Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Camouflage Artifacts at Spencer Museum of Art

Above Photograph of the interior of a World War I British submarine under construction. The intense exterior lighting is casting shadows on the workers inside, and providing an apt demonstration of the disruption of shapes using shadows. This photograph was published in France in Le Miroir magazine on February 10, 1918, with the following caption—

The British fleet, which was by far the most powerful in the world during peacetime, has increased its superiority since the beginning of the war thanks to the strengthening of its ordnance. It is not possible, of course, to offer precise information on this subject. The fact that the German fleet remains in the port indicates that our enemies are not fooled by the results of naval combat. Our allies have launched many submarines. Here is one of them under construction.

•••

On March 2, 2019, an exhibition opened at the Spencer Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence. It continues through June 9, but unfortunately I found out about it only recently and won't be able to see it. Titled Camouflage and Other Hidden Treasures, it includes a selection of artifacts from the Eric Gustav Carlson WWI Collection, which includes nearly 4,000 items from the Great War. The current exhibition includes only about 1/60th of the full collection.

Over the years, Kansas and Missouri have increasingly become prime locations for research pertaining to art, architecture and design in connection with camouflage. In Kansas City MO (as we mentioned in an earlier blog), there is the National WWI Museum (formerly the Liberty Memorial), which features what remains of a huge WWI diorama, called the Pantheon de la Guerre. Completed by French artists in 1918, it originally included about five thousand full-length figures, including identifiable images of some of the French army's camoufleurs.

Also of significance is the Missouri State Capitol Building in Jefferson City MO. It was designed by New York architects  Evarts Tracy and Egerton Swartwout in 1917. When the US entered WWI that year, Tracy was among the first officers in the American Camouflage Corps. Prior to that, one of the co-founders of a civilian forerunner to that unit was Iowa-born sculptor Sherry Edmundson Fry, who was commissioned to create the figure of Ceres that stands on top of the building's dome. Inside the building, in the House Lounge, are the famous Missouri history murals by Thomas Hart Benton, who was a US Navy camoufleur during WWI. Also inside is a mural (with two camouflaged ships in the background) titled The Navy Guarded the Road to France. It was painted in 1921 by US naval camoufleur Henry Reuterdahl, whom we've often blogged about.

There's yet another option: The Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University in Wichita KS owns what may be the largest collection of paintings and other artworks by Frederick Judd Waugh, who was a prominent American ship camoufleur during WWI.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Camouflage Artist \ Theatre Designer Victor H. Martin

Above World War I US Army camoufleurs applying chalk lines to military equipment in advance of painting camouflage.

•••

So here’s another puzzling find. In its official activities report in 1920,  the Free Public Library of Elizabeth NJ included the following statement—

An interesting exhibition of Naval Camouflage work of the US Shipping Board was held in the library, October 5th to 8th [1920]. The models, perfect replicas of actual vessels, about twenty-five in number including a submarine, were prepared by Mr. Victor Martin of Elizabeth, who, with a large number of assistants during the War [WWI] was entrusted with the duty of camouflaging great numbers of mercantile vessels. Several of the models were examples of the Martin School of Camouflage marking, while others exhibited the French and English types. The periscope, theatre, and mechanism were made and set up by Captains Bickel and Grauss of our Elizabeth Fire Department and the entire exhibit was a very finished one.

Marking out color areas with chalk lines
Born in New York in 1877, Victor H. Martin appears to have worked as a scenic artist (theatre designer) in the years prior to WWI, with a studio at 145 East 56th Street in New York. During the war, he contributed to the camouflage of merchant ships, apparently as a civilian under William Andrew Mackay, head of the Second District of the US Shipping Board. His name appears on a 1918 listing of sixty-four camoufleurs who were associated with Mackay. After the war, he returned to theatrical design, for which he joined the Pauline MacLean Stock Company at Celeron Park in Jamestown NY for the summer of 1919. He taught commercial art (graphic design) at the Baron de Hirsch Trade School* in New York until his retirement in 1941. He died on June 23, 1944, in Elizabeth NJ.

Ship with incomplete camouflage, showing chalk lines


The library’s account of his wartime responsibilities is confusing. We have not found any other mention of a “Martin School of Camouflage,” but there are numerous claims about Mackay having founded a camouflage school. Equally bewildering is the use of the term “camouflage marking” instead of “camouflage painting.” It’s puzzling because it could refer to the use of chalk lines to “mark out” color zones on the surface of the ship in advance of the actual painting. Over the years, we have discovered text references to this method of “marking out” color boundaries as well as various photographs of chalk lines being applied to ships, tanks, and other vehicles. Some of these accounts have been posted on this blog.

USS Gretavale with chalk lines, in process of being painted


* The Baron de Hirsch Trade School (on East 64th Street in Manhattan) was set up in 1891 for the purpose providing free vocational training for Jewish men, especially to immigrants from Russia and Romania. It is of peripheral interest that this is the school attended by two of the Three Stooges, the brothers Shemp and Moe Howard. Shemp studied plumbing and Moe was an electrician, but they abandoned those ambitions to become vaudeville entertainers in 1922.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Stinemetz Knew Stieglitz | WWI Ship Camouflage

Alfred Stieglitz, Hands of Helen Freeman (c1920)
Everyland, an American monthly periodical published by Christian missionaries, was self-described as "a magazine of world friendship for boys and girls." Among its various activities, it sponsored drawing contests. In its June 1920 issue (Vol 11 No 6), it included the following paragraph—

Morgan Stinemetz…is our Art Editor. During the war, he was in the camouflage service of the navy. It is he who will judge the results of the drawing contests, so look out for him!

So who was Morgan Stinemetz? In addition to that page in Everyland, I've found two other sources. One is a multi-page article by Louise Davis, titled ARTIST'S RETREAT: Morgan Stinemetz, who dropped an illustrator's career to become Methodist Publishing House art editor, is a man who finds joy in country life. Published in The Nashville Tennessean Magazine on September 7, 1952 (pp. 6-7, 18-19), it was illustrated by eight photographs of the artist and his artwork, interwoven with interview excerpts. I also found a newspaper obituary that was featured in the Nashville Tennessean on August 20, 1969 (p. 23). He had died at a nursing home in Nashville two days earlier.

Stinemetz was born in Washington DC in 1886. His grandfather, Major Thomas P. Morgan, was one of the first DC police commissioners. His father-in-law was an important DC publisher. As a child, Stinemetz had been interested in animals, as well as in painting and drawing. He studied at the Corcoran School of Art in DC, the National Academy of Design in New York, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia with Thomas P. Anshutz, a student and later a colleague of Thomas Eakins.

