Monday, October 27, 2014

The Gottlieb House


The One Truly Different House in the Garden District
The front through the great tree


 When, Depression baby that I was, I had saved enough to put down the full 20% of the asking price on a house in the neighborhood that I liked,  I got a 6-room 1928 bungalow, with fixtures just like the ones of my childhood.  Our "Garden District" offered dozens of these.  My oldest neighbors then were about my present age, and many of them were the original owners, and they knew all about our Garden District.  As Southerners, though (I was from northern California, via New York City), they meant that they knew all of  Who was Who.  Our corner-lot houses are larger and most of them are the ones with family names.
Even in that category (I have written about several of them) this house is outstanding.  Kathryn Darsey, who lived next door to me and was about 80 even when I moved in, told me that the house above was the Gottlieb House.  In 1986 I didn't yet have a computer, let alone Wikipedia, but I did remember the name, partly because she didn't like the house (which I loved at sight), because it was dark.  I should have had the sense to photograph it while it was still dark: for this kind of brick and this kind of design, "dark" is like that original finish that the Keno twins on the Antiques Roadshow insist upon.
Does anyone have good photographs of the house before 2002, when, together with some necessary repairs, it was painted with the cream-colored paint that also is a sealant?
The forms are so powerful that it still has plenty of character, even without white window frames and black screens setting off the dark red brick.  But having a family to fully inhabit it is the most important; it's just that I'd like to have a record of it  as I remember it.
Thing is, since taking pictures of oak trees is a no-no on campus, for a faculty member whose colleagues teach photography (like putting a perfect pink rose on a wedding altar or photographing the Old Wagon Wheel or a Mail Pouch barn somewhere out West), I would go and photograph these equally grand oaks just three blocks from my own house—and only look at the house; I got into the study of houses only about 2011.  And I was timid to trespass: anyone who could have that house and maintain its gardening outclassed me by far, besides my having been taught as a little Presbyterian not to pry or snoop in other peoples' lives.  So one day as I drove past it, it was all cream-colored.  In Berkeley I had always envied the big brown shingle houses, pre-World War I, and knew that people who were working their way through college at 90 cents per hour could never have them.
Anyway, when a friend asked me to take pictures all around it, I was delighted for the excuse to oblige.
You can check as I did, in Wikipedia: The Gottliebs were bankers; they had founded the best and most solid of our banks, in the days before all our banks were bought out.  One of them was an important Louisiana state senator, too.  They certainly were qualified to build this great, solid house, apparently using imported brick and on property ampler than any other in Baton Rouge.  So "Gottlieb House" is correct.
When this old lady showed up with a camera, people were very friendly.  And I promised to post the pictures and not to relay any gossip I might be given and not to ask to come inside: this is a whole family real home.  I really should like to get a Plan, and someone thinks she has one.  It is true that some early Frank Lloyd Wright and Prairie Style houses generally handle a porte cochere similarly, and I think that the date I was given, 1915 or 1917, must be about right.  (The Register of houses in Drehr Place gives very generalized dating, especially for houses so different from the Colonial manner or Cottage Style that is prevalent here).  My knowledgeable friends and former colleagues assure me that it is not Wright, but I see what they mean about Prairie Style; it is anything but Gracious Southern.  Colonial's nice, too, but very, very different.  This house is much more like many in well-to-do parts of America, including the Northwest as well as the Midwest.  Not that I've studied it yet.  I have written so many posts about houses that my neighbors tend to suppose I'm an architectural historian.  But what I am is a classical archaeologist and art historian and, admittedly, a thorough dilettante.
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Post-modern Cartography!

Not that Google Earth isn't great
(but a photograph is not the same thing as a map)
This was meant to be a footnote to the Post of July 29.  Here it is, better late than never.



So long as I was teaching undergraduate courses, as one means of keeping abreast of what the freshmen were getting from my colleagues, I browsed every semester among the textbooks ordered for history, geography, anthropology, et al.  It was quite by accident that I came across one called Human Antiquity, in its 2nd edition (1990 by Feder and Park.  I do not believe that the authors had ever checked the maps (and some of the dates such as that for Friederick Engels on p. 398, where "(1942)" must be that of some other textbook, Engels having died in 1884, indeed, according to the Wikipedia article, in 1892).
The map, reproduced above, is possibly the worst every provided for college students.  Its most egregious faults, the Black Sea, Pontos Euxinos, shown the color of land, and all of Mesopotamia (though left unclosed at the top!) colored blue.  But, someone surely will protest, the Young will not try to read the map; it is really just an obligatory ornament—though, as a "location of sites", its placing Halaf in the water is shocking.  The more you look, the worse it is: even with the omission of the Danube's mouth, 'GREECE' ought not to be printed where it is.
This textbook is not from a great publisher, but as a 2nd Edition…!  When I was in Middle School in the 1940s, the maps in our books (issued on loan by California to all the students, and after a long war grubby and inky from long use) never had such inadequacies as this one has.

