What the... 17 Photos from the 20th Century that Demand Further Explanation

RealClear Staff


These strange but true images demonstrate once and for all that "normal" means different things to different times.

1. Freeze Frame

In the 1960s, beauty salons thought this ice pack was a good idea. 

2. Poker Faces

This French postcard from 1914 brought together the shortest man in Europe, the tallest man in Europe and the fattest man in Europe for a card game and cigars. Weird.

3. I Am Gort! Take Me To You Leader!

This was a developmental model of a portable TV that never got into stores, for obvious reasons. And you thought pedestrians glued to their smartphones were a traffic hazard ... 

4. Through Rain, Sleet, Snow -- and Bombed Out Rubble

A postman makes his rounds in war-torn London, early 1940s.

5. A Girl in Every Port?

Actress Marlene Dietrich, whose movie career -- or life, for that matter -- might have been cut short by an injury here, welcomes soldiers aboard the USS Monticello home after fighting in World War II.

6. The Bride of Frankenstein

Not really! Just a woman getting her hair curled around the mid-century mark.

7. It's Just a Little Water ...

A policeman in Ontario, Canada, mans his post during a flood in 1974. One has to commend his sense of duty.

8. Hey, Cool Tattoo!

Actually, these women are drawing lines on each others legs to make it appear as if they were wearing stockings, which, like many items, became nonexistent during World War II.

9. Brainwash Them While They're Young

A kid in Germany licks his Nazi popsicle. Seriously!

10. Family Crisis, 1970s Style

"The Day My Kid Went Punk" was typical of the ABC After-School Specials. This one stars Bernie Kopell (Doc on "The Love Boat"!) as the dad.

11. Boston Strong?

Believe it or not, the Boston Marathon, which was first raced in 1897, did not allow women to compete until 1972! Here in 1967, a woman decided she'd race anyway, and look at the resistance she got from the male runners! Terrible.

12. Working Mom

Sure, moms have to multitask to balance career and parenting. But this looks creepy.

13. Kinda Like Sushi

In 1960s Japan, some strip clubs had there models move through the crowd on a conveyor belt. Weird.

14. The 106-Year Old Freedom Fighter

Here's a bizarre image from 1990 -- a 106-year-old Armenian woman who was helping fight during the breakup of the Soviet Union. Just wow.

15. Before There Was Segway ...

Somehow, these gas-powered roller skates seem daft. Wouldn't you smell like fuel when you got to the office? And what if you wipe out? Wouldn't there be a chance of explosion? No thanks, I'll take the bus.

16. A Multi-Car Pileup

Dude, this is how they parked cars in New York City in the 1920s and '30s -- before someone got the bright idea to build parking garages.

17. Life Is a Constant Struggle ...

We close with this chaotic image in Stockholm, Sweden, on September 3, 1967. That's the day Sweden changed from driving on the left side of the road to driving on the right side. It just goes to show, old habits die hard!



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