Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fifties Twin Set and Noose

Gallows humor from the 1950s. It links up, however, with another, possibly even more tasteless, card in my collection, from around 1910: the deathlessly inscribed 'I Have Got to Hang Around Here Awhile.'

Confronted with such perverse images, it may be hard for anyone acquainted with basic American history--not to mention American jazz--to avoid thinking, perhaps, of the 'strange fruit' in the Billie Holiday song. The carnival-style lynchings of black men in the South in the 1920s and 1930s were often documented, of course, by anonymous (presumably) white photographers, who subse-quently made cheap postcards from their negatives and sold them as grotesque souvenirs. Postcards are a window into the past, but also, now and then, into its horrors.

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