Some of the Most Creative and Patriotic Photos of the 20th Century
June 11, 2010

June 11, 1918

American Flag Made Up of Americans

On This Date in History:  Once American committed to participating in the Great War, American patriotism rose to great levels.  A young commercial photographer by the name of Arthur Mole rode the wave of patriotic zeal with a series of creative photographs.   So popular was his work that it continued after World War I was over.  Mole was an Englishman by birth and worked with an American photographer by the name of John D. Thomas.  One must remember that, in those days there were no technical tricks to enhance a photo.  What the camera lens saw was what was recorded on the film.   Today, there is a photographer, Spencer Tunick,  that uses masses of human bodies who are naked to make some sort of artistic statement or merely to add to the shock value.  But,  Mole choreographed people to form patriotic images on a large scale. 

A Close-Up of the Wilson formation; note the people who make up the nose and glasses

Look at the photo at the top of the page of Woodrow Wilson carefully.  It’s not a drawing. It’s perhaps Moles most famous  photo taken from a 70 foot tower On This Date in 1918 by Arthur Mole.  He got some 21,000 soldiers at Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio to stand in formation such that it looked like President Wilson from his perch above.  It seems like to me these guys were supposed to be “army training” as Bill Murray said in Stripes.  But, somehow they found time to fill in a carefully detailed outline on the ground.  Mole then got a megaphone and barked instructions.  One soldier was so excited about standing around for the photo that he wrote his mother, “Hey Mom!  I was part of President Wilson’s left eyebrow today.”  I guess it was a nice diversion to the prospect of going “over there” to fight World War I.  Then again, maybe they never went overseas because the war was over by the end of the year and Mole went on to use thousands of soldiers to pose for numerous patriotic pictures.  I can hear it now, “what did  you do in the Great War, Grandpa?….I stood around and represented a dot on huge human portraits!”    It’s kinda silly but kinda cool too.  Mole inspired innovative ideas in photography in the 20th century. 

Arthur S. Mole "Human Liberty Bell" (1918) Camp Dix (sources claim anywhere from 12,500 soldiers to 27,000)

With the popularity of his photos, Mole and Thomas were commmissioned after the war to continue to use military personnel to create numerous photographs of symbols.  We often see this type of effort used in large stadiums in which people hold up cards to create a large scale image and it’s often quite impressive.  But, if you look at the detail on the images, Mole’s work is quite remarkable.  The eyeglasses on President Wilson are so clear and distinct it’s hard to believe that those eyeglasses are made up of people.  Now, aside from the popularity of the photos, the US government had an ulterior motive for commissioning the work of Mole and Thomas.  During the war, they were intended to help combat public support for isolationism.  After the war, they were used as a way to inspire a patriotic spirit and ward off the socialist movement that had been building since the early part of the 20th Century.    I’m not sure if how much these photos lived up to the political expectations but the imagery is certainly timeless.  In my mind, Mole must have had a keen imagination; not just for the entire concept but also how he had to have envisioned in his mind how a photograph would appear if he dressed certain people in a certain manner in a certain position.  He had no computers; it was all in his mind. 

Wonder Who Got to Be the Point of Uncle Sam's Beard?

There is no doubt that Mole and Thomas had tremendous creativity flowing through their brains to conceive of the project and then envision what it would look like before they started.  Beyond that, there was also a remarkable ability related to logistics.  It’s difficult to get thousands of people to stand in straight lines.  For this project, they had to get thousands of people to dress appropriately and then stand in a specific spot that was rarely in a logical place from an earthbound observer.  Only someone perched high above could see the rationale behind the placements.  It is difficult to ascertain just exactly how long each photograph took to create. 

US Marine Corps

Naturally, snapping the shutter wasn’t the issue but the time it took to get everyone in place.  Imagine if you were the first guy.  You might be standing in the same place for hours.  These photos were generally taken in the summer months so the participants had to be fed and watered and also allowed to find restroom facilities.  Everyone involved had to have great patience.  Perhaps the military was the only organization that would be able to pull such an effort off.  Their soldiers had discipline and had the sheer numbers necessary. 

