Wednesday, August 26, 2015

World War Wednesdays: Time Machine 1943

     Life Magazine is synonymous with Second World War photography, and has captured and featured numerous iconic shots from the most critical moments of the war. At the beginning of the summer, I had the opportunity to purchase one of these original wartime magazines with the intention of using it as a primary source of information, and now seems like a great time to do so. The issue I bought is from 23 August 1943, so it seemed fitting for us to venture back in time to see what was making headlines exactly 72 years ago. I hope my amateur iPhone photography isn't too unbearable!

     The hot topic featured on the front cover of this issue is the newest dance style, the Lindy Hop. As the magazine declares, "A true national folk dance has been born in U.S.A.". Along with some instructional floor step instructions which also pay homage to the dance's roots in the black communities, the magazine had this to say about the country's latest dance craze:
     "In content, the Lindy Hop encompasses hundreds of individual steps, breaks and mutations originated by Americans inspired by American music. With the exception of the tap dance, it is this country's only native and original dance form. All others, "square" or "round", are importations and derivations from European prototypes. American dancers, however, have always been gifted with an aptitude for improvisation. And American jazz imperatively demands more exuberant responses than traditional dance steps can provide. Out of American impatience with the restrictions of conventional forms, the buoyant choreography of the Lindy Hop was born". (p.95)

     In terms of the action overseas, a critical area of focus at the time was the Italian Campaign. A large feature in the magazine is devoted to the surrender of the city of Palermo, during which iconic Life photographer Robert Capa entered the city with the American troops and captured some timeless shots.

     Life reported the events as follows:
     "The Germans last week were reported evacuating Sicily. Across narrow Messina Strait, under a protecting barrage of 500 AA guns, they were ferrying troops and equipment. But in spite of this evacuation, the spectacular Allied successes of the first few days of the campaign had given way to a slow undramatic advance. Over massive peaks and through deep, tumbling gullies American and British infantrymen inched ahead. On the north U.S. troops twice speeded up the advance by landing behind the Germans, but in the center of the line, near Randazzo, and beyond captured Catania, nothing much could be done except knock out the enemy pockets one by one".
"An American Medical Corpsman has shoes shined in Palermo while another soldier, his arms around a girl, waits in line"

     Features like this are interesting to see what life was like in August 1943 in terms of the major events happening in the world, but I am also interested in the content geared towards the everyday life of the time. For instance:

Advice for pickling and canning season

Hair tips for the dog days of summer

Ads for the poor "clothespin nose" hay fever sufferers like myself

And the beautiful yearnings for peacetime homes

I hope you enjoyed this little blast from the past! Life Magazine is a great source for getting a glimpse into what life was like at any given time, and I'm very happy to have found this edition.

     Thanks for reading,

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