From Philadelphia, Stinemetz returned to New York, where (these are Louise Davis' words) "cubism and other various other 'isms' that startled the new century were taking a firm hold. He experimented with all of them and had his paintings in numerous shows, including the first International Art Show at the Armory in New York in 1913, when Matisse and Picasso were first shown in this country."

He became interested in the literary excursions of Gertrude Stein, and developed a friendship with Alfred Stieglitz, photographer, gallery owner, and the publisher of Camera Work. In 1916, Stieglitz met the painter Georgia O'Keeffe, and soon after they became a pair. It is interesting to note that in the years just prior to this, O'Keeffe had studied with an art educator (and an advocate of the theories of Arthur Wesley Dow) named Alon Bement, who had been her greatest influence. During World War I, Bement was a major contributor to American ship camouflage.

As for Stinemetz, he soon became disillusioned with Modernism. Quoting Davis, he became "fed up with the artificiality of the whole movement." At gallery openings, when he mingled with those in attendance, "he overheard them 'interpreting' things into his work that he had never thought of. …They analyzed every brush stroke, he said, and he was sick of it. He gave up painting on the spot," and turned instead to a new career as a book and magazine illustrator. In subsequent years, he became a well-known illustrator for a variety of popular magazines, among them Collier's, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Outdoor Life, and others. He especially enjoyed animal illustrations, and eventually became well-known for his drawings and prints of Scottie dogs. Over the years, he moved from the East Coast to Cincinnati, then settled in Nashville TN as the art director for the Methodist Publishing House.

The US entered WWI in 1917, and soon after artists, designers and architects were encouraged to use their expertise in the development of wartime camouflage. Stinemetz was one of those who contributed to naval camouflage. The article by Davis states that "he served in the navy, capitalizing on the tricks of cubism to camouflage our ships so that enemy submarines would miscalculate their aim."  The obituary simply notes that "he designed camouflage for ships of the US Navy." But he may have remained a civilian, since the Navy and the US Shipping Board worked with both military and civilian artists in designing, testing and painting "dazzle" camouflage patterns on ships, both military and commercial (called merchant ships).

Until these references were found, I had never heard of Morgan Stinemetz, much less about his service as a ship camoufleur, so it may be wise to be skeptical of the claim (stated first in the Davis article, then repeated verbatim in the obituary) that "so effective were his distortions of perspective that a record of his camouflage patterns was filed in various museums." Obviously, if such documents still exist, it would surely be helpful to find them.

Postscript (added May 10, 2019): I was mistaken. I had heard of Morgan Stinemetz. A couple of years ago, I gained access to a list (dated September 26, 1918) of sixty-four artists who had studied ship camouflage in New York with William Andrew Mackay. Stinemetz's name is on that list of American Shipping Board camoufleurs from the Second District. This suggests that Stinemetz was a civilian, and most likely not in the Navy.

Frank Lloyd Wright Meets Camoufleur Barry Faulkner

Frank Lloyd Wright poster © Roy R. Behrens (2017)
Above Frank Lloyd Wright's City National Bank and Park Inn Hotel in Mason City Iowa. Poster by Roy R. Behrens (2017).

•••

In the Iowa City Press-Citizen (Iowa City IA), on April 21, 1932 (p. 8), there was an entry in Charles B. Driscoll's column "The World and All," in which he reported on a recent experience in New York with American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Here's an excerpt—

Recently I attended a delightful party in honor of Frank Lloyd Wright at the studio of Barry Faulkner in East Seventy-Second Street. I found the guest of honor one of the most distinguished gentlemen I have met in moons.

Barry Faulkner's studio? Really. Those who know about the origins of the WWI American Army Camouflage will recognize that name. Faulkner, from New Hampshire, was Abbott H. Thayer's cousin. In collaboration with his friend, Iowa-born sculptor Sherry Edmundson Fry,  he co-founded the American Camouflage Corps, comprised of civilian artists and architects.

Driscoll continues—

To Mr. Wright, I ventured to put this question: "Why do your building designs so persistently emphasize the horizontal line?"

I had observed in pictures of the buildings designed by Wright the long roofline, the veranda or porch paralleling the roofline, and other efforts to squelch the vertical.

"Because," he replied, "the horizontal is the restful line, the line of repose and domesticity. It is what we need in this country."

"Then you must not think well of our New York architecture, with its emphasis on the vertical?" I asked.

"Is there architecture in New York?" replied the distinguished guest.

And I went hunting for another sandwich.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Englishwomen's Clothing Styles Go Bang in 1921

Above Pablo Picasso, Three Musicians, oil on canvas (1921). Philadelphia Museum of Art. Wikipedia (public domain).

•••

LONDON FROCKS TO DAZZLE U.S. in Wisconsin State Journal (Madison WI), April 16, 1920, p. 8—

LONDON—This summer will find Englishwomen “dazzle-painted.”

A society dressmaker announces that the coming frocks will reveal the mostly startling color London has ever seen. Hitherto Englishwomen have shown a decided preference for clothes of the neat-but-not-gaudy type.

Many an American, commenting on the clothes which adorn England’s fair sex, has remarked: “But they’re so drab. I’ve never seen an Englishwoman wearing a color which goes bang!”

Well, this summer Americans are going to witness all the explosions in women’s garb that futurist inspiration can devise. Dresses will be fantastic, materials will be dyed to resemble the patchwork quilts with which the Victorian grand-dame was wont to camouflage her beds and sofas.

Chintz, too, is to be worn quite a lot. Curtains and cushion covers will be torn from their moorings and converted into little “coatees,” and the housewife will look like one of her own pieces of furniture—decked out in summer coverings.

All those futurist artists who saw the war in streaks and splashes are busy painting dazzle designs of the same nature for the cloth manufacturers.


Harlequin Beetle

Cave Canem | How To Camouflage Your Dog

How to camouflage your dog
Artist unknown. Catchpenny print, 18th century "puzzle picture" titled The Isle of Dogs.

•••

Anon, THE MAGIC OF CAMOUFLAGE in Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), September 19, 1918, p. 6—

An American artist has discovered a new use of camouflage. He has a favorite dog which his neighbors have been kicking out of their way whenever the animal chanced to stray there.

He had been admiring the great camouflaged battleships on the Hudson River and reading of eminent members of the British Royal Academy, garbed as colonels, directing painters on the Western Front how to camouflage a gun emplacement into a village school or a poultry run.

