Saturday, December 8, 2018

More Anti-Syphilis Propaganda from WWII


This is, of course, a continuation of the theme from my previous post on propaganda designed to warn the average solider on the dangers of venereal diseases- most specifically gonorrhea and syphilis. In my research for a short story, I kept running across these posters and decided to share them with whomever was interested.
This wasn’t only meant as a warning for our fighting men though. These posters often were found in various factories and shipyards, which had been converted over to produce wartime goods. A paper in 1944 warned dock workers, “Four in every 100 industrial employees have syphilis… venereal disease is one of the greatest enemies of industry. The State Federation of Labor considers it so important that the executive board has recommended a compulsory blood test for all union members.”
Exact numbers of service men affected by VD is difficult to come by, but it is estimated that during WWI gonorrhea and syphilis disabled at least 18,000 men a day. By WWII that number dropped radically to 606 men per day. This was mostly due to the development of the latex condom, advances in medicine, and heightened awareness of the diseases due to propaganda.
So sit back, relax, and take a look at what convinced your grandpa to slap on a rubber during his time overseas. Enjoy and Caveat Emptor.
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Saturday, December 1, 2018

Anti-Syphilis Propaganda from WWII


Not that there was pro-syphilis propaganda during WWII, most military historians will tell you the number one killer of men during wartime was disease. The diseases attacked in these posters, syphilis and gonorrhea, were not life threatening in terms of the length of a war, but they were one of the top reasons men would be less than fighting ready and treating infected men ate up a lot of medical resources.

Also, let’s not forget that penicillin, the most effective and permanent cure for syphilis and gonorrhea, would not be discovered until 1947. Many who caught the diseases would still suffer from death in its tertiary stage, even if the mercury treatment worked. Prior to 1947, the most effective treatment was to induce malaria into the patient, which would burn out the syphilis germs, and then treat the malaria with quinine. That still could have long lasting ill effects.

Thus, it was in the interest of the War Department to prevent syphilis from spreading. However, how do you do that with a mobile army of horny 18 year old men? First, by making sure condoms were cheap and plentiful. Secondly, by constantly bombarding the troops with shock-and-awe posters about the dangers of banging a whore.

As you will see, some are simplistic catch phrase level material, designed to make a lasting impression in an idiot’s brain. Some of them are more comprehensive posters listing all the horrors syphilis and gonorrhea will do to a penis.

Enjoy and Caveat Emptor.
 
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Monday, November 19, 2018

Condom Tins from the 1920s

The use of prophylactics, like abortion, is an age-old tradition dating back to the root of civilization itself. The Roman, the Greek, the Ancient Egyptians used linen ones or ones made from dried animal intestines. However, it wasn’t until Mr. Goodyear and his technique for synthesizing natural rubber, that the current condom was born. Then in 1919, the single-use latex condoms were invented by  Frederick Killian from Ohio. 
Latex was the ideal material for condom production as it was thinner than rubber, didn’t aged as quickly and was relatively odorless. Using latex also meant that condoms were cheap and fast to produce, leading to mass production. 
However, it wasn’t until the 1920s, with a lift on the ban in advertising for condoms, that things began to take shape. During WWI only, the German army distributed condoms to its troops. Thus, it was estimated that at least 5% of British and American military forces came back home infected with either syphilis or gonorrhea. A public health scare ensued and so the ban was lifted to help alleviate people’s fears. This is reflected in many of the images below, which proclaim on their front cover “sold for the prevention of disease” or “for medical purposes”. Meaning, you’re not supposed to enjoy having sex while using them, I guess.  
During my current research, I came across a number of old pictures of condom tins. Yes, they were distributed in little tins boxes which could contain between three and twenty, depending on the pack size. They are below. Enjoy and Caveat Emptor.  
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Saturday, November 10, 2018

A Discussion on Abortion from the 2nd Century


In my research for my next short story, I ran across these little gems from Soranos of Ephesus. He was a 2nd Century Greek physician who practiced in Rome around the year 100 CE. Several of his writings still survive, most notably his four-volume treatise on gynaecology, and ‘woman’s illnesses’. As we can see from this passage, the discussion on the morality of abortion stretches long into the past.
“A contraceptive device differs from an abortion. The first prevents conception, the latter destroys that which has already been conceived. Let us be clear in that which destroys and that which prevents conception.
“Now, as for abortives, some people call them ‘expulsives’ and do not include any special drugs among them, but rather consider only physical actions such as violent movements or jumping up and down. Hippocrates in his ‘On the Nature of the Child’ mentions jumping with a hard spanking using the hand and fingernails to facilitate expulsion.
 
