World War II was a time of massive change across the known world, and it was also a time of rationing. Whatever usable resources existed, they were generally redirected to the war effort by every country involved. For the folks on the home front, that meant both doing without in terms of regular conveniences as well as being far more creative with what was available. Interestingly enough, military aviation parachutes were just one of those items.
A Unique Design First Made for Aviation Safety
World War II parachutes were designed to be highly durable but also extremely lightweight. That allowed them to be packed and carried easily inside the tight confines of a military plane, which already didn’t have much room to move around in. When things were going badly, and the pilot and crew needed to jump out, the tight confines made it challenging to get from the seat to the exit quickly. Every second counted, so the parachute design had to be compact. That produced a fabric that served dual purposes.
On the home front, however, parachutes were also a convenient material from which to make a wedding dress as well. The material was extremely soft, and it could essentially be crafted, sown and shaped like any other fabric. As a result, the idea of a parachute wedding dress was not only quite common, it was also symbolic. By the mid to late 1940s, the trend had picked up and was regularly used by brides whose soon-to-be husbands had been saved by a parachute or were expected to be protected by one going off to war.
Parchute Weddings Become Vogue
Starting in about 1943, brides started appearing in wedding photos with visible and obvious parachutes for wedding dresses. Lois Frommer appeared in the local papers of St. Paul, MN, being married to Captain Lawrence Graebner. The dress was crafted from his parachute that ended up not being needed during his tour. Bold and visible, the dress was still labeled with its serial number and the letters, “U.S. Army,” right across the broad part of the dress. However, unlike typical military garb, Frommer remembered the dress being extremely soft and luxurious to wear.
Other weddings came along shortly, with profound ones including dresses made from parachutes that actually served their purpose during wartime. Major Claude Hensinger was shot down over Yowata, Japan, when his B-29 caught fire. The Captain was able to parachute out, get to the ground, and survived hidden using the parachute for a blanket and pillow during sleep until he was rescued. Hensinger saved the parachute and then gave it to his bride when he proposed to her for marriage. Ruth Hensinger used the dress at their 1947 wedding and later passed it on to her daughter. The dress is now in the Smithsonian as a historical archive.
Similarly, Evelyn Braet crafted a dress from a less than complete parachute. As it turned out, her husband’s chute not only saved his life but took damage from his plane being shot up while he was flying. Holes and all, the perforated chute turned into her wedding dress to George Braet.
Any Parachute Will Do
Other brides were just as industrious, even if the chute they used was not as heroic. Again, everything was in short supply in the 1940s, so anybody’s parachute would do for a wedding dress. Deany Powers got her own parachute to make a dress out of when her brother gave her a German soldier’s chute that he brought back home after the war. No surprise, the chute did just fine as a dress in 1947 for Deany.
Wildcats Thrive in the Scottish Highlands: A Conservation Success Story
In the vast landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, a remarkable conservation project is making strides to protect and restore the population of wildcats. Nineteen wildcats were released into the wild this summer at Cairngorms National Park, marking the first-ever release of wildcats in the UK. Monitored closely with GPS-radio collars, these endangered felines are not only adapting well to their new environment but are also actively contributing to the delicate balance of the ecosystem.
Helen Senn, the head of science and conservation programs at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), expressed optimism about the project, stating that the release of wildcats has been “a success so far.” The cats, fitted with GPS collars, are carefully tracked by a dedicated field team. This tracking technology provides valuable insights into their movements, behaviors, and overall well-being.
In their natural habitat within Cairngorms National Park, the wildcats are engaging in essential activities for their survival. These activities include hunting for mice and voles in the grasslands and woodlands, showcasing their crucial role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem.
However, as with any wild endeavor, challenges are inevitable. Senn explained that while most of the wildcats are currently faring well, it would be unusual for all to survive the first year in the wild. The unpredictability of life in the wilderness comes to light as the field team, using GPS collar data, discovered a potential issue.
The team responded promptly to the signals and found that one wildcat had succumbed to peritonitis, an infection. The incident serves as a reminder of the risks these animals face in their natural environment.
Senn emphasized that the conservation effort is a long-term commitment. “Further releases and many more years of conservation action will be required to increase the likelihood of saving this iconic species in Scotland,” she explained. The release of wildcats into the Scottish Highlands is not just a one-time event but part of an ongoing strategy to secure the future of these iconic creatures.