There are so many photos available, that it is impossible to show each one individually.  So, I”ve added a bunch of thumbnails so that you can click on each one to see a better view of that image.  Curiously, it’s difficult to find much reliable biographical information on Arthur Mole.  Wikipedia is not really a realiable source but even that entry is relatively small.  Although Mole died in 1983, I suppose that its fitting that we don’t know much about the man because an artist tends to tell his story through his work. 

So, while there is not much text regarding Arthur Mole, the images he left behind will last forever.  One might say that his work is a living legacy to the United States, but then again, one might say that it’s a living legacy to a creative genius whose story must be quite interesting, yet, seems to take a backseat to his legacy of art.  I suppose he’d probably like it that way.

SPC Severe Outlook Saturday

Weather Bottom Line:   I fully expected Friday to be a warm and humid day.  As of this writing, it was exactly that.  However, in the middle of the day some strong storms popped up in the western part of the viewing area around Dubois county.  I wasn’t surprised by the scattered thunderstorms or that they could individually drop heavy rain and feature some strong winds.  What did surprise me was the time of the day.  What this indicates to me is that we obviosly have a very unstable environment and that there are little upper disturbances coming through flow.  These disturbances are so small that its difficult to pinpoint as to timing or location. 

SPC Severe Probability Outlook June 12 2010

One feature that does show up on both the 12Z GFS and NAM models is a fairly robust vormax that comes from the southwest almost right  over the top of Louisville on Saturday morning and that has actually been fairly consistent over the past model runs.  Given that the feature would come through in the early morning, my guess is that we get some heavy rain with gusty winds but that the liklihood of it being severe in nature is somewhat limited.  Having said that, it is possible.  I should think that if another little shortwave appears in the afternoon that there would be sufficient heating and enough time for the atmosphere to reload from any morning activity that we may have some potential for rough stuff Saturday afternoon.  I’m seeing on some models that another fairly significant disturbance shows up on Sunday morning but that goes into the “who knows” category given that it is so far out and that it is not a consistent feature on all of the models.  But, the front is not going to come through so we’ll stay warm and humid and if the boundary doesn’t lift far enough north, then Sunday may be active too.

NAM Calls for Over 1.5" of rain from 8P to 2AM Saturday Night

The GFS vertical profile derived parameters for the next few days advertises rain off and on through Monday.  There is a bunch of energy but it does not just go bananas on severe parameters.  However it does advertise the heaviest rain for Saturday evening and night.  The NAM has pretty high levels for Saturday morning but not much rain and then on Saturday afternoon and evening the severe parameters just go bonkers and it calls for well over an inch of rain Saturday night through midday Sunday.  The RUC was convinced that there would be strong stuff Friday afternoon, but that does not seem to be in the cards.  So, as you can see, its all over the place but its safe to say that at some time, we will probably be under the threat for thunderstorms; most likely Saturday morning and then Saturday evening with I would think the best chance for strong stuff late Saturday.  I would also keep in nmind that rain chances will be relatively healthy all  weekend.

Mole Not a Spy, But a Patriot! American Opines Obama is “sort of God” after Russian Says Obama is Gorbachev
June 11, 2009

Is This What Evan Thomas Means When He Said Obama is "sort of God?"

Is This What Evan Thomas Means When He Said Obama is "sort of God?"

A Few Days Ago, we found that a Russian Op-ed piece in Pravda said that President Obama was the American version of Mikhail Gorbachev who was the last communist leader and Premier of the Soviet Union. Now, not necessarily in rebuttle, American editor of Newsweek magazine Evan Thomas says that President Obama is “sort of God.” (text and video) Are these two statements compatible or must we assume that someone is wrong? Either way, the dynamic of opinion regarding our 44th President is very interesting.

Look at this photo carefully. It’s not a drawing. It’s a photo taken from a 70 foot tower On This Date in 1918 by Arthur Mole. He got some 21,000 soldiers at Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio to stand in formation such that it looked like President Wilson from his perch above. It seems like to me these guys were supposed to be “army training” as Bill Murray said in Stripes. But, somehow they found time to fill in a carefully detailed outline on the ground. Mole then got a megaphone and barked instructions. One soldier was so excited about standing around for the photo that he wrote his mother, “Hey Mom! I was part of President Wilson’s left eyebrow today.” I guess it was a nice diversion to the prospect of going “over there” to fight World War I. Then again, maybe they never went overseas because the war was over by the end of the year and Mole went on to use thousands of soldiers to pose for numerous patriotic pictures. I can hear it now, “what did you do in the Great War, Grandpa?….I stood around and represented a dot on huge human portraits!” It’s kinda silly but kinda cool too. Mole inspired innovative ideas in photography in the 20th century. Here are some other photos that he took…all with soldiers standing in the proper place. Click on each thumbnail to get the full photo. Remember, a lot of this was done in the first quarter of the 20th century.

