By Anjuli Kolb

Last weekend, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery held a three-day conference in Washington D.C. to “review, discuss and debate” the research that has been and will be done to recover Amelia Earhart’s ill-fated Lockheed Electra Aircraft. On the island where she is believed to have died, glass fragments bearing a resemblance to a 1930 freckle-treatment jar have been discovered. As summer approaches, the good doctors at Scientific American will help us keep our skin spot free, but beware the devil…he leaves his footprint on desert isles for reasons subtle and inscrutable.

1. “When reassembled, the glass fragments make up a nearly complete jar identical to the ones used by Dr. C.H. Berry’s Freckle Ointment. The ointment was marketed in the early 20th century as a concoction guaranteed to make freckles fade. ‘It’s well documented that Amelia had freckles and disliked having them,’ [said] Joe Cerniglia, the TIGHAR researcher who spotted the freckle ointment as a possible match.”

— Rosella Lorenzi, “Earhart’s Anti-Freckle Cream Jar Possibly Found,” Discovery News, 30 May, 2012. 

2. “At this time of year there are few questions which are more frequently addressed to the ‘family chemist’ and fewer still to which he ordinarily gives so unsatisfactory a reply as, ‘What shall I do to cure my freckles?’ Knowing as we do how greatly the popularity—i.e. the business prosperity—of the majority of our friends depends upon the votes and interest of their lady customers, we have been at some pains to lay before them such an amount of practical information upon the above subject as will enable them to retain the good will and material gratitude of their fair interrogators, on the one hand, and to put a little extra profit in their hands, on the other.”

—B. & C. Druggist, “The Treatment of Freckles, Moles, Etc.” Scientific American Supplement no. 507, 19 September 1885.

3. “What marks were there of any other footsteps? And how was it possible a man should come there? But then to think that Satan should take human shape upon him in such a place where there could be no manner of occasion for it, but to leave the print of his foot behind him, and that even for no purpose too, for he could not be sure I should see it…I considered that the Devil might have found out abundant other ways to have terrified me than this of the single print of a foot.”

— Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, 1719.

Let Me Recite What History Teaches (LMRWHT) is a weekly column that flashes the gaslight, candlelight, torch, or starlight of the past on something that is happening now. The citational constellations work to recover what might be best about the “wide-eyed presentation of mere facts.” They are offered with astonishment and largely without comment. The title is taken from the last line of Stein’s poem “If I Told Him (A Completed Portrait of Picasso)."