Photograph by Consolidated Vultee
When the ConvAirCar buzzed San Diego for more than an hour during a trial flight in November 1947, hopes rose as high as the hybrid craft itself. Would commuters soon be able to choose between highway and skyway? The 725-pound (328-kilogram) auto-plane prototype had a detachable fiberglass car body that people could drive like any other car, wrote F. Barrows Colton in the February 1948 Geographic, where this photo appeared. Like other vehicles, the flying kind could also run out of gas, which is what the ConvAirCar did on its third test flight. The pilot survived the crash. Plans for manufacturing the auto-plane did not.
Photograph by Ralph Gray
BEAR WTIH THEM
Millions saw the Gray family's photos during the 1950s—in the National Geographic. Most of the year, dad Ralph wrote as the "Old Explorer" for the Society's now discontinued School Bulletin. But in summer he turned author and photographer for a series of family trip stories published in the Geographic. "We saw bears—brown, cinnamon, and black—in Yellowstone National Park," he noted in the June 1953 issue. In fact, his kids Judith (in car) and Mary Ellen and Will (on roof) saw them closer than is advised; it's illegal today to get within a hundred yards of park bears. What the Gray treks lacked in air-conditioning, they made up for in fun. "We'd fly down the road," Will recalls, "with the windows open and a pile of comic books in the backseat."
Photograph from Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
WHAT A RELIEF
During the late eighth century B.C., it watched over a gate of King Sargon II's palace at Dur Sharrukin, now Khorsabad, Iraq. But this gypsum relief of a winged Assyrian god eventually went underground—buried beneath centuries of dirt after the king died and Dur Sharrukin was abandoned. An archaeological team from the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute finally uncovered the carving during the 1933-34 excavations at the site (right). Though other Khorsabad finds were shipped to Chicago, this god never flew far from home and has long been displayed at Baghdad's Iraq Museum. Perhaps the ancient deity still holds a few of its old powers of protection: It remained unharmed during last April's looting of the museum's treasures.
Photograph by Lilo Hess/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
You don't think of fish as making noises, but many do. They grunt, purr, drum, croak, and grind their teeth!" wrote F. Barrows Colton in the January 1945 Geographic, where this photo first appeared. As part of an experiment to record fish noises at a New York aquarium, photographer Lilo Hess used a pinch of fish food to lure this striped burrfish to the microphone. Despite its resemblance to a big band crooner, however, the bug-eyed burrfish doesn't vocalize through its lips but by grinding its teeth to display distress or aggression—or attract mates.
Photograph by H. C. Ellis
A hot spot called Hell's Café lured 19th-century Parisians to the city's Montmartre neighborhood—like the Marais—on the Right Bank of the Seine. With plaster lost souls writhing on its walls and a bug-eyed devil's head for a front door, le Café de l'Enfer may have been one of the world's first theme restaurants. According to one 1899 visitor, the café's doorman—in a Satan suit—welcomed diners with the greeting, "Enter and be damned!" Hell's waiters also dressed as devils. An order for three black coffees spiked with cognac was shrieked back to the kitchen as: "Three seething bumpers of molten sins, with a dash of brimstone intensifier!"
Photograph courtesy Underwood & Underwood
Korea wasn't yet split in two when its former minister of war, Yun Ung-ryeol, center, was photographed with his family around 1910—the same year Japan began its 35-year occupation of the country. But political upheaval still divided the nation, and would soon tear the Yun family apart. Ung-ryeol's son Yun Chi-ho, standing, became an advocate of Korean sovereignty. After being arrested by the Japanese on false charges in 1911 and serving four hard years in prison, he chose to remain silent on the subject of foreign rule. Then in the late 1930s Yun Chi-ho was persuaded—some say coerced—to make speeches praising Tokyo's leadership, even as its grip tightened on Korea before World War II. Now many remember the once fervent nationalist as a collaborator.
Photograph by Ernest B. Schoedsack
Faisal I came to Iraq's throne with on-the-job experience. As prince of Mecca, he helped lead the Arab revolt in World War I and was later proclaimed king of Syria—until the French forced him out in 1920. When uprisings in Iraq persuaded occupying British authorities to find an Arab ruler, Faisal got another chance to be in charge. The British installed him as Iraq's king in 1921, establishing a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad that lasted until his grandson's assassination in 1958. This photograph of Faisal and his pet leopard was made in his palace courtyard in 1925.
Photograph courtesy the British Museum, London
AND CHICO MAKES THREE
Anne Cary Maudslay, newly married to English archaeologist Alfred Maudslay, admires an eighth-century Maya stela at Quiriguá, Guatemala, southeast of Aguateca, in 1894. While Mr. Maudslay busied himself with Quiriguá's carvings—including the tallest stela in the Maya world, more than twice the height of this one—his wife cooked, gave first aid to the locals, wrote detailed journals, and adopted a baby squirrel she named Chico. "When not cuddled up asleep in my hand," she wrote, "he was rushing about the house, prying into all corners, amusing my lonely days by his pretty ways." Chico lived two years as their pet back in England.
Photograph Courtesy Westinghouse Electric Corporation
TAKING IT ON THE CHIN
Hair is one of the characteristics that set mammals apart from other animals. Even whales and naked mole rats have some. Humans don't have as much hair as most mammals, but many people would prefer even less. The Gillette Company reports that, on average, American men shave an area of 48 square inches (310 square centimeters) 24 times a month, while women shave 412 square inches (2,658 square centimeters) of their bodies 11 times a month. In 1941 Westinghouse demonstrated x-ray technology with this image of a man shaving with an electric razor. It has never before been published in National Geographic.
Photograph by Robert A. Bachmann
FOR A MAN-SIZE APPETITE
For centuries in the Fiji Islands, tribal officials would bring out their best utensils for special people, not to serve them, but to eat them. The tribal officials were cannibals, and the special people were the meal. The cannibal fork, or iculanibokola, was used by attendants during ritual feasts to feed individuals considered too holy to touch food. The influence of Christianity ended cannibalism in Fiji by the close of the 19th century, but Western fascination with the grisly practice continued. In the late 1880s tourist demand sparked a brisk trade in counterfeit cannibal forks that continues today. Our records don't say if this photograph, acquired by the Society in 1917, is of the real thing or not. It has never before been published in the Geographic.
Photograph by Edward S. Curtis
THE POSING QUESTION
Did this Hidatsa hunter really catch this eagle? Maybe. Photographer Edward S. Curtis spent years documenting Native American cultures—including the Hidatsa, the people among whom Sacagawea lived as a war captive. Fourteen of Curtis's images (though not this one) appeared in the July 1907 Geographic, in which he says, "Being photographs from life and nature, they show what exists, not what one in the artist's studio presumes might exist." Yet Curtis is known to have posed his subjects, going so far as to supply them with props.
Photograph by Willard R. Culver
NEW RUBBER FOR SPARE TIRES
Two women model Firestone's entrée into the world of fashion: undergarments made with Controlastic, an elastic yarn made of rubber ("Our Most Versatile Vegetable Product," said National Geographic in a February 1940 story). The tire company debuted the rubber product, no longer used in today's stretch fabrics, at the 1939-1940 World's Fair with a promise that it would fulfill "that very much formfitting desire that is paramount today in so much of women's wear."