Tag Archives: statues

Whoever She Was, I Liked Her

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I’m not very good with names. Never have been, even when I had a good memory. I could remember facts but the bucketful, but names have always eluded me. And as time passes, they elude me even faster.

Right after Christmas, we were at Rock City, TN, a tourist “trap” (but a pleasant one!), and we were wandering through the rock garden. There are some pretty amazing rocks and formations, but at one point, we came around a corner and saw this bronze statue atop some rocks. I looked to try to find out more about what it was, who made it, etc., but alas, no luck. I don’t know what it is or isn’t supposed to be, but I think she might be some sort of woodlands sprite or elf princess. Or, maybe she’s a siren from the sea who takes on human form on land and beckons the unwary to a watery grave.

What do you think?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1922, police discovered the body of film director William Desmond Taylor in his Los Angeles bungalow. Lieutenant Tom Ziegler responded to a call about a “natural death” at the Alvarado Street home of Taylor. When he arrived they found actors, actresses, and studio executives rummaging through the director’s belongings.He also found Taylor lying on the living room floor with a bullet in his back–not exactly suggesting a “natural” death.

The murder of Taylor, 50 years old, became a nationwide scandal and proof to the nation’s moralists of Hollywood’s depravity. Two of the actresses linked to Taylor got caught up in the scandal and saw their film careers die a quick death following the murder. Comedian Mabel Normand had been linked romantically with Taylor, but was sent to a sanatarium to recover from tuberculosis, and died. While she was away, Mary Miles Minter, a teenager, became a star in Taylor’s silent films and fell in love with him. Charlotte Shelby, Minter’s mother, disapproved of the budding relationship.

After his murder, a love note to Taylor from Minter was found in his home, along with her nightgown in the bedroom. Other damning facts came to light. Minter had once tried to shoot herself with the same type of gun used in Taylor’s murder. Furthermore, Shelby had previously threatened the life of another director who had made a pass at her daughter. And to top it off, Shelby’s alibi witness received suspiciously large sums of money after the murder. Still, no one was ever prosecuted for Taylor’s death and the case remains officially unsolved.

Many years later, in Minter’s unpublished autobiography, she admitted that she and her mother were at Taylor’s bungalow on the night of the killing. Famous director King Vidor told people that Minter had ambiguously admitted that her mother had killed Taylor after finding her daughter at Taylor’s home.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In 2009, DNA tests reveled that the skull fragment long thought to have been Hitler’s is that of an unknown woman under 40. Scientists don’t believe the skull belongs to Evan Braun because she committed suicide by cyanide rather than with a gun.

Niobe – Grief Personified

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Double click for a larger image…

Oakwood Cemetery is the oldest cemetery, and one of the large green spaces, in the Atlanta city limits. Originally consisting of just six acres, it grew over time to occupy a total of 48 acres today.  The last plots were sold in 1884, but families who own some of that hallowed ground still have interments to this day.  Only about 15 burials a year take place in the cemetery as 70,000 are believe to be interred there already and space is at a premium.

If one thought of Oakwood as a place for the dead, they’d be wrong.  Today it is much more a place for the living than for the dead.  Thought it may seem macabre (or at least wierd), visitors come to the place to picnic, to walk their dogs, job or bike along the scenic pathways.  There are those who come to do historical, archaeological or genealogical research, or to paint (or like me) to take photographs.

Today’s photo was one I took a few weeks ago of a statue that is right outside of the visitor center building buried inside the grounds of the cemetery.The statue is of Niobe, a character from Greek mythology, who personifies grief.

In Greek mythology, Niobe was the daughter of Tantalus (king of Sipylus in Lydia) and wife of King Amphion of Thebes. According to Homer’s Iliad, she had six sons and six daughters and boasted of her children’s superiority to the Titan Leto, who had only two children, the twin deities Apollo and Artemis. As punishment for her pride, Apollo killed all Niobe’s sons, and Artemis killed all her daughters. The 2nd-century-bc mythographer Apollodorus mentions the survival of Chloris, who became the wife of Neleus and mother of Nestor. The bodies of the dead children lay for nine days unburied because Zeus had turned all the Thebans to stone, but on the 10th day they were buried by the gods. Niobe went back to her Phrygian home, where she was turned into a rock on Mount Sipylus, which continues to weep when the snow melts above it. (Encyclopedia Britanica)

So Niobe sits above the Gray family plot in Oakwood, a reminder of the grief that brought the families of over 70,000 individuals to this quiet place.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: on July 5, 1946, French designer Louis Reard unveiled a daring two-piece swimsuit at the Piscine Molitor, a popular swimming pool in Paris. Parisian showgirl Micheline Bernardini modeled the new fashion, which Reard dubbed “bikini,” inspired by a news-making U.S. atomic test that took place off the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean earlier that week.

European women first began wearing two-piece bathing suits that consisted of a halter top and shorts in the 1930s, but only a sliver of the midriff was revealed and the navel was vigilantly covered. In the United States, the modest two-piece made its appearance during World War II, when wartime rationing of fabric saw the removal of the skirt panel and other superfluous material. Meanwhile, in Europe, fortified coastlines and Allied invasions curtailed beach life during the war, and swimsuit development, like everything else non-military, came to a standstill.

In 1946, Western Europeans joyously greeted the first war-free summer in years, and French designers came up with fashions to match the liberated mood of the people. Two French designers, Jacques Heim and Louis Reard, developed competing prototypes of the bikini. Heim called his the “atom” and advertised it as “the world’s smallest bathing suit.” Reard’s swimsuit, which was basically a bra top and two inverted triangles of cloth connected by string, was in fact significantly smaller. Made out of a scant 30 inches of fabric, Reard promoted his creation as “smaller than the world’s smallest bathing suit.” Reard called his creation the bikini, named after the Bikini Atoll.

In planning the debut of his new swimsuit, Reard had trouble finding a professional model who would deign to wear the scandalously skimpy two-piece. So he turned to Micheline Bernardini, an exotic dancer at the Casino de Paris, who had no qualms about appearing nearly nude in public. As an allusion to the headlines that he knew his swimsuit would generate, he printed newspaper type across the suit that Bernardini modeled on July 5 at the Piscine Molitor. The bikini was a hit, especially among men, and Bernardini received some 50,000 fan letters.

Before long, bold young women in bikinis were causing a sensation along the Mediterranean coast. Spain and Italy passed measures prohibiting bikinis on public beaches but later capitulated to the changing times when the swimsuit grew into a mainstay of European beaches in the 1950s. Reard’s business soared, and in advertisements he kept the bikini mystique alive by declaring that a two-piece suit wasn’t a genuine bikini “unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring.”

In prudish America, the bikini was successfully resisted until the early 1960s, when a new emphasis on youthful liberation brought the swimsuit en masse to U.S. beaches. It was immortalized by the pop singer Brian Hyland, who sang “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini” in 1960, by the teenage “beach blanket” movies of Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, and by the California surfing culture celebrated by rock groups like the Beach Boys. Since then, the popularity of the bikini has only continued to grow.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Because McDonald’s initially did not want its customers to stay and socialize, they prohibited newspaper boxes, candy machines, telephones, pinball machines, jukeboxes, and other types of entertainment. They also installed uncomfortable chairs to deter customers from lingering.