Category Archives: History

Happy July 4th

I post this every Independence Day and each time I read it, the passage gives me goosebumps. Happy 4th, Everyone.

I never forgot this passage from Vera Brittain’s Testament to Youth. I think it’s appropriate to bring up on July 4th. Vera was a British nurse during WWI. In 1918, the war was going badly for Great Britain. Each week, her field hospital retreated before the German advance. Though the English newspapers painted a rosy picture, Vera and her colleagues knew their army had little time left, until…

WWI Dough Boy

WWI Dough Boy

Only a day or two afterwards I was leaving quarters to go back to my ward, when I had to wait to let a large contigent of troops march past me along the main road that ran through our camp…though the sight of soldiers marching was now too familiar to arouse curiousity, an unusual quality of bold vigour in their swift stride caused me to stare at them with puzzled interest.

They looked larger than ordinary men; their tall, straight figures were in vivid contrast to the under-sized armies of pale recruits to which we had grown accustomed…Then I heard an excited exclamation from a group of Sisters behind me.

“Look! Look! Here are the Americans!”

I pressed forward with the others to watch the United States physically entering the War, so god-like, so magnificent, so splendidly unimpaired in comparison with the tired, nerved-racked men of the British Army. So these were are deliverers at last, marching up the road to Camiers in the spring sunshine!

…An uncontrollable emotion seized me – as such emotions often seized us in those days of insufficient sleep; my eyeballs pricked, my throat ached, and a mist swam over the confident Americans going to the front. The coming of relief made me realise all at once how long and how intolerable had been the tension, and with the knowledge that we were not, after all, defeated, I found myself beginning to cry.

New York City, 1939

To me, these films never get old. You can tell it was recorded by a man because the camera focuses on things: buildings, cars, signs. I wanted to look at the fashions but the lens doesn’t linger on people.

Still, it’s lovely to watch.

[H/T: Small Dead Animals]

London in Colour, 1926

LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. I love this piece of film shot in 1926. Not too many ladies walking about but when you do see them, the cloches and knee-length skirts are lovely. There’s one scene when the camera is driving forward through an extremely crowded street full of working class men in suits, ties and skally caps and there’s one woman wearing her cloche. Everyone is looking back at the camera in happy curiosity.

The piano music (appearing halfway through the reel) is one of my faves – from the movie Amelie. I can’t play the piano but I just want to learn this one song.

A bit of advice: Play this one full screen.

[H/T: Small Dead Animals]

If you liked this, check out: Las Vegas, 1962.

Fredericksburg

I know. I know. It’s been awhile since I’ve last posted. I was sick with a weird chest, throat and nose virus and then I spent some time with family in Massachusetts. December has been a busy month and it’s not even halfway over. Sheesh.

Irish Brigade Flag

Today is the anniversary of the Union attack on Confederate-held Marye’s Heights, Fredericksburg, VA. At the homestead, we are flying the Irish Brigade flag, a Union brigade involved in the battle. Check out this scene from Gods and Generals about the action between the Irish Brigade’s and the Georgia Irish Brigade during the battle. It breaks your heart.

 

Just Because

Step back in time with this 3 minute home movie taken in 1962. Location: Las Vegas.

Do yourself a favor. Put it on full screen.

H/T: Small Dead Animals

Dedication

To educate and to look good in uniform.

What makes a person wear a 100% wool coat on a humid summer day? What makes a person sleep in a linen tent on a thin bedroll and wake up to a meal of (hopefully) hot coffee and a square of hardtack?

What makes a person do all this?

A few years ago, I attended the reenactment on Lexington Green, Massachusetts. There was a waiting ragged line of Minutemen on the field when the British soldiers arrived…and arrived…and arrived. The reenactment may not have had the exact number of persons to make it historically accurate but they had the ratio showing how outnumbered the colonists were on that fateful morning. I remember the nine and ten-year olds who audibly gasped each time there was another group of arriving British troops.

That’s why reenactors to it. For those nine and ten-years old.

And to shoot a gun.

In The Meantime

I’m still recovering from our holiday in Maine. (Hence the silence for over a week.) While I’m recouping my energy, click over to the Daily Mail (UK), they have some stunning colo(u)r pictures of Blitz-era London. My favorite image is the double decker bus peeking out of the crater.

Credit: Time Life/Getty, via Daily Mail/UK