This post is mainly for extra content that deals with side stories I think will go into the book. It also gives a look into some of the elements I want to use and people/places I think would be interesting for the main characters to discover or run into. Some of the stuff is left over from my ideas for location research like the above photo of the family with car. I'm amazed at how much great photography was done during this time period, the emotion is so high in looking through these old photos. I tend to think that it's not necessarily any great skill being employed by these early photographers as much as the time and event was so horrible that even taking a few amateur shots couldn't help but express and reveal the sorrow and heartbreak that the world was going through. Little melodramatic there so let's take a trip over to the circus for something happy.
The presence of the circus is something that grew organically out of my first draft and has since led me in a lot of the direction I took my Hercules, specifically the design elements and look of early circus strong men. men
A big part of the look is probably going to be owed to Mr. Louis Cyr, one of the old world kings of men. Just look at him! Cyr hailed from Quebec and was a professional strong man and lumberjack. Here's a quick bio from a strongman enthusiast site:
At the height of his career, Cyr stood only 5'10" tall but he weighed over 300 pounds and had a 60" chest when it was expanded (55.2" normally). Several of his weightlifting feats and strongman stunts have been exaggerated over the years but some were documented and are still considered impressive today. Examples: he back-lifted a platform holding eighteen men; he lifted 553 pounds off the floor with one finger; he pushed a freight car up an incline.
One of Cyr's most-talked about stunts occurred on 10 December 1891 in Montreal. Four horses were tied to his arms (two on each side) and, while the grooms whipped and urged the horses to pull, Cyr managed to restrain all of them.
Louis Cyr died in 1912 and many say he ate himself to death.
Feats accomplished by Cyr: Lifted like twenty guys, lifted a quarter of a ton with his pinky, beat the shit out of a couple of horses, oh and what else?...oh yeah: ATE HIMSELF TO DEATH!!! This guy fucking was Hercules. It's commonly known that many of his other exploits where exaggerated but even that element fits well with Hercules, as all Hercules stories are most likely romanticized events of real men in ancient Greece. The image of masculinity and power that strongmen exemplify perfectly fit with many of the aspects of the Hercules mythology, in other words they go together like syrup and waffles.
Some extra stuff I've also come across is interesting "ugly truth" history about America. Take for instance the forced labor camps scattered throughout the deep south, some of them way out in the deep woods. The ones in Georgia are particularly talked about now for the level of violence and brutality, and the venality of things that were done. People were commonly whipped, starved, and without clothing. There were work camps where people reported that they would arrive looking for a lost family member, and would arrive at a sawmill or a lumber camp where the men were working as slaves naked, chained, and whipped. American slavery in the 1930s. Common stories I read were acounts like a young man (a teenager) who spilled or poured coffee on the hog of the farmer he was working for. He was stripped, stretched across a barrel, and flogged 69 times with a leather strap. And he died a week later. This was one of the thousands of deaths which occured, and was reported on by press who easily gained access to the camps. They got access to these as a journalist, in part, because the officials of Georgia had no particular shame in what was happening. The level of brutality was just astonishing. Truly crazy stuff. take a look.
....And as to not leave this post on too awful a subject, here are some great merchandising pics from the 30s (really only the tip of the crazy early twentieth century advertising iceberg)