“On the other hand, some doctors reject abortion entirely, quoting another line of Hippocrates ‘I have never given a single abortive to one single woman’ Supporters of that belief add that the role of medicine is to protect and safeguard that which Nature gives life to.
“Still other doctors introduce a distinction: The refuse to give an abortion to women wanting one as a s result of adultery or to preserve their beauty, but they will authorize it when it provides a way to eliminate a health risk during pregnancy. Perhaps the womb is too small to handle going to full term or fistulas block the mouth of the vagina; or some other illness ravages the woman. These doctors say, though, they prefer contraceptives, since it’s less dangerous to prevent pregnancy than it is to induce abortion…..However, one should never detach the embryo with a sharp instrument. There’s too much risk of wounding the surrounding regions.”

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

A Female Slave Fights Off Her Master- A True Slave Narrative


The Federal Writers Project was a make-work initiative by the Federal Government under Roosevelt during the Great Depression. It’s purpose was to give employment to out-of-work writers. Among its various projects, one of the most notable was its Slave Narrative Collection which interviewed surviving former slaves. It resulted in over 2,000 interviews and close to 10,000 pages of materials.

For those who are interested most of the audio recordings have been digitized by the Library of Congress and the majority of the writer material has been archived by Project Guttenburg. A link to which is here. The narrative below was given to a researcher in 1936 in Alabama, but unfortunately her identity has been lost to time.

“In them times white men went out with colored gals and women bold. Any time they saw one and wanted her, she had to go with him, and his wife didn't say nothin’ 'bout it. Not only the men, but the women went with colored men too. That's why so many women slave owners wouldn't marry, 'cause they was goin’ with one of their slaves. These things that have been goin’ on now ain't new, they've been happenin’. That's why I say you just as well should leave 'em alone because they gwine to do what they want to anyhow….
 

“My young marster wanted to go with me, and 'cause I wouldn't go with him, he pretended I had done somethin’ and beat me. I fought him back because he had no right to beat me for not goin’ with him. His mother got mad at me for fightin’ him back and I told her why he had beat me. Well then she sent me to the courthouse to be whipped for fightin’ him. They had stocks there where most people would send their slaves to be whipped. These stocks were in the shape of a cross, and they would strap your clothes up around your waist and have nothin’ but your naked part out to whip. They didn't care who saw your nakedness . Anyway they beat me that day until I couldn't sit down. When I went to bed I had to lie on my stomach to sleep. After they finished whippin’ me, I told them they needn't think they had done somethin’ by stripping me in front of all them folk 'cause they had also stripped their mama's and sisters. God had made us all, and he had made us just alike.

“They never carried me back home after that; they put me in the Nigger Traders Office to be sold. About two days later I was sold to a man at McBean. When I got to his place everyone told me there how mean he was and that his wife was still meaner. She was jealous if needed because I was light; she said she didn't know what her husband wanted to bring that half white nigger there for, and if he didn't get rid of me pretty quick she was goin’ to leave. Well he didn't get rid of me and she left about a month after I got there. When he saw she wasn't goin’ to come back 'til after I was gone, he took me back to the Niggers Trader's Office.
 
“As long as you warn't sold, your marster was 'sponsible for you, so whenever they put on the market you had to praise yourself in order to be sold right away. If you didn't praise yourself you got a beatin’. I didn't stay in the market long. A 'dissipated’ woman bought me and I done laundry work for her and other 'dissipated women’ to pay my board 'til freedom come. They was all very nice to me.

