In her journeys my friend Marionette found this Life Magazine article and sent it along to me. In her message she asked "What is up with ladies and skulls?" The question was rhetorical but I'm going to answer it anyways...sex and death. When the difference between eating that week and dying was how accurate you could throw a pointy stick, the images of fertility and death were very potent icons. I'm not going to go into the cultural history of these particular icons, smarter people than I have written books on the subject. I'm kind of upset about the content of the photo and what it means.
The text on this image reads as "Arizona war worker writes her Navy boyfriend a thank you note for the skull he sent her"
This photo is from Life Magazine May 22, 1944. The accompanying caption reads:
When he said goodbye two years ago to Natalie Nickerson, 20, a war worker of Phoenix, Ariz., a big, handsome Navy lieutenant promised her a Jap. Last week Natalie received a human skull, autographed by her lieutenant and 13 friends, and inscribed: 'This is a good Jap, a dead one picked up on the New Guinea beach,' Natalie, surprised at the gift, named it Tojo. The armed forces disapprove strongly of this sort of thing.I'm ever so glad the military disapproves of dismembering the war-dead to get a souvenir for your sweetie.
I hope this was an relatively isolated incident and not something that happened all the time as a cottage industry. But having the skull autographed by the entire squad leads me feeling everyone may have had the same idea at once. Out of the thousands of soldiers in the Pacific Theater, so far I know of thirteen who were assholeoids. When I was in the service we called that the '8% Rule', as there is always at least a few idjits to every crowd. Unfortunate, since it has been shown that the actions of a few can ruin the image of an entire institution. Marines trading sex for secrets comes to mind...
I can't help but think this was propaganda aimed directly at those with their simple-minded patriotic fanaticism firmly wedded to their room temperature-equivalent IQ. Much like the Hannity demographic. I bet they ate it up and shouted YEAH!
One of the ideas that I grew up on was that when the United States went to war, it was because they had to, and did so reluctantly. I also believed that America did not fight dirty. They fought by certain rules. America acted in a way that made them better than those we labeled as the enemy. When I was in the service, we certainly acted that way...we were under orders to do so.
I really hope Natalie did not marry this ass-clown.