Curator Jessica and I were killing time before meeting up with Jon Webb, the Athens Messenger photographer who originated the Picture Page concept before I started working there. She enjoys sewing period costumes, so she was quivering with excitement when she saw the Frazier History Museum had an exhibit Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: Art, Fashion and Luxury in the Gilded Age.
While we were walking down Museum Row on Main on a cold, windy, drizzly day, I thought it was going to be a long time before anybody swings the bat at the Louisville Slugger Museum.
Better choke up on it
Looking for the secret password
I watched Jessica when we went to the ticket counter to see if she gave any secret curator handshakes or whispered any passwords to get us a discount, but I had to pay full price to get into the Frazier.
Why the Can-Can was scandalous
Spend enough time in a car with Road Warriorette Jessica and you’ll find out more about period underwear than you ever wanted to know. I’ve gotten pretty adept at the head-nod and “Uh huh, that’s really interesting.”
I DID learn why the Can-Can was so scandalous (but I’m not telling).
Here’s Miz Jessica is counting the whalebone stays that made up this corset. I observed that anything that compressed the waist that much surely must have made the woman’s toes swell. When you squeeze a balloon in one place, it HAS to bulge out somewhere else. (Click on the photos to make them larger.)
Do you think I’m crazy?
Along one was was a bunch of silhouettes that showed the shapes of womens fashion over the years. Miz Jessica backed up to the display and asked me which silhouette most closely resembled her profile.
I’ve been married 45 years. I knew better than to answer THAT question.
I found my gas mask
While she was hustling amidst the bustles, I wandered over to a display that showed a World War II gas mask just like the one I wore when I was teargassed covering student protests at Ohio University. At some point in my Boy Scout career, I carried a canteen that looked like that, too.
I hope it worked better than mine
Friend and photographer Ed Pieratt shot me in my riot gear. I had to wear my glasses on the outside of the mask because I was blind without them. The old WWII mask kept the gas out, but the lenses fogged up so badly I couldn’t see WITH the mask or WITHOUT it. (By the next riot, I had a state of the art M16 mask courtesy of a policeman who “liberated” one for me. I had it fitted with prescription lenses and used it for another two decades.
I told Curator Jessica that I thought I could lay my hands on the mask, helmet, press card, camera and strobe for an exhibit she’s planning for May. The only thing missing is the jacket and the skinny guy wearing it.