The photograph above was taken in 1941. The location is just up the street from where I live. At first glance it looks pretty sinister: a Nazi plane has apparently just crashed nose-first into a public park.
In the tree is a parachute, evidently, the pilot was able to eject and his whereabouts are not provided in the photo. Thankfully no one was injured, the street being a busy thoroughfare and the park is always crowded. The Conservatory sign remains standing, imagine if the plane had crashed through all those windows in the greenhouse.
By the casual appearance of those examining the crash, it must have happened some hours or days earlier.
Actually, truth be told, there was no crash. No one was injured, or worse. The plane and parachute were placed on Sherbrooke Street in Westmount as a reminder to passersby to buy War Bonds to help the war effort. Failure to do so may result in this sort of thing becoming a reality.
Shock advertising in its infancy.
For me, the truly shocking element of the photo is the bicycle properly parked by the roadside. It would seem that in the 1940s cyclists knew that their vehicles had no place on sidewalks or in parks – even those where a plane had evidently crashed.
I suspect that a similar shot taken today would show the cyclist still on his or her bike, having ridden it on the sidewalk and into the park.
Fortunately, pedestrians walking on Sherbrooke Street today don’t have to worry about the possibility of being struck by a Nazi plane crashing from the sky. Sadly, they do now have to be vigilant at all times for scofflaw cyclists on sidewalks and in parks.