Amazing Found Photos of Life During Wartime
By Ransom Riggs
Ransom Riggs turned his found photo collection into a book called Talking Pictures.
I have all kinds of snapshots with writing on them, but some of my favorites deal with life during wartime. They're not as easy to find as shots of babies and vacations—especially photos from World War II, when film was harder to come by for a time—but they're often powerful and worth searching out.
Just to be clear, for the most part these are the fronts and backs of photos. (The good stuff's usually on the back!)
That greatest of equalizers: the buzzcut.
This one's a little tough to read, but the first few lines give you an idea. They got married right before he joined up. She really must've missed him.
A lot of wartime photos with writing were included with letters home.
There's a lot of long-distance taunting of the enemy that goes on in them. I wonder if this is Parris Island. Or if WWII soldiers in training learned how to subdue Hitler in case they happened upon him.
WWII soldiers tended to write home about happy things -- or put a jokey face on the trials they went through, like this fellow who, randomly, served on an island in Vanuatu where I spent some time.
But they're not all jokes. Things get real pretty fast -- especially in Polaroids from soldiers in Vietnam.
As soldiers get closer to the end of their rotations, they tend to talk more about returning, as if they had only just begun to allow themselves to fantasize about it.
It's not exactly a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square, but this man seems pretty happy about the end of the war.