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The Healing Waters: 1920

The Healing Waters: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "Walter Reed Physiotherapy story." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Getting to Physiotherapy

Instead of an umbrella, isn't that a cane held with a newspaper? Lyle Lovett has a cane, too--a sobering reminder of why these young men are here. (I do like the mirror over the little shelf; I imagine someone shaving while trying to immerse himself in the larger bath.)

Umbrellas 'r' us

Lyle Lovett also appears to have a brollie handle hooked over the rim of his cylinder.

Perhaps there's an heretofore unknown connection between precipitation protectors and lower-limb therapy?

Perhaps once they've soaked in the cauldron long enough, the nurse joins them in a rousing rendition of "Knees up Mother Brown"!

Come on over here; let me show you

Of the three men, only Lyle Lovett appears to be a bona fide patient. In addition to his bathrobe, his cane is hanging on the cylinder's rim. The man in gaiters is also wearing jodhpurs (note the riding patch on his inside knee). He's probably just ridden horseback to Walter Reed. My take on this photo is he and wooly mammoth cardigan have both come to visit Lyle, when one of them asked the nurse, "Hey, how does this thing work?"

Sweater Man Is Smitten

Looks as if the man in the fuzzy cardigan is completely enchanted with Nurse Elf Cap. Also, I think that umbrella is a cane.

All good

The three men appear to be in good spirits. Maybe the healing waters, but more likely it’s lil’ elfy nurse.

Maybe not an umbrella...?

The fellow on the far right would be a perfect character for an early Agatha Christie novel – Col. Smitherington-ffrench, or something along those lines. I do wonder if his accessory might be a cane rather than an umbrella, given the setting.

That's funny.

100 years of paper towel science and my latest roll leaves exactly the same corner hanging.

Christmas photo?

The most Christmas-y element to catch my eye right from the get-go was the nurse. I guess that’s her uniform, but I thought she was dressed like a Christmas elf.

Also, I’ve been to physio for numerous ailments, and I’ve had strange treatments (e.g. little buzzy electro-pads that stimulate something or other), but never the wet-leg cure.

Finally, that’s one sharp leather gaiter on Mr. Umbrella on the leg that isn’t immersed.

Keep your powder dry

This is one of those photos that, even if it isn't a Christmas picture, has the potential of going down in Shorpy history much like Office XMas Party 1925 and Dickey Christmas Tree 1921. From Lyle Lovett in a bath robe, soaking his leg in a cylinder, to the gent sporting a woolly mammoth cardigan, one hand cautiously on the controls, sharing a tub with a friend who seems to have brought along an umbrella, there's an embarrassment of riches here. I breathed a sigh of relief to see both of the lady's white-shod feet on the floor because at first glance it appeared that she'd thrown a shapely limb into the drink as well.

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