Thursday, August 11, 2016

AUGUST 11 = Reagan Jokes About Russia



While we're all bemoan- ing the "gaffes" of Donald Trump, and wringing our hands
about all of the ruin that they portend for our country, I thought that it might do some good to mark the anniversary of another celebrated "gaffe" made by a U.S. President which left a lot of people in fits of anger, which wound up doing no real harm whatsoever.  For it was today's date, August 11 in 1984 that President Ronald Reagan made his (in)famous joke about "Outlawing Russia" and "we begin bombing in five minutes."

Reagan's Actual Speech and What He MEANT to Say...

Reagan was making a regularly scheduled radio address, and he was
being checked for sound levels before he began.  He had already silently read the first line of his speech which went this way:

“My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you that today I signed legislation that will allow student religious groups to begin enjoying a right they’ve too long been denied: the freedom to meet in public high schools during nonschool hours, just as other student groups are all owed to do.”

Having already seen this line, Reagan decided to engage in what was to him a bit of levity.  So during his few seconds of sound checking, he said: "My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” Although Reagan's press aides, as well as technicians and pool reporters in the room chuckled, a tape soon leaked. According
to Gannett News Service and the Associated Press, the joke was made in a ''voice check,'' in which technicians make adjustments to their recording equipment to the level of the President's voice. There were two networks present who elected not to  report it, those being CBS, and CNN.  The president of CNN,  Burt Reinhardt (right), remarked: ''We thought about it a great deal, talked about it a lot. But anything talked about before the radio broadcast would be off the record.''

The "Joke" Gets Out and Causes a Furor

But as usually happens in campaigns, word of the "joke" did get out and raised a furor.  Reagan was at the time running for re-election against former vice president Walter Mondale (below).  His get tough policies  visa-vie the Soviet Union were making a lot of people nervous at what seemed like the new level of confrontation. Reagan’s joke gave
even more fuel to those commentators and pundits both in the U.S. and abroad who believed that Reagan was
a senile old man who simply didn't understand the forces he was dealing with in his pursuit of his "Cowboy Diplomacy" In fact, "russiapedia.com" has since recorded this very dark reaction:
"The moment the president's flippant remark was released, it immediately caused a stir both in the United States and abroad. Most international media responded with outrage, fearing that the joke about "outlawing" the Soviet Union had once again put the two superpowers on the verge of a third world war.
Upon hearing the news, a leading Parisian newspaper, suggested in dismay that Reagan’s jest be tested by a trained psychologists to determine whether it was “a statement of repressed desire or the exorcism of a dreaded phantom.” As the imminent danger of such a comment was obvious, a Dutch news service ironically remarked, "Hopefully, the man tests his missiles more carefully," referring to the possibility of the Soviets turning their weapons toward the US after hearing such a threat."

But the fact is that White House officials quickly assured Russian officials what was the fairly obvious fact that it had all been a minor joke, although to some a tasteless one and that no attack was forthcoming. There were reports in some papers that the Soviet Far East Army was placed on alert and that the alert was not withdrawn until 30 minutes later. But nothing came of that. 30 minutes later
everything was fine. In the words of CNN Vice President, Ed Turner, "The President is a guy who drops one-liners. In this case it was a little careless of him, considering he's hardly a neophyte.'' 

The careless joke that had so many pundits crowing resulted in a minor jump in the polls for Walter Mondale for a short time.  But then Reagan regained the lead which he carried to a land slide win taking every state except Mondale's home state of Minnesota, and the District of Columbia. And during his second term, Reagan went on to establish the friendliest relations with the Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev (above) that had ever been seen between two such leaders before. The U.S. Arms build up coupled with the close relationship wound up bringing the "Cold War" to a victorious end for the West. And in all of those world changing events, the "gaffe" about "bombing in five minutes" was little more than a foot note to be discussed by Bloggers like me!