I remembered this awful map when the Islamic State took Mosul, and the Kurds helped the refugees come down from the Sinjar mountains.  I had to go back to the EB of 1910, s.v. Syria, to find my way through the news reports.  The historical atlases I had on hand either omitted too many modern names or too many ancient ones (I knew that the Mitanni had been up there east of Aleppo or Damascus and west of Mosul, but not exactly where, relative to any of the groups of modern Kurds).  And where had the ancestors of the Kurds been (well, soon I did learn that they are Indo-Iranian, so that hadn't been earlier than Media—and how placed relative to Scythians?).  And what about all those other names concerning which I know little more than how to spell them?

Before computer graphics routinely could make maps better, they made them really bad: not very good even when not cheap, not excellent any cheaper than the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, which is to say in atlases as such, not as illustrations in books with illustrations.  In the Art of the World series, published by Crown in the USA and, in German, originally, by the Holle Verlag, in the early 1960s, the maps are reproduced from line drawings, photographically, and visibly in plain pen and ink, usually by someone handy with a crow-quill or a Rapidograph (yes, it's in the Wikipedia).  Some of them were neatly done but with a dismal ignorance and insensitivity to geography.  In that series of archaeological books their quality varies.

Map provided for Edith Porada's Ancient Iran.  
In the same series, map for The Middle East  by Sir Leonard Woolley.
Woolley, the excavator of the Royal Cemetery of Ur, was a full generation older than Professor Porada, but by the end of his career he knew, as Henri Frankfort for his Peguin History of Art volume a decade earlier, what sort of map was required and, doubtless, where to acquire it.  He does not let everything north and west of the Euphrates just fall off at the left in this odd partial tracing of a pre-existing map; having known her, though not very well, I know that Porada cannot have approved of that skewed and discontinuous map of Ancient Iran.  In 1962 a good archaeological map of Greater Iran may not have been available (I didn't find a good 19th-century one offhand, and I suspect that 19th-century Biblical interest in Leonard Woolley's world is partly responsible.

Yet all three of these maps lack indicators of latitude and longitude.  About 38° North is close enough as a starting reference for Mosul and Aleppo, but how far north do modern Kurds live?  Well, south of Hasanlu and Marlik, I think.  Not north of Lake Van and Urartu.  Bit by bit I spread out the larger atlases and began to learn enough geography.  It's getting better, and Wikipedia offers some tourist pictures of the principal cities.  But I got the lay of the land from Robert Baer.  
I am forced to admit that I never did know where the Mitanni lived.  This is still the zone that is Iranian (at least since the end of the 2nd millennium BCE), south of Slavic and north of Semitic.  And please, everyone, don't call all the major groups of Semitic-speaking  peoples "anti-Semitic".

There are beautiful new maps of this whole world in the Metropolitan Museum's new catalogue of art from Assyria to Iberia: at the Dawn of the Classical Age.  Map reproductions of the mature computer age!  I wish I might scan some.  I just got the book.

But no other one that I have seen is as culpable and horrid as the one I put at the head of this Post.


