JF Ptak Science Books Post 1390
There are 1500 or so of these news service war photographs here, and one of the remarkable things that I've discovered about them--trivial things to be sure compared with their overall message, ephemeral bits of semi-nothing--is that in many of the very-large-group images that there is sometimes just a single person who is doing something that no one else is doing, and it has been captured almost forever in the photo. There are photos of thousands of troops, all facing east, with on solitary soldier facing west; there's the solitary waver; there's the one bare-headed man in a sea of a thousand men with hats; there's the one person raising his hat to the photographer in a sea of people looking at the camera but not raising their arms. Then of course there's the group photo of a mass of German WWI POWs, with only one soldier without a hat or helmet, and he looks just like me.
Here are two other examples--the first is a detail from a photo showing British children cheering their American allies in 1917, showing one man clearly reacting to the hundreds of screams by covering his ears. And is the only one doing so. The second detail shows a large contingent of American soldiers leaving for Europe on a steamer--there is only one man who turns to the camera and waves.
Both original photographs are available from our blog bookstore, here.
The second detail:
And the second, showing a group of hundreds of soldiers waiting to leave Hoboken, New Jersey, for the fight in Europe, 1917. Most are pulling themselves inside their coats as much as possible; I suspect being right there on the harbor--and seeing the floating bits of ice in the water--that it was wet and very cold. Our one adventurous Doughboy gives the camera a spread-fingered wave....he also seems to be quite tall. He is the lone waver. There also seem to be a lot of smiles in the crowd.