Sources =

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/reagan-jokes-about-bombing-russia

http://www.politico.com/story/2010/08/reagan-jokes-about-bombing-russia-august-11-1984-040921


 http://russiapedia.rt.com/on-this-day/august-11/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_begin_bombing_in_five_minutes








Monday, August 1, 2016

AUGUST 1 = Hitler Opens 1936 Olympics in Berlin



"The Olympic games held in Berlin in August of 1936 afforded the Nazis a golden opportunity to impress the world with the achievements of the Third Reich and they made the most of it.  The signs of  "Juden unerwuenscht" ("Jews not welcome") were quietly hauled down from the shops, hotels, beer gardens and places of public entertainment..."   - William Shirer

"almost religious event, the crowd screaming, swaying in unison and begging for Hitler. There was something scary about it; his cult of personality." - Thomas Wolfe

The Games of the XI Olympiad were opened on today's date, August 1 in 1936 in the city of Berlin, the capitol city of Germany. That nation was then governed by the murderous Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, one of if not the foremost monster in history.  And I thought that with the games of the XXXI Olympiad coming up in Rio de Janeiro in just a few days, that it might be a good idea to take a look back at what happened when Hitler ran the opening show. Because even though, as William Shirer points out the Nazis were determined to put the brightest face on their ugly regime, to many such as the novelist Thomas Wolfe, there was something scary lurking beneath.

Berlin Builds the Biggest Stadium Ever

Berlin had been chosen over Barcelona, Spain, on 26 April 1931, at the 29th IOC Session two years before the Nazis came to power. Hitler was actually indifferent to sports, so it took some convincing on the part of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels to convince Der Fuehrer that the whole thing was worth the effort.  But now that Hitler's crew had the reigns, they were determined to out-do the 1932 Games in Los
Angeles. Towards which end, the Nazi regime sunk 42 million Reich- marks into a fabulous Olympic sports complex comprising some 325 acres. And the centerpiece was to be an enormous Olympic Stadium, built of stone and which could accommodate 110,000 spectators. These Opening Ceremonies were of course held in this brand new edifice beginning with the Parade of Nations (above). A speech by the head of Germany's Olympic Committee, and then Hitler declared the Games open.

The Opening Ceremony Shows Nazi Precision

The idea of having a torch relay first came up with the Amsterdam games of 1928, but it was Nazis who came up with the idea of having the torch relay originate in Olympia and then be carried all the way to the top off the stadium wherein it would burn throughout the games.

"The Guardian", a British newspaper summarized the precision of this opening ceremony in its edition of Aug. 3 :

"The opening ceremony of the eleventh Olympic Games took place here this afternoon in the Stadium at the Reich Sports Field. It was probably the longest ritual that has ever heralded the opening of these Games. It was arranged and carried out with mathematical exactitude by the German Organising Committee, and in the course of it there were moments of beauty and significance which one will remember.

"There were others - not many of them - when one felt that the strength of German national feeling had a little outgrown discretion, but it was a memorable ceremony, immensely enhanced by the nobility of the great Stadium in which it was carried out."

The Pigeons Finish It Off by Making a Deposit on the 1936 Olympics

But the military precision of it all, the determination to glorify the Nazi
regime and Hitler himself could not control everything. One bit of pomp turned to poop as related by an athlete who witnessed it, Distance Runner Louis Zamperini:

"They released 25,000 pigeons, the sky was clouded with pigeons, the pigeons circles overhead, and then they shot a cannon, and they scared the poop out of the pigeons, and we had straw hats, flat straw hats, and you could heard the pitter-patter on our straw hats, but we felt sorry for the women, for they got it in their hair, but I mean there were a mass of droppings, and I say it was so funny…"

The Thin Veneer of Nazi Hospitality at the 1936 Olympics

Uncooperative pigeons notwithstanding the truth of this regime and it's vicious anti-semitic, anti- religious character were always there lurking, except for the more gullible observer. As William Shirer wrote:

"the persecution of the Jews, and of the two Christian Churches temporarily halted, and the country put on its best behavior.  No previous games had seen such a spectacular organization nor such a lavish display of entertainment.  Goering, Ribbentrop, and Goebbels gave dazzling parties for the foreign visitors .....The visitors, especially those from England and America, were greatly impressed by what they saw; apparently a happy, healthy, friendly people united under Hitler -- a far different picture, they said, than they had got from reading the newspaper dispatches from Berlin."