Friday, August 8, 2014

The 1880s again

Hamlin Garland, William Dean Howells, young Henry James, and, last but not least, Mark Twain
1880s armchair, japalac on oak
Back in March and April, 2111 (posts between March 17 and April 4), in my usual kind of Chain of Browsing, I came upon an author that none of my teachers had succeeded in making me read, Hamlin Garland, and learning that he was befriended by William Dean Howells I began to read his correspondence with Henry James and became interested in the decade, the 1880s, when my grandfather was born: but these were the writers born before the Civil War.
Yet, so thoroughly had I been driven from the most famous of them, by the anthologizing of the Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and the choice of Tom Sawyer (I did know the movie of the 1940s) as something for Norman Rockwell to illustrate, that no amount of pressure had succeeded in getting me even past page one of Huckleberry Finn.  I seem to have felt that it was disrespectful of my friends of African (and Asian) ancestry to make them Types, and unsubtle, at best, to treat southern persons, much as I disagreed with them, as if they were all cruel slave drivers.  Besides, my quote-loving friends had tried a few dozen times too many to make me admire Mark Twain's 'calculation' of the length of the Mississippi as the pinnacle of wit (and, of course, its context was never given).
Anyhow, as you see, I was obdurate.  But just as too much secondary school had saved Hamlin Garland for me (and led me to acquire a whole library on my little Kindle), now the rebroadcast on PBS of Dayton Duncan and Geoffrey West's 2002 Florentine Films' Mark Twain has brought me to, first, Huckleberry Finn, which belongs to that annus mirabilis, 1885-6, and which, after all, all the best minds liked best (if both Arthur Miller and Bernard Shaw did, how could I not?).  And, behold, it is much, much more than about Race!  In fact, it is in the context of the whole work that the question of Race is a serious question.  Twain was much too wise to argue anything like that.
Now I shall decide which Complete Works is better (neither is expensive) and as with Howells and William James (Henry is the one that I'd read the most of) and Arthur Conan Doyle, with the help of zoomable fonts, I shall set about reading Mark Twain.  How (after writing my last post!) can I not have to read the great writer who came to accept the unknowable as such?  How can I not accept his  getting from day to day in his old age by playing the role that the World took pleasure in?
And now that I understand the American Renaissance Revival (see the headpiece here) I can happily appreciate the Hartford house.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The question of Iraq

Encyclopedia Britannica XI (1910) s.v. Syria
(click to fit to screen)
When the invasion of Kuwait appeared suddenly on CNN, I found Kuwait on a map easily, and I knew from the excellent map in Henri Frankfort, The Art of the Ancient Orient, Pelican History of Art, 1954, to look for Babylon where the Rivers nearly met.  For that book had been my introduction to the subject.  In the meantime, I had learned that during the first years of the war beginning in 2003, Syria had received numerous refugees from northern Iraq.  True, I knew that Halaf, for example, was in Syria, and Mari and, of course, Damascus.  I mean, I knew bits and pieces but where the border had been drawn I really didn't know.  Being used to Europeans that I talked to on trains often knowing only New York, Chicago (gangsters) and San Francisco (Golden Gate Bridge)— not much more and not necessarily where to look for them (for example, Hollywood was simply Hollywood), but that did not excuse me.  Or the makers of atlases. The great and good Bavarian Grosser Historischer Weltatlas had a beautiful ancient Mesopotamia and a detailed (color coded) modern Arabian Republics of the periods 1945–1961.  But I got it only in the 1960s, and I'm sure it's still in copyright.
But I had nothing for c. 1918.  T. E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars… had no map, and the movie with Peter O'Toole was filmed in Jordan.
This is an awful confession of ignorance but perfectly true, in so far as I knew nothing (unless you counted the Assyrian Empire in the back of my Sunday School Bible).
The 1910 Britannica was still very British.  It has a double page map in color of Ireland but no political map of Mesopotamia; as for Iraq, of course, the name had not yet been assigned to the country we know.  For some reason, it wouldn't say, or even index, Ottoman, and only later did I find Turkey in Europe, but less detailed than the Syria, above.  The Eleventh Edition  has become invaluable as the encyclopedia of the world before World War I, recording all its biases and assumptions, and its maps, engraved in Switzerland, I think, were great.  The Syria map I found for the area that I have had to read about for the last 25 years is perhaps an ordnance map and it is signed by Walker.

So much for my supplying the above half-page map of Syria to head this blog post.

The whole world would seem to be snowballing towards disaster of the senseless kind.  Though it was true that an almost predictable march back into Iraq from Syria was awful news, foreboding news, after watchers of CNN in 2003 had watched the Iraqi army dissolve through palm trees and across the Euphrates, and Syria had welcomed many Iraqi families, it was high time that we understood that it may not have been mere cowardice in the face of unbeatable invading forces; it might have been what they were instructed to do: cross the river and desert and regroup with their nearest ethnic relatives and train themselves in their own way.  Why would I think that?  I don't know.  I only could look back over the fluid and yet unchanging history of the truly middle Middle East.  And who could not reflect on the Kurdish people spread out across at least three modern nation states?  How can we expect that Iraqis will cling with deep pride to Iraqi identity?  To find their name on that Britannica map, you look for a people, but not a nation, and almost all the way down to the marsh arabs.  It may be enough to be glad if what was once Babylonia hangs together and what was once Assyria, for its part, too.  And Ctesiphon, of course, is not in modern Iran.  But we are still hung and bound and gagged by the insoluble problem of Palestinians and Israelis.
That is why I have no opinions, can form none, about the World.  I have known for decades how bitterly Ukrainians resent Russians and Russians hold them in contempt.  I don't know why, really, but when I lived in New York I heard it all the time.
I won't go through a laundry list to write an updated Merry Minuet, but I know how bitter and unhappy things feel.  I keep trying to tell myself that it's just an octogenarian's lack of élan vital.  Partly it is, but not primarily.  I find some solace in reading good spy fiction, like John le Carre.  Reading the tragic biography by Kai Bird of Robert Ames.  Even the patient rehearsal of my own youth and worst fears of  the Age of Edgar J. Hoover's FBI; my friends and I never dared even to speak of the FBI and that a lot earlier than Betty Medzger thought we did.  What is awful is the consolation afforded by this literature: none of what we hear today is new.  Small consolation.  It has taken most of my lifetime for civilization to put itself together again.  To me, civilized values and all the arts and all decency is what I love, or at least all that I flatter myself in believing.
That's inadequate and incoherent, but it's all I can muster right now.