As the project unfolds, the lessons learned from the tracking data, both the successes and challenges, will contribute to refining conservation strategies. The Scottish Highlands, with its vast and untamed beauty, is becoming a battleground for the protection of the wildcat, showcasing the dedication of conservationists and the resilience of these remarkable felines in the face of adversity.
A Second Chance for 2,000 African Rhinos: The Rewilding Project that Saved John Hume’s Herd
In a happy turn of events, a massive rewilding project has come to the rescue of 2,000 African rhinos, ensuring their safety and well-being. These rhinos, once owned by wealthy property developer turned wildlife rancher John Hume, faced an uncertain future when they were put up for auction in April, with no bids forthcoming. Thankfully, the non-governmental organization (NGO) African Parks stepped in to secure their fate, marking a significant milestone in conservation efforts.
John Hume’s herd of rhinos was the world’s largest privately owned population of white rhinos. It was feared that these magnificent creatures were at serious risk of poaching and fragmentation, prompting concerns among conservationists worldwide. But African Parks, headquartered in Johannesburg, emerged as the guardian angel for these rhinos.
African Parks is a renowned conservation organization known for its credible and responsible approach to wildlife conservation. Dr. Mike Knight, chairman of the IUCN specialist group, expressed optimism about the organization’s ability to successfully rewild these rhinos. He emphasized the importance of finding conservation areas that are not only large enough but also secure from the threat of poaching.
The primary objective of African Parks was crystal clear: to rewild all 2,000 southern white rhinos over the next decade in well-managed and secure areas. This ambitious endeavor is designed to establish or supplement strategic rhino populations, ultimately reducing the risk to the species as a whole.
African Parks has set a new precedent with this initiative, as it represents one of the largest rewilding efforts ever undertaken for any species on the African continent. Hume’s captive-bred rhinos, which make up nearly 15% of the world’s remaining wild rhino population, hold immense value in the preservation of these magnificent creatures.
The dire situation arose when financial stress forced Hume to put his Platinum Rhino operation up for auction in April 2023. The absence of any bids raised concerns about the future of these rhinos, prompting African Parks to step in. With the support of the South African government and emergency funding, African Parks successfully acquired the farm and its 2,000 rhino residents.
While African Parks never intended to own such a vast captive rhino breeding operation, they recognized the moral imperative of finding a solution for these animals. By doing so, these rhinos can once again assume their crucial roles within fully functioning ecosystems, ensuring the preservation of this Near Threatened species.
In the end, this rewilding project serves as a beacon of hope for the future of African rhinos. With African Parks at the helm, these majestic creatures will have a chance to roam freely in secure habitats, contributing to the continued survival of their species. It’s a story of conservation success and a testament to the power of collective efforts to protect our planet’s most vulnerable inhabitants.
The Power of the Women’s World Cup – Empowering Girls Worldwide
As the 2023 Women’s World Cup captivates audiences with thrilling matches and incredible talent, it is not just a sporting event; it also serves as a source of empowerment and hope for girls all around the globe. Beyond the excitement on the field, the impact of this monumental tournament is felt off the field, where it inspires and uplifts girls, proving that they too can be strong and resilient athletes.
One organization that has documented this empowering phenomenon is CARE, a non-profit dedicated to fighting poverty and injustice. CARE has captured the inspiring moments of girls from diverse backgrounds playing the beautiful sport of soccer. Witnessing these young athletes immersed in the game brings joy, resilience, and strength to girls everywhere.
The Women’s World Cup offers a powerful platform for showcasing the incredible skills and abilities of female athletes. By witnessing the passion and dedication displayed by the players, young girls are encouraged to dream big and pursue their goals fearlessly. The tournament challenges gender stereotypes and proves that girls can excel in sports, just like their male counterparts.
Through the spectacle of the Women’s World Cup, girls find role models to look up to. They see themselves reflected in the athletes on the screen, realizing that they too can achieve greatness with hard work and determination. This representation is crucial in breaking down barriers and opening doors for girls to pursue their passion for sports.
Furthermore, the Women’s World Cup promotes gender equality and female empowerment on a global scale. It sends a powerful message that women’s sports deserve equal recognition, support, and investment. As more attention is directed towards female athletes and their achievements, it paves the way for increased opportunities and resources for girls interested in sports.
Participating in sports has proven to have numerous benefits for girls, extending beyond physical fitness. It fosters teamwork, leadership skills, and self-confidence. By witnessing the women’s teams competing at the highest level, girls are encouraged to embrace their own athletic abilities and feel empowered to take on challenges both on and off the field.