A happy idea struck him: he would camouflage his dog—all but the tip of his tail. So he has, with the result that the dog now looks like something else, and enjoys complete immunity from the attentions of his neighbors, for he moves about as a beautiful cloud effect.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Explaining Camouflage to Welsh Cub Scouts in 1919

Poster © Roy R. Behrens 2019
Above and below Posters designed by Roy R. Behrens to advertise events at the Hartman Reserve Nature Center, Cedar Falls IA (2009). From a series of twenty-five posters, all of which can be viewed online.

•••

Milford Haven Cub [Scout] Notes in Haverfordwest and Milford Haven Telegraph (Wales), July 9, 1919—

A Talk about Camouflage
I suppose a good number of you Cubs have heard the word “Camouflage”? These big words puzzle some of the older folk sometimes, and when they see a word which they do not understand, they go and look for a book called a “dictionary” which explains the meaning.

Deceiving the Enemy
When the word “camouflage” was first brought to the public notice, people wondered what it meant.

We people who live near the coast soon found out what “camouflage” meant. At first we saw most peculiar painted ships, and as you looked at them, you could imagine they represented all kinds of wild animals. To look at them in the distance, they did not look like ships, and really it was puzzling, and when we turned to our neighbor and said, “look at that funny ship,” they said she is “camouflaged.”

Now I wonder if you Cubs understand why those ships were painted in this way? Why was the ship “camouflaged”?

It was to deceive the enemy.

Nature’s Camouflage
You little Cubs have little gardens at school, you learn to grow all kinds of flowers and things. When your flowers grow and bear nice green leaves, sometimes you wonder why they don’t grow much nicer, the petals of the flowers are all eaten away, and scarcely a green leaf on them. Now, if you look very, very closely and very, very hard, you will find tiny little flies, slugs, and insects creeping round the flowers.

Do you know why it is you never can see those little pests? If is because nature has “camouflaged” them to protect them from their enemy. Nature has made them the same color as the plants they live upon or at least a similar color, and they are in this peculiar color to deceive the enemy.


Poster © Roy R. Behrens 2019
 

Camouflage Cartoon by Futurist Felix Del Marle 1919

Felix Del Marle (1919)
Above Felix Del Marle, cartoon titled "League of Nations" (predecessor to the United Nations), as published in Le Rire (April 19, 1919). An accompanying caption reads—

The President: No more wars! Those who want to provoke will have to dread the big cannon of the League.

A Voice in the Crowd: Yes, if it's not just camouflage. 

Felix Del Marle, Self Portrait (1913)

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Stages in WWI Ship Camouflage Application | 1918


USS George Washington (1918)
The SS George Washington was an ocean liner that was actually built by the German government prior to World War I. They named it for the first US President, and it kept that name throughout the war, although in 1917 it was seized by the US and used to transport American troops. It could carry almost 3000 passengers. When it was used by the navy, it was officially known as the USS George Washington. When used to transport army troops, its designation was USAT for US Army Transport.

The ship was initially camouflaged for the first time in 1918, in dazzle style. That formidable task was accomplished, from beginning to end, in less than a couple of weeks. Lieutenant Harold Van Buskirk, who was the executive officer in charge of the two-pronged US Navy Camouflage Section, described how that was undertaken in an article titled “Camouflage,” published in Transactions of the Illuminating Engineering Society (Vol 14 No 5) on July 21, 1919, pp. 225-229. Here is a portion of what he wrote—

On April 21, [1918], I received a request for a design for the USS George Washington, due to arrive at New York, April 27, and due to sail May 2. The blueprints of this vessel were obtained at once and outboard profiles and fore and aft elevations of the main superstructure were drawn at 1/16 inch to the foot. At the same time construction was started on a wooden model of the vessel at a scale of 1/32 inch to the foot. As soon as the drawing was completed it was sent to the US Geological Survey for copies. The model on completion was turned over to the design room. Here a design for this particular vessel was considered, tried and finally developed, with the aid of a submarine periscope looking over a false sea towards changeable sky backgrounds, which were operated from the periscope. On the sea, at a distance representing 2,700 yards or 1 1/2 miles was a turntable that also operated from the periscope. In this way, the model placed on the turntable could be observed from the periscope at various angles with varying sky backgrounds and lighting conditions. In order to obtain a veiling glare such as exists at sea due to fog, mist, smoke, etc., a movable semi-transparent mirror was mounted between the observer and the model to reflect scattered light into the eye of the observer in a way entirely analogous to the condition existing in nature. Generally, the design had been approved by the time the printed forms had been returned from the Geological Survey. The model bearing the approved design was then turned over to the drafting room where it was transferred to the outboard prints. This entire process averaged four to five days so that in this case on the morning of April 26 the design of the George Washington was mailed to the Navy Yard, New York, by special delivery and there awaited her arrival.

In this case, there are surviving photographs of the ship's completed camouflage, as shown (above and below) on this post.


There is also a photograph of the wooden model of it that was used to test the camouflage in an observation theatre.

Van Buskirk (right) and Richardson with USS George Washington model
USS George Washington in harbor at Brest, France (1918)
There is even a wonderful photograph of Lieutenant Van Buskirk and (we think) Ensign Raymond J. Richardson, originally from Reading PA, who, prior to the war, had been an architect and, after it ended, taught architecture at the Carnegie Insitute of Technology in Pittsburgh. At the camouflage facility in Washington DC, Richardson was in charge of the drafting room, where the ship plans were prepared.

A few months after the publication of Van Buskirk's article, Lieutenant Everett L. Warner (who oversaw the artists in the design subsection) published a lengthy account of the steps in the process of ship camouflage. The article, titled “Fooling the Iron Fish: The Inside Story of Marine Camouflage,” appeared in a popular magazine called Everybody’s Magazine, November 1919, pp. 102-109. He mentions the USS George Washington, in describing how wooden ship models were made—

The work began in the model-making room, where about a half dozen skilled men under Ensign Kenneth Maclntire were kept constantly busy in the production of miniature wooden models, which were accurately made to a fixed scale from blueprints of the vessels required. The reader may get a general idea of the size of these models from the dimensions of the President’s ship, the USS George Washington. It was one of the largest of them and measured about twenty-two and a half inches in length.

Warner refers to it as “the President’s ship” because on two occasions (December 1918, and again in the following March) President Woodrow Wilson and his diplomatic entourage traveled to the Paris Peace Conference on this same ship. But for those two trips, the USS George Washington was apparently no longer painted in a dazzle camouflage design.

