on Feb 6, 2007
Lileks has a beautiful picture of a young mother and her baby (halfway down the page) which he lifted from a humorously silly ad, circa 1956.
Pictures like this really get to me. I’ve described the feeling before as temporal vertigo: The dizzying sensation you get when you are given a sudden, brief perspective on a long expanse of time.
Once in a while I’ll see these old ads and I’ll get that gut-punch sensation as I realize just how much time has passed between then and now. Saying “fifty years” doesn’t give the same impression as imagining all the stuff that can happen in fifty years, and even that is nothing compared to seeing a tiny bit of the past preserved, and realizing that the moment, and the people, are gone.
Several times he’s posted pictures from the 30’s. Images of a mundane day in the big city, which was a lot less big back then. Businessmen in hats shuffle from one side of the street to the other. A woman pushes a baby carriage – the big black kind with the large wheels that we always see in cartoons and never in real life. An old man catches his breath on a corner before working up the air to finish his smoke and cross the street. None of them are aware that this moment is being captured, and will endure for decades. All of them are now dead.
The woman in that ad would be in her mid 70’s today, if she’s still with us. The adorable baby is probably 51 or 52. They’ve lived their lives without me ever being aware of them, and now I have a picture of the two of them together, fifty years ago, and I can’t shake it.
Also: I agree with James. Her haircut is great.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.