Saturday, May 31, 2014

Evolutions

Mulling over our Species, in History
An author today on Science Friday talking about everything to do with the concept of Self, confessed that for clarification she had resorted to William James, even though a century old.  More than a year ago I had done the same (I think it was in the series of posts that had begun with Hamlin Garland).  When it comes to really good thinking, Henry's older brother is hard to beat, and it does us good to realize yet again that human minds can think straight and radically with very little technology.  Not that they always do, and not that we needn't keep in mind that, say, in archaeology it is important to remember what hadn't been discovered yet and that then, as now, there were fantasy governed or otherwise limited minds.  I mean, Werner Jaeger is not merely anti-Platonic; in many respects he may be right.  Anyone read Paideia recently?  Don't worry; I'd have to read it again if I were to discuss it.  But I've been mulling over a question that is very hard to frame and that may be inane anyway.

What seems to have gotten me started was Memorial Day's statistics of huge numbers of war dead; of all the litanies of lost generation, of the holocaust and Hiroshima accounts in David Remnick's wonderful anthology of The New Yorker in the 1940s; of seemingly unlimited varieties of moths in my friend Bill's blog, Naturally.  

But what about homo sapiens?  How much of a die off or plague has been needed to modify us?  Appalling as the 20th century cemeteries from D-Day or those "In Flanders Field" are, as dreadful quantitatively as well as morally the European harvest from ethnic cleansing, as difficult even to count the dead of Hiroshima, is the consequence of such lost generations genetically sufficient to alter nations affected?  They aren't as numerous as many migrations have been, as of Irish or Mexicans in the 20th century.  That is, was even the loss of Jewry in Europe as large a fraction of their numbers as of Hispanics from South to North America?  The former are as large a proportion of promising lives that never reached full adulthood as I can think of.  Perhaps the remnants of the Confederate armies after 1865?

There are all sorts of difficult questions that come to mind.  Does it in fact matter a great deal if the British lost generation included so large a proportion of educated idealists as the literature tells us?  And the young artists in France and Germany?  And, in Europe, the influenza  epidemic (not that it wasn't bad in America as well).?  What about the famous Black Death of the 14th century?  Not surprisingly, it is the literate who write history, and they can only properly record what they know.  I was thinking that it is very hard (and regarding calculations with some skepticism) to know what fraction of a population perished by great natural or man-made disasters so as to leave a permanent mark on the population.  And how noticeable a mark?  Arguably, the potato famine affected the peopling of the USA more than any wars that we have fought.  How terrible do things have to have been to be noticeable a couple of centuries later?  How important is population explosion today?

I'm not talking about for good or for ill.  If the Old World could populate the New World with its leftovers, it must be said that the result is not by any means so bad as might have been guessed.  I'll vote for the minds and beauty of African-Americans any day.  Also, I'm not sure that we aren't seeing epigenetic changes among them with the North American diet and climate.  If brown bears are much bigger in Katmai State Park than the same-species grizzlies of Yosemite….?

Also, what about miscegenation?  If the ancient world had a much smaller population, it also could not mix so freely as we do.  What about the ancients' inability to count much beyond 10,000 (myrioi) and even so, we often suspect, with only a vague realization of the number?  I first understood the long-term consequences of a lost navy, a lost war, reading Thucydides on Syracuse.  But I understood the loss to have been more societal than genetic.

And yet, I bet our Last Ice Age ancestors may have been a little less identical to us than their bones suggest.  After all, we ARE regular mammals just as the Katmai brown bears are.

