Humans are probably the strangest animals on the planet. We’re the only ones who care to perform experiments to learn more about ourselves, the only ones capable of using symbols as a means of communication, and the only ones who have governments and currencies. We share common traits as other animals, such as the desire to reproduce and eat, however, we’re still by far the most curious, obscure, and confusing species on the planet.
We haven’t been able to capture our weird history in photographs until a little more recently, however, there’s no denying we’ve always been this weird. After looking at the next 15 pictures on our list, you’re sure to agree with that statement. For us today, the life around us still seems strange at times, but for the most part, we don’t constantly question the things we do and why we do them. In 100 years, however, there’s bound to be a list like this pointing out the strange things our friends, family, and ourselves do every day.
We’ve all taken a history class or two, so we know that the way people used to live is already a little peculiar to us. However, only so much information can be consumed in a short class period. There’s a lot that our ancestors used to do that seems very strange to us. See for yourself! Here are 15 Rare Historical Photos That Show A Strange Side Of History:
15. People Gathering For The Last Public Execution
The photograph above displays one of the last public executions in our country. The death penalty is a widely debated topic in our current culture, but it used to be a much more common punishment for criminals all over. Instead of medically injecting someone in the privacy of a facility, people were publicly hung for their crimes. Watching people die used to certainly be a great past time for our ancestors, and participating in it was even more common before this! Although our current society still loves publicly shaming and watching justice be served to those deserving of it, it still seems a little dark to imagine everyone showing up to someone’s public execution. There are more people here than some major bands get at their concerts!
14. A Child’s Gas Mask
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, America was a little paranoid about once again being bombed without preparation. The country was just in its paranoia, but some took it as far to market the terrifying gas mask you see above. If you’re going to create something for children, it’s a good idea to design it in a way that makes it friendly for kids of all kind. When Disney was more cartoon-centric and revolved around Mickey, one man thought he could sell a ton of Mickey themed gas masks to parents afraid their children might inhale poisonous gases from a terrorist attack. Nowadays, only doomsday preparers and other paranoid people would even think about buying a gas mask like this. The masks weren’t successful in the past anyway since the war was soon to be won, however, the fact that someone thought it could be the next big thing is certainly strange.
13. Burning Money During Inflation Because It Was Cheaper Than Wood
In the early 1900’s, there was a massive inflation that drove the value of a dollar so far down that having a dollar bill was close to us having a nickel. It may seem like a time when the value of a dollar was low, you could get rich easily. That’s not the case, however. All it meant was that there was too much-printed money in circulation. The result was people going hungry while having backpacks so filled with money they were hard to carry. This meant people had trouble buying supplies they needed to survive, including wood that powered their stoves and heaters. Instead of spending their money on wood when their kids were going hungry, people decided to just burn the money that had little value to them anyway. To us today, a sight like this makes us go crazy thinking of how we could spend the money she’s shoveling into the furnace.
12. Wooden Bathing Suits To Help Float
Even today we’re constantly trying to find innovative ways to design clothing so that they’re fashionable yet functional. This is something that we’ve been doing since clothing was first worn! Bathing suits have certainly seen a rapid evolution, especially for women. The women above are modeling a new design made out of wood! The idea behind this is that they’d be buoyant enough to help keep whoever is wearing it floating while swimming. Obviously, wooden bathing suits never quite caught on or else a picture like this wouldn’t be very strange to you and me! We’d imagine a wooden bathing suit would be nothing more than a splinter filled nightmare and would probably start rotting after a while. Also, wood doesn’t seem to be the most absorbent material to use for something that’s purpose is to be worn while submerged in water. Would you ever try to wear a wooden bathing suit if it meant you might float better?
11. The Enemy’s Helmets Stacked
The pyramid above was created in 1918 after the end of WWI. It was made as a symbol of the end of war and celebration of a win; the pyramid being made out of captured or murdered German soldiers. The statue had 12,000 helmets, all representing a defeated German by the U.S. army. During the time the statue came about, it wasn’t so controversial. Though the pyramid is hollow, it’s still a shocking sight to see such a tall structure decorated purely with helmets. This was a time when people were celebrating liberation and the return of our soldiers. To many, a sight like this was nothing but joyous. In our society today, it’s likely a statue like this would never be made. Showing such a celebration of the murder of others would likely be seen as savage, even by conservatives.
10. Testing Football Helmets
The man in the photograph above is demonstrating the effectiveness of a football helmet by bashing his own head into a wall. Nowadays, we would never see someone actually use their own head to show how an invention works. First, it’d probably start with a mannequin, then maybe a paid participant would test out the effectiveness after it was proven time and time again to be safe. We also know nowadays that football is certainly one of the most dangerous and harmful sports there is out there. A thin helmet like the one above would certainly make anyone cringe, especially picturing him running directly into a wall! The men watching him look joyous, not at all flinching at the sight of someone banging their head against the siding of a house. Performing experiments like this outside of a facility would never fly in our modern society.
9. Street Walking Spies In A German Brothel
The photograph above was taken at the Kitty Saloon in a brothel located in Berlin during WWII. It was operated by the SS, who worked directly for Hitler, and was wiretapped in order to spy on conversations between the prostitutes and various leaders and elites who visited the brothel. In the photograph above, we see the prostitutes being lined up, either to be chosen by a client or possibly listening to their boss during a meeting. The prostitutes that worked in the brothel underwent training in order to learn how to lure information from their clients without seeming suspicious. Sex workers who are also spies seem like something straight from a Bond movie, but this was certainly a reality at one point in our history. Just imagine having to be the guy who listens in on all the conversations and other nefarious activities that took place between the men and the prostitutes.
