vintage, nostalgia and memories


August 31, 2016

These Photographs of the Hoover Dam Being Built Are Absolutely Mind-blowing

It took five years and the lives of 112 men, and you won’t believe how they did it.

On July 07, 1930, construction of the Hoover Dam begins. Over the next five years, a total of 21,000 men would work ceaselessly to produce what would be the largest dam of its time, as well as one of the largest manmade structures in the world.

Although the dam would take only five years to build, its construction was nearly 30 years in the making. Arthur Powell Davis, an engineer from the Bureau of Reclamation, originally had his vision for the Hoover Dam back in 1902, and his engineering report on the topic became the guiding document when plans were finally made to begin the dam in 1922.


Herbert Hoover, the 31st president of the United States and a committed conservationist, played a crucial role in making Davis’ vision a reality. As secretary of commerce in 1921, Hoover devoted himself to the erection of a high dam in Boulder Canyon, Colorado. The dam would provide essential flood control, which would prevent damage to downstream farming communities that suffered each year when snow from the Rocky Mountains melted and joined the Colorado River. Further, the dam would allow the expansion of irrigated farming in the desert, and would provide a dependable supply of water for Los Angeles and other southern California communities.

Even with Hoover’s exuberant backing and a regional consensus around the need to build the dam, Congressional approval and individual state cooperation were slow in coming. For many years, water rights had been a source of contention among the western states that had claims on the Colorado River. To address this issue, Hoover negotiated the Colorado River Compact, which broke the river basin into two regions with the water divided between them. Hoover then had to introduce and re-introduce the bill to build the dam several times over the next few years before the House and Senate finally approved the bill in 1928.

In 1929, Hoover, now president, signed the Colorado River Compact into law, claiming it was “the most extensive action ever taken by a group of states under the provisions of the Constitution permitting compacts between states.”

Once preparations were made, the Hoover Dam’s construction sprinted forward: The contractors finished their work two years ahead of schedule and millions of dollars under budget. Today, the Hoover Dam is the second highest dam in the country and the 18th highest in the world. It generates enough energy each year to serve over a million people, and stands, in Hoover Dam artist Oskar Hansen’s words, as “a monument to collective genius exerting itself in community efforts around a common need or ideal.”








Walter Botts, the Man Who Modeled Uncle Sam's Pose for J.M. Flagg's Famous Poster


The nation has been personified as Uncle Sam for so long, the origins of the connection are hazy.

Some trace the linkage back to Samuel Wilson, a Revolutionary War-era supplies inspector the longshoremen referred to as “Uncle Sam”. The character first appeared in print in a comic published in the weekly New York Lantern in 1852. The iconic Uncle Sam, however, responsible for recruiting generations of soldiers, has a direct connection to the Hoosier State.

Uncle Sam, half-length portrait, pointing at viewer as part of the United States government effort to recruit soldiers during World War I, with the famous legend "I want you for the U.S. Army," ca. 1917.

Artist James Montgomery Flagg referred to his own mirror image for the portrait of “Uncle Sam” he created for the cover of the July 6, 1916 issue of Leslie’s Weekly. The figure in the long-tailed coat, stove pipe hat and sideburns was captioned “What Are You Doing for Preparedness?”

When asked to update the highly effective image for use in World War 2, Flagg hired a Hoosier-born veteran who’d posed for Norman Rockwell. According to his widow’s memoir, Walter Botts was chosen over other models for Flagg’s Army poster “because he had the longest arms, the longest nose, and the bushiest eyebrows.”

Walter Botts posing as Uncle Sam in front of the iconic poster, ca. 1970.

Botts reportedly suggested the pointing gesture when the artist asked “Walt, what are you going to do with your long arms, sitting there?”

James Montgomery Flagg, 1915,
photographed by Arnold Genthe
The sometime model was a professional jazz musician in New York at the time Flagg painted his portrait. Born in 1900 in Jackson Township in Sullivan County, Indiana, Botts acknowledged English, German and “half-Crow Indian” ancestry. Equally adept at sports and music as a child, Botts’ youthful exploits included walking from Shelburn to Terre Haute to purchase his first cornet at the age of six, and breaking his famously long nose in a basketball game—and resetting it himself.

Soon after enrolling at Purdue University, Botts enlisted in the war effort. When his plan to fly planes was curtailed by his father, Botts tried for a job as a wireless operator in France, although the Armistice came while he was waiting to ship out from Hoboken, New Jersey.

With an honorable discharge, Botts resumed his studies, ultimately leaving Purdue to tour with Doc Ross’s Jazz Bandits as singer and saxophonist. Performing around the country, Botts enjoyed extended stints in Texas and California, where he hobnobbed with movie stars and took a screen test (although his Hollywood hopes were dashed by the once-broken nose). The band, which came to include Bob McCracken, Harry James and Jack Teagarden, had regular gigs at New York’s toniest watering holes from The Stork Club to the Waldorf Astoria.