Percyval Tudor-Hart | Canadian Camouflage Artist

Percyval Tudor-Hart (1934)
I first heard about the camouflage proposals of [Ernest] Percyval Tudor-Hart (1873-1954) years ago. Born and raised in Canada, he was a painter, teacher, and color theorist. Somewhat later, I saw photographs of a ship that he had camouflaged, a tank, and a pair of sniper’s gloves. In each, he had covered the surface with multi-colored, high-density zigzags. More recently, I saw the camouflaged gloves themselves in an exhibition sponsored by the Imperial War Museum (as shown below).

Tudor-Hart's camouflaged sniper's gloves

His proposal for WWI British ship camouflage (detail)
At one point, I ran across a reference to a Welsh medical doctor named Julian Tudor-Hart. The oddness of the family name prompted me to email him, asking if he were related to the Canadian camoufleur. As it turned out, it was his grandfather. I’ve since learned that Julian died only recently at age 91. I had intended to follow up with additional questions (he had offered to respond), but regrettably, I dropped the ball.

Cover of DVD package for Tracking Edith
Only a few weeks ago, I was fortunate to find a new documentary titled Tracking Edith. It is a film biography of Edith Tudor-Hart (1908-1973), an accomplished Modern-era photographer who studied at the Bauhaus in Dessau, worked as a Montessori kindergarten teacher, and recruited spies for the infamous Cambridge Marxist group that included Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, and other intellectuals. Her story is at once fascinating and tragic, and the film is well worth watching (although I would not have included its unfortunate animations).

The father of medical doctor Julian Tudor-Hart was Alexander Tudor-Hart, who was the son of artist-camoufleur Percyval Tudor-Hart. Both of Julian’s parents were physicians, and after the couple’s marriage crashed, Julian’s father married Edith Tudor-Hart (née Suschitzky), who then became his stepmother. Julian, who seems to have been both kind and likable, is interviewed in the film.

I have since located what may be the only biography of Tudor-Hart the camoufleur. It’s a 250-page book by Alasdair Alpin MacGregor (who knew the artist), titled Percyval Tudor-Hart: Portrait of an Artist (London: MacMillan, 1961). Because I was searching primarily for information about his involvement in camouflage, the book was less than helpful. There is a short chapter on camouflage, describing the endless frustrations he faced when he submitted his proposals to the British government. “One department after another, having kept him on tenterhooks for varying periods, decided that his camouflage was impracticable and that further experiments were, therefore, inadvisable,” with the result, as MacGregory concludes, “one cannot but deplore that the time and energy he expended on all this had not gone into his painting.”

I think I first became aware of Tudor-Hart's connection with camouflage while reading Guy Hartcup's pivotal book, titled Camouflage: A History of Concealment and Deception in War  (New York: Charles Scribner's, 1980). Hartcup briefly mentions him in a section that reads in part as follows—

Another exponent of camouflage was P. Tudor-Hart, a painter who had made an intensive study of color values in Paris and had expounded his theories to a small coterie of artists in Hampstead before the war. Tudor-Hart was generally critical of current military camouflage and explained that when objects on land were concealed they tended to absorb rather than to reflect light. At sea, the opposite occurred. He proposed to paint a geometrical pattern of alternating stripes of warm and cold colors, graded according to the area they covered. At a distance these colors were supposed to mix optically, assuming a general gray tone. Tudor-Hart believed that because the colors were pure and arranged in a mathematical relationship they would "fluctuate with the increase or decrease in light."

Of related interest may be my recent essay on the camouflage proposals of American artist William Andrew Mackay, which also made use of the optical mixture of colors.

In the end, neither Tudor-Hart's paintings nor his camouflage proposals were likely his greatest achievements. He probably accomplished more as a mentor for younger artists (in Paris and London), a color theorist, and art restorer. His camouflage proposals came from his quasi-scientific view of color, and, more specifically, his beliefs about the ties between color and sound. In March 1918, at the apex of his interest in camouflage, some months before the war would end, he published a technical article in The Cambridge Magazine, titled “The Analogy of Sound and Color.” While obscure at the time (and even more so now) his theories influenced his students, one of whom, a decade earlier in Paris, was the American painter Stanton MacDonald-Wright. Together with Morgan Russell, MacDonald-Wright launched a style of painting based on color and abstraction called Synchromism.

Among Tudor-Hart’s other students were British artists Theodora Synge (cousin of Irish writer J.M. Synge), Donald Wood, W.T.H. Haughton, Margaret Beale, Richard and Stanley Carline, as well as their sister Hilda (who married Stanley Spencer). Among his American students were John Edward Thompson, George Carlock (Elbert Hubbard's nephew), and Richard H. Bassett. It was of particular interest to find that one of his favorite pupils was New Zealand-born painter Owen Merton, father of the admired American writer and Trappist monk, Thomas Merton.

Front right: Lieutenant Wilford S. Conrow, WWI camoufleur


As for camouflage, I was also pleased to find that another of his students was Wilford S. Conrow, an American portrait painter who served during WWI as a commissioned officer in the American army’s first camouflage corps, officially established on September 6, 1917, at Camp American University, near Washington DC. Lieutenant Conrow, according to a news article at the time, “helped to organize the company” and “is in charge of all the paints and materials used at the camp.”

According to MacGregor (who claims incorrectly that Conrow was “director of American Camouflage during the Second World War”), when Conrow was asked by a fellow student who to recommend as an expert on color, he replied, “What a stupid thing to ask!… Why not consult our own teacher—the Darwin of Color?”

As for biological roots, it seems that Tudor-Hart came from the intermingling of two families, the Tudors of Boston and the Harts of Montreal. The Tudors were the wealthy half, thanks largely to the fortune of Percyval Tudor-Hart’s grandfather, entrepreneur Frederic Tudor, more commonly known as the Ice King. He amassed that fortune by harvesting ice from New England (including Walden Pond), then shipping it to the American South and the tropics. A key enabler in this ambitious enterprise was Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth, who harnessed horses to a plow-adapted blade to more efficiently cut the ice. It was interesting to learn that this Wyeth was an ancestor of the artist Andrew Wyeth.

The father of the Ice King was a wealthy Boston lawyer named William Tudor. During the American Revolution, he was the legal advisor for George Washington, and, in 1775, was appointed Judge Advocate for the Continental Army. His son the Ice King was his third son, but his first son, also named William Tudor, was equally interesting and certainly just as successful, but not in business nor in law. After graduating from Harvard, he became a leading Boston citizen and a prominent literary figure. He was a co-founder and the first editor of The North American Review.

