Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Freedom from Want

Thanksgiving, 
1943 


Norman Rockwell painted this iconic scene in 1943. Depicting a family dinner on Thanksgiving, the painting “Freedom from Want” was the third of his Four Freedoms series that was inspired by President Roosevelt’s State of the Union Address two years earlier. Unlike the freedoms of speech and worship, and the freedom from fear, the concept behind freedom from want was not commonly understood, or accepted, as a universal freedom. Perhaps for this reason, this picture was also called “The Thanksgiving Painting.” Five menus from Thanksgiving 1943 show us what was happening elsewhere, as the world remained engulfed in the largest war in history. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

To the Lighthouse

Miami Beach, 
 ca. 1968 


When I look at this menu, I can’t help but imagine what it would’ve been like if the English writer Virginia Woolf, and her husband Leonard, had lived in Miami in the late 1960s…

“Yes, it’s fine if we go tomorrow,” Ginny called out from the kitchen. “But there’s no sense in us getting there early. The place is always packed at this time of year.” 

To her husband these words conveyed a feeling of annoyance, as if the matter was not really settled. Each year on their anniversary, as if drawn by some need, they returned to The Lighthouse, where they recounted over dinner the joys and sorrows of their marriage. Feelings of irritation turned to anger, as he brooded over her remoteness. Had there been a gun handy, or a bat, who knows what might have happened next, such were the extremes of his emotions at moments like this. “Then it’s settled. But wait, you’ll see; it won’t be crowded,” Len said, as he poured himself a Scotch. “Yes, it will be fine,” she called back, not knowing he had already slipped out of earshot, having stepped out into the backyard to breathe in balmy night air.