life magazine

Girl Pilots

here are some bad-ass women to inspire you this Friday, who flew in the face of convention (pardon the pun) and trained as airforce pilots in 1943. despite the magazine describing them thusly, “girls are very serious about their chance to fly for the Army, even when it means giving up nail polish, beauty parlours and dates for a regimented 33 weeks.” can you even. you can read the original article in LIFE magazine here.

photos by Peter Stackpole for Life Magazine in 1943.

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Spring in LA, 1944

i have been hearing grumblings around the internet that it’s HOT in LA at the moment. i can’t help but be a little smug, because on this side of the world we are experiencing optimal autumn weather. sunny, but cold, with the occasional rain shower… I LOVE IT. i think that LA is quite similar to Cape Town weather wise, so perhaps we have just directly swapped seasons. well, you guys can enjoy your boiling hot days for the time being.

Anton and i have been threatening to visit dear friends in LA, so maybe one day i will make my way over there (it’s just SO FAR from here). i don’t know where these specific photos were taken, but they are from LIFE magazine in 1944, by Peter Stackpole. the gals look like they are having a great time, either way. anyone have an idea of the location?

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Bike Girls

growing up my older brothers had motorbikes, and i thought it was soooooo cool. sometimes they would pick me up from school on one of these tanks and i would feel like like such a bad ass. granted i was not the one steering the motorbike, and i never have had the guts to actually ride one. so whenever i see a woman on a motorbike i think damn, girl. that’s what i thought when i saw these pics of women motorcyclists from 1949, taken by Loomis Dean for Life Magazine. and in an age when it might have been strange to see woman in pants – let alone riding motorbikes – they are pretty bad ass in my book.

images c/o Life Magazine photographed by Loomis Dean.

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Aspen Girls

poking around the life archives i discovered this marvelous photoset of young women working on ski resorts in Aspen in the 70s, photographed by John Dominis. after some more digging i managed to find the original article in the March 1971 edition of Life, which is called, wait for it, “A Very Nice Kind of Ski Bum“.

Most people’s notion of ski bum is a shiftless young male who spends most of his time searching for good powder, but the ski bums of Aspen, Colo. aren’t like that at all. They are prettier, for one thing, and many of them have lived in the resort town for more than two years. They consider the skier’s life not a parenthetical experience but a real alternative to urban existence, one free from pollution, noise and the frustration of having to choose between marriage a a less than satisfying job. The only problem they have in Aspen is finding a way to survive. With 900 newcomers arriving every year, there is a sharp shortage of both jobs and housing. But the air is fresh and clean and the longer the women stay, the prettier they seem to look.

















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Blackie

Blackie was the cat of photographer Gjon Mili, who was best known for his work for Life magazine. you can see a beautiful series he did with Picasso that i previously blogged about here. i was digging more into his work when i noticed that Blackie appears in a lot of his shoots – it seems that his feline friend accompanied him to the studio (and really enjoyed it).

all photos by Gjon Mili











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Colby College Mountain Day

one thing i can never resist when i am visiting someone’s home, even if it’s a stranger, is to flip through any photo albums that might be lying around. usually they’re of old photos – because, let’s face it, people don’t really put together physical photo albums anymore. everything is online, on facebook or in your instagram or flickr feed. that’s cool, i’m like that too. but i still revel in looking through photos, which i suppose is why i gravitate towards vintage photography.

this photo story taken by Yale Joel for Life Magazine in 1950 shows the ladies of Colby College on their annual Mountain Day hike – a tradition that started in the 1850s and continues to this day. the college is located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire, and the mountain they climb is Mount Kearsarge. the ladies look pretty grand in their 50s denim, flannel shirts and jaunty neck-ties.

edit: Colby College is now called Colby-Sawyer College, the name was changed in 1975. i have, however kept the name of the original Life Magazine article.

















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1890 Spindrift Drive

i was digging around in the Life Magazine archives (as i often do) when i came across these photos of a beautiful modern beach house in the La Jolla shores area of San Diego. after doing a bit of research i learned that it was designed by american architect William Kesling for Walton MacConnell in 1946-47. amazingly the original address is actually listed, so i looked it up on google maps – and it seems like some of the original part of the house might still be in existence! though it looks to have been extended on a massive scale.

i find that so unfortunate about beach properties these days, i know that it’s prime real estate and only super rich people can really afford them – and they have all the money to build super huge mansions – but it’s a shame to me that you don’t often see the small, charming beach cottages that were built back in the 40s, 50s, 60s… there are still a handful of them in Cape Town, you can spot a few original bungalows on the shores of Clifton and Camps Bay beaches. i hope that their owners never turn them into monstrous mansions.

anyhoo! these are nice pics to look at anyway. they were taken in 1947 by Peter Stackpole and featured in the November 3 issue of Life Magazine, pages 154-160. it all sounds pretty amazing… except maybe for that Cuban houseboy. here are some of my favourite bits:

With a Cuban houseboy, a barbeque pit, a fishing rod and a telescope, retired bachelor Walton MacConnell has settled down in the elegant, sunny little town of La Jolla, California to a pleasant, lounging existence. As a setting for this life he has built himself a dramatic, glossy, $40,000 home which hugs the edge of a 50-foot seaside cliff. Here the Pacific swishes around under the living-room floor and occasionally splashes up soothingly over the huge windows.

In the living room his guests loll around, waiting until nightfall when they usually dress formally for a dance in the cliff-enclosed patio.

At night, when there is no reflection, the living room window is invisible and MacConnell worries constantly lest unsuspecting guests walk right through it. So far several have hit it but none has been hurt.

On the bedroom roof guest Nancy Chase snoozes. Roofing of asphalt and crushed ceramics reflects extra sun for an even tan.

you can read the original article at the bottom of the post.















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Miami Beach, 1940

ok first of all, i have to draw your attention to the magnificent platform shoes that these ladies are wearing – in 1940. 1940! i always seem to mistake it for a bit of a fuddy duddy decade (well maybe it was for the majority of the population), but i’m continuously amazed by how fashion-forward some women were, especially when it came to wearing beautiful tailored suits (something that seemed to go out of fashion for most of the 50s and 60s? vintage lovers will have to chime in here, i don’t know much about vintage fashion besides watching a whole lot of Mad Men). you obviously won’t miss their fabulous glasses in this shoot, either. maybe Miami just does something to people.

photos taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt in Miami Beach, 1940 for Life Magazine. graphic by me.















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