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Before and After: 1918

Before and After: 1918

New York. October 5, 1918. "Army students' quarters, Columbia University." 5x7 glass negatives, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.


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The shape of things that were

No shape - it was just a result of mind-wandering. They are probably students in the Student Army Training Corps. I believe in some universities, every student was required to be a member. These men are, or would soon be Doughboys and could have participated in some of those creative works of Mole & Thomas.

Mole & Thomas

This reminded me of the Mole & Thomas photographs of military personnel in shapes of the Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, etc. I've seen a few, but never up close. Do you have any to post on your site?

[I have seen them, but only as low-resolution images in the LOC archive. So what are our Army-Columbia boys in the shape of? - Dave]

You stand here, the water goes there

My urologist has a device that looks very much like that bowl-and-pail stand that the two men are leaning over.

[Also known as a washstand. - Dave]


Is this some kind of early extended isolation experiment, shot through a peephole?

The two guys on the right are very snuggly together.


Yes, but WHAT exactly are they doing? Anyone?

[Baffling, isn't it. - Dave]


And in the third frame, they're eating S'mores and painting their toenails.


After seeing so many pictures like this from many 80-90 years ago, I'm struck most frequently by the style and construction of men's shoes. What they wore then would seem to be snug and well-fitting, given the number of lace eyelets, and maybe they were sturdy, given that they were leather — but if you suddenly wanted to run someplace, it seems like you'd be terribly hampered by their stiffness and the slick soles. It makes me want to go back in time and give all the lads pairs of Nikes, Adidas, etc. (Thank you for reading my odd musing...)

A slippery slope

This is how Leopold and Loeb got started.

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