One of the pleasures of research is to unearth unexpected links—so-called degrees of connection. In this case, it was fun to dig up two. First, for almost two decades, I was the art director for The North American Review, which had awakened from its dormancy in 1969, when it was revived at the University of Northern Iowa. Through the efforts of its editor then, Robley Wilson, it soon gained recognition as one of the top literary newsstand periodicals, and a persistent competitor with The New Yorker, Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, and other famous, well-staffed and amply-funded magazines. By the time Wilson retired in 2000, it had won the National Magazine Award for Fiction twice and was a finalist for that award five times; placed stories in the annual O. Henry anthologies four times, in the Pushcart Prize annuals nine times, in Best American Short Stories eight times, in Best American Sports Writing and Best American Travel Writing.

The second connection is that, when I was in graduate school in the early 1970s at the Rhode Island School of Design, my finest teacher at the time was a literary scholar named C[harles] Fenno Hoffman. He didn’t use his given name, and I believe we called him Fenno. It was he who introduced us to Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians. He died in 1996, but over the years I concluded that he was descended from (and named after) a famous ancestor, Charles Fenno Hoffman, a prominent American writer. The link to Percyval Tudor-Hart is that the wife of the elder William Tudor (Washington’s legal advisor) was Euphemia Fenno, and together they started a line that branched out from the Fenno (Hoffman) bloodline.

•••

Postscript (added May 4, 2019): D. J. Enright, Interplay: A kind of Commonplace Book (Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 6—

One good thing about not going to a public school was that you didn't get recruited to spy for the Soviet Union. I was at Cambridge, but nobody approached me. Scholarship boys didn't have a guilty conscience (or not the right sort).

•••

Postscript (added May 6, 2019): This gets a tad confusing, but it may be worth the effort. Among Percyval Tudor-Hart's uncles was Frederic Tudor (1845-1902), who had an artist-daughter named Rosamond Tudor (1878-1949). She was the granddaughter of the Ice King.  In 1904, she married an aviation pioneer and naval architect named William Starling Burgess (1878-1947). He later worked with Buckminster Fuller on the Dymaxion Car. One of their children, née Starling Burgess, changed her name to Tasha Tudor and became well-known as a children's book author and illustrator. There is a brief item in the November 1918 issue of Flying (p. 908), which reads as follows—

Mrs. W. Starling Burgess, the wife of Lieutenant Commander Burgess, the noted aeronautic engineer, and naval constructor, has joined the Navy, having been given a civilian appointment to the Camouflage Section of the Navy—the first of its kind.

Mrs. Burgess is well known as "Rosamond Tudor." Her paintings have been exhibited under that name. She has just completed a portrait of Father Zahm, the famous explorer who was with Colonel Roosevelt in the latter's exploration trip in the interior of Brazil.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Women's Rights and Wedlocked Camouflage

The years prior to World War I, the war itself, and afterwards, were volatile to say the least. The Armory Show. Women's Suffrage. The most disgusting level of racism. Prohibition, and so on. What do any of these have to do with camouflage? Everything, as all these issues were entwined. Above, for example, is a newspaper cartoon (haven't located the artist's name) that was published in the Boston Globe on May 11, 1918. It's a rare, insightful comment about a certain camouflage technique. At the same time, it is also offensive to women, and plays up the pervasive subject of strife within marriage ("wedlock"). In August of the year before, an equally clever but even more virulent column appeared (as reprinted below) about the meaning of "camouflage" in relation to women's behavior toward men. Who wrote the column? In this case, we know the author's name. It was Arthur (Bugs) Baer, a prominent American humorist (it was he who referred to Babe Ruth as the "Sultan of Swat") who wrote in a style that reminds us of free association, automatic writing, with even a hint of connection to the experimental writings of Gertrude Stein.

•••

 Arthur (“Bugs”) Baer, CAMOUFLAGE. Evening World (New York). August 18, 1917, p. 3—

THIS WAR is being fought on words that ain’t in the dictionary. Old man Noah Webster knew a few spoonfuls, but he didn’t know anymore about camouflage than a hog does about Sunday. You can lamp his dictionary until you sprain an eye, but you won’t apprehend anything about camouflage in his unabridged word garage. Camouflage is a bilking industry with the libretto and music written by the French. The theory is to swindle the German’s eyes. The Frenchmen cover ‘emselves with a lot of leaves. They got the theory from Adam and Eve, but ain’t paying royalities.

After he is camouflaged up in a set of form fitting leaves, the Frenchman ankles off for a short vegetarian stroll toward the Kasier’s trenches. Some husky Boche tosses his optic toward him, but figures him out for a rhododendren bush rehearsing for a tableau vivant. First thing he knows, the rhododendron bush goes Democratic and poor old Hans is listed among the slightly killed, totally wounded or partially missing.

THE IDEA of camouflage is to gyp the enemy. Give him one five for two tens. You heard about the cowboy who called on his best girl and found her bivouacking in another cowboy’s lap. He pulled out his .45 calibre revolver to shoot the beauty spot off her false, deceiving chin, when she looks at him like page 254 of Ouida’s novels.

  
“Do you believe your dearie, or do you believe your eyes?” she piped.
 

The poor fish believed his dearie, and they got married and lived snappily ever after. She had that fool cowboy all camouflaged up with her metropolitan tongue and city ways.
 

Still, camouflage is no novelty among the unfair sex. A flapper will high heel along the macadamized turf, all ambushed up in a swarm of Djer Kiss [the flying kisses of fairies]. She will have a gang of summer furs lurking on her shoulders and a mob of paint, powder and other beauty utensils loitering on her face. She will have a complexion fairer than a Supreme Court decision. But when she gets home and starts to uncamouflage, she puts on ten years for everything she takes off. She has one of those removable complexions. By the time that she has moulted her blonde hair, shed her automatic teeth and discarded her mechanical eye, she is older than hieroglyphics, and gains every lap.
 

She has one of those folding complexions that you can carry in your handbag. The French have no monopoly on that camouflage institution. Yea bo.

UNDER THE modern regime of beauty camouflage, everything about a woman complexion is detachable except her ears.
  
There are different branches of study in the camouflage curriculum. In Washington, the Senators have oratorical camouflage down to a science. Their speciality is painting word pictures, using their chin as a brush. There isn’t a battle that the Senate can’t win with a few maxillary calisthenics. Rhetorical camouflage is great stuff, but you can’t bridge the ocean with a pontoon of words. Any union Senator with his vocal camouflagers on can build a fleet in three paragraphs or raise an army with a few chin excursions. Aesop’s jackass had the camouflage idea when he attended the zoo bal masque wearing the lion’s coat and vest, but a few chirps of his fool mule tongue gummed his camouflage.
  