Moreover, the World Cup serves as a rallying point for communities and countries to unite in support of their national teams. This sense of unity and pride extends to girls as they feel a part of something larger and find encouragement in their collective identity.
In conclusion, the Women’s World Cup is more than just a sporting event; it is a symbol of empowerment and hope for girls worldwide. Seeing female athletes excel at the highest level showcases the limitless potential of girls in all fields of life. The tournament breaks down gender barriers, fosters resilience and strength, and inspires girls to embrace their passions and pursue their dreams with confidence. As the Women’s World Cup continues to shine a spotlight on female athletes, it ignites a powerful movement that empowers and uplifts girls everywhere, proving that they too can achieve greatness on and off the field.
Rare Rembrandt Portraits Discovered in Private Collection: A Remarkable Find
In an astonishing discovery, two exceptional paintings by the renowned Dutch artist Rembrandt were recently found in a private collection. These remarkable portraits, depicting relatives of Rembrandt himself, were completely unknown until now. The artworks, signed and dated from 1635, are expected to fetch a staggering sum of between 6.25 and 10 million dollars as they go up for auction. Let’s delve into the fascinating story behind these newly unveiled treasures.
The portraits, measuring a mere 8 inches in height, reveal the faces of an elderly husband and wife. The husband, Jan Willemsz van der Pluyn, was a prosperous plumber, while his wife was named Jaapgen Carels. Residing in the Dutch city of Leiden, they were a wealthy and well-known family during their time.
Jan and Jaapgen were related to Rembrandt through marriage, as their son, Dominicus, was married to Rembrandt’s cousin, Cornelia van Suytbroec. This familial tie established a close relationship between the two families. Rembrandt’s association with the couple is what makes these portraits all the more intriguing.
After being sold at an auction in 1824, the paintings found their way into the hands of a British family. For nearly two centuries, these masterpieces remained tucked away in their private collection, unbeknownst to the world. It wasn’t until recently that the significance of these artworks came to light.
Art experts and historians were astounded by the discovery. David Pettifer, an art consultant, expressed his amazement, stating, “What’s extraordinary is that the paintings were completely unknown. They had never appeared in any of the Rembrandt literature of the 19th or 20th century, so they were completely unknown.” This revelation adds a whole new chapter to Rembrandt’s oeuvre.
The portraits’ unique charm lies in their small size and intimate nature. They possess an air of spontaneity, revealing a close connection between the artist and the subjects. Unlike grand and formal commissioned paintings, these portraits offer a glimpse into the personal lives of Jan and Jaapgen.
For art enthusiasts eager to witness these extraordinary pieces, there is good news. The portraits will be exhibited in both New York and Amsterdam during June, offering a rare opportunity to admire them up close. Following the exhibitions, the paintings will be auctioned in July, where they are expected to fetch a substantial sum of money.
The recent discovery of two previously unknown Rembrandt portraits is nothing short of extraordinary. These small yet immensely significant artworks shed light on the artist’s personal relationships and highlight the connection between Rembrandt and the wealthy Van der Pluyn family. With their profound historical value and the intimate touch of the artist, these paintings are set to captivate art lovers and collectors alike.
Free Books Campaign Has Donated Over 6,000 Books
Sofia Akel, a writer and cultural historian, has taken it upon herself to ensure that reading is not a privilege, but a right for everyone. Her non-profit organization, the Free Books Campaign, has given away over 6,000 books by authors of color to people who cannot afford them.
Akel’s love for books started at a young age when she would go to the library near her home to read. However, as she grew up, she realized that not everyone had the same access to books that she did. Many people couldn’t afford to buy books, and libraries in some areas did not have a wide selection of diverse authors.
This realization led Akel to form the Free Books Campaign in the UK in 2020. The non-profit organization collects books by authors of color and distributes them to people who cannot afford to buy them. The organization is funded by donations, and all the books are given away for free.
The Free Books Campaign has been a great success, having given away over 6,000 books so far. The non-profit’s website also allows people who cannot afford a particular book to email them with the name of the book they want. If the organization has the funding, they will buy the book and send it to the person for free.
Akel’s work with the Free Books Campaign has been recognized and appreciated by many people. She strongly believes that reading is a right and not a privilege and that everyone should have access to diverse authors and books.
The Free Books Campaign has also gained the attention of several organizations, and Akel has been invited to speak about her work at several events. She hopes that her organization will inspire more people to donate books and help spread the joy of reading to those who need it the most.