Curious incidents in American history: a model President

by awindram

[tweetmeme source=”awindram” only_single=false] I am in Vermont. In Stowe, to be precise, a town probably most famous for being where the von Trapp family eventually settled, but this isn’t what has caught my attention. Instead, I’m struck by the display of photographs displayed in the lobby of the hotel where I am staying. For the most part the photographs detail the history of the town and hotel and I’m more than happy ambling along corridors and peering closely at photographs of Stowe in the 1860s. But I find one little nook, one little cul-de-sac hidden away from everyone other than the most inquisitive of patrons. The black and white pictures here are not of hardy, bearded Victorian pioneers, but are of a modelling shoot from a 1940 edition of Look magazine taken in and around the hotel. The fashion shoot, rather charming in its old fashionedness, tells of two young things, Phyllis and Gerald, up from New York and Yale respectively for a winter weekend of skiing. As I look at the pictures I am struck that the male model has a handsomeness that wouldn’t find him much in the way of modelling work now; sure, he’s broad-shouldered and seems to fulfil the all-American ideal, but he’s also in possession of too baby-ish a face. Phyllis, however, wouldn’t look too out of place if transported into a modern magazine feature. Then I notice the text accompanying the pictures. It informs me that the baby-ish model in the pictures taken in this spot 70 years previously is, in fact, the future 38th President of the United States and failed model, Gerald Ford.