World War 1 Scrapbook is Rare Find
In 2018, I discovered a World War 1 scrapbook at a flea market in Oklahoma City. I paid $50 for it, and only recently discovered that it is extremely rare. World War II albums are not entirely uncommon, but World War 1 albums of this caliber are quite an amazing find. Similar albums with fewer photographs and fewer human subjects have sold at elite auction houses for around $3,500 to $4,000. This album features more than 300 photographs that are in perfect or nearly perfect condition.
I feel very blessed that the album found its way into my hands. How grateful am I that I was the lucky person at Mary’s Swap Meet that day. I’m glad I got there early and I’m glad I had cash on me.
American Red Cross Nurse
The scrapbook belonged to an unknown female who is the dominant character throughout the album. She was a member of the Lost Generation and may have been a nurse with the American Red Cross during the war. She is wearing a white American Red Cross veil in some of the photos. This was the uniform of the day.
Pictures of World War 1 Soldiers, Nurses and Bathing Beauties
The album features many pictures of World War 1 soldiers and again, nurses wearing the Red Cross emblem. There are pictures of wartime lovers frolicking in the grass. A dozen pictures show beautiful young girls in vintage bathing suits on the beach in Galveston, Texas as well as on Sylvan Beach, Texas. Most are wearing the Victorian-era or maillot-style bathing suits popular during that time. There are also pictures of soldiers at Fort Sill Army Base and Camp Bowie. In addition, people swimming in Bath Lake in Medicine Park, Oklahoma.
Most of the photos were taken prior to Armistice Day and the end of the war, November 11, 1918.
The Lost Generation
The Lost Generation was born between 1883 and 1900. All the young people in the photographs are members of this Nomad generation as defined by Strauss and Howe. Gen-Xers are also a Nomad generation and share many characteristics with the Lost Generation. It is not a coincidence that this precious album, relegated to a junk table at a dusty flea market, made its way into my hands. It is valuable and precious and it feels like the people in the pictures chose me to be its caretaker.
I look at their pictures often, their beautiful, joyful faces, and I wonder what God wants to show me about their lives. What does He want to teach me about love and war? Pictures and albums? History and time?
Love and War, History and Time
For two years, I struggled with exactly what I should do with the album. Initially, I didn’t want to publish the photographs on the blog because it would diminish their monetary value. It would also mean the people in the pictures would no longer belong only to me. I’ve grown to love them even though I never knew them. I look at their pictures often, their beautiful, joyful faces, and I wonder what God wants to show me about their lives. What does He want to teach me about love and war? Pictures and albums? History and time?
It is not a coincidence that this precious album, relegated to a junk table at a dusty flea market, made its way into my hands. It is valuable and precious and it feels like the people in the pictures chose me to be its caretaker.
Over the last two years, I’ve learned to let them go a little more every day. The people in the pictures. And, although sharing the album on the Internet will diminish its value, I know I am not called to hoard it, but to share it, freely, and with everyone. It is the precise reason I was chosen to be its caretaker. Not so I could make a few thousand dollars, but so that you and anyone else who finds the pictures through Internet searches could fall in love with them, too. The Lost Generation, not unlike me and you.
100th Anniversary of Armistice Day
I’m still learning things from the people in the pictures. One of my favorite lessons so far is about friendship. The young women frolicking at Galveston’s Electric Park, known as the Coney Island of the South, loved each other so much. They went through a lot wondering if their brothers and boyfriends would make it back home from the war. The joy on their faces is unabashed, and I want to live like that. For every day, we cheat death and escape assault. Absolutely, bloodshed, struggle and strife are all around us. It’s a wonder anyone survives this mess. They survived so much chaos and tragedy to make space for the Ferris Wheel and penny arcade; Vaudeville shows and excursion trains. We, too, can be amused, and frolic despite the vicissitudes of life.
Finally, November 11, 2018, is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of World War 1. It’s the perfect day to start sharing pictures from the album. As of January 2, 2024, I have published three posts featuring numerous pages from the scrapbook and will post the remaining images before the end of the year.
It’s a wonder anyone survives this mess. They survived so much chaos and tragedy to make space for the Ferris Wheel and penny arcade; Vaudeville shows and excursion trains. We, too, can be amused, and frolic despite the vicissitudes of life.
In Flanders Fields
Growing up, my father had dozens of history, theology and poetry books in his personal library. I loved picking through them all to find precious gems like this poem In Flanders Fields. It was written by Lt. Col. John McCrae, a Canadian physician who served in World War 1. He wrote it in 1918. I have always loved it.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
World War 1 Scrabpook Pages
Lost Generation | Medicine Park, Oklahoma This is third in a series of picture posts featuring pages from the WWI-era photo album I found at Mary’s Flea Market in Oklahoma City. This selection features historic images of Houston’s Settegast Park and Bath Lake in...
Vintage Galveston Vintage Galveston, Electric Park and Camp Bowie pictures are among the images I discovered in a rare World War I scrapbook in 2018. I purchased it at a local flea marketing in Oklahoma City. This is Part 2 in the blog post series highlighting these...
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...