Time for a Facelift

It’s the dog days of summer, and the editors of The New Yorker are seeking various distractions to take their minds off of the broiling late season heat.

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In the Aug. 21, 1926 issue (bearing an appropriate cover image by H.O. Hofman of bathers taking a refreshing dip), “The Talk of the Town” suggested that it was a good time for even the natives to take a boat tour of their beloved island:

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Aerial view of Battery Park Wharf in the early 1920s (buzzfeed)

In the following Aug. 28 issue, the “Talk” editors ducked out of the sun to visit the American Museum of Natural History.

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Aug. 28, 1926 cover by H.O. Hofman.

There they found curators busy reorganizing displays of dinosaurs and various stuffed beasts of the wild:

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AMNH staff joining head to body of female elephant in Indian Elephant Group, 1926. (AMNH Digital Special Collections)
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The end result of the 1926 reorganization of displays at the AMNH–children viewing Brontosaurus exhibit in 1927. (AMNH Digital Special Collections)

The magazine also profiled New York City native Gertrude Ederle, who became the first woman to swim across the English Channel in August of 1926.

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Ederle, as rendered by Peter Arno for the “Profile.”

Even Janet Flanner, the magazine’s Paris correspondent, commented on the event, noting Europe’s jealous reaction to an American’s seizing of the record:

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Ederle would return home to a ticker tape parade along the Canyon of Heroes in the Financial District, and would also be feted by 5,000 people who turned out on West 65th Street for a block party in her honor.

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WHAT FOLKS DID BEFORE TELEVISION…Block party celebrates Ederle as “Queen of the Waves.” (Ephemeral New York)

According to the excellent blog Ephemeral New York, Ederle received offers from Hollywood and Broadway and was deluged by marriage proposals. But she returned to a quiet life, moving to Queens and working as a swimming instructor for deaf children–Ederle’s hearing was seriously damaged in the water of the Channel, but otherwise swimming must have been good for her health. She died at age 98 in 2003.

Keeping with the summertime theme, the magazine covered the Gold Cup Regatta, complete with illustrations by Johan Bull:

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Lois Long took her “On and Off the Avenue” column to Paris, where she cast a jaded eye at the behavior of American buyers of French fashion:

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Coco Chanel’s “Little Black Dress” debuted in 1926. (homeecologist.com)

And finally, from the advertising department, this strange ad from Ovington’s, which seemed to be more concerned with promoting racial stereotypes than in selling its dinnerware:

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Next Time: Come Fly With Me…

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Published by

David O

I read and write about history from the perspective that history is not some artifact from the past but a living, breathing condition we inhabit every moment of our lives, or as William Faulkner once observed, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." I read original source materials, such as every issue of The New Yorker, not only as a way to understand a time from a particular perspective, but to also use the source as an aggregator of various historic events. I welcome comments, criticisms, corrections and insights as I stumble along through the century.

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