The gent who disguises himself behind a camouflage of women’s skirts in order to escape military service is smaller than the Republican vote in Alabama. A guy that little can ambush himself behind a cancelled postage stamp. The slackers are utilizing a camouflage of women’s skirts, dependent relatives, conscientious objections, flat feet, weak heart and weaker knees. Which is a camouflage that fails to camouflage by quite a few flages. And a culprit who tries to hide behind a woman’s petticoats would have to pass his career in a bureau drawer. That’s where the ladies are wearing their pettiskirts. Nope, we ain’t married, but we read The Delineator [a women’s magazine at the time].

THE PARAMOUNT idea of camouflage is to create an aura of low visibility which will enable you to ramble around in safety. The chameleon has the right idea, and one that might be elaborated. For instance, a bill collector would never find you if you were camouflaged as a waste basket. All the props you need for this ambush is a loose wicker basket and a hat made of old newspapers, vacant letters and unraveled souvenir postcards. You can circumvent the heat by camouflaging yourself as a mint julep. With enough practice you can become a perfect julep. Even your wife will be unable to detect the difference on your breath.
  
By camouflaging yourself as a porcupine with a flat wheel, you can secure enough elbow space in the subway to draw in a breath edgeways once in a while. Bat as drawing in a subway breath is suicide at a nickel a ticket, this camouflage is rather intricate.
  
Peace hath her camouflages as well as war. With a lttle cranial dexterity and a few cerebral gymnastics, camouflaging can be utilized to alleviate the inconvenience of civilization.
  
There will be a camouflage for every ill.
  
Of course, in the case of the poor henpecked husband, we can paint no disguise with a brush.
  
The only camouflage will be distance. And you will have to paint that with your heels.


Below (updated 24Mar2019): Moments ago while browsing the "free photo website" of Gratisography, we ran across this photograph by Ryan McGuire which, by fortunate coincidence, uses much the same trickery as the "wedlocked" cartoon from 1918.

Photo by Ryan McGuire

Saturday, March 9, 2019

American Camouflage Artist | William Andrew Mackay

Full text online essay on William Andrew Mackay
Note: The essay and web page to which this blogpost links have been substantially revised (enlarged and refined) since they were initially posted.—RB

 Above Earlier this morning, we posted an online essay on the contributions to World War I ship camouflage of American muralist William Andrew Mackay. He was one of the most prominent and prolific of the artist-camoufleurs of that era, but his involvement has never been fully explained.

His camouflage experiments should be of particular interest to vision scientists, since his methods were partly derived from the color vision research of physicists James Clerk Maxwell and Ogden Rood. But art historians should also find it of relevance, since his research was related to the development of Neo-Impressionism. More>>>

Friday, February 8, 2019

Ship Camouflage and Nature Talk / Hartman Reserve

Above Title slide for a richly illustrated talk that will take place this weekend at the Hartman Reserve Nature Center in Cedar Falls IA. The 50-minute talk begins at 2:00 pm, Sunday, February 10, 2019* and is free and open to the public at the center's Interpretive Building. It focuses on the connection between turn-of-the-century studies of animal camouflage (called protective coloration then) and the development of military camouflage by artists during World War I.

*PLEASE NOTE This event has been postponed because of winter weather. It has been rescheduled for 2:00 pm, Sunday, April 14, 2019. Perfect timing in view of its Easter-themed title.

•••

NEWS OF THE SCHOOLS: Navy Camoufleur at Manual. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. May 6, 1919, p. 14—

Alon Bement, a camoufleur, first class, of the United States Shipping Board, and formerly a teacher at the Teachers’ College, Columbia University, was the speaker at the Senior Assembly of the Manual Training High School yesterday. At the beginning of the war Mr. Bement, who had considerable reputation as an artist, was called to act as a naval camoufleur. He was sent to Washington where he worked out designs for camouflaging ships, using small models for the purpose. If the designers were found to be feasible, they were reproduced on a linen sheet, taken to a shipyard and painted on a ship.

Mr. Bement went into detail to show how portions of the ship were marked out for certain colors by means of a hand mirror when the sun was shining. The camoufleur would stand on the edge of the drydock and reflect the light along the lines which were intended to mark the borders of the various colors. In this way the apportioning off of the ship was readily accomplished.




Mr. Bement told of other schemes which were attempted to combat the submarine menace such as the construction of an outer hull to prematurely explode the torpedo. This means was hastily abandoned because such a hull would slow down the ship to such an extent that it would fall an easy prey to the U-boats.

He also explained why only the transports, freighters and destroyers wore camouflage and not battleships. The big fighters were not daily subject to submarine attack so that it was unnecessary to give them their “make-up” and since it costs $3,000 to paint a battleship, attention was confined to the first mentioned ships.

Mr. Bement told of how in a captured German U-boat, the British found fifty-eight pages of a leaflet in the commander’s cabin, telling what methods the Prussians were taking to combat the camouflage of Allied ships. With this find, the Allied camoufleurs were able to take new steps to offset the year’s calculations of the Germans.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Two New UK Dazzle Camouflage Exhibitions

Norman Wilkinson ship camouflage schematic (1917)
Above One of about ninety dazzle camouflage schemes designed by British artist Norman Wilkinson in 1917, and given to the US (which had just entered the war) for use on its own merchant ships. It appears that these were never used, but have been in storage since that war. Only recently have they been posted online at the NARA website. However, the online versions are not always in very good shape. We have digitally restored this one—it has been cleaned, its exposure and color adjusted, and water stains removed. The original digital version remains for verification of course, as does the paper artifact.

•••

Thanks to British marine camouflage scholar James Taylor, we have learned about two current dazzle ship camouflage exhibitions at museums in the UK. They are listed with online links below.



DAZZLE: Continuing the Art of Disruption is currently on exhibit at the Southampton City Art Gallery. It opened on October 19, 2018 and continues through March 9, 2019.

A second exhibition will be available very soon. Titled DAZZLE & THE ART OF DEFENCE, it will open on February 18 and continue through April 25, 2019 at the Arts University Bournemouth.

Dazzle Camouflage Online Article on History.com

Above Screen grab of the title for a recently-posted online article on WWI ship camouflage by Patrick J. Kiger for History Stories on History.com. more>>>

•••

Paul V. Siggers, quoted in TELLS OF ENGINEER LIFE, P.V. Siggers, with 25th Abroad, Writes to His Father Here, PICTURES DAYS IN FRANCE, Queerly Camouflaged Convoy Boats…in Washington Post, February 7, 1918—

When we reached the war zone our convoy was increased by a number of camouflaged American torpedo boat destroyers. Camouflage on a boat means painting that vessel with variegated colors, as buff, blue, brown, black, green or white so as to make its appearance deceptive in every possible way. One destroyer was striped like a zebra. Another looked as though a cubist had been employed to paint it.

