09 October 2016

"They Had Beauty But No Licenses"

I've heard that certain women are attracted to male authority figures.  All right, I take that back:  I've known a few women for whom such men exerted a pull.  That magnetism was all the stronger if said authority figure wore a uniform.

Now, of course, I don't mean to imply, let alone say, that such women represent the rest of us.  Like any other group within a larger group, they are of and among us, but they are not all--or, most likely, even most--of us.

But I think more people in my parents' and grandparents' generations--women as well as men--believed that all or most women had that desire, or even a need, for such men in their lives.  I am living in different times; also, I have enough experience with authority figures of both genders so as not to be overly awed by them.  Plus, I have an innate skepticism of authority and institutions--which may seem paradoxical when you realize that I have spent much of my working life as an educator and, as often as not, avoid conflict and change when they are on the horizon. Moreover, I lived the first four and a half decades of my life as male, which, I believe, has magnified my skepticism, sometimes to the point of cynicism.

Now, I don't mean to say that I am disrespectful--at least, not deliberately.  On the other hand, I rarely, if ever, "play up" to power, in part because I am not very good at it.  Certainly, I don't think I'd be--or even try to seem--as happy as the women in this photo:

According to The Denver Post, which published this photo:

They had beauty but no licenses, and so the young women shown here had to walk back from their bicycle ride.  Two police cars halted the cyclists at 2551 West 26th Avenue in Denver after they had received a complaint that the bicycles had no licenses.  The bikes were returned to a dealer in a truck.  Left to right are Doris Weeks, Virginia Huke, Clodagh Jones, Genevieve Strauss, Patrolmen H.W. Gibbs and L.R. Wigginton, Elouise Downer, Marietta Grange, Lois Hale and Rita Carlin.

That photo was taken and published in 1939.  I wonder whether any of those women are still alive and, if they are, whether I am dragging their reputations through the mud.  Really, I don't mean to!

I just can't get over how they're all smiling.  Were they coerced into it, or were they genuinely happy, or at least content, to get the attention of Men In Uniform.  (A few years later, in a Hollywood movie, I could see any one of them would fall into the arms of a soldier or sailor disembarking from the war.)  And, I wonder:  How did whoever tipped off the cops know that those young women were riding without licenses?  

It would take a far more serious offense for me to call the police on them, let alone take them into custody. I guess that's one reason why I never became a police officer!

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