Kids in ’30s looked like adults, not like ‘kids’

“Immersed in silent film that depicts everyday folks in rural, 1930s North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, I realized that young people back then looked pretty much the same as the adults … only smaller.

“Take the 13-minute clip from Clayton, N.C., filmed circa 1936-1937. Like the older men in the movie, little boys mostly wore long pants and shirts that buttoned all the way to the throat. Like the older women, little girls mostly wore modest blouses and matronly overcoats. Boys flashed sly smiles like their fathers; girls showed on-camera reticence like their mothers. Teenage-looking guys played basketball in long pants and ties. Teenage-looking girls rollerskated in long dresses….

“There is in the film little sense of a childhood as we know it today. The clip is representative of the hundreds of hours of footage shot by North Carolina photographer Herbert Lee Waters and recently digitized and released by Duke University Libraries.

When did America begin allowing children to have a childhood?…”

— From “Back Before Children Looked Childish” by Linton Weeks at NPR (Feb. 19)


A professor who battled Confederates and Nazis

“Born on October 21, 1869, at his parents’ home in the tiny hamlet of Clayton, North Carolina, [William] Dodd entered the bottom stratum of white Southern society….

“He fought his way upward, at times focusing so closely on his studies that other students dubbed him ‘Monk Dodd.’… He got his bachelor’s degree [from what would become Virginia Tech] in 1895 and his master’s in 1897….

“In 1902 [while an instructor at Randolph-Macon] Dodd published an article in The Nation in which he attacked a successful campaign by the Grand Camp of Confederate Veterans to have Virginia ban a history textbook [for failing to present] the South as ‘altogether right in seceding from the Union.’ ”

— From “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin” by Erik Larson (2011)

Later, as a professor at the University of Chicago, Dodd desired mainly to complete a three-volume “History of the Old South.” In 1933, however, he accepted FDR’s unlikely appointment as ambassador to Germany, where his naivete soon gave way to alarm and to undiplomatic resistance to the incipient Third Reich.