Part of an album acquired yesterday originally spotted by John Taylor, who has an eagle eye for all sorts of photographic tributaries. The inscription on the back is nice too. It reads: “This is one of the dances June will do on the stage in L.A. soon. June, 142nd St, Haw.”
The 70th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day, and a small reminder of the immeasurable debt owed to so many in a blurry snapshot with some writing on the back.
Coverage of the day often understandably concentrates on the tremendous celebrations that broke out over much of the UK, the United States and Canada as well as parts of Europe, but here is a more understated anecdote found on the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: “In the book Days of Victory by Ted and Alex Barris, medic Ernie Long remembered hearing the news of the ceasefire. ‘We sat there in stunned silence,’ he said, ‘looking at each other until one of us said what we were all thinking — ‘The war is over, and I’m still alive!’. No cheers. No shouts. Just a shocked realization that we had made it through the war.'”
Inscription on rear reads: “Virginia took this but I wanted it in color cause the birds are so pretty.”
Mt. Wilson is a 5,712′-high mountain in Los Angeles County, and seems to have been a very popular early-20th century destination for hikers if the number of vintage snapshots taken there is any indication. According to this website, the first modern trail up the mountain — transforming an old Indian path — was built in 1864, and by the 1880s “up to 70 hikers and horse-riders [would] climb the trail to camp at Mt. Wilson on weekends, building huge bonfires at the peak to signal their safe arrival.”
The names written on the back of this shot are “Davis” and what looks like “Goodan” — should anyone in the area have any inkling of who they perhaps were.
The name of the cat in this 1950 snapshot makes me wonder if he was perhaps born on or around V-J Day. ‘Victory Over Japan Day’, which marked the end of WWII, is celebrated in the United States on September 2, after the day in 1945 the surrender document was signed by Japan (although it also applies to August 14 or 15 — depending on whether one takes into account the time zone — which was the day the surrender was announced). The cat looks to be about the right age to me. If he was indeed named after the end of WWII — wow, what a great way to choose a cat name, and in some small way, perhaps a marker of how happy/significant a day that must have been for so many who experienced it.
V-J Day, by the way (the Aug. 14 version), was also the day the famous Times Square kiss photo was taken. The Leica camera that Alfred Eisenstaedt used to take that iconic shot was auctioned earlier this year in Vienna for about $150,000. The camera used to snap “V-Jay” is of course probably long gone, although who knows — perhaps it is sitting in a closet or attic somewhere. And as a final thought, how nice that someone chose to note the subjects and date. Even the “At Home” has something nice about it.