SPC Convective Outlook Thur to Fri AM

SPC Convective Outlook Thur to Fri AM

SPC Severe Wind Probability

SPC Severe Wind Probability

Weather Bottom Line:  As it turns out, that little appendage that I referred to on Wednesday morning kinda blew up after the sun came up and we had some pretty hefty rain.  Snow White and I had a tree get hit by lightning about 150 feet ahead of us as we pulled into a driveway.  It lit up orangish, reddish, pinkish and a puff of smoke came up from its base.  I went to examine the tree though and found no evidence of a lightning strike.  Good thing for us we were in the Bob Mobile.  But, it does reinforce that its not  a good idea to be running around in the rain.  Lightning is one of the leading weather killers.  Anyway, I saw someone on TV Wednesday night say we may have a rough night due to storms in Indiana.  Well, this person was right but for the wrong reason.  That guy was lifting northeast.  It was the guy down in the bootheel of Missouri that came through as it weakened around 2:30 am that got us.  Decent lightning.  Nit and Wit, my kitties, snuggled up with Snow White and I as they are not too fond of lightning and thunder. 

SPC Severe Hail Probability

SPC Severe Hail Probability

You will note on the SPC Convective outlook that our region remains in the slight risk for severe t’storms.  There is one more wave that will move up along the boundary late Thursday and Thursday night.  Possible, but not necessarily probable for us to get some bad stuff.  Guess is that the orientation of the boundary may shift the threat to our southeast.  But, I can certainly see elevated storms being a potential problem with gusty winds being drawn down and hail being an issue.  Afternoon clouds will inhibit stuff but as the shortwave moves through it may initiate activity elsewhere and bring it through.  In fact, I will be surprised if we don’t get at least another round of rain. 

Once the wave moves along, the boundary will get energized in its wake and drift South.  That should give us a decent Friday.  Saturday, some of the models want to introduce some return activity here but I’m going along with the solution that a wave on Saturday is approaching and grabbing the front to bring back toward us from the Southwest.  T’storms late Saturday and into Sunday would be the outlook.  Then, we’re somewhat unsettled again for the first part of next week.

SPC tornado probability

SPC tornado probability

One note….the Canadian model seems to want to create a tropical low and move it into the Gulf in a few days.  The other long range models don’t have that and it would be a bit odd to take a guy through the Yucatan Channel and into the Gulf this time of year.  But its out there.  Doubt its real, but who knows.  A squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.

DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK 
   NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
   1139 AM CDT THU JUN 11 2009
  
   VALID 111630Z – 121200Z
  
   …THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS THIS AFTERNOON INTO EARLY
   TONIGHT FROM N TX ENEWD TO VA…
  
   …THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS THIS AFTERNOON/EVENING FOR THE
   HIGH PLAINS OF ERN CO/WRN KS…
  
   …MIDDLE TN EWD TO THE SRN APPALACHIANS THIS AFTERNOON…
   A WELL-DEFINED MCV IS MOVING EWD OVER MIDDLE TN AS OF LATE MORNING.
   THIS SYSTEM IS ACCOMPANIED BY A NARROW BELT OF 40-50 KT MID LEVEL
   FLOW…AND IS PRECEDED BY A MOIST AND MODERATELY UNSTABLE AIR MASS.
   EXPECT THE CONVECTION WITH THE MCV TO PERSIST INTO THE AFTERNOON
   WHILE SPREADING EWD OVER ERN TN AND ADJACENT AREAS…WITH A
   CONTINUED THREAT FOR DAMAGING WINDS AND ISOLATED LARGE HAIL.
   ADDITIONALLY…THERE WILL BE THE POSSIBILITY OF ISOLATED/BRIEF
   TORNADOES WHERE THE CONVECTIVE CLUSTER INTERSECTS AND MOVES EWD
   ALONG A RESIDUAL E-W OUTFLOW BOUNDARY ACROSS ERN TN…IN THE WAKE OF
   THE WEAKENING CLUSTER NOW APPROACHING THE BLUE RIDGE.
  