Sources =

"The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" by William Shirer, Simon & Schuster Publ. 1960















Thursday, July 28, 2016

JULY 28 = The 14'th Amendment is Adopted



On today's date, July 28 in 1868, the Fourteenth
Amend- ment to the Consti- tution of the United States was adopted following its ratification by the required two thirds of states. The amendment basically guaranteed the full rights and privileges
of U.S. citizenship to all African Americans who had been freed from the chains of slavery by the passage of the 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery) during the civil war.

The Need For the 14th Amendment

The American Civil War had left the southern states in a state of physical and political chaos. Although the masses of African Americans were legally free their precise legal status had been nowhere spelled out specifically. The death of Abraham Lincoln had left the pro-southern
Andrew Johnson (below) as the president, and he had been battling
with the Radical Republicans for control of Reconstruction (which was the process for the former Confederate states to rejoin the Union). Such barriers as literacy tests, poll taxes and outright intimidation had been set up to prevent citizens of color from exercising their right to vote. So the Radical Republicans pushed for and passed the 14th Amendment on June 13, 1866.  Johnson in announcing the amendment denigrated it by stating that his actions should "be considered as purely ministerial, and in no sense whatever committing the Executive to an approval or a recommendation of the amendment to the State legislatures or to the people."

The Passage of the 14th Amendment and Its Legaacy

Ratification of the amendment caused bitter debate throughout the State legislatures especially in every single formerly Confederate state. Except for Tennessee, they all refused to ratify it. This brought about the passage of the Reconstruction Acts. which ignored all such existing state governments and instead imposed military governments which
remained in place until the 14th Amendment was finally passed on today's date. It took more than two years but with some troubles over rescinded and re-ratified acts in Ohio and New Jersey, Secretary of State William Seward announced the unconditional certificate of ratification, declaring that the Fourteenth Amendment had been ratified by the required three-fourths of the states.

The Amendment has since been used for both good and ill; it was used to justify the Plessy -vs- Ferguson decision of 1896 which admitted legal segregation of "separate but equal" into law.  But then again, it was used to strike down that very decision with "Brown -vs- the Board of Education" of 1954 (above). The 15th (equal voting rights) and a whole host of laws and amendments had to be put in place before African Americans achieved full legal equality with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Meanwhile the "Equal Protection Clause" of the 16th amendment has since been cited in a whole host off non-racial cases ranging from abortion to gay marriage.

The actual text of article 1 of the 14th amendment reads as follows:

"Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."




Sources =

 https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/14thamendment.html

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/14th-amendment-adopted

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/recon/jb_recon_revised_3.html

 http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_events_14th.html












Tuesday, July 26, 2016

JULY 26 = Postal Service Born, Sam Houston Dies



On today's date, July 26 in 1775, at the Second Continental Congress the U.S. postal system was established and Benjamin Franklin was appointed as its first postmaster general. Franklin (1706-1790) put in place the foundation for many facets of the mail system as we know it today.

The Mail of Colonial Days

Back in colonial times here in America most mail whether business or private was carried by hand along roads that were not well marked or well kept. Often it was carried by sea along the coastal routes.  And the carriers could be sailors, sea captains, slaves or simply travelers along the route. Needless to say, this was neither a very efficient, nor reliable
way to move correspondence around.  And the "post office" was often a
local inn, a tavern or a coffee house in the area. And time it would take
for delivery could vary from several days or weeks between points on land to one to three months from overseas.

Ben Franklin Fixes the Mess in the Postal Service

Benjamin Franklin was appointed Postmaster of Philadelphia in 1737, Joint Postmaster General of the colonies for the Crown in 1753, and Postmaster for the United Colonies in 1775. And it was due mostly to Franklin efforts that the time of delivery was cut by 50%. He had already made many improvements to the postal service between the colonies by the time of his appointment on today's date.  He had already set up standard routes for postal delivery between the colonies,
and had the mail wagon traveling day and night by way of relay teams. Franklin standardized the cost of delivery by basing all the mail expenses on weight and distance over which it was to be carried. Franklin made tours of each of the major post offices to inspect their operations and suggest improvements. And routes were surveyed and were set up to be more direct from point to point. He left his post late in 1776 to serve as the U.S. Minister to France but left in place a system that ran all the way from Florida to Maine and all points in between.

