Category Archives: Beach Party

“Having Fun, Wish You Were Here!” — Vintage Postcards Reveal Our Past

Box of Oranges Postcard

By Lucie Winborne

Looking for an affordable pastime that doesn’t require too much space and tells a great story to boot?  How about the increasingly popular hobby of postcard collecting?

In the early part of the twentieth century, these miniature missives were treasured by Americans and Europeans alike, who pasted them in albums that became coffee table conversation pieces.  And while many states today boast colorful cards, “Few states can rival the amazing wealth of Florida material, for depth, breadth, and quality,” notes Sarasota author Liz Coursen.  The Sunshine State’s remarkable transformation from wilderness to vacation hotspot is charted in scenes of horse-drawn buggies, alligator trappers, citrus groves, beachcombers, and art deco hotels.  Cards of photographers like E.G. Barnhill, known for hand-tinting his pictures to give them a unique coloring, are still considered works of art.

But it’s not just pictures, including the infamously cheesy sort, which afford modern collectors entertainment.  Written messages range from the exaggerated (“I am way down in the jungles of Florida”) to the humorous (“What do you think of this hotel?  I tried to get a room here but they wouldn’t have me!”) to the historical (“I just landed a good job picking strawberries.  I will be paid two cents a quart, and that means if I can pick fifty quarts I will earn a dollar a day”).

Ready to start your own collection?  Yard and estate sales are a good place to start, not to mention eBay, flea markets and antique shops, or even vendors of old books.  You’ll want to care for your treasures with postcard sleeves (the rigid variety offers the most protection), keeping them away from humidity or direct sun.

Then gather some friends for an old-time “postcard party” – and enjoy your trip back in time!

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Tarpon Springs Postcard

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Fisherman's Prayer Postcard

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Deer Ranch Postcard 1960s

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Guest blogger Lucie Winborne is a Central Floridian. Check out her blog at Postcards From My Head.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: $50-An-Hour Models Find It Doesn’t Pay To Be Natural

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By JEROME ZERBE

Sunday Mirror Magazine, December 2, 1951

Have ever said to yourself, on looking at a photo of a model striking one of those grotesque, angular poses one constantly sees in the slick fashion magazines: “Gosh, she looks silly!”?

We’ve got news for you. The model feels as silly as she looks.

We can offer this exclusive hunk of information on the best possible authority–a handful of the leading models themselves. On a recent trip to Bermuda under the auspices of Catalina, one of the leading manufacturers of bathing suits, the writer made several orthodox shots of the beauties showing off various new swim suits.

Then, more or less as a gag, he said: “Now just pose any way you want to. Let everything go. Relax!”

The reslt is the photo you see above. The girls simply satirized the ridiculous postures they are obliged to take when posing ‘professionally for fashion pictures. Considering they get paid as much as $50 an hour for striking absurd attitudes, the models found it a wonderful relief–if not a profitable one–to be their natural selves.

Lou Campbell, at the extreme left, went into a “dying swan.” Pamela Rank, in white, struck a “la-de-da” pose. Pat Hall, seated, and Ruth Woods, at the right, were struck with the same idea, the Lady-with-her-hands-to-her-head theme. Ann Andrews is the one showing off her panties, while Jo Kuhlman thought up-all by herself-the idea of displaying her pretty legs at a “different” angle.

And it’s not a bad picture, at that.

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Model Lee Campbell in an orthodox pose. 

Blog Editor’s note:  Top models today get about $150 per shoot.

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Jane Got The Part, but Jayne Swam Off With the Gold

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Underwater! was a Howard Hughes 1955 adventure film starring Jane Russell and Richard Egan. Russell and Egan are a husband-and-wife salvage team looking for sunken treasure in the Caribbean when they are menaced by a band of modern-day-pirates.

The wreck is found teetering on the edge of a 300-foot underwater cliff that experienced divers like Russell and Egan have a rough time negotiating.

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For the world premiere in January 1955, the film was projected on a submerged movie screen in Silver Springs, Florida. Invited guests were encouraged to don aqualungs and bathing suits so that they could watch the picture while swimming.

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Jane Russell and Reporter Preparing for Underwater Premiere

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In the above photo, United Press writer Aline Mosby (right) and Jane Russell prepare to submerge for the premiere. Miss Mosby wrote of the premiere, “Except for fascinating fish, seaweed, bubbles and wriggling reporters floating by, we could have been in Grauman’s Chinese Theater.”

