Friday, March 2, 2012
View cards by their nature tend to depict static scenes, with at most a few distant figures strolling on a beach or in the park, but occasionally you find some that capture more focused activity. Below are two images of a demonstration of lifesaving equipment and techniques by members of the US Coast Guard station at Brant Rock, Massachusetts. Clusters of onlookers, some with parasols, stand in the background.
The large building with the adjoining tower — the printer seems to have been a bit uncertain about the color of the roof — was not part of the Coast Guard station but is the Union Chapel, which still stands. I believe the Coast Guard building is the one at far right in the image at the top of the page; it was built in 1892-93 and the keeper from then until 1915 — possibly the man with the flag — was Benjamin B. Manter.
There is at least one additional postcard in this sequence, "U. S. Life Saving Crew with Beach Apparatus" (G7302), and there were also monochrome versions of some or all of the cards.
Below is the beach at Brant Rock. The tower at left in the background may be the Union Chapel but I'm not sure.
Around the time these images were created an inventor named Reginald Aubrey Fessenden built a wireless station on Brant Rock, where the first radio transmission for music and entertainment was reportedly broadcast on December 24, 1906. The Brant Rock station is also credited with the first two-way radio transatlantic transmission, with a station in Scotland, also in 1906. Its antenna was more than 400 feet high, so when completed it probably would have been easily visible to anyone in the vicinity of the Union Chapel as well as from the beach.