1936 was a memorable year: Hitler’s Germany hosted the Olympics in Berlin and broke the Treaty of Versailles by stationing troops in Rhineland; Italy occupied Ethiopia; Franco rose to power in Spain; China declared war on Japan; Hoover Dam, then known as Boulder Dam, was finished; The Green Hornet debuted on Detroit radio; Life Magazine was born; Shostakovich finished his Fourth Symphony but was unable to premiere it due to persecution by Stalin; the last Tasmanian Wolf (aka Tasmanian Tiger) died in captivity in Australia; Margaret Mitchell published her book, Gone with the Wind; and the hottest summer on record in the United States created temperatures over 110 degrees Fahrenheit in many states.
That same year, in an attempt to codify the mores of his culture, Hugh Morris penned an illustrated pamphlet entitled The Art of Kissing. Take a look at excerpts in this delightful article from Brain Pickings. Today it seems frightfully chauvinist, blatantly heterosexual and titillatingly prudish. Some may also find it more than a tad hilarious, although the line is narrow between amusement and offense when confronted with such cavalier ignorance (and extremely moldy prose). Treating the whole experience of kissing and courtship rather like a hunting trip in which care must be taken to approach the target properly, The Art of Kissing creates a certain camaraderie among men, but is decidedly unromantic from the female point of view. I’m not sure I would find the “vacuum kiss” appealing, especially described in this manner! Looking back on what seem to be the teen-age years of our culture makes one grateful for the present, despite the struggles that still face us.