It has been oh, WEEKS since we have checked in with the Dutch Kids, so I thought we might revisit this social phenomenon of the last century.
Doe newcomers, and for those with psychogenic amnesia whose brains have blotted out the information in self-defense, there was a craze beginning around 1910 for postcards featuring Dutch children. These cards were not the work of a single artist or company; the kids have no particular identity beyond whatever each individual firm called the series. Sometimes solo, more often in couples, they dispensed advice, spoke out their experiences and philosophies of love, and nagged you to write (or made excuses for not writing more often.) They were cute, they wore identifiably Dutch ethnic clothing, and spoke in a Pennsylvania Dutch (i.e. German) accent which made even the most commonplace things they said seem perky and cute.
There are all sorts of opportunities here for someone who wants to study the history of ethnic stereotypes in popular culture. Other children of other ethnic and racial groups (I have seen Irish, Italian, Chinese, African-American, and back-country Cracker accents in the world of postcard children). Why the Dutch kids had such a vogue, even surviving well into World War I (when suddenly their accent was that of The Hun) is worthy of study. I haven’t done that. Maybe you have. Or maybe you were content simply to think of them as a dusty relic of a bygone age.
And yet…they WERE kids, and kids generally are a symbol of our future, besides being cotton-picking rapscallions with new-fangled devices which make the world a loud and uncomfortable place. the Dutch Kids were not immune. There was, after all, the temptation of the automobile.
For example, note how quickly this young man has figured out that the fellow with the cool automobile (obviously an imported Dutch model) has something to offer the young ladies. Our protagonist here comes right to the point: I’m not even sure he’s bothered top ask her name yet. As for her, she seems a little startled, a little affronted, and a little intrigued.
Of course, the problem with this in pop culture of the past century, is that a fellow can’t always count on his car’s ability to perform when required. We see here the basic dilemma as simply as we would fifty years later when Archie tried to start his old jalopy and Veronica, in a huff, climbed into Reggie’s sportier model.
And a czar can’t ALWAYS refuse to operate, not if it wants to stay off the scrap heap (or the woodpile. You DID catch on some time ago that this car is an immense wooden shoe on wheels, didn’t you? To go along with the whole Dutch theme of…okay, okay. Just making sure.) We are now prepared for a pleasant ride and any degree of canoodling the young man has in mind.
Unless we aren’t. If a feller is going to go out with fast women, he has to be prepared to find that they’re sometimes a little quicker than he is. It’s back to the old drawing board.
Automobiles are kind of old hat anyhow, aren’t they? New technologies are always coming over the horizon, and ANY guy could come around and pick you up in a mere car, wooden or not.
And so we come to the happy ending, and show that even Dutch children, with their quaint clothes and eccentric accents, understood the twentieth century and the need for speed. (And they look young enough to have made up part of the jet set, come the 1960s.)