That included a revisit to "The Bins".
And y'know, the odd thing is that the Bins just didn't seem quite as nasty and filthy as it had when we were there in 2009. I'm not sure if that says something more about the Bins, or about our falling standards of hygiene over the past three years.
Mojo picked up some fairly clean clothing, the kiddos got some sort of toy car apparatus, and I picked up some books, including this thing:
I picked it up because it was an oddity, some sort of collected magazine or journal articles from the first decade of the last century. I enjoy the late Victorian and Edwardian periodicals as art as much as anything, but this looked to be something a little bit more and so it was.
Now if you're old enough - and, frankly, if you're younger than about forty you probably might not remember it - you might remember the glossy picture magazine published with the big red rectangle in the upper left corner with the word LIFE inside it. Before Cosmo, before Vanity Fair, Atlantic, before all the other glossy picture mags, there was LIFE.
In other words, if you're my age or older you might remember a magazine on the checkout stand - and LIFE was still on the supermarket stands when I was a kid, although in the mid-Sixties the picture on the cover was often in color - looking something like this:
LIFE magazine might well have been the iconic periodical in the nation between the Thirties and the Sixties, that is, until the decline of periodical literature in general.
It was the pioneer of "photojournalism" that has become the standard of the 21st Century; pictures supported, and often barely, by words rather than the pictures as the accessory to text as had been the norm up to that point.
But what I had fished out of the blue bin was something else again.
It was a collection - Volume XLVIII, containing July to December 1906 - of the "old" LIFE magazine, the pre-Luce, pre-Thirties version that owed its style and content more to the humor and literary magazines of the 19th Century like Puck or the even older illustrated newspapers like Frank Leslie's than the glossy picture magazine that Henry Luce made of it.
It described itself with the following:
"We wish to have some fun in this paper... We shall try to domesticate as much as possible of the casual cheerfulness that is drifting about in an unfriendly world... We shall have something to say about religion, about politics, fashion, society, literature, the stage, the stock exchange, and the police station, and we will speak out what is in our mind as fairly, as truthfully, and as decently as we know how."Well.
The editors of LIFE had...well, let's just say they had an interesting idea of fun. The pages of the collection are full of all sorts of notions, some of them curiously modern again after 106 years, some of them as archaic as Linear B and almost as incomprehensible.
One of the most fascinating things about this volume is to read about the events of 1906 not as history but as current events. Here's the editorial page for the August 9, 1906 edition of LIFE:
"It is to hold one's breath over Russia, except that her disease is going to run so long a course that it is more convenient for us to watch it to keep on breathing. Old times at this writing are resumed, the Duma being discharged and the familiar apparatus of repression in full operation. The condition of all Russia, so far as heard from, is now such that any prudent person if offered the choice of Russia or Chicago as a place of residence for his family, would be constrained for the time being to choose Chicago."The editorialist goes on to opine
"Accordingly, the discharge of the Duma has seemed...certain to pospone the organization of Russia's governmental forces and likely to bring on revolution."How 'bout that? I wonder if the writer lived to know how right he was...
But some of the articles are...well, to a 21st Century reader just bizarre, and shine a rather revealing light into the interior of the heads of the sorts of men who published, and the sorts who read, this sort of magazine in 1906.
Here's a short piece from the same issue entitled One At A Time:
"Women do not mass as well as men do. They lose by aggregation. A street-car full of women makes walking seem attractive. A regiment of men is pleasing. A regiment of women would be disturbing. So there are some flowers that, although individually charming, do no bunch well. Taken in large groups, women are objectionable. It is as individuals or in small squads that they are so incomparably interesting."I'm not sure that the editor shouldn't have titled the thing A Monstrous Regimen of Women; certainly both seem animated by the same spirit.
Well, one could hope.
For, as the editors of LIFE themselves proclaimed back in the day, "Where there's LIFE, there's hope."