to swaybacked posture, and neither gorging nor starving. At any rate, the toddlers seem to be enjoying the ride on a discarded cape, making due with what they had and using their imaginations to create fun. Such is life in the veld.

veld: wide open rural landscape in Southern Africa

How’s About Cookin’ Something Up With Me?

by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration

This rollerskate-clad lady doesn’t seem too shy with the slick-haired fellow at a rink in Southside, Chicago, Illinois in April 1941.¬† Looks like there’s a good chance they’ll “find us a new recipe,” in the words of Ol’ Hank. Not sure what to do with that onlooking third wheel, though…

Squeeeeeezing The Last Drop Out Of Summer

I Remember Distinctly

While it will remain 103 degrees in central Texas well nigh into October, the rest of y’all will soon be enjoying autumn weather. If your neighborhood pool remains open (as our does here, though never would we ever stick a pinky toe into it), I suggest you soak up the last bit of sun, carpe diem, and do not go gently into that good fall by taking advantage of the sun’s warm rays with a friendly game of Mah Jongg. Why sit in the shade of a cozy house at a card table with cocktails and salted cashews when you could stand in a public pee pavilion, trying desperately not to let the Chinese tiles fall into the water, yelling at nearby kids to leave you be, constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re not in the path of an errant cannonball? These ladies at Wardman Park Pool, Washington seem absolutely ensconced.

The Sands At Scarborough

On The South Bay Beach, 1952, Thurston Hopkins

At this point, WWII was in the books, and the era of photography had changed as well. More formal portraiture had made way for commonplace settings, examining the ordinary, such as these folks at the beach.

I can’t say that personally, I’ve ever seen people wearing winter clothes to a beach, much less a business suit. Even the children building sandcastles are wearing long-sleeved, button-down shirts. I guess the day was made more for being outdoors than for a brisk swim. I love these expressive matronly faces, but I also wonder if it was hard to procure sunglasses at the time. Surely, they could have used some!

In the background lies the luxury hotel called The Grand. When it opened in 1867, it was the largest hotel and the largest brick structure in all of Europe! Now, to the Americans, that’s ancient. But over there, I suppose 1867 was just a couple blinks ago–and it certainly doesn’t conjure up memories of a post-Civil War era for them.

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Myself, I don’t care for hotels–for the midnight slamming doors, kids running up and down halls, the thin walls, the questionable cleanliness (especially the bed quilts), the half-ply toilet paper, the items I have found on carpet, including both metal tacks and bullets at a certain Hyatt. But I can appreciate the architecture. And while this hotel has faced all kinds of health issues, from cases of gastroenteritis to Norwalk virus to dangerous levels of bleach in the water, the most interesting tidbit is as follows:

In September 2006, the management installed extra netting and spikes on the exterior of the building to deter nesting¬†seagulls. The birds, which are regarded as a nuisance in parts of the town, had been disturbing guests with mating calls. Their droppings were also responsible for a significant proportion of the hotel’s cleaning expenses. (Scarborough Evening News)