These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

December 6, 2010 at 2:30 am (Photo Gallery)

I love the look of the era

Detail from an incredibly detailed and lush magazine ad for Djer-Kiss eau de toilette, 1921. It was a whole different world back then.

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I love the trains

Here’s how Helen Gibson changes trains. In the years before diesels began replacing the majestic steam locomotives, the railroad thriller was a genre all its own… and it’s just about my favorite.

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I love the music

Early jazz and blues get most of the scholarly attention. But besides the great vocalists (like Gene Austin, Whispering Jack Smith and Ruth Etting), my favorite vintage music is early country. It took me a little while to embrace the music of the Carter Family (above), but now I listen to it by the hour.

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I love the style

I don’t know anything about fashion. I just know what I like. Here’s a 1927 advertisement for flapper elegance.

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I love westerns

I’m not such an enlightened being that I don’t enjoy watching guys fight, shoot at each other and ride horses across the countryside. I can respect Dreyer, Lillian Gish and Soviet dramas, but to be honest with you I no longer watch that stuff. Life is short and filled with too much tedium already, so give me Hoot Gibson. (Here he is, standing at right, in The Bearcat, 1922).

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I love the Great Crash

Money and chaos make for vivid history, and the Crash of 1929 is my favorite event of the era. Not that I don’t sympathize with the folks who lost their shirts, but sometimes great financial dramas make great human dramas too.

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I love the laughter

I don’t cover silent comedy much in this blog, but it’s always been a great love of mine. And while I’m as fond of Chaplin and Keaton as any of their other devotees, my own favorite is probably Billy Bevan. The Australian-born comic toiled throughout the 1920s in Mack Sennett two-reelers without ever getting his own series (much less a shot at doing features). But I love him. Here he is in The Lion’s Whiskers (1925).

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I love the pin-ups

Once upon a time, pin-up artists did more than paint generic pictures of girls. They strove to also create a context, like this 1925 orientalist fantasy by Henry Clive. In later years, the mission would change from portraying beauty to portraying sexy. But before all that, artists like Gene Pressler and Rolf Armstrong did some breathtaking work.

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I love arresting images

Sometimes a roll of Lifesavers is just a roll of Lifesavers. Then again, symbolism is everywhere if you look for it.

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– – – Christopher Snowden



  1. Feta said,

    I’m quite curious to know how the violet Life Savers tasted…

  2. diane said,

    You know Feta, I was wondering about ViOlet as well and also
    WintOgreen. Who said they didn’t have variety back in the day?

  3. diane said,

    I also like the picture of the Carter family – “and a fun time was had
    by all”. One blue grass girl I can’t get enough of is Lee Morse –
    I can literally listen to her sing all evening.

  4. Bob Lipton said,

    They’ve still got Wint-o-Green. As for violet, there are violet flavored pastilles and I have tasted them. Yuck.


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