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Thursday, 30 June 2016


Dated Snapshots
“We would like to live as we once lived, but history will not permit it.”
John F. Kennedy 

The act of writing the date on snapshots has the effect of preserving the image not just in its immediate surroundings but globally. Knowing what we do about the past we can wonder (pointlessly) how people can appear so blasé with what’s unfolding in other parts of the world. We don’t know the exact day this photo was taken but in Saskatchewan at the very beginning of June 1936 the snow had melted from the prairies, the sun was out and this young foal born weeks earlier was still finding its feet. The boy, not a great deal older than the foal, certainly with more time to learn life’s valuable lessons, had a long summer vacation to look forward to. In Iraq, Princess Azza, sister of the King, was not so relaxed. She had recently married a hotel porter from Rhodes so was stripped of her royal privileges. Meanwhile, the Chinese Government in Nanking was pushing for an immediate declaration of war against Japan. Rumours were circulating that a British officer had killed a Japanese soldier. The British delegation denied reports and ascribed them to Chinese paranoia. In eighteen months time an estimated 40 000 Chinese civilians would be killed in the Nanking Massacre.

 The earliest photo in this collection comes from Quebec and was taken on April 18, 1927. Over in Europe the weather was mostly fine with reports that air traffic over the English Channel was exceptionally busy. In Bath, Thomas Hampshire, a 48 year old chauffeur, was so terrified of an upcoming operation than he jumped out the hospital window, so saving the surgeon from another messy job but upsetting his wife greatly. In Antrim, Northern Ireland, Mr R. J. Anderson, president of the National Association of Headmasters let it be known what he thought of feminists and their male supporters. “No woman can train a boy in the habits of manliness. (Such a woman) might be an admirable proprietress of a Wild West saloon but we have no room for her in our boys’ schools.” 

 On April 27 1931 the prospect of war troubled Reverend James as he spoke at the Fellowship of Reconciliation at Bury St Edmunds. “If Christianity does not destroy war,” he warned, “then war will destroy Christianity”. Meanwhile in Belfast Edward Cullen’s murder trial opened. He had arrived in England four months earlier in the company of Ahmet Musa and Zara Agha, reputedly the World’s oldest man. A manhunt began when Musa’s naked body was discovered in a field outside of Carrickfergus. Across the water the World’s largest airship, the Akron, began her maiden voyage from Akron, Ohio.

 On October 5, 1935 the Dundee Courier was full of praise for Montreal, a city with an abundance of sunshine to appeal to sports lovers. In Blackburn Lancashire Robert Cotton took a slug of whisky to cure his cold. It helped so he took another, which also helped. An hour and two bottles later he was arrested after assaulting a fellow passenger on a bus.  In Tokyo Colonel Yamada went home and committed ritual suicide after he shot dead General Negata of the War Office. In Melbourne Mr W. Smith showed off his giant marrow measuring over three feet long and swore beer was the best fertilizer he knew of.

 On February 15, 1936 newspapers reported that across Turkey twelve people had frozen to death during blizzards that also killed thousands of cattle and destroyed hundreds of ships and boats. Meanwhile, in response to accusations its oil was fuelling the Italian war machine The U.S was considering an oil embargo. Spanish elections scheduled for the 16th had the rest of Europe on edge. The contest was essentially between communist and fascist parties and whoever won the result was a warning of an insecure future for the continent. In South Africa a bill was before the Government that would effectively disenfranchise black voters.

 Members of the Twelfth Annual Congress for the International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship were welcomed by President Ataturk in Ankara today. In Glasgow meanwhile a group of men from Barra Island in the Outer Hebrides made their first ever visit to the mainland. They were reportedly terrified by the sight of a tram. Paul Wharton, dress designer to Hollywood stars, was shot dead while his bed-bound mother could do nothing. The killer also shot dead William Howard while law professor Henry Bolte remains in a critical condition.

 As war drags on the Allied press report that in the Jewish ghettoes across Axis controlled Europe starvation rations are in place. Other citizens have to accept 44 ounces or just over a kilo of bread a week while only children are given milk. At the Oswald Sat Zoo in Glasgow the performing lion walks a tightrope then plays a round of darts. Two million Japanese soldiers are reported to be occupying the islands just north of Australia. Chinese actor Kim Wong has been signed to play a Japanese soldier in a new MGM film.

 Twenty days after Germany signed the Instrument of Surrender, the Canadian Government has announced it will lift bans on Atlantic travel. In Birmingham meanwhile, Canadian soldier George C. Cummings had been caught breaking into a house and attempting to get away with over one thousand pounds worth of jewellery. Seventeen year old Robert Allsop has been charged with the attempted murder of an Italian prisoner of war. His boast that he killed Italians was not taken seriously by the magistrate, who did not think Allsop’s frustration that he had been too young to serve during the war was justification. 

 An American ship docked in Melbourne has a cargo of almost 500 000 bottles of beer. It had transported the bottles to the American base in Manila but arrived after peace had been signed and the Americans had moved out. No one knows what to do with the cargo. At Eaglesham in Scotland a fifteen year old boy has been charged with the murder of 29 year old Mrs Smith and her two children. Forty five women prisoners are on the third day of their strike at Portage la Prairie, west of Winnipeg. 

 On the first day of August 1948 China and Turkey play off against each other in football at the London Olympics. Meanwhile in Glasgow a golfer has been reported for playing a round with his shirt outside his trousers. In Australia the Country Party has submitted a plan to see Communism curbed, if not actually extinguished.

 No one is too sure how many were buried in the infirmary graveyard in Johnny Ball Lane in Bristol but there may be as many as two thousand in the relatively small plot of land. Demonstrations for independence by African nationalists have continued in Kampala. The International Committee will most likely decide that the time has come to readmit Japan to international sports federations.

 Turkey has welcomed the new Republic of Indonesia while in Malaya two British patrols opened fire on each other. In Greece Queen Frederika has made an international appeal for the 28 000 children taken during the recent civil war. Meanwhile, the coalition government in France looks set for defeat only two months since it was formed. Meanwhile, poison, fences and traps failed but the recent heatwave in Australia may have killed most of the rabbit population.


A recently published report indicates that the crime rate has dropped in Britain, which is news to chaplain G. H. Fawell, who says there is a noticeable lapse in morals and rejection of traditional religion. Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies has launched the Jindivik Mark 1 pilotless aircraft. The Australian cricket team has suffered another early collapse against an English team. Meanwhile President Eisenhower, or “Ike” to most Americans, is warning the USSR, or “the Reds” to most Americans, to leave Pakistan well alone, or else.