Saturday, September 23, 2017

Boston Harbor Camouflage

Above Cartoon by Wallace Goldsmith (1873-1945). It accompanied the news feature quoted below.


Anon, CAMOUFLAGE LESSONS IN BOSTON HARBOR, in The Boston Globe, Wednesday, July 10, 1918, p. 3—

Lessons in camouflage are of daily occurrence in Boston Harbor nowadays.

Like a fat lady hustling home, the ferry boat churned its way across the harbor.

A gentleman in a checkered suit and wearing a fuzzy face tottered uneasily against the railing.

He gazed abstractly at the harbor shipping. Suddenly a look of consternation came into his eyes. These he rubbed vigorously with a large red fist—once, twice and yet a third time. He gave his head a vision-clearing shake. “No good!” he exclaimed. “it’s still there.” Turning about with a frightened expression he nervously plucked a fellow-voyager by the sleeve and with trembling voice cried, “Say, old pal, do you see what I see?”

“Dunno,” replied “Pal.” “I been used to seein’ a lot o’ things in my time, but if it’s that there ship with the futurist paintin’ on her that you’re alludin’ to, why you can set your mind at rest. We’re seein’ the same thing. It’s real an’ you needn’t be expectin’ to see no pink elephants wander’ into your field o’ vision. 

“That there weird art work is camouflage calculated to fool them Germans.”

“O,” ejaculated the fuzzy-faced one in a relieved tone, “that crazy lookin’ ship sure ought to scare that Kaiser all right when he gets his lamps onto it.”

“‘Tain’t to scare the Kaiser. Them wavy lines an’ splotches is supposed to look like waves when he gets to sea, and it’s calculated that the U-boats can’t see her cause the ocean’s got a lot more waves floppin’ round. An’ if a sub tries to get her all its got to shoot at is the steamer’s smoke, an’ out there in the ocean I reckon that’s like shootin’ at the wide, wide world.”

“She sure is hid some.”

“Well, we live and learn,” said he of the checkered suit, in a relieved tone. “All you got to do to hide things is to paint ‘em like the things around ‘em, and there you are, or, rather, there it ain’t.”

“Yep, you got the idea now,” said Pal. “I been studyin’ this thing for some time. I’ve got a little house out here a piece, and there’s trees out back of it. I’ve been thinkin’ I’d paint trees on the front of the house, and then it’d look like nothin’ but woods was there.

“And when the bill collector that’s been pesterin’ me comes out next time he’ll look astonished and prob’ly say, ‘Gosh hang it! I could a swore Bill Jones lived right here, and here I am lost in the woods.’

“Also, I’ve a little flip, and I like to go out speedin’ now and then, but these here park cops have got my number, and they’re all the time holdin’ me up.

“I’m goin’ to fool ‘em. I’m goin’ to paint flowers all over the whiz cart an’ when the park cop sets his eyes on to her he’ll begin cussin’ the park dept for plantin’ gardens in the middle of the road.

“By the time he realizes that the garden’s movin’ I’ll be past him and so far away he’ll think he’s only had a bad dream.”

At this juncture the ferry reached her slip and the conversation terminated in the noise and flurry of the hurrying throng.