I can best describe the application of paint geometrically in rectangles, rhombohedrons, &c. It is something that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. These camouflaged destroyers were all doing service in the war zone. Back in home water our destroyers as well as warships are painted gray.


•••

ANON, Blackwood’s Magazine Vol 205-208—

[Describing a small unidentified island] It consists of a rounded lump of hills, with three or four central conical peaks, seven hundred feet high. The lower parts, all completely barren, are striped, and patched, and barred with a geological “dazzle-painting” in ochre and red, brown, purple, and buff, with the surmounting cones, in strong contrast, are pure white.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

WWI Camouflage, Motion Pictures and Surrealism

Charlie Chaplin disguised as tree trunk in Shoulder Arms (1918)
Above Screen grab from Charles Chaplin's famous film, Shoulder Arms (1918) about the surrealist dimension of being a doughboy during World War I , in the process of which he disguises himself as a tree trunk. In fact, it wasn't entirely absurd, since it was not unheard of to make use of steel-lined imitation tree trunks as elevated observation posts (see close-up below).

Phony tree trunk observation post (c1918)

Camouflage has everything to do with film-making, from costumes and make-up, to camera work and scenic design. Elsewhere we have talked about a few of the contributions made by Hollywood-based special effects designers, but there are many (many) more points of connection (in both World Wars), the majority of which are waiting to be documented.

Speaking of Surrealism (which I tend to think of as Dada + Freud, thanks to André Breton), the German-born American photographer and designer Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969) once made a Dada-inspired photo collage portrait of Chaplin (below), in which he appears to be wearing an image-adorned WWI trench helmet. The image on the helmet is from a well-known Dadaist poster from 1922.

Erwin Blumenfeld, collage portrait of Charlie Chaplin


•••

Melvin W. Riddle, CAMOUFLAGE! Concerning One of the Major Arts of Motion Pictures. The Atlanta Constitution. Sunday, October 24, 1920—

CAMOUFLAGE!
A new word—coined during the great war by the French, to denote an art which was highly developed during the war. A new word, but an age-old art—old as war itself, older than mankind, for even Nature made use of it as a means of protection for animals and plants. Truly, an age-old idea, but only in the last few years has it been developed by mankind to that state of perfection wherein it might be called an art.
    

Camouflage saved from distruction during the war innumerable lives and properties of inestimable value. Now that the war is over, one might think that the word and the art would temporarily become passé and useless until another war should come along to revive them. But such is not the case, for camouflage is an art without a knowledge of which, one of the greatest industries of today—the motion picture industry—could hardly exist.

Camouflage and the Movies
The art of camouflage is a vital factor—in fact, it might be said, almost a prime factor in the production of motion pictures, and it is with that phase of camouflage that this article is concerned.
    

It is the general impression, perhaps, that the war itself first developed the art of camouflage. This impression, however, is erroneous. For long before the war began, the art had been developed to a high degree by the industry of motion picture production, but as developed by this industry, it was an unidentified art because it was an art without a name. The truth of this assertion is proven by the fact that when America entered the war, men from the motion pictures studios, who had gained a knowledge of the art of scenic deception, formed an important part of the ranks of special camouflage corps which were sent over there. This was because these men had already a practical knowledge of this great study and had only to adapt this knowledge to the particular requirements of defense in war.
    

The one great difference between camouflage as practiced in motion pictures and as practiced in war is that war camouflage, although deceiving to the human optics, is readily detected by the camera, while in motion pictures the camouflage is especially arranged and prepared to deceive the eye of the camera, although it sometimes also deceives the human eye, unless a very close-up view is obtained. Primarily, it is the camera lens upon which the deception is practiced, however, for the eye of the camera is ultimately the eyes of the motion picture audience.

Vital Necessity
Motion pictures, before the beginning of the war, did more and are now doing more to develop the art of camouflage on a large scale than any other industry or even possibly could do. Camouflage is the very life of a motion picture—a vital necessity. Of course, the art has been employed from time immemorial in the theatrical profession—in the dressings of stage settings for legitimate productions, but camouflage, as used on a stage, is very limited in its scope, and is admittedly camouflage, for this reason loses its very effectiveness. It is when camouflage is mistaken for the genuine and the delusion is unquestioned, that it really serves the purpose for which it is intended.
    

Examples of some of the numerous instances where camouflage is employed in motion pictures might be of interst. At the Lasky studio, for instance, which is one of the largest of west coast film plants, one might see on every hand the evidences of this great art.
    

To begin with, the very make-up of the players is often the most perfect camouflage. The feeble-looking old man or the dissipated, rum-soaked hobo might be, in reality, one of the most gentle and best-appearing young men on the lot, hiding his real identity under a skillful application of camouflage.…
   

Even the most conscientious, exacting and painstaking producers, who fairly dote on realism in their productions and always secure it whenever possible, are never slow to admit the importance and the value of the art of camouflage, and the great frequency and regularity with which it is employed in the production of motion pictures.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Jabberwocky Meets Kaiserwocky | WWI Parody

Above John Tenniel's illustration of the Jabberwock.

•••

Aha! Now here's a great find. It's a terribly funny take-off on Lewis Carroll's famous nonsense poem titled "Jabberwocky," which he published in Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1872). For those who have never heard of Alice In Wonderland or Lewis Carroll, I haven't any comment. But, to appreciate the parody, you have to have read the original poem.  It goes as follows—

JABBERWOCKY  |  Lewis Carroll

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

'And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.


And now on to the parody (author uncredited), called "Kaiserwocky," which was apparently published in the New York Evening Post, then reprinted in The Minneapolis Morning Star Tribune, May 16, 1918, p. 14, as follows—

KAISERWOCKY  |  Anon

'Twas Marnen, and the tommy ats
Did wyem secate in their trench;
All belgiumed with the tinny-hats,
And blank-blank potsdam french.

“Beware the Camouflage, my son!
The Cootie’s bite, the Barbwire’s scratch,
The Ausespiel’s place in the sun;
Verbote the redcrost patch!”

He took his kruppy in his hands:
Long time a blighty foe he sought,
Some scrappy papered Soixaute-quinze,
All poilued in its thought.

And as he kultured his moustache,
The Camouflage rheims through the wood.
And fraicaised o’er with rongetnoir,
Alsaced him where he stood.

Einzwei! Einzwei! And high and dry
He kieled that camouflage gun;
Then prussly monocled his eye
And taubel to Pop when done.

“And host thou kieled the Camouflage!
Come to my lefty arm, my boy!
Dertag is won—’tis au verdun!”
He vonklucked in his joy.