8. The Strangest Contest Ever
The story behind the photo above actually remains somewhat a mystery as to what exactly is going on. Of course, this is arguably one of the strangest photographs on the list and yet we still manage to know very little about what in the world was going on when the photograph was taken. The main focus of the picture is the boy in the front, who actually isn’t a boy at all. He was a full grown man suffering what is referred to as a real-life Benjamin Button disease, medically known as Progeria. As for the dogs? That remains a mystery. But it is very unlikely that you’d see such a strange picture like this today. The dog drinking what looks like a beer would probably anger many animal rights activists and would quickly go viral with people assuming the dog was possibly experiencing animal abuse, either for performing or possibly drinking alcohol.
7. Men On The Hunt For Wives
The photograph above features four men and their pets, all looking for wives. The men, not the pets, of course. Marriage used to be more of a transaction or necessity for survival, in which the man made money and worked for the family while the woman managed the children and household. In a time when women maintain independence and men are taking a more active role in what used to be seen as wifely duties, a photograph like this can be a bit repulsive. Marriage should be about love and make a genuine connection with a person you’d like to spend your eternity with. We can’t be too judgmental, however. In our modern society, many men search for wives in other countries, taking advantage of women looking for a way to live in our country. We also have dating sites that allow us to specify the type of partner we’re interested in. The same hunt for spouses still somewhat exists today, but in a more subtle message than a sign that says “wives wanted.” Ladies, reading, what do you think? Would you be any of these men’s wives?
6. Phone Cables
Many of us remember a time before cell phones when we’d have to share the phone with two or more family members and getting a connection was sometimes the hardest thing you’d do all day. This photograph of telephone wires taken around 1890 is an entirely new world even to the oldest person reading this list! The tower above was responsible for connecting 5,500 telephone lines in Sweden! Towers like this were common in many areas until we began building telephone lines underground. This structure eventually caught fire in 1945, a mystery how it didn’t catch fire sooner! Nowadays everyone has a telephone and almost no one has a wire connected to it! As our phones get smaller and need for telephone lines and any wires at all decreases, a picture like this will only become stranger looking to future generations.
5. A Woman Modeling A Scandalous Bathing Suit
The photograph above is of Annette Kellerman, a woman’s advocate who campaigned for her right to wear a swimsuit in the 1900’s. She was simply attempting to model a new design for a suit that would allow a woman to enjoy all the water activities the men around her freely participated in. Unfortunately, after the photograph was taken, she was arrested for indecency. Nowadays, a woman caught wearing a suit like this might get made fun of for being too conservative in what she wears. We can’t go in public or use our phones without seeing women in swimsuits and even less. It’s unbelievable to us today that a woman wearing something as harmless as this bathing suit was arrested for doing so! Luckily times have changed and strange photos like this just remind us of a darker, stricter, and less enjoyable world for all genders.
4. Poor Kids Shocked By Rich Kids
The photograph above was taken in Britain in 1937. It does a perfect job of showcasing the two different social classes at the time using children as the models. The children on the left are adorned with expensive clothing and accessories, carrying a definite elitist attitude while waiting on the street. The children on the right are wearing much dirtier and older looking clothing with a more playful attitude, shocked at the different looking children they’re seeing. A photograph like this is powerful in its message, and seeing a picture like this today isn’t as likely. Wealthy families certainly have a different look to them compared to those of poorer classes, but we’re past the days of top hats and tuxedos as everyday wear. With department stores selling cheap designer mock clothing, everyone can dress more glamorously than they used to in the past.
3. Vintage Exercise Equipment
The desire to be fit and healthy isn’t anything new to our generation. Sports have been around as long as man has, and staying in shape has always remained important to having a decent quality of life. The way that we stay in shape, however, has certainly changed. Nowadays, you can get access to workout videos anywhere, especially celebrities’ Snapchat stories! We have endless types of workout equipment and gear being designed nonstop to help ensure we stay in our best shape possible. The equipment people used 100 years ago is still pretty strange looking to us today. The man in the photograph above looks like he’s using some complex foot massager, but in reality, he’s attempting to stay in shape! Clearly, it wasn’t the best method, or else we might see more machines like this today. It’s also rather strange that they’d photograph people using exercise equipment in such lavish clothing!
2. Women Delivering Ice
Nowadays, most of us are lucky to be able to go to the fridge and get ice with the press of a button. If not, we at least have the machinery able to make ice in a reasonable amount of time. Things didn’t always use to be so easy, and in the past, our ancestors basically had to use the large cooler to keep all of their food refrigerated. We still purchase ice at the store, but this is mostly if we want purified ice or to use in a cooler or tub to keep beverages cold. A sight like this would never be seen today! It’s also a bit rare to see women doing more rugged labeled work, as something like this would be seen as a man’s job 50 years ago! Having to lug around huge blocks of ice all day was probably some exhausting work, but at least they were able to stay cool!
1. Teaching Boys How To Swim
Not every school can afford to have a swimming pool nor is located next to a body of water suitable for children to play in. Swimming is a valuable skill that serves a great way to exercise, a fun past time, and potentially, a life-saving skill. Just because a child goes to a school that doesn’t have access to a body of water to practice swimming in doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the ability to learn this valuable skill. In the past, teachers have found a way around taking their kids in actual water to teach them to swim. In the photograph above, a group of students was able to learn how to swim by simply laying on each other. At first, you probably had no idea what was going on in the picture. It looks almost like a Photoshopped body horror image. Instead, it’s just another strange picture that shows how weird we used to be.