Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth!

Good morning!

Aren't I just over the moon about not having to get up at 6 am? Nom de Dieu, a million times, YES. Happy birthday, US of A! I took an extra little sleep in especially for the occasion. :)

It wouldn't be a holiday here at She Was a Bird, however, if I didn't show you some completely NUTS antique postcards celebrating this holiday, lo, so many years ago. What the Fourth of July is really about, and always has been, is blowing stuff up in the name of patriotism.

Don't believe me? Would you believe Uncle Sam?


Why is it so funny to see the long-legged avatar of our nation's government giddily flinging what looks like dynamite all over the place? The seeming solemnity of expression on many antique postcards and other illustrations always make these tableaux vaguely menacing to me. Look at the expression on Sam's face! He looks like a villain in a Bruce Willis movie! I was reading on Wikipedia this morning that the long-legged, grey haired, be-hatted figure we associate with liberty actually usurped the place of an earlier American icon, "Columbia", who was female (typical). It wasn't until illustrator JM Flagg's runaway success with the "I WANT YOU" campaign that "Uncle Sam" became a familiar face in the American greeting card canon. That dates this card to 1916-1917 at the earliest. And if that doesn't interest you, by golly, it interests me! I thought Sam went back to turkey days and pilgrims as far as domestic iconography went. Ah, well.

"HURRAH, A BULLY FOURTH" says our short-panted patriot in this card. I see muskets lined up and drums in the foreground of the picture, and probably what I like best about this little paper remembrance, besides the use of the word "bully" in the greeting, is the makeshift obi the little boy has made of the American Flag. Can you see the turn of the century at-home scene that would have precipitated this ingenuity? "Johnny, Mother says you're to wear some form of patriotic attire! Haven't you a red waistcoat in your wardrobe?" "I haven't, Sister, but rest assured, I will 'make-do' if needs be!" Needs was, and here's the little dude's makeshift solution!
Put these two figures together, Uncle Sam and a short pants boy, and what do you get? THE FOURTH OF JULY SPELLED OUT IN DYNAMITE. Now we're talkin! Look at how the little kid has a flag in one hand AND A GUN IN THE OTHER. Who gave that kid a gun? I give up on you, parents of the nineteen teens'. It's a wonder humanity survived the early twentieth century.

So! I gotta go get started on my holiday, but you guys have a safe and fun fourth of July, and I'll see you on the fifth! Til then.



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