’Twas persching, and the tammy ats
Were numans landing from their tench;
All sammied were the tinney-hats,
The Kamrads deutschly blench.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Process of Applying Ship Camouflage | 1918

USS Calala (1918)
Above Dazzle camouflage scheme as applied to the USS Calala (1918). In the photographs below that show the process of painting a ship, it is not the Calala but a transport steamer named the USS City of Atlanta.

•••

Marguerite E. Harrison, THE RECORD OF THE FIRST DAY’S WORK IN THE SHIPYARD: Clad in Overalls, The Appearance of Sun Reporter at Sparrows Point an Event—Enrolled and Examined, She Tells the Story of Her First Day as a Shipbuilder. The Baltimore Sun, May 9, 1918 (p. 16) and May 10 (p. 4) [this is one of best eyewitness accounts of the process of applying dazzle camouflage to a ship in harbor]—

Camouflaging a Tanker
Mr. Champagne, the manager, assigned me to camouflage work that afternoon, as a large oil tanker was being camouflaged. First of all I was to help the camoufleur, an artist in the employ of the Shipping Board. When I arrived on the dock a goodly crowd was already assembled to watch the camoufleur, and when I joined him it increased in numbers. We were certainly a comic pair. Every time I stopped to think about us I chuckled. The artist, Dalton Murphy, of Boston [more likely, Hermann Dudley Murphy (1867-1945), painter and frame designer who served as an “inspector of camouflage for the US Shipping Board”], was exceedingly tall and thin. He had grizzled red-gray hair, gold-rimmed eyeglasses, and a long and painfully sunburned nose. He was dressed in gray tweeds, with a gray sweater pulled up around his throat, and slung over his shoulder he had a shiny new tan-leather document case, worn like a knapsack. In his hand was a bamboo fishing pole at least 24 feet long, and at the very end, fastened at right angles, was a dinky little paint brush dripping white paint. With this brush he was making fantastic and apparently aimless dabs at the hull. They were not aimless, however, for he was a skilled draughtsman, and he was laying it off for painting. He had already finished the masts and the deckhouses. I followed him in my overalls, carrying a sketch of the ship, drawn to scale and colored exactly as the ship was to be painted—in black, white, gray and blue.

It was the new dazzle system, invented by Norman Wilkinson, the British artist, who has just been in this country, and who so successfully camouflaged the Leviathan, our biggest transport, formerly the Hamburg-American Liner Deutschland [sic, Vaterland]. It consists of angles and curves designed to break up the perspective and make a perfectly new ship look like the veriest old derelict, or disappear altogether.


Labeling paint color areas


Found—A Use for a Cubist!
Mr. Murphy told me that he had already camouflaged three ships, and that he was one of 15 or 20 artists employed by the Shipping Board for this purpose.

“I was one of the first to offer my services to the Government,” he said, “and it took nine months to convince the Shipping Board of the practicability of the scheme. It is a wonderful way for us older fellows to help, and besides,” he added laughing, “it’s the only use that has ever been found for a cubist painter.” As he spoke he dabbed away at the sides of the ship, consulting the plan I held, and placing little dots here and there. Then he connected the dots with lines, and there was the outline of an irregular shape on the hull. Inside he marked “BG” for blue-gray and went on to the next figure.

After helping the artist for some time I was turned over to J.R. Esley, foreman of the paint shop. He took me through the beautifully neat shops where the paints are stored and mixed. There wasn’t a brush out of place, and not a drop of paint spilled on the floor. Then he went out to the ship.

“I’m sure you can paint,” he said. “I never saw a woman who couldn’t. My wife is a great painter, and once when she wanted to paint the vestibule and didn’t have a brush handy she made a great job with my shaving brush. The only thing is,” he continued, “You’ll have to climb a ladder.”

“That’s nothing,” I said promptly, but I thought differently when I saw the ladder.


Applying the colors


Worse Yet Coming Down
It rose almost straight up into the air—about 60 feet it looked to me—and at the top there was a most perilous feat to be performed. You had to climb over the railing. It was bad enough going up, but it didn’t take any nerve at all compared to coming down. However, I was most casual about it, and the foreman never knew. As for the men, they just gasped. Once on board the ship, I was given a big can of nice, smooth blue paint and I set to work to put weird shapes on the deckhouse and to obliterate the angles of hatch covers.

While I was working a man came up to me and watched me for a while. Finally he said:

“You certainly have got a nerve.”

“Why?” I asked.

“I’m blessed if I’d dress up like a girl and go where there were 7,000 girls working. I couldn’t stand the kiddin’!”

I laughed. “You’ve let me down so easy here,” I said, “that I haven’t minded at all.”

“You women gonna take our places?” he demanded.

“Not until we are needed, and then I think you’ll agree with me that we can.”


A finished painted wall


Crime to Stop Too Soon

The camouflage work was very interesting. I worked hard all afternoon, and only stopped when the whistle blew. One day I made the mistake of stopping a few minutes beforehand, and a man with a stern gleam in his eye walked up to me.

“Did the foreman give you leave to quit?” he asked severely.

“No,” said I, quaking inwardly.

“Docked an hour,” he said briefly. “Don’t do it again.”

The waster of time by stopping work before time is up is productive of much loss to the plant, and the company has a number of Sherlock Holmeses to watch for this very thing. Smoking is another practice that is taboo and it is very hard to stop. Many a time I came upon a fellow in a secluded spot enjoying the forbidden pipe or cigarette.

I always found the trip up on the train an unfailing source of information and amusement. On Tuesday I sat with a skilled mechanic who had worked for four years with the Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit. He was a bachelor, he told me; he liked the work and wages, but housing facilities around Baltimore were “rotten.”

Gouging vs. Germans
“I’m perfectly willing to pay a good price, as high as $5 a week, for a room,” he said, “but I must have decent comforts. They just gouge you here, and the company does nothing to prevent it. I advertised and went to a number of places before I found a comfortable room. Then there were two German women in the house, and they talked so bad there’d a been murder if I stayed there, so I moved on.”

“Where I am now,” he continued, “there’s no privacy. The other day I come home and found three children sitting on the floor playing with my suspenders. That didn’t suit me. I’m a single man.”

He also told me that unless he could find better accommodations he would have to go to another city, and he said that many other respectable workmen had had the same difficulty. In the evening at home I took stock of damages. Besides two aching knees and a dab of blue paint in one eye I was pretty well off. I felt I was getting into my stride. I had gotten a glimpse at two of the important phases of shipyard work, and I had had a close range view of the new science of camouflage.…