Sam Houston Dies

And a brief note marking the passing of one more casualty of the Civil War. Sam Houston (below) had been one of if not THE founding father of the state of Texas.  He had lead her through her War of Independence from Mexico (1835 - 1836), served two terms as President of the Republic of Texas (1836-1846), and helped guide her into statehood with the United States (1846). He was Governor of the
state of Texas as the winds of civil war began blowing across the south and into his
state. But he wanted no part of secession talk.  He was an unshakable supporter of the Union, and saw only misery for his state from joining the Confederacy: “In the name of the constitution of Texas, which has been trampled upon, I refuse to take this oath. I love Texas too well to bring civil strife and bloodshed upon her.” was what he said when refusing to take the oath of loyalty to the Confederacy. As a result, he was deposed from office on March 15, 1861. He died on today's date in 1863.  He had said of his approaching death:

"...(I) ask that He who buildeth up and pulleth down nations will, the mercy preserve and unite us. For a Nation divided against itself cannot stand. I wish, if this Union must be dissolved, that its ruins may be the monument of my grave, and the graves of my family. I wish no epitaph to be written to tell that I survive the ruin of this glorious Union."



Sources =

Postal Service: 

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/u-s-postal-system-established

http://www.pbs.org/benfranklin/l3_world_letters.html

https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/welcome.htm

Sam Houston :

https://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/sam-houston-and-secession/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Revolution

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Texas

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Texas






Thursday, July 21, 2016

JULY 21 = The First Battle of Bull Run



 “You are green it is true, but they are green also, you are all green alike.” - Abraham Lincoln

"....we shall probably have a chance to pay our southern brethren a visit upon the sacred soil of Virginia very soon. I hope that we shall be successful and give the rebels a good pounding."

- Elijah Hunt Rhodes, 2'nd Rhode Island Infantry, July 16, 1861

These were among some of the optimistic views with which the Union Army and it's leaders marched into battle in this campaign. On today's date, July 21 in 1861 the Union and the Confederate armies clashed in the first major battle of the American Civil War. Their leader, Gen. Irvin McDowell was not at all sure that his green and only partially trained troops were ready for a major fight. But the 90 day enlistments of this first group of volunteers was coming to an end soon, and Lincoln didn't have time to wait. So with the assurance quoted above he ordered McDowell into action.

The First Battle of Bull Run Commences

So on July 16 McDowell marched his army of 35,000 men 30 miles south with the intention of capturing the vital railroad hub at Manassas, Virginia, and then to move on to Richmond, the Confederate Capitol, and end this rebellion quickly as everyone expected. But Confederate spies had alerted the Rebel leadership that they were coming.  So an army of 22,000 under the command of Gen. Beauregard was sent north to meet them.  It appeared that everyone knew that a battle was going, because some of the finest members of society came along to watch with picnic baskets and bottles of Champagne. On July 21 the Union army, tired from their long march showed up, and moved across Bull Run Creek which ran through a portion of the battlefield
and smashed into the Rebel left, driving the rebels from their positions.  It looked as if it was going to be a quick victory afterall. But one commander held fast to his position at a hill at thee Rebel center. This was Gen. Thomas Jackson (right). While other regiments faltered, Jackson held firm.  One Confederate officer trying to steady his men yelled "Look! There's Jackson with his Virginians standing like a stone wall!" And thus was earned the nick-name by which Jackson would be known ever after.

The Tide Begins to Turn

The battle went back and forth throughout much of the day.  But then some 9,000 Rebel reinforcements began to arrive, many by train, this being the first time in this war that troops would be moved in this way. At 4:00 in the afternoon Gen. Beauregard ordered a counterattack. This broke into the Union lines and sent them running
from the field. Jackson urged his men forward telling them to "Yell like furies!" Thus was introduced the blood-curdling sound of the "Rebel Yell" that would echo across hundreds of battlefields in that war. The Union assault had been broken. These green troops were clearly not up to this kind of sustained fighting.  By later in the afternoon McDowell was forced to pull his men back across Bull Run Creek (below).  One
soldier, Corporal Samuel J. English of the 2'nd Rhode Island recalled the hurry and the disorder of this retreat:

"After I crossed I started up the hill as fast as my legs could carry and passed through Centreville and continued on to Fairfax where we arrived about 10 o'clock halting about 15 minutes, then kept on to Washington where we arrived about 2 o'clock Monday noon more dead than alive, having been on our feet 36 hours without a mouthful to eat, and traveled a distance of 60 miles without twenty minutes halt. The last five miles of that march was perfect misery, none of us having scarcely strength to put one foot before the other...."

