Re: Puyo and Demachy said it first [was Re. Paper Negatives]
I highly recommend the movie 'The Road to Wellville' for what is
probably a historically suspect look at the physical culture
movement in the early 1900's. Lots of good old fashioned potty humor
and hilarious scenes of adults making polite small talk over dinner
about the subject of intestinal health. Anthony Hopkins has a great
time playing a totally mad Dr Kellogg. If you are in the right mood,
this movie is pretty funny. Some of the more interesting 'exercise'
machines shown in the movie would suggest that people's desire to
have a effortless method of getting fit may not be a recent phenomena.
I also recall an extended passage in the Sinclair Lewis book,
'Babbit' (1922) , where the protagonist decides to get fit using
some pathetically pointless dieting and exericise routines.
Anyway, this is in no way any kind of proof of anything, but some
good fun nonetheless. I tend to agree with you that physical fitness
was not really something to which most grown adults paid any
attention prior to the seventies.
On Dec 4, 2007, at 1:57 AM, Judy Seigel wrote:
Gordon -- You're "proving" that some concepts existed. I don't
doubt it. I'm talking about everyday life.
So what if I *heard* of the "speedo swimsuit" ?-- a piece of
clothing you wore, and written up as such. I NEVER saw one on a
person or knew a person who had one, making it extra beside the
point. I also heard of graham crackers and smelling salts and touch
your toes and chew 100 times before swallowing and endless wacko
"health" plans, some of which indeed reached the mainstream -- what
was the one about drinking vinegar? (I think you mixed it with
something.) Not to mention "pink pills for pale people," Wheaties,
breakfast of champions, and Wonder Bread that built strong bodies 8
Meanwhile, when I speak of "gym culture" and reaching the masses, I
mean the ordinary person, not just the babe in the speedo, but
middle aged, middle class, and OLD age and "working class" who NOW
go to a gym and regularly "work out."
That there was *a* health club chain" in 1870 is not this
argument. I knew HUNDREDS, probably THOUSANDS of people and NONE
of them went there. No college friend, no neighbor, no relative or
colleague, not even a mere acquaintance belonged to a gym that I
ever heard of.... until, oh maybe 1970 oe 80. True, there was
"physical therapy" in cases of accident or illness or even
congenital disability, but that's "medicine" not gym.
That various strategies were available to those who wished or
needed them or had them prescribed, is simply not this
discussion... & again 100% beside the point. Yes, my husband was
in the army circa 1955 and had "basic training," ie, marching in
the heat of some South Carolina bog until half of them passed out.
That was NOT gym culture, and neither he nor any of his army
buddies went anywhere near a "gym" voluntarily until much later (in
fact that army experience probably innoculated them against it).
But I would gladly explain the meaning of language, including such
terms such as "mass culture" and "mainstream" to your historian
friend. If he shares your interpretation of this discussion, he
clearly needs help.
PS. I probably read more books than your buddy and my father worked
for the NY Times -- we had 3 newspapers in the house daily & I read
many items BESIDES the funnies. I never heard of Annette Kellerman
or Million Dollar Mermaid either (what could SHE do at a gym
anyway? Ride the bicycle?)
On Sun, 2 Dec 2007, Gordon Cooper wrote:
Judy Seigel wrote:
Um.. Judy, it was mainstream. Several times. I take it you've
heard of the Speedo swim suit? Annette Kellerman? Million Dollar
Mermaid? The New York Times? Did your family read the Times in
1904? 1927? 1891? Army calisthenics? Did you have a family member
in the armed forces after 1870? If so, they participated in the
mainstream of Physical Culture.
On Sun, 2 Dec 2007, Gordon Cooper wrote:
There was a health club chain open in the US c. 1870 with the
development of the "Health Lift"reactionary lifting machine.
Club swinging, parallel bars and pulley weights were standard
too. Oh, and a lot of the gyms were for women, as Jan Todd and
other historians of Physical Culture have noted. Genevieve
Stebbins, the Delsarte proponent was a paid member of the Dudley
Sargent gymnasium at Harvard c. 1890. A number of schools
implemented the Delsarte method of physical culture training as
described by Stebbins and her contemporaries. A quick perusal of
early issues of "Health and Strength" or "Physical Culture"
magazine will reveal ads for quite a few gyms and facilities for
women (and men). "Pudgy" Stockton was a professional bodybuilder
in the 1930's, and she was by no means the first.Actually, Gordon, you may be proving my point !!!! My family
subscribed at one time or another to a dozen magazines & read a
dozen more at various times. We never ever even HEARD of the
physical culture magazines you cite. Today when I walk to the
post office I pass 3 gyms in one direction and going to the main
post office in the other direction I pass two.
My point isn't that there were no gyms or "physical culture," but
that something happened to bring this culture to the masses, into
the mainstream -- to put the Crunch gym on Hudson Street with 100
people using the stair master at street level on view behind a
wall of glass. (Well, maybe not 100 people at once, but if you
stood there for a couple of hours.....)
Or walk east from the post office on Christopher Street, you pass
two more...I don't recall ever seeing a gym or even hearing of
one in my "youth," which believe it or not was well into the 20th
century. Today even my heterosexual friends in for gods sake THE
SUBURBS belong to gyms.
What more can I say?
The mainstream is defined by whether or not you or your family
have heard of something or participated in it?
Try suggesting that to my historian friend, Ronald Hutton. But