Exercise on the Apparatus Tumbling and Stunts by W. J. Wittich Book Review from the Past by Jim Linderman
W. J. Wittich and H. C. Reuter created an amazing book in 1925, which to my reckoning will go out of copyright in two years, so I thought I would jump the gun here a bit and wake up the publisher. As the few pieces of junk mail I receive frequently say "Time to Renew!"
Each photograph looks like a David Byrne video. The images, which I find striking and quite beautiful, are not even credited in the book. They appear to be a mixture of time-lapse and beautiful group shots. It is most unusual for a "technical" manual such as this to have no line drawings at all, but we are fortunate...
Now you may be wondering exactly what this book is. Most of us and unfortunately most of our children won't recognize the action, but some will...this is an early gymnastics and body movement guide prepared with extraordinary care and skill. It was also prepared with a wonderful love of the human form. Appreciate the excerpt here from the introduction:
"Swinging and climbing sensations are still the most pleasant elements of the physical life of man. Let us not forget that the physical activities which we today call play and recreation are the activities which our forefathers for hundreds and thousands of years indulged in every day, and all the time, in their struggle for existence while they went through the periods of the savage life, the nomad, the primitive agriculturist, and the tribal life. Our children today enjoy better than to climb up into trees, onto sheds, and roofs; the higher they go the better they like the experience, much to the dismay of the overanxious mothers."
There are 50 photographs, all splendid. The activites sound as good as they look: Forearm-support Circle, Reading Newspaper. Lazy Man's Circle, Double Hip Circle, Development of the Kipp, Acrobatic Hand-Shake and Elephant-Walk.
No, I have not been in a gym class for a while, and since my marathon running days are behind me now, I appreciate agility and fitness more than ever. These examples make me hurt in a different way...Now it just hurts that I can't do them!
The Book is 110 pages, and while WELL out of print, I am sure used copies are around. MIne was Five bucks and was once owned by a fellow in Texas, but it came back to Michigan and I found it this weekend.
W. J. Wittich, from La Crosse, Wisconsin must have been quite a guy. 15 years after producing his book, he created the "Wartime First Aid Wheel" as it is called in the splendid book by Jessica Helfand titled "Reinventing the Wheel" a wonderful design book listed at right somewhere. Wittich's Wheel appears on page 85. It was an 8 inch disc packaged in a sleeve.
In addition to serving on the faculty of Teachers College, La Crosse, Wisconsin Mr. Wittich was an advisor to the American Red Cross and was also a painter. I'd love to have more information on both the technique of photography and Mr. Wittich himself, but all I have is the book. Which is great, and if it were used a bit more, I suspect our kids would appreciate moving like they did again when his book came out.