Fortunately for the Union, the rebel troops were far too exhausted to chase after their beaten foes and thoroughly take advantage of their victory. But it was clearly a humiliating defeat for the mighty Union Army which wound up getting back to Washington D.C. just ahead of all of the High Society swells who had come out to watch the war like it was a picnic, and wound up retreating along with their beaten army. But one thing was quite clear: this was going to be a long and bloody war; nothing at all like the three month excursion that so many had been expecting.


Sources =

http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/bullrun.htm

"The Civil War" - Vol. 1, "the Cause" Produced and Directed by Ken Burns for PBS, 1985.

http://www.civilwaracademy.com/bull-run.html

"The American Heritage Picture History off the Civil War" by Bruce Catton, American Heritage
 Publishing Co. Inc., 1960

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisha_Hunt_Rhodes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Battle_of_Bull_Run






Friday, July 8, 2016

JULY 8 = The "Liberty Bell" is Rung



On today's date, July 8 in 1776, the Liberty Bell was rung in celebration of the Declaration of Independence.
Of course as readers of this Blog are aware, the Declaration was actually passed on July 2, but it wasn't ready to be signed until July 4. And no announcement was made about it until copies of it came back from the printers on July 8.  At that time the contents of the Declaration were ready for reading to the public, and it was on this day that the Liberty Bell tolled for the newly proclaimed United States of America. Although no contemporary accounts mention it specifically, bells were rung all over the city, and most historians agree that Liberty was one of them. But it was not especially famous at the time, and wasn't even called the "Liberty Bell" until some years later.

The Liberty Bell Was Cast in 1751

The Bell's construction was ordered originally to commemorate the 50'th Anniversary of the constitution of the then colony of Pennsylvania.  Isaac Norris, speaker of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly, sent orders to Robert Charles, Pennsylvania's agent in London to acquire "good Bell of about two thousands pound weight". Norris also added the following directions:

"Let the bell be cast by the best workmen & examined carefully before it is Shipped with the following words well shaped around it vizt. By Order of the Assembly of the Povince of Pensylvania for the State house in the City of Philada 1752 and Underneath Proclaim Liberty thro' all the Land to all the Inhabitants thereof.-Levit. XXV. 10."

So with this biblical quote going onto it to "Proclaim Liberty thro' all the Land" as Moses did in the Old Testament, the Bell was cast and brought to Philly and hung in the steeple of the Statehouse (above) in June of 1753. And from that  perch it did honorable service for years being rung to call the people together for important events and proclamations such as King George's accession to the throne in 1761, and also to announce discussion off the very unpopular Stamp Act. In April 1775 it tolled to the news of the fighting at Lexington and Concord.


The Liberty Bell is Moved, Named, and Cracked

As the war shifted and the British moved on Philadelphia in the autumn of 1777 the bell was in danger off being captured by the Brits and melted down to be made into a cannon. So the bell was moved to Allentown where it was hidden for the duration of the war, being returned in 1781.  It continued in use for ceremonial occasions for many years. In 1839 William Lloyd Garrison, the famed abolitionist printed a pamphlet which included a poem called "The Liberty Bell" in which it was noted that in spite of its inscription, the bell did not proclaim liberty to all the inhabitants off the land. And the application stuck. There are differing accounts on how the bell acquired its famous crack. One account holds that it was cracked in 1835 while being rung for the funeral of Chief Justice
John Marshall. Another account holds that the  bell was damaged beyond repair in 1846 while beig rung in honor of George Washington's birthday. Whatever the cause, the Liberty Bell continues to be kept in Philadelphia to this day (right); an enduring symbol of our nation's freedom.



