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When eyewitnesses to the golden age aren't the best references

The Wolf

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,153
Location
Santa Rosa, Calif
I was talking with mom about George Reeves and I mentioned it was a shame that he got type-cast after Superman. She remembered seeing Gone With the Wind came out and people in the theater laughed when Reeves came on screen because of him being Superman. She verified that it was 1939 that she saw it even though it was the 1950s that he played Superman.
I also had a customer tell me everyone was shocked when Kate Smith went on tv because they only knew her from the radio and everyone thought she was black. I asked if he ever seen a picture of her when she was on radio. He asked "Where would we see a picture of her?" "A newspaper?" I ventured. "oh no, she was too much of a lady to be in the newspaper." I let it go after that.

Sincerely,
The Wolf
 

Deco-Doll-1928

Practically Family
Messages
803
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Some things are just not what you remember them to be. I'm even finding that I have trouble remembering moments of my own life now! lol
 
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LizzieMaine

Bartender
Messages
31,522
Location
Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
Likely your mom was actually remembering seeing GWTW in its 1954 reissue -- by which time Reeves had been wearing the cape for three years, and was thoroughly established as Superman. And there were, in fact, reports of him being tittered at by audiences during these screenings.

There were many people in the thirties who were absolutely convinced Amos and Andy -- Correll and Gosden -- were, in fact, black, even though there had been plenty of newspaper articles and an autobiographical book by then that confirmed otherwise.
 

Doctor Strange

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,125
Location
Hudson Valley, NY
Memory is a strange thing. I've reported this before in the Outerwear forum, but it bears repeating here.

My Dad was in the Army Air Corps during the war, though as a photographer, not a flyer. When I first became interested in A-2 jackets over a decade ago and discussed them with him, he got all misty, "Man, I always envied those beautiful jackets my flyboy buddies had!" Since then, I discovered a picture of him wearing a borrowed one back then:

Sid1943c.jpg


Anyway, in 2001 I bought him a Bradley Associates replica A-2 to honor his WWII service. This was an inexpensive, though not bad, replica. It was inaccurate in numerous ways: made of cowhide, with synthetic knits and lining, a modern zipper, too-big lapels and pockets... (See detailed review here: http://www.acmedepot.com/a2jacket/eval_Bradley.shtml )

The punchline: He pronounced identical to the jackets he recalled. Even after I pointed out all the ways in which it was wrong, he didn't believe me! Of course, he was 82 years old...
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
Messages
31,522
Location
Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
There's an old story about a grizzled WW2 vet coming to a college history class as a guest lecturer, to give first-hand accounts of his experiences, which he did, in great detail. At the end of the lecture, a student raised his hand and pointed out several factual errors in the vet's account -- units he claimed were in a particular location on a certain date, which were actually miles away, things like that. The vet chuckled and replied "Kid, I only fought in the war. I didn't major in it."
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
23,725
Location
London, UK
Human memory can be notoriously unreliable and easy to manipulate. I remember studying an experiment where psychologists showed a group of adults a whole collection of photos made to look like they were taken at Disneyland back in the era when these folks were kids. A number of the photos showed kids meeting Bugs Bunny. Many of the experiment group later recounted in detail their memories of meeting Bugs Bunny as kids as Disneyland. Of course this cannot possibly have happened, as Bugs always was a Warner Brothers character and thus never appeared in Disneyland.
 

sheeplady

I'll Lock Up
Bartender
Messages
4,479
Location
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, USA
Something being factual or not isn't really as important as how a person's memory has shaped them and who they are. If somebody "mis-remembers" an important point in their life, it's less important that their account was not factual and more important to understand why that memory is important and how that memory, as remembered, has impacted them.

For instance, most of us have patently false memories of where we were when significant events occured in the world. (One of the first studies of this was on the Challenger Explosion.) That doesn't make our memories any less important to how we interpert those events, how we felt, and how they changed us. If anything, the way we remember those events is much more important to our daily lives and who we are than the nitty gritty factual details. Even if we're so off-base it's unbelievable.

Now some things are important to know as facts. But it's just as important to understand how people remember the facts. It tells you a lot about who they are and what's important to them.
 

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