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At the same time, a young Jayne Mansfield had been brought out to Silver Springs for the promotional junket. She’d been luckless in finding work in Hollywood until then, but a wardrobe malfunction during the premiere—she lost her bikini top—helped her land a Warner Brothers contract. And that was that.

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Jayne Mansfield during the Underwater! publicity junket.

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 Underwater! was supposed to be Jane Russell’s star vehicle, but the (possibly self-imposed) bikini blooper at the premiere by then-unknown Jayne Mansfield changed the tide—and fortunes—of the two.  Actresses, we mean.

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A 1955 Sunday Mirror Magazine article about the Jayne Mansfield’s sudden “discovery” on the “Underwater!” junket.

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underwater! premiere

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VINTAGE TRUE CRIME: The Law’s Zombies (3/3/1947)

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 Waving to his wife, the man swam out to sea and disappeared until a few weeks after the courts declared him dead. And the ruling till stands. (ART: Ed Vebell)

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Sunday Mirror Magazine, March 3, 1947

First appeared in ReMIND Magazine issue 4.6

By JOSEPH JOHNSTON

“The Zombie is a human corpse, still dead but taken from the grave and endowed by sorcery with mechanical semblance of life.”

Thus the late W.H. Seabrook, greatest of all authorities on voodoo, is quoted by Webster’s International Dictionary on the fascinating subject of the reanimated dead.

The law courts of the United States have created many a legal zombie — by the simple process of pronouncing missing persons legally dead. This is usually done on the application of some relative or other interested party to facilitate settlement of estates. There are, of course, minimum time limits that vary from seven to twelve years in different states. But once a person has legally been declared dead,  legally coming back to life presents many more difficulties.

Where life insurance payoffs are involved, the companies usually oppose court action in declaring missing persons dead. They hire legal batteries for this purpose, and staffs of private investigators to track down the suspected living dead. Although they will publicly deny it, insurance company executives privately admit that there are thousands of such legal zombies walking around, many of whom don’t even know they’ve been interred by the courts.

About ten years ago, a young New York couple went for a day’s outing to a resort on the New Jersey shore. As his spouse sunned herself with their small child on the beach, the husband plunged into the surf and swam out to sea. He turned once, smiled, waved, then continued plowing powerfully through the waves until he was no more than a speck to those on shore. A number of bathers commented that he was dangerously far out. But his wife smiled confidently and remarked that her husband was a strong swimmer and was accustomed to going out a mile or more.

After a reasonable time, when he didn’t return, his wife became alarmed. By nightfall, the Coast Guard patrol was searching for his body, but no trace of the missing swimmer could be found.

Last year, the widow finally won her court battle to have the missing husband declared dead. The insurance companies, which stood to pay out $50,000, contested. But the verdict of the New Jersey court was that the husband had drowned.

A few months after the widow had collected the money, two unsavory characters appeared, demanding half the take. Their attempted shakedown was based upon a threat to reveal that her husband was actually alive. The woman, who wanted no part of either fraud or blackmail, notified the insurance people. The racketeers were jailed. But the resulting investigation turned up proof that reports of the husband’s death had been greatly exaggerated.

He had, it was learned, decided that he hadn’t loved his wife, and had just swum away from it all. Furthermore, he considered any attempt to resurrect him was an invasion to his right to privacy, for which he would sue the insurance companies if they tried. Before any court action could be brought, he again disappeared. You can’t, it seems, legally restore life unless you produce the body. So the court has created a zombie who prefers whatever hereafter he has found to the used-to-be he left.

On evidence of the War Department’s report that a certain G.I. was killed in action in the Pacific, two insurance companies paid a bereaved widow’s claim for policies totaling $27,000. Two days after payment had been received, investigators, making a routine check, learned that the woman had sold her house and disappeared with her two children.

They traced the woman to San Francisco, to Honolulu, and from there to an island in the Pacific. Further work by sleuths attached to the Hawaiian office of one of the companies produced proof that the “widow” had joined her legally deceased husband on a tiny atoll they had bought and over which the United States has no jurisdiction.

Every so often, an insurance man stops to call socially, and tries to sell this War Department’s legal zombie on the idea of returning to the States, where he can be sued for the return of the money. But the deadbeat prefers to sit on his island veranda—drinking, no doubt, double zombies.

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