The Lost Generation, b. 1883-1900
The Lost Generation was the 9th generation of Americans. Born between 1883 and 1900, they were defined as a Nomad generation by two prominent historians, the late William Strrauss, and Neil Howe. Generation X shares their archetype and mirrors their life experiences.
This is Part 2 in a blog post series featuring images from a rare World War I, Lost Generation photo album. I discovered the album at a flea market in Oklahoma City in 2018. Click here to read Part 1: Lost Generation Pictures in Rare World War I Era Photo Album. All posts are tagged World War I. Larger images of each photo can be found by scrolling down.
World War 1 Photographs
The Lost Generation came of age during World War 1. Most of the pictures in this album were taken between 1917-1920. This group of 12 images features a soldier with a bear, a soldier at Camp Bowie and young women at Galveston’s Electric Park, known as the Coney Island of the South, among other candid shots.
Soldier with a Bear
Of all the photographs on these 12 pages the one that I find the most interesting is this one of a soldier and a bear. I had to enlarge the picture up to make sure it was a real bear and not somebody in a costume!
This picture reminds me of the story of a female black bear that was purchased by Lt. Harry Colebourn in 1914 at a train stop in Ontario at the outbreak of World War I. He named the cub Winnipeg after his hometown, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Together, officer and bear traveled to Valcartier, and England and Winnie became the mascot of the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps. Before going to France, Colebourn left Winnie at the London Zoo. The bear lived until 1934, and was the inspiration for A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.
Victorian Bathing Suits
My favorite pictures in the album feature young women in Victorian bathing suits on the beach in Galveston, Texas. I am publishing the pages in the order they appear in the album. This group of 12 pages includes two pages of women in bathing suits; however, there are similar photographs later in the album. These are among my favorite. They are so beautiful and really capture the essence of the Lost Generation. It was July 1918. Armistice Day (November 11, 1918) was still several months away. We forget sometimes that the first wave of the Lost Generation also fought and died in the war alongside the G.I. Generation, more frequently referred to as the Greatest Generation.
All the sweet pulsing aches
And gentle hurtings
That were you,
Are gone into the sullen dark.
Now in the night you come unsmiling
To lie with me
A dull, cold, rigid bayonet
On my hot-swollen, throbbing soul
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Silent, we filled the still, deserted street,
A column of dim gray,
And ghosts rose startled at the muffled beat
Along the moonless way;
The shadowy shipyards echoed to the feet
That turned from night and day.
See on the spectre shore
Shades of a thousand days, poor gray-ribbed wrecks . . .
Oh, shall we then deplore
Those futile years!
The clouds have broken and the heavens burn
To hollow highways, paved with gravelled light
The churning of the waves about the stern
Rises to one voluminous nocturne,
. . . We leave to-night.
Mother of many children.
A slim girl running on sea sand,
She heard Niagara shouting the message of mountains,
And the great lakes singing softly
Of prairies that swing in the wind.
How could she stay, keeping soft and white her rich and powerful hands?
She rose and walked like the sun into the west:
Sowing, reaping, felling the forests,
Digging out coal and iron and gold from the hills.
Past rivers like a sea,
And mountains that snowily, secretly, kiss the moon—
Out to shining Arizona athirst in the sun
And Oregon shaggy with firs by her northern ocean,
Whom the silver Sierras link together forever.
And said, “Hate dies here—be brothers.”
She lifted the humble to the high place,
And the proud she rebuked with a laugh.
When the heat of the day was done.
But suddenly—far away—
Out of the thick black night, out of the past,
Came the terrible booming of guns,
The tramp of armies marching over fallen towers,
Over cottages collapsing into dust.
And through the iron clamor she heard agony calling—
The bitter cries of children starved and driven,
Of young girls ravished,
Of boys ripped open on the trench-strung field;
And the dull groans of the old
Prodded from the flaming door.
The tyrant gorged and ruthless
Spitting red war in the face of the world!
Once more Freedom at bay—threatened, defiant—
Calling her chosen,
Lifting her rainbow-colored flags to the sun!
Beautiful and strong,
Startled, slowly arising,
Hearing at last the insult,
Feeling the crimson mist in her eyes,
My country stood up tall to the height of the world—
Straight and tall,
From the blue Caribbean at her feet
To her coronal of islands
Strung from the Arctic sea.
And she summoned her states,
And breathed in their ears the iron vow of war—
War to the end, to the death, war to the life,
War of the free, for the free, till the world is freed.
Her millions of sons,
And loosed them like flakes of snow to the storm,
Bidding them cover and smother and put out forever
The abysmal abominable fires.
In massive drifts she hurled them,
Over land and sea and through blue trails of air—
Crystal souls of youth,
That seized the sun in a flash
And flung it to whatever eye would see,
Spending, giving their light, lest it be put out in the wind.
She bade them move innumerably, mass on mass,
To smother and quench forever the infernal fires,
And nourish the new spring—
The flower-fringed hope of the world.
Seeker of freedom,
How shall she pause in the ways of peace or war
On her long march toward the far-off invisible goal—
The city of white towers,
The city of love,
Where the nations of the earth shall meet in joy together,
And the souls of men shall be free!
Camp Bowie & Galveston During the Great War
Some pictures in this album feature the G.I. Generation. Also, if you click on these enlarged images you can carousel through the pictures.
There are about 40 to 50 more pages in the Lost Generation photo album. Please check back as I will be publishing new posts featuring more pages every Saturday until I’ve made my way through the entire album. Click here to see all posts tagged World War I.