august 1952

Kodachrome, enlarged 4 times, by Paul A. Zahl.

From “Back-yard Monsters in Color,” National Geographic, August, 1952.

Velvety black and yellow bumblebee fur has a deep pile. Carrying pollen grains caught on the hairs from male to female flowers, the bee helps propagate many farm crops. This bee is the only insect which pollinates some types of red clover. Others have tongues too short to reach the nectar, and so are not attracted to deep flowers where they would pick up pollen.

If you ever feel rejected by someone, you can tell yourself they just haven’t evolved to meet your needs. The right bees will find you, don’t worry.

So I kiss him, and there is the great dark sea ahead, and above the sheaves of yellow stars, shoals of cold bright pieces of light, and the great wind, blowing always cold gulps and gusts of air, big and soft in the tree leaves, hushing, miracles are happening, and I, strange and elated with a new wonder, child-like in my sudden power, look with eyes large in love and amazement at this intent lovely face so earnest, so close to mine.
—  The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, diary entry no. 142 for “Friday - August 22″, 1952    
JULY 4: Gertrude Lawrence (1898-1952)

Bisexual actress Gertrude Lawrence was born on this day in 1898 and is remembered for having ascended her impoverished, Cockey-accented roots to become a legend in both Broadway and London’s West End.

Although famously claimed by the Brits, Gertrude’s true surname of Klasen was given to her by her Danish birth father. She later adopted the name Lawrence from her father’s stage name of Arthur Lawrence (x). 

Gertrude Alice Dagmar Klasen was born on July 4, 1898 in Newington, London. Her parents’ show business careers kept the family in poverty, which was exacerbated when her father’s alcoholism caused them to separate. Gertrude’s mother eventually remarried and it was on an outing with her stepfather when Gertrude got her first taste of the spotlight; while attending a concert in Bognor, young Gertrude was invited on stage to sing a song and was given a prize for her participation. The experience planted in Gertrude a love of performing that would stick with her for the rest of her life. In 1908, Gertrude joined the chorus of a Christmas pantomime at the Brixton Theater and began taking dance lessons with Italia Conti. At the age of 16, she left home and joined the Bohemian world of the theater in earnest when she moved into the Theatrical Girls’ Club in Soho.

She worked and toured steadily with various theater troupes, but it was her multiple relationships with powerful men such as Captain Philip Astley, who was a member of the Household Cavalry, and the wall street banker Bert Taylor that really cemented Gertrude’s position in British high society. In 1923, she performed the lead role in the musical London Calling! and became an overnight sensation in her own right. Throughout the years, Gertrude would also perform in other iconic musicals such as Oh, Kay!, Treasure Girl, Private Lives, and of course, The King & I for which she won a Tony Award in 1951.

Gertrude performs a scene from The King & I with her co-star and lover Yul Brynner, 1951 (x). 

In her day, Gertrude was known as one of theater’s most voracious “man eaters.” She was married twice – first to a director named Francis Gordon-Howley in 1917, with whom she had her only child, and then later to a theater owner named Richard Aldrich. However, one of Gertrude’s lesser-known affairs was with the famous playwright and novelist Daphne du Maurier. The two first met in 1948 when Gertrude played the lead in one of Daphne’s plays titled September Tide, and both Gertrude’s second husband and official biographer agree that the two had an instant and unmatched connection. Daphne’s nicknames for Gertrude included “dear Gert” – which she used in their letters to each other – and “Cinder” in reference to the rags-to-riches story of Cinderella. The relationship was maintained through frequent letters and infrequent visits from 1948 to Gertrude’s death; reportedly, it was Daphne’s location in London that caused Gertrude to always return home from her excursion trips to New York, and in her later years, Daphne joked with friends about Gertrude’s sexual prowess.

Daphne (left) and Gertrude (right) are photographed on a public outing together. Although to the public the two were simply good friends, their romantic relationship was later shown in the 2007 film Daphne (x). 

As she grew older, Gertrude began a career in film and television. Her most famous roles included Amanda in the movie adaptation of The Glass Menagerie and a televised production of the play The Great Catherine. She eventually took a teaching position at Columbia University where she taught courses such as “The Study of Roles and Scenes.” On 16 August 1952, she fainted backstage during a production of The King & I and it was discovered that she had liver cancer. Gertrude passed away on September 6, 1952 at the age of 54. Over 6,000 people crowed the streets of New York City for her funeral and today she is remembered as one of the greatest theater legends to ever live.  



Britain’s Cold War nuclear bombers:

The Short Sperrin - August 1951, an insurance policy for the truly space-age endeavors being undertaken at Handley Page and Avro - only two were built.

The Vickers Valiant - May 1951, a very capable but less advanced aircraft, crucially available much sooner than the competition.

The Avro Vulcan -  August 1952, the most iconic and enduring design, rugged and highly maneuverable at high altitude, they were effectively immune to interception by early jets.

The Handley Page Victor - December 1952, with its crescent-shaped swept wing it was the most aerodynamically advanced aircraft to fly at that time. Downward lift on the tailplane also meant that in calm winds the aircraft would level itself out and land smoothly without input from the pilot.

The Vickers Valiant B.2 - September 1953, an all black one-off badass independently developed by Vickers. Capable of 640 mph (1030 km/h) at sea-level it could even outrun the Boeing B-47 Stratojet. It was scrapped in 1958 however, ironically as new missiles would force the ill-suited V-Bombers to low altitude - where this thing thrived. When Vickers test pilot Brian Trubshaw saw the bomber’s muscular shape in the Vickers design office, he signalled his approval, then added “And paint the fucker black”. Best of the lot.

The TSR-2 - September 1964, it represented the same generational jump in capability as the Vulcan and Victor had from the Lancaster. As an all-weather mach 2+ low level penetrator, the aircraft was groundbreaking. Spiraling costs, a hostile press and an idiotic Labour government however, all contrived to steal a truly magnificent aircraft and valuable export product from the nation. As James Holland said: ”…it’s the culmination of 20 years of being at the top of their game - makes you wanna weep".

On 21 August, 1952, enraged that his ex-fiance would not take him back, Tore Hendin went to his parents house in Saxtorp and murdered them both before setting the house on fire. Later on in the day, he went to the retirement home that his ex-fiance worked and also lived. He killed his ex-fiance and the matron with an axe. He then blocked the entrance to the retirement home and set the building on fire, killing five people. The case is infamous because Tore Hendin worked as a police officer and and was assigned to investigate his own murders. When police began to link Hendin to the crimes, he drowned himself in a lake. His suicide note was found in his car and it contained a full confession.

Kodachrome, enlarged 10 times, by Paul A. Zahl.

From “Back-yard Monsters in Color,” National Geographic, August, 1952.

Beware That Look of Wide-eyed Innocence! Greedy Grasshoppers Have Ravaged the Earth

Swarms have devastated Bible lands, Africa, and the American West. This specimen is a Short-horned Grasshopper, so named for its short feelers. Multiple eyes look forward and sideward. Claws help in climbing.