   …S CENTRAL PA SWD INTO CENTRAL VA/NRN NC THIS AFTERNOON…
   THE REMNANTS OF A WEAKENING OVERNIGHT MCS ARE CROSSING THE BLUE
   RIDGE AS OF 16Z…AND THIS SYSTEM WILL CONTINUE EWD ACROSS SRN
   PA/MD/CENTRAL VA/NRN NC THROUGH THIS AFTERNOON.  MID LEVEL LAPSE
   RATES ARE RATHER POOR OVER THE REGION /AOB 6 C/KM BASED ON 12Z
   SOUNDINGS/…BUT SOME SURFACE HEATING AND A MOIST BOUNDARY LAYER
   WITH DEW POINTS IN THE MID-UPPER 60S WILL RESULT IN SUFFICIENT
   DESTABILIZATION /MLCAPE OF 1000-1500 J/KG FOR SEVERE
   STORMS…ESPECIALLY ACROSS VA AND NC.  THE NWD EXTENT OF THE
   STRONGER DESTABILIZATION COULD BE LIMITED BY PERSISTENT CLOUDS FROM
   NRN VA INTO SRN PA.  MEANWHILE…STRENGTHENING MID LEVEL FLOW
   ACCOMPANIES THE REMNANT CONVECTIVE SYSTEM MOVING OVER VA FROM THE
   W…AND IT APPEARS PROBABLE THAT NEW STORMS WILL FORM THIS AFTERNOON
   IN A N-S BAND ALONG THE REMNANT OUTFLOW BOUNDARY AS IT PROGRESSES
   EWD ACROSS THE PIEDMONT.  DAMAGING WINDS WILL BE THE PRIMARY SEVERE
   THREAT WITH BOWING SEGMENTS…THOUGH ISOLATED LARGE HAIL WILL ALSO
   BE POSSIBLE.
  
   …NW/N CENTRAL INTO E TX THROUGH EARLY TONIGHT…
   ONGOING CONVECTION IN N/NE TX IS BEING MAINTAINED BY WAA ABOVE THE
   SHALLOW COLD POOL GENERATED BY OVERNIGHT AND EARLY MORNING STORMS.
   THE 12Z FWD SOUNDING SHOWED STRONG ELEVATED INSTABILITY /MUCAPE IN
   EXCESS OF 3000 J/KG/…WHILE OTHER SOUNDINGS TO THE S REVEALED A
   LITTLE STRONGER CAP.  THERE IS SOME UNCERTAINTY REGARDING THE
   SHORT-TERM EVOLUTION OF THE STORMS GIVEN AN EXPECTED WEAKENING OF
   THE SWLY LLJ THAT HAS BEEN FEEDING THIS CONVECTION.
   HOWEVER…DIURNAL WEAKENING OF THE CAP THROUGH DAYTIME HEATING AND
   NEW COLD POOL GENERATION COULD ALSO ALLOW STORMS TO ROOT CLOSER TO
   THE SURFACE AND BEGIN TO PROPAGATE SEWD AS AN MCS WITH DAMAGING
   WINDS AND LARGE HAIL.
  
   FARTHER W/NW…A SURFACE COLD FRONT IS SAGGING SWD ACROSS THE TX
   PANHANDLE INTO NW TX…WHERE THE BOUNDARY INTERSECTS THE WWD
   EXTENSION OF THE OUTFLOW FROM THE N TX STORMS.  STRONG SURFACE
   HEATING AND A NARROW CORRIDOR OF UPPER 50S TO MID 60S BOUNDARY LAYER
   DEW POINTS COULD SUPPORT ISOLATED THUNDERSTORM DEVELOPMENT LATE THIS
   AFTERNOON ALONG THE FRONT FROM THE SE TX PANHANDLE ESEWD INTO NW TX.
    DEEP LAYER VERTICAL SHEAR AND INSTABILITY WILL BE SUFFICIENT FOR
   SUPERCELLS…AND A TORNADO OR TWO COULD OCCUR WITH STORMS RIDING
   ESEWD ALONG THE IMMEDIATE COOL SIDE OF THE FRONT WHERE SOMEWHAT
   RICHER LOW-LEVEL MOISTURE AND STRONGER LOW-LEVEL SHEAR WILL COINCIDE
   THIS EVENING.
  