OK, perhaps this is inane.  Certainly, there are no ways of getting answers that I could regard as reliable.  But it's hardly as if we could all look just like Masaccio's Adam and Eve, and even less likely that their originals, from the land of Sumer in perhaps the 4th millennium BCE, looked like them.  No harm in wondering.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Some still loose threads

At 301 East Blvd in Baton Rouge, almost "midtown"

(1) When one is driving across Baton Rouge, E to W across town, one first learns to use North Blvd to allow for I-110 as it slices N to S, and to turn south to stay on surface streets.  Your landmark is the big First United Methodist Church and you take East Blvd south in the shadow of the elevated Interstate  before you reach the second landmark church, Mt. Zion First Baptist.  Later I learned that in the first half of the 20th century (and really still today) these were the fashionable protestant churches of their respective denominations, with notable families in their congregations, respectively African-American and European-American.  All the major Christian churches are convenient to downtown and to the Capitol.
The Interstate highway was ruinous to East Blvd, but it hasn't quite ruined it.  Not that Mt. Zion, in particular, enjoys the noise of traffic.
Long before I had retired and began studying pre-WW II Baton Rouge, or had discovered Governor Fuqua's house in the heart of Beauregard Town, I used East Blvd to get from North Blvd to Government St and noticed the handsome house, 301 East Blvd, above, just north of and across the street from Mt. Zion First Baptist.  I still am trying to learn about this house.  It really is quite like Governor Fuqua's, though smaller, tetrastyle instead of hexastyle, but to my eye perfectly Greek Revival and quite old, more distingué than its immediate neighbors yet less lovingly maintained than this house that, I understand, belongs to Mt. Zion:
No nuisancy freeway (see at right) can daunt the careful maintenance seen here


I need to take my photos of this fascinating neighborhood to the EBR Parish Library, now that it is in its new building.  Also, the whole neighborhood is plainly of substantial, established importance, and I need to return to solidify my impressions of it.  To my shame, after 20 years, I still don't know it.

(2) How to define (is it possible?) Spanish Town Road.
Spanish Town Road is complex, and I ran out of daylight and legal parking.  Start at the Capitol park:



As I have said in an earlier post, this is too complicated for an amateur like me, but I'd like to get a richer impression of it.
(3) The neighborhood defined by our fine Magnet High School.  Once, when I was serving on an LSU committee, I learned that Baton Rouge Magnet High School was the best secondary school in the State;  in any case, its alumni and the city are very proud of it.
The west flank of the original building

The new north buildings (where for years and years there were "temporaries")

On the west of the central divider with its spreading oaks, a modest well kept bungalow
View of the well known businesses on Government Street from the Eugene St. divider

In fact, right in Midtown, the wellbeing of the city embracing its schools is well illustrated.  Athletic teams can always be bussed to playing fields.  Here, it seems to me, the schools and the residential neighborhoods anchor each other.
Rather than wait still longer, I'm posting what I have.  There are, of course, more houses in the Albums.