Sources =

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Bell

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/liberty-bell-tolls-to-announce-declaration-of-independence

http://mentalfloss.com/article/51529/how-did-liberty-bell-get-cracked











Tuesday, July 5, 2016

JULY 5 = The "Bikini" is Introduced in Paris



In my never-ending quest to see that you, my T.I.H. readers are kept aware of the most important events in history on any given day I bring you this: on today's date, July 5 in 1946 - 70 years ago - French designer Louis Reard introduced a revealing two-piece swimsuit at the Piscine Molitor, a popular swimming pool in Paris. Reard named his new product the "Bikini" after Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean wherein Atomic Bomb testing was being conducted. Why it is that the designer chose to link a small women's bathing suit with the ultimate weapon of mass destruction seems an odd question to which I may have a possible partial answer by the end of this posting. We'll see... but I make no promises.

What EXACTLY IS a Bikini?

Well, just in case any of you out there are somehow unclear on this point we will turn to "Wikipedia" for a proper definition:
"A bikini is usually a women's abbreviated two-piece swimsuit with a bra top for the chest and underwear cut below the navel. The basic design is simple: two triangles of fabric on top cover the woman's breasts and two triangles of fabric on the bottom cover the groin in front and the buttocks in back. The size of a bikini bottom can range from full pelvic coverage to a revealing thong or G-string design." So there you have it - two triangles on top and two (or maybe just one) on the bottom.

The Bikini Developed as a Wartime Measure

Ok, while that may be stretching the truth a bit, wartime needs did play a role in this story. In Europe of the 1930's women had been wearing a 
kind of two-piece bathing suit all along which was made up of a halter top and shorts.  But very little of the midriff was exposed, and none of the navel was visible. Over here in America a fairly tame version of the two piece began appearing during World War II.  The war brought on fabric shortages and the rationing of their use requiring the removal of the skirt panel and other unnecessary bits of material. This version looked something like the suit Betty Grable is wearing at right. But heavily fortified coastlines pretty much put a stop to developments in ladies swimwear like everything else not related directly with the war. 

The War Ends and Things Cut Loose

So the war ended in 1945. And beach lovers in 1946 were looking forward getting back to the beach for the first time in years.  And some, including a pair of French fashion designers were really ready to cut loose. Fabric shortages due to the war were still in effect, so in an
attempt to revive sale of ladies swimsuits, two French designers – Jacques Heim and Louis RĂ©ard (right), launched a new and quite daring design which took advantage of the lingering fabric shortage simply by using less fabric, and leaving more skin on display than had ever been tried before. Heim called his version the "Atome" named after the world's smallest particle - the Atom - calling his creation "the smallest bathing suit in the world". Whereas Reard went a step further introducing his creation as "smaller than the smallest bathing suit in the world." At a mere 30 inches of fabric a fair claim, and naming it the"Bikini"... in his words: "like the [atom] bomb, the bikini is small and devastating".  Reard at first thought the Bikini would horrify the world perhaps with this name reference, but he stuck to it.

The Bikini's Reception is Shock and Awe
 
Whatever Reard's confidence in his design, he ran into trouble conveying that to others, as no professional model was willing to
appear in this (nearly) show-all design.  So he wound up hiring one Micheline Bernardini (left), a nude dancer at the Casino de Paris, who had no trouble at with the idea of strutting her stuff nearly nude in public. Reard was so certain of the newspaper headlines his suit would generate, that he made the suit with newspaper design printed across it. and he had his model holding a 2" x 2" box into which the suit would fit. Naturally the suit was a tremendous hit critically with men who sent Reard about 50,000 fan letters. But the staid French newspaper "Le Figaro" kept all the fuss in prospective: "People were craving the simple pleasures of the sea and the sun. For women, wearing a bikini signaled a kind of second liberation. There was really nothing sexual about this. It was instead a celebration of freedom and a return to the joys in life."

The Bikini Is Slow to Catch On

The Bikini was a great success in France, and soon began making appearances along the Mediterranean and Spanish coasts.  Although some attempts were made to outlaw it in some such spots, eventually local officials bowed to the popular tide.  But in spite of it's initial success in France, sales were sluggish, and by the 1950's Reard was back to making the more traditional one-piece design. And in America, buyers resisted the bikini through the 1950's. But once the 1960's arrived with its care-free youth movement in the air the bikini finally began to catch on with it being featured in the Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello beach party movies.
And since then the bikini has become a fashion mainstay for better or for worse, although it seems to be getting progressively smaller all the time to a degree that might have made even Micheline Bernardini blush...  well a little bit anyway....







Sources =