Botts was presented with a commendation for service by President Johnson in 1969, and his memory honored posthumously by President Nixon.

(via Indiana Public Media)

Fascinating Black and White Photographs Captured the 1980s Punk Style in London

Punk and fashion have always been inextricably laced. Iconic designer and punk grand dame Vivienne Westwood knew this at the beginning of the movement, and even opened a store in the middle of London called Seditionaries (formerly called SEX), which catered specifically to the punk demographic. Personal style that broke the mold of was the billboard of youth rebellion.

In the 1970s and 1980s, The Washington Post commissioned British photographer Robin Laurance to document a new breed of cool kids who brazenly wore studded, black leather jackets and motorcycle boots and used safety pins as embellishments on their clothes as well as their ears, and who had adapted several cues from the bondage aesthetic to their everyday style. They were an immediate response to changes in music, art, literature and sociopolitical ideologies that favored anti-establishment, individuality and freedom.

(Robin Laurance/For The Washington Post)

Punk queen Edwige Belmore with designer Michel Klein sitting on a Rolls Royce in front of a party the designer was throwing on October 29, 1977. London, UK (Robin Laurance for The Washington Post)

Bonita and Shane Kelley from Portsmouth on their wedding day. (Robin Laurance for The Washington Post)

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, photographed at her shop Seditionaries on 430 Kings Road. Formerly called ‘SEX’ the store’s name changed in 1977 and was a staple for buying clothing geared towards punks. (Robin Laurance for The Washington Post)

Punk Beverly Harris from Nottingham, England in a black cotton bondage jacket. (Robin Laurance for The Washington Post)



August 30, 2016

Montana - The Big Sky Country: 20 Vintage Pictures Captured Everyday Life of This State in the 1930s

Montana Listeni is a state in the Western region of the United States. The state's name is derived from the Spanish word montaƱa (mountain). Montana has several nicknames including "Big Sky Country" and "The Treasure State", and slogans that include "Land of the Shining Mountains" and more recently "The Last Best Place". The economy is primarily based on agriculture, including ranching and cereal grain farming.

Look back the 1930s to see what everyday life in Montana looked like over 80 years ago.


Beer Parlor in Birney

Farmers in town, Fairfield

Deer Lodge, Montana

Ferris Wheel and Amusement Park Rides in Bozeman

First National Bank, Fairfield, Montana



Vintage Posters of African American Hair Products Displayed at the 1939 Negro Industrial Fair in NYC

It wasn't just white women who were taught that their looks were all-important. How's that for twisted equality?

Display placards that promote fashions and hairstyles for African American women created for the grand opening of the Negro Industrial Fair at the headquarters of the Greater New York Coordinating Committee for Employment at 132 West 125th Street, Harlem, New York, June 24, 1939, which coincided with the New York World’s Fair.

The placards include hand-painted lettering and halftone photographs of African American women, as well as human hair samples that demonstrate hair coloring tints produced by the Clairol Company; they contain some fascinating ideas about femininity, beauty, and attracting a man.





(via Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities)

Gene Wilder: Remembering A Comedy Movie Icon Through His 12 Most Memorable Roles, From ‘Willy Wonka’ to ‘Young Frankenstein’

Here is a photo gallery focusing on the career of Gene Wilder, who died Sunday at 83. The revered comic actor starred in such inarguable classics as The Producers, Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, and worked alongside such comedy greats as Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Richard Pryor, Wilder’s wife Gilda Radner, Madeleine Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Marty Feldman and Charles Grodin — and even with the likes of Donald Sutherland and Harrison Ford.

Wilder will be remembered best for his 1974 one-two punch of Brooks’ Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, both of which rate among the most hilarious films ever made, and for channeling Roald Dahl’s chocolate mogul Willy Wonka in the trippy 1971 classic. But his career also included such smaller gems as The Frisco Kid and opposite Pryor in Silver Streak and Stir Crazy.

1. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)


Wilder made his movie debut in this biopic of the legendary criminal lovers. Wilder played a hostage of Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty's felonious duo.


2. The Producers (1967)


This Mel Brooks classic, about two guys out to make some cash producing a film flop, was Wilder’s breakthrough performance and earned him an Oscar nomination for his role as Leo Bloom.


3. Start The Revolution Without Me (1970)


Wilder starred opposite Donald Sutherland in Bud Yorkin’s comedy about a set of twins -one an aristocrat and the other a peasant – who mistakenly swap identities right before the French Revolution.


4. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)


Wilder’s most recognized role was playing the titular, eccentric candy-maker Willy Wonka in the adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl children’s book.


5. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)


Wilder is a scene-stealing (what else?) doctor whose attempt to process the revelation that his patient is in love with a sheep is everything you always want to see on screen but rarely get.




August 29, 2016


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