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In February 1946 readers of a popular weekly magazine were introduced to exactly the sort of scene Henry Luce likely had in mind when, a decade earlier, he and poet Archibald MacLeish crafted their famous prospectus for a publication they initially pitched as “The Show-Book of the World.” The still-stirring opening lines of their prospectus ran thus:
“To see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud; to see strange things — machines, armies, multitudes, shadows in the jungle and on the moon; to see man’s work — his paintings, towers and discoveries; to see things thousands of miles away. . . .”
(Fortunately for everyone involved, Luce eventually settled on a shorter, better name for his publication: LIFE.)
The energetic old fellow featured in this gallery, meanwhile, was photographed by Jack Wilkes — a native of Wales who covered WWII in Asia for LIFE. The scene was described in the Feb. 25, 1946, issue of the magazine in the following way:
There is, alas, no record of what happened to Mr. Wu after Wilkes made his photos. LIFE never followed up on the old guy. But it’s pleasant to think that he skated happily ever after, to the end of his days.