So in this column, I take my reputation as a scholar of elderly humor in my hands, and carry it gently through a minefield of postcards where I have to admit I may not be getting ALL the joke. Perhaps the publishers of these cards intended more naughtiness than is coming through, and perhaps they did not. Am I completely missing the gag, obvious in its day, or do I simply have a dirty mind, and, like viewers of the postcards ion one of last week’s columns, am I seeing more than was originally put in the picture.
I have no doubts at all, by the way, about the card at the top of this column. I just wanted to acknowledge that the classic Bamforth seaside postcard has not played a part in this series. That is because Bamforth deserves a blog or two of its own. Yes, they ALWAYS meant it.
Now, we have discussed this gentleman before, and I admit I still haven’t QUITE gotten the joke. He still looks fairly unconcerned for someone telling his date that his antenna…I just think they could have worked on this caption a little longer and made it more obvious, or less obvious, or something. Maybe they did, and the censors wouldn’t allow it.
Here I’m pretty sure I am just soured on this joke by George Ade. The card is a simple pleasantry based on the idea that the lady inside the barrel is naked. Not only does the play on words make this obvious, but barrels were the natural attire of people who found themselves deprived of their clothes. It was a standard trope of slapstick, though it died as we moved into a world in which barrels were harder to find. George Ade, however, associated the slang expressions “chicken” and “chick” with sex trafficking, and I think it is that alone that makes we wonder WHY the young smiling lady is crouching in a barrel in the middle of a meadow.
Speaking of ladies in a meadow, here is a much later card where I wonder what’s in the minds of these two tourists who are plainly there to check out the farm lad’s backside. Considering what he’s doing at the moment, are they suggesting they…of course not. Just overthinking things again. It’s Friday, and we’re tired.
We move on to one I just don’t understand at all. Or at least I think I don’t. Are we just straight out suggesting the gentleman in the back there is a pimp, or, worse, a theatrical agent? I can’t see him as a gigolo, nor can I see why the young lady would need to pay…you tell me.
Let’s head out to the seaside again. This card came out into a mid-century America which would certainly never have entertained the notion that the lady was suggesting anything but sharing her flotation device. I am sure nothing else was intended. Absolutely sure of it. No, really. Don’t know why I even included this picture.
We have spoken before of how often babies in postcards were shown naked, or nearly so. But this is a card of nearly a hundred years ago, and surely the whole enterprise, now a large business, of letting adults play dress=up in this particular fashion couldn’t have…. No, this is just a cute simple joke based on a simple expression. (When I put this one up for sale, it set a new record for fastest purchase. But, again, that’s probably us, and not the publishers)
Oh well. One just has to admit, sometimes, that one is lacking in understanding. Or other things, like this charmingly non-specific gentleman. Maybe you’ll explain it all to me when I’m older.