11. Sing-song girls
Sing-song girls (tea-house entertainers who sing and dance) in training, China 1932. Picture by Ellen Thorbecke.
Sing-song girls were trained from childhood to entertain wealthy male clients through companionship, singing and dancing in special sing-song houses. Not all performed sexual services, but many did. They generally saw themselves as lovers and not prostitutes. Sing-song girls did not have distinctive costumes or make-up. Often they wore Shanghai cheongsam as upper-class Chinese women did. Sing-song girls often performed amateur versions of Chinese opera for clients and often wore the traditional Chinese opera costume for small group performance. The girls had one or several male sponsors who might or might not be married and relied on these sponsors to pay off family or personal debts or to sustain their high standard of living. Many sing-song girls married their sponsors to start a free life.
12. John Ploch
John Ploch, an imprisoned American who had not been reported as a POW by the North Koreans during the Korean War, sits in dazed disbelief as he is processed during a prisoner exchange at Freedom Village, Korea, 1953.
Northern supporters in western Virginia answer the call to arms for the Union Army during the Civil War, 1861. Their rejection of Virginia’s secession ordinance would lead to a new state, West Virginia.
What’s not widely remembered about the Civil War is that a lot of poor people on the border and in the South wanted an end to slavery. Because who wants to compete for wages with slaves. Remember the Emancipation Proclamation had not yet been proposed.
At this time, the patriotic calls were to preserve the Union, defend their country, defend democracy and suppress the traitors. That is why most men signed up in 1861. To further expand, that logic in regards to suppressed wages didn’t apply to the dirt poor whites in the South who didn’t own slaves and were only at a disadvantage with slavery but still fought for the Confederacy.
14. Fort Taku
Interior of Fort Taku immediately after capture during the Second Opium War, 1860.
This battle saw one of the first major uses of the Armstrong Gun, which in many cases just shredded the defenders at the Taku forts. Even with more modern guns, they would have likely stood little chance. In retaliation, the Qing later massacred a diplomatic entourage sent to meet the emperor. This galvanized the European powers against China, helping lead to decades of meddling and exploitation.
On balance, though the Western Powers didn’t get much from their Chinese adventures considering the astronomical cost of the expeditionary forces and the fact that China was way too poor to pay all of the agreed upon concessions. The best way I can sum up the opium wars was greed and race-driven fear and condescension that led to pointless suffering.
“Highlanders of Shkreli” North Albania, 1890s.
Vice President Rockefeller gives the middle finger, 1976.
Rockefeller, then vice-president of the United States, was on a campaign swing through upstate New York on Sept. 16, 1976, with Sen. Bob Dole, who had been selected to be President Gerald Ford’s running mate for the 1976 election. When someone in a group of heckling leftie SUNY Binghamton students gave Rockefeller the finger, Rockefeller gave it right back, much to the delight of Dole in the background.
At the time, Rockefeller’s finger flashing was scandalous and the gesture was referred to thereafter as “The Rockefeller Salute”. Rockefeller refused to apologize for his outburst. “I was just responding in kind”, he said, neatly avoiding the point that the apology was not expected to go to the hecklers but to the general public. Bob Dole was asked by a reporter why he didn’t join Rockefeller in “the salute”. He replied, “I have trouble with my right arm”.
An Australian soldier, George “d*ck” Whittington, is aided by Papuan orderly Raphael Oimbari, at the Battle of Buna-Gona, 1942. Whittington died in February 1943 from the effects of bush typhus, a little-known killer of many Allied and Japanese soldiers in the Pacific.
During the war in Papua New Guinea, the local population who were sympathetic to the Australian troops would assist where they could. Notably, they would help in transporting stores and equipment over the rough terrain. Teams carried seriously wounded and sick Australian soldiers all the way back to their bases. Their compassion and care of the casualties earned them admiration and respect from the Australians, who dubbed these men their fuzzy wuzzy angels. The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels were named for both their frizzy curly hair and helpful role.
As one Australian digger noted: They carried stretchers over seemingly impassable barriers, with the patient reasonably comfortable. The care they give to the patient is magnificent. If night finds the stretcher still on the track, they will find a level spot and build a shelter over the patient. They will make him as comfortable as possible fetch him water and feed him if food is available, regardless of their own needs. They sleep four each side of the stretcher and if the patient moves or requires any attention during the night, this is given instantly. These were the deeds of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels – for us!”.
In June 2008, Australian senator Guy Barnett called for his country’s Parliament to give official recognition to Papua New Guineans’ courage and contributions to the war effort: “I was stunned to learn that Australia has not officially recognized these wonderful PNG nationals who saved the lives of Australian servicemen. They carried stretchers, stores and sometimes wounded diggers directly on their shoulders over some of the toughest terrains in the world. Without them, I think the Kokoda campaign would have been far more difficult than it was”. The government agreed to consider the motion. Recognition may entail a medal, a small ex gratia payment, and additional Australian aid to improve people’s education and health in villages near the Kokoda trail.
18. Ford and Elizabeth
President Ford and Queen Elizabeth II dancing in the White House, July 1976.
The “MANIAC” at Los Alamos National Laboratory c.1952.
This was one of the first computers. The name stood for Mathematical Analyzer, Numerical Integrator, And Computer. Its creator, Nicholas Metropolis, named it in reaction to the long (sometimes absurd) acronyms that were used for these machines at the time. Nicholas Metropolis had a reason to use this acronym. He was a stereotypical “mad scientist”. He was the inventor of the Simulated Annealing algorithm.
20. Female POWs
Female German Luftwaffe POWs listen to a comrade playing the harmonica at Camp Vilvoorde (June, 1945). The camp was managed by British forces of the 21st Army Group and housed over 12,000 Axis POWs, both men and women.