Today I stumbled upon these photos from a 1946 yearbook uploaded to Imgur. The captions speak for themselves, with descriptions like:
- Vera Brumfield: Our pretty little “fat” girl–nice as they come. Doesn’t really need reducing.
- Mildred Howerton: Here comes the Navy. She’s got the ring but Mildred, remember, a sailor’s got a gal in every port.
- Catherine Cobb: Plump, nice, good all around. Always a smile, never a frown–Her pet game is basketball.
- Romaine Childress: Big little woman, pleasant ways, wants to be a doctor–Happy butchering.
The men’s photos, of course, have captions like:
- Jesse Hawkins: Nice personality and O.K. in every way–if you hear someone chewing gum–it’s Jesse.
- Frank Hudgins: Nice and quiet, he’ll surely succeed someday.
Atrocious use of em dashes aside, seeing this reminded me of the time I heard Noam Chomsky speak at the University of Chicago (similar sentiments appear in his interview with Truth-Out last October). A member of the audience asked Chomsky whether the civil rights, feminist, and anti-war movements were ultimately failures, given that the resulting legislation and political successes of these movements have been chipped away to the point that we are nearly back to where we were in the 50s. Chomsky replied that Americans who did not live through the 30s, 40s, and 50s cannot possibly appreciate the civilizing effect that these social movements had on our society, effects that have not been curtailed, and which we take for granted today. Seeing these yearbook photos took me back in time to a place I have absolutely no desire to be. I just hope our children will one day say the same thing about our contributions to the world.