Summer Olympics of Yore

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, officially known as the Games of the XXXI are nothing like the Olympics of the past. We now have opening and closing ceremonies (like tonight’s) produced by movie directors with special effects that would make your mouth drop  in awe. We tweet comments about our favorite or not so favorite (Ryan Lochte) athelete. We watch our favorite events “on demand” so as not to miss 1 minute! 

Back in the day, results were first typed up with an afternoon greeting and handed to the Press. Activities for those in the Press, were also typed up and handed out. You certainly could take pictures; just make sure you don’t lose your negatives, you’ll need to develop them as soon as you get home. 

How do I know all this? Well friends, I recently unearthed a treasure I had been “sitting on” for years. My Grandfather’s complete Press Packet and all of the photographic negatives for the: Xth Olympiad held in Los Angeles, CA in August 1932! 

My Grandmother, bless her heart, threw nothing away of my Grandfather’s life as a photo journalist. The Governor of Massachusetts sent him to cover the Summer Olympics that year. Let’s take a look at what it might have been like. 

First you (a Press person) had to make sure to wear your felt armband and badge at all times; especially in the Olympic Village. 

Oh and be sure to keep your pass in your pocket, along with your admission tickets, for when you need them. 

My Grandfather was an avid cyclist, so I’m sure he was especially excited about this event. 

The events have changed a bit. This year we’ve noticed all kinds of new ones, but back then they had events no longer entered such as football! Back then the East team of Yale, Harvard & Princeton players played the West team of USC, Stanford and more California players. 

My Grandfather took copious notes, but I could not decipher all. 

His press packet included a really cool map of Los Angeles with a key showing you the various locations for the different events. 

There were side trips included. Trip #1, sponsored in part by the LA Chamber of Commerce included “an all-day trip in private automobile through the Golden Orange Empire, visiting a citrus packing plant, with a western barbecue at Pomona, and passing oil fields and orchards on the way to the Los Angeles Municipal Air-Port, where there will be an exhibition air battle and ground inspection of 100 bombing and pursuit planes of the U.S. Army; returning to your hotel for dinner before the evening event starts.” 

Oh and if you can go to any or all of these events, could you please fill out and tear off At this line? 

I am probably in possession of over 50 negatives; for pictures he took. Especially Diving(Synchronized and Individual) and Cycling. I even have a pic of the opening Flag -entrance of Nations Processional. Here is a sample in negative form. 

An interesting fact; Women were not allowed in the Olympic Village! “Women participants (atheletes) and managers or chaperones are requested to read the handbook and take notice of information that pertains to them.” Where did they stay? They stayed at some local hotels and talked to Miss Grace Walker if they needed anything. 

No cell phones available; in each team manager’s house and office for inter Olympic communication. For all other calls please find a pay phone!

Hasn’t this been an interesting trip down Olympic memory lane? I only wish my Grandfather was around for me to ask him all about this experience. 

I want to leave you with a sampling of an Olympic Vilkage message from Mr. William May Garland, President of the Xth Olympiade Committee:

“Here, for perhaps the first time in history, the chosen youth of all nations dwell in one community and share a common life. 

The discipline in the Olympic Village is left to you and your friends who live here. Let us all demonstrate to the world that Olympic self-discipline can produce a record of peace and happiness among the two thousand inhabitants of the Village.” 

I hope you got to watch some of your favorite Olympic events this year and perhaps be inspired by amazing acts of athleticism, courage and grace. I know after watching Simone Biles perform her Gold Medal floor routine, I wanted to do some flips and leaps of my own! One can dream can’t one? 

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