Yesterday I wrote about the film 1917. Today I am curating some aspects of the year itself. I was wondering what happened around the day the film we are told the film took place: April 6, 1917. That was the day America entered WWI by officially declaring war on Germany. I also wondered what people were born that year.
THE COTTINGLEY FAERIES HOAX
The Cottingley Faeries appear in a series of five photographs taken by Elsie Wright (1901–1988) and Frances Griffiths (1907–1986), two young cousins who lived in Cottingley, near Bradford in England. In 1917, when the first two photographs were taken, Elsie was 16 years old and Frances was 9. The pictures came to the attention of writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who used them to illustrate an article on fairies he had been commissioned to write for the Christmas 1920 edition of The Strand Magazine. Doyle, as a spiritualist, was enthusiastic about the photographs, and interpreted them as clear and visible evidence of psychic phenomena. Public reaction was mixed; some accepted the images as genuine, others believed that they had been faked.
Interest in the Cottingley Fairies gradually declined after 1921. Both girls married and lived abroad for a time after they grew up, yet the photographs continued to hold the public imagination. In 1966 a reporter from the Daily Express newspaper traced Elsie, who had by then returned to the UK. Elsie left open the possibility that she believed she had photographed her thoughts, and the media once again became interested in the story.
In the early 1980s Elsie and Frances admitted that the photographs were faked, using cardboard cutouts of fairies copied from a popular children’s book of the time, but Frances maintained that the fifth and final photograph was genuine. Currently the photographs and two of the cameras used are on display in the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, England. In December 2019 the third camera used to take the images was acquired and is scheduled to complete the exhibition.
EAST ST. LOUIS RACE RIOTS
The East St. Louis riots and massacres were a series of outbreaks of labor– and race-related violence by people that caused the deaths of an estimated 40–250 African Americans in late May and early July 1917. Another 6,000 blacks were left homeless, and the rioting and vandalism cost approximately $400,000 ($7,982,000 in 2020) in property damage. The events took place in and near East St. Louis, Illinois, an industrial city on the east bank of the Mississippi River, directly opposite the city of St. Louis, Missouri.
The July 1917 episode in particular was marked by white-led violence throughout the city. The riots have been described as the worst case of labor-related violence in 20th-century American history, and among the worst race riots in U.S. history.
In the aftermath, the East St. Louis Chamber of Commerce called for the resignation of the local police chief because of the failure of the police force to suppress the violence and destruction.
THE SILENT PARADE
The Negro Silent Protest Parade, commonly known as the Silent Parade, was a silent march of about 10,000 African Americans along Fifth Avenue starting at 57th Street in New York City on July 28, 1917. The event was organized by the NAACP, church, and community leaders to protest violence directed towards African Americans, such as recent lynchings in Waco and Memphis. The parade was precipitated by the East St. Louis riots in May and July 1917 where at least 40 black people were killed by white mobs, in part touched off by a labor dispute where blacks were used for strike breaking.
JANE WYMAN WAS BORN IN 1917. HERE SHE IS WINNING HER OSCAR FOR BEST ACTRESS IN 1949 FOR JOHNNY BELINDA. ROBERT MONTGOMERY IS THE HOST. RONALD COLEMAN PRESENTS HER WITH THE AWARD AFTER HAVING WON THE OSCAR FOR BEST ACTOR THE YEAR BEFORE FOR A DOUBLE LIFE
JANE WYMAN AS THE MYSTERY GUEST ON WHAT’S MY LINE?. ARLENE FRANCIS IS WEARING AN EYE PATCH AND ONE OF HER FELLOW PANELISTS IS TONY PERKINS. A RARE EPISODE FOR THOSE TWO ASPECTS. WYMAN APPEARS AT THE 18:00 MARK.
CARSON McCULLERS WAS BORN IN 1917. HERE IS A RARE VIDEO OF AN INTERVIEW WITH HER. I DON’T THINK I’VE EVER HEARD HER TALK.
“First of all, love is a joint experience between two persons — but the fact that it is a joint experience does not mean that it is a similar experience to the two people involved. There are the lover and the beloved, but these two come from different countries. Often the beloved is only a stimulus for all the stored-up love which had lain quiet within the lover for a long time hitherto. And somehow every lover knows this. He feels in his soul that his love is a solitary thing. He comes to know a new, strange loneliness and it is this knowledge which makes him suffer. So there is only one thing for the lover to do. He must house his love within himself as best he can; he must create for himself a whole new inward world — a world intense and strange, complete in himself. Let it be added here that this lover about whom we speak need not necessarily be a young man saving for a wedding ring — this lover can be man, woman, child, or indeed any human creature on this earth.
Now, the beloved can also be of any description. The most outlandish people can be the stimulus for love. A man may be a doddering great-grandfather and still love only a strange girl he saw in the streets of Cheehaw one afternoon two decades past. The preacher may love a fallen woman. The beloved may be treacherous, greasy-headed, and given to evil habits. Yes, and the lover may see this as clearly as anyone else — but that does not affect the evolution of his love one whit. A most mediocre person can be the object of a love which is wild, extravagant, and beautiful as the poison lilies of the swamp. A good man may be the stimulus for a love both violent and debased, or a jabbering madman may bring about in the soul of someone a tender and simple idyll. Therefore, the value and quality of any love is determined solely by the lover himself.
It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved. Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being beloved is intolerable to many. The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best of reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare his beloved. The lover craves any possible relation with the beloved, even if this experience can cause him only pain.”
ROBERT LOWELL WAS BORN THAT YEAR
The dream went like a rake of sliced bamboo,
slats of dust distracted by a downdraw;
I woke and knew I held a cigarette;
I looked, there was none, could have been none;
I slept off years before I woke again,
palming the floor, shaking the sheets. I saw
nothing was burning. I awoke, I saw
I was holding two lighted cigarettes. . . .
They come this path, old friends, old buffs of death.
Tonight it’s Randall, his spark still fire though humble,
his gnawed wrist cradled like Kitten. “What kept you so long,
racing the cooling grindstone of your ambition?
You didn’t write, you rewrote…. But tell me,
Cal, why did we live? Why do we die?”
AND GWENDOLYN BROOKS WAS, TOO