   …ERN CO/WRN KS THROUGH TONIGHT…
   MOIST POST-FRONTAL UPSLOPE WILL CONTINUE ACROSS CO TODAY AS
   LOW-LEVEL FLOW VEERS TO MORE ELY/SELY IN RESPONSE TO THE APPROACH OF
   A MID LEVEL TROUGH MOVING ENEWD FROM UT/AZ.  LAPSE RATES ARE
   RELATIVELY POOR OVER THE HIGH PLAINS IN THE MOIST ENVIRONMENT…BUT
   DAYTIME HEATING IN CLOUD BREAKS AND BOUNDARY LAYER DEW POINTS IN THE
   LOW-MID 50S WILL SUPPORT AFTERNOON MLCAPE VALUES OF 500-1000 J/KG.
   THIS MODEST INSTABILITY…IN COMBINATION WITH EFFECTIVE BULK SHEAR
   AOA 50 KT AND INCREASING LOW-LEVEL SHEAR LATER THIS
   AFTERNOON/EVENING…WILL BE SUPPORTIVE OF A FEW SUPERCELLS FORMING
   JUST E OF THE MOUNTAINS AND MOVING EWD ONTO THE PLAINS OF ERN CO.
   ISOLATED LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WINDS WILL BE THE MOST COMMON
   THREAT…THOUGH A COUPLE OF TORNADOES CAN ALSO BE EXPECTED THIS
   AFTERNOON/EVENING BEFORE CONVECTION BECOMES SLIGHTLY ELEVATED
   FARTHER E INTO WRN KS.
  
   ..THOMPSON/SMITH.. 06/11/2009

Slight, Short Cool Down;Interesing Arthur Mole Human Portraits
June 11, 2008

Here is the rain totals from Monday night for Indiana.  Interesting that it doesn’t quite coincide with the radar estimates.  I suspect that the radar estimates were corrupted upward due to hail in the clouds.  Nevertheless, many areas got over 2 inches of rain.  The river at Columbus actually began rising back to near flood stage early Tuesday morning.  But, the water is falling again and continues to do so but it’s going to be slow going.  At Seymour, river levels have fallen to about 5 feet above flood stage but won’t go back below flood stage until Sunday.  At Bedford, it crested on Tuesday but won’t go below flood stage until early next week.  

Look for a very pleasant night overnight with clear skies and temperatures in the low 60′s and some folks perhaps in the 50′s.  It won’t last.  High pressure drifts to the east and return flow comes about so the humidity will begin to increase a bit on Wednesday as we move back to the upper 80′s.  The hot and humid conditions return for Thursday and Friday.  I’m not really all that enthused about rain chances Thursday but Friday a front approaches and rain chances go up late Friday and carries into early Saturday.  I suspect that Saturday will be similar to Tuesday with clouds slow to erode and moderating temperatures.  Father’s Day is Sunday and it looks good with warm conditions and moderate humidity.  Severe Threat for Friday night is marginal at this point.

Look at this photo carefully.  It’s not a drawing. It’s a photo taken from a 70 foot tower On This Date in 1918 by Arthur Mole.  He got some 21,000 soldiers at Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio to stand in formation such that it looked like President Wilson from his perch above.  It seems like to me these guys were supposed to be “army training” as Bill Murray said in Stripes.  But, somehow they found time to fill in a carefully detailed outline on the ground.  Mole then got a megaphone and barked instructions.  One soldier was so excited about standing around for the photo that he wrote his mother, “Hey Mom!  I was part of President Wilson’s left eyebrow today.”  I guess it was a nice diversion to the prospect of going “over there” to fight World War I.  Then again, maybe they never went overseas because the war was over by the end of the year and Mole went on to use thousands of soldiers to pose for numerous patriotic pictures.  I can hear it now, “what did  you do in the Great War, Grandpa?….I stood around and represented a dot on huge human portraits!”    It’s kinda silly but kinda cool too.  Mole inspired innovative ideas in photography in the 20th century.  Here are some other photos that he took…all with soldiers standing in the proper place. Click on each thumbnail to get the full photo.  Remember, a lot of this was done in the first quarter of the 20th century.

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