• Cindy

Why I love vintage cast pictures

I am a huge fan of vintage cast pictures. My cast picture collection includes over 150 black and pictures of men and women unfortunate enough to have earned an arm or a leg cast prior to 1980.

One of my favorite cast pictures of all time. I would guess the venue to be a sporting event - perhaps a Texas A&M football game. She seems happy to show off her highly decorated and well worn leg cast.

There are several reasons vintage casts appeal to me.

First, most vintage casts are made of Plaster of Paris. Plaster leg casts are far more appealing to me than the modern day fiberglass models. The application of the plaster cast was more time consuming the lighter fiberglass models and required more nurses and technicians in the application process. The cast itself was a bit larger than current casts and the

After application, the toe of the cast was 'petaled' using a special instrument to put groves in the end of the plaster. This prevented irregularities in the plaster from creating skin irritation or sores.

Petalling the toe of a cast to reduce the risk of skin irritation

It was quite common for patients to remain in the same long leg cast for the entire duration of the healing process. Casts were not often changed if a bone was set properly. At some point in the healing process, a rubber walking heal was placed on the bottom of the cast and partial weight bearing would begin. At this point, the cast would be wrapped with an additional layer of plaster A few weeks later, the original cast may be shortened with a cast saw to a below the knee cast.

Could you imagine this being your high school math teacher? I am sure concentration levels were low in her classroom

My second fascination with vintage cast pictures stems from the fact that they have survived for us too see. In the day of Instagram and Facebook, cast pictures are a dime a dozen. Before the introduction of the digital camera, pictures must have been saved by the fracture victim or by relatives. Maybe passed down from generation to generation. You can almost see the shoe box that contained all of the family photographs being handed from elderly parent to care giver child. And as the photos are reviewed together remembering the time that Aunt Jean fell down the stairs and spent six months in a full leg cast.

Who knows when this was taken. Forties or Fifties? And how many generations passed this picture down so it could be preserved.

And my final fascination with vintage casts - someone had to take the picture. No selfies back in the day. There is someone unseen involved in a vintage photograph - photographer. And the camera film would have to be developed and turned into a print. And ultimately digitized by someone.

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