A few weeks ago on Sepia Saturday I had a picture of my father's orphanage and a little boy in the back row was giving the finger with both hands. My friend, Helen of Guacamole Gulch, was curious about the history of "flipping the bird" and looked it up. It goes way back in history, at least 2500 years. Here's a small excerpt:
In 1886, Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn slipped his little finger fastball into the Boston Beaneaters team picture. The split-second art of photography could turn the once-boring painted portrait into a spontaneous work of rebellion, humor and spunk. Americans everywhere quickly got into the act.
In the polyglot, immigrant mish-mash of early 20th century America, the finger was the one symbol every man, woman and dog could understand. With the invention of the automobile, it could be delivered from behind the safety of glass & steel, and at great speeds. All the finger needs to deliver its punch is a clear line of sight. Check out THIS horizon line, baby!
Throughout the 20th century, the finger has penetrated all levels of society. Roughhewn farmers did it, hippies did it, and even the Vice President of the United States got into the act. At a campaign stop for Senator Bob Dole in 1976, Nelson Rockefeller was heckled by protesters telling him what they thought of his Vietnam war policy by casting their middle finger votes. Never one to back down, Rocky just flipped it right back.
If you want to read more: www.ooze.com/finger/html/toc.html