“Whenever you want sold your folk never knowed about it 'til afterwards, sometimes they never saw you again. They didn't even know who you was sold to or where they was carryin’ you, unless you could write back and tell 'em.

“The market was in the middle of Broad and Center Streets. They made a scaffold whenever they was goin’ to sell anybody, and would put the person up on this so everybody could see 'em good. Then they would sell 'em to the highest bidder. Everybody wanted women who would have children fast. They would always ask you if you were a good breeder, and if so they would buy you at your word, but if you already had too many chillun, they would say you warn't much good. If you hadn't ever had any chillun, your marster would tell 'em you was strong, healthy, and a fast worker. You had to have somethin’ about you to be sold. Now sometimes, if you was a real pretty young gaak, somebody would buy you without knowin’ anything's 'bout you, just for yourself. Before my old marster died, he had a pretty gal he was goin’ with and he wouldn't let her work nowhere but in the house, and his wife nor nobody else didn't say nothin’ 'bout it; but they knowed better. She had three chillun for him and when he died his brother come and got the gal and the chillun.

“One white lady that lived near us at McBean slipped in a colored gal's room and cut her baby's head clean off 'cause it belonged to her husband. He beat her 'bout it and started to kill her, but she begged so I reckon he got to feelin’ sorry for her. But he kept goin’ with the colored gal and they had more chillun.

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Write-On-SC Writers Resource


Recently I’ve become co-host to a radio show on 100.7 The Point called Write-On-SC which interviews various writers around the state and discusses with the nuances of their individual genres and the difficulties of writing. Below are podcasts for the different shows. Hope you enjoy. 

Read Like a Writer: The act of analyzing what you read for benefit of improving your craft. With author Mary Sturgill 

Genre Basics: The ins and outs of writing in the Mystery genre. With author Peggy Cwiakala (chi-CO-la): https://writeonsc.simplecast.fm/ffd2a940 

Research for Historical Fiction part 1: How much is too much in historical fiction? How much historical reality is necessary? With Author Bonnie Standard:  https://writeonsc.simplecast.fm/16e0e50a

Research for Historical Fiction part 2: How much is too much in historical fiction? How much historical reality is necessary? With Mike Long:   https://writeonsc.simplecast.fm/f163a754 

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Friday, October 5, 2018

The Last Love Note of Marie-Antoinette


As we all recall Marie-Antoinette was the last queen of France before the leftist uprising of the French Revolution. The most famous anecdote about her being that when she was told that the poor have no bread to eat, she replied, “Then let them eat cake instead.” Thus proving how out of touch and ignorant she was with the common people of France. Whether she actually said this or it was a wonderful piece of propaganda is up for debate at this point. 
However, what isn’t up for debate was that her husband was incredibly shy around women and disinterested in sex (apparently they didn’t consummate the marriage until four years after the ceremony). The royal personage preferred to dabble in cuckoo clocks than diddle his wife.
Thus the young girl took on a string of lovers. One of whom was a Swedish diplomat by the name of Axel Fersen, as we see in a letter from the Comte de Creutz to King Gustave III of Sweden.
Axel Fersen

“April 10, 1780
I must confide in your majesty that the young count de Fersen has so charmed the Queen that people have started whispering. I swear that I’m unable NOT to believe that she has a crush on him; I’ve seen too many signs to doubt it.
The young count has acted admirably by his discretion and above all by his decision to go off to America.”
Years later, Fersen joined a French expeditionary force and fought valiantly in the Revolutionary War. Marie-Antoinette was sentenced to death in 1793. Fersen then wrote to his sister, pouring out this love.
“August 24, 1793
If I could still do something, could try to free her. I would suffer less. Not being able to do anything, what’s so horrid…. My greatest happiness would be to die for her, but that happiness is denied me….”
After much activity and bribing Fersen managed to get a note smuggled into Marie-Antoinette’s prison cell. It read,
“Adieu. My heart is completely yours.”
But alas, the note arrived one day after she lost her head in the guillotine, unaware of this last token of love.

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