******



Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Female Image

The Images as I Remember Them
Gene, age 29, 1943

Gene and Sid, 23 and 28, June 1937
Just as the present U.S. Chief of the Federal Reserve does not represent the same public icon as one of the young female celebrities, almost all of them elaborately made up, or Eleanor Roosevelt during WW II the same kind of public icon as Veronica Lake, for example, or, at the opposite extreme, the haggard mothers in FSA photos, who had no hairdresser and no dress but the cotton housedress, the self-presentation of most female authors or scholars does not represent their decade.  Nor do the debutantes or their mothers (as shown in the Press or in illustrations to novels intended for followers of soap operas).
The movie magazine photos of stars like Norma Shearer inspired the outfit that 'Gene' wears in a 1937 snapshot, and those clothes were for sale in all the readymade outlets.  The house dresses that went with them were used in ads in women's magazines (Edward Steichen when strapped for funds to pay alimony was one of the photographers who did excellent work of this kind, but he didn't choose the clothes or accessories).  The date of the snapshot, "Gene and Sid, June 1937" is that of their 4th wedding anniversary.
Just six years later, well into WW II, 'Gene' not only is posed in an attempt to provide a publicity picture for her attempt to fulfill an adolescent dream to be a pop singer.  Though taken with a good camera, a 4 1/4" X 3 1/4" Press camera, it is a naive disaster for its intended purpose; a professional with studio lights and training in that sort of imagery was called upon to make a Hollywood kind of glamor glossy.  That image used a softening lens, full pancake make-up, and lipstick extending much beyond her natural lips, which was the rule at the time also for close-ups of Betty Grable and Lucile Ball (and most of the other stars) who, like 'Gene', naturally had a cupid's bow mouth, more or less.
Try as I might, I cannot locate a copy of the pro close-up, but the hair style could not be disguised as other than that where she is posed on the piano stool.
Wartime was the decade of rayon acetate.  The white dress of 1937 was probably linen.  The dress printed with tulips, magenta, green, black on off-white, as well as the stockings were rayon, and shoe soles were a new product, neolite.  Linen, most leather, silk, "virgin" cotton, were unavailable (nylon, of course, was for parachutes).  But the skirts of dresses were barely knee length; things were skimpy to save materials.  Maybe so, but the styles, with padded shoulders and fitted jackets, were very perky and expressed more attitude than mere patriotic sacrifice.  Think Andrew Sisters in wartime movies; think Hollywood's Joan Leslie; think Petty Girls.  And that with permanented hair, often rolled over a "rat".
I repeat, though: neither Mrs. Roosevelt nor my grandmother was affected by that Look (nor our president by zoot suits, which, where I lived, were not confined to African-American or Hispanic men).
I wonder whether 'Gene' if she had stayed in her parents' small town would have changed so much as in that manqué-glamor photo: a chanteuse was not posed on a piano bench.  But her nurse's aide uniform also was knee length.
And everyone wore lipstick.  It was thickish, and it came off easily, but washed out only with difficulty.  At school, though, the other girls made fun of you if you didn't wear it.  Janice, who walked to Jr. High School with me, was the child of a fundamentalist minister, and we stopped at a gas station restroom so she could put it on.  I never dreamt of being free of lipstick or of shaven legs.
The point is that, at the lower-middle class popular level, in the six years between those two photos, the icons changed quite radically.  And this change concerned not Vogue so much as subscribers to Good Housekeeping, for example.  Not how young women thought or what they read so much as their collective image.
Shortly after nylon was relegated, along with leather bullet cases, to army surplus shops, the New Look appeared, first in haute couture by Yves St. Laurent but promptly in the new Seventeen magazine.  It also was tight waisted, and the skirts were mostly full as well as long.  The magazines emphasized that we could have camel's hair and silk (also woven gingham, real gingham).  You didn't go to the army canteen or build figher planes in such a style.  I hear that our county public library has just subscribed to a complete digitized run of Vogue to which you are referred.  But this was not easily aped by J. C. Penny or by Sears or,  in England, by Marks & Spencer.  Their revolution, and that of college shops, was consonant (and typified in my memory by cashmere or lamb's-wool sweater sets), with calf-length skirt hems.  And the plentiful nylons (though still with garters) were seamless!
To a certain extent, again, a new young woman was launched.
The real liberation, apart from pills (which many of us didn't need, yet), in the 1960s was from the ladylike (and lipsticked, hatted, etc.) post-war New Look.  One thing after another.  Not setting one's hair.  Wearing pants, even bluejeans, instead of skirts.  Wearing sandals, not pinchy 'ballerina' shoes, and not without stockings (in California through most of the winter, too), no lipstick at all, and no bra!
That was the new icon.  Of course, if we went to the opera, we dressed properly; if poor, the little black dress and a nice string of beads would do.
Meanwhile, the little girl on Sunbeam bread and the little girl happily spilling Morton's salt ("When it rains, it pours") were updated.  The tiger on the corn flakes box and the cats in Disney's Aristocats were brought into line with prize-winning LP album covers: commercial modernity, some of it very attractive.
With the millennium (and somewhat before it), the mascara, the eyeshadow, the liquid make-up, the lipstick and indescribable varieties of outer wear, and the poses in the advertising photographs, and, especially, the kind of slenderness of, e.g., Special K advertisements has exploded again.  Like (something I just learned) fireweed, the pioneer weed that comes back like a vengeance.
Nota bene: I am not so silly as to suggest that pretty women should not be 'objects' (nor, of course, pretty men).  It's just that the iconology of sex in commercial imagery keeps recycling and I keep feeling that the changes are full of signifiers, signifiers whose meaning often puzzles me.  I mean, you can use almost any types to make human faces and bodies look sexy.   I admit that the models in the recent Korean Airlines TV ads are especially puzzling.  And why do we have to revert to something very like Gloria Swanson?  What is being concealed?
Both of my parents are dead, and I apologize for having to resort to using their pictures.