September 28, 2012

The Debilitating Scent of Polio

One of the cool things about the terrifying undertaking of owning and running a secondhand furniture store is, occasionally, you get something in the store that looks like complete garbage, but when you peel away the layers you discover something both extremely old and touchingly personal.

Yesterday, for example, I took on the task of removing the upholstery from an old steamer trunk. Over the years, multiple generations of owners took it upon themselves to tack layers and layers of bedsheets over an old trunk and I, in turn, took it upon myself to take it all off.

After removing roughly the third layer of dusty old bedsheets, I discovered a layer of old newspapers that were originally used as padding, presumably. The newspapers dated back to 1926 and 1921. I took a picture. . .

View image

At first glance, it's an unremarkable image, but study it for a moment. Notice the gentleman second from the right? Notice his hands are gripping the elbows of the men on each side of him? I'm not saying it's definitive proof, but similar images can be seen of FDR, who suffered debilitating effects from polio and spent much of his life trying to disguise that fact, particularly during photo ops.

The newspapers are chock full of similar staged photos, from an era when newspapers were pretty much your only way to obtain the most recent photographs of important and semi-important events. In the 1920s, newspapers were YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and countless handheld apps all rolled into one antiquated roll of paper.

Now, newspapers are, well. . . antiquated rolls of paper no one reads because there's YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and countless handheld apps.

Posted by Ryan at September 28, 2012 09:52 AM | TrackBack
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