Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Swimsuits and Our Family History

From the mid twenties through the 1930's our family was hard hit with the depression and the one form of relaxing was to go camping, or go to "The Creek". It seems we were in swimsuits most of the summers.
This is a photo of my mother Mary E. Olyer Lord and father, Edwin B.
Lord my great aunt Jane Murray and myself. We are standing in the
water of Pine Lake,Fulton Co. New York. Notice the very stylish
swim suits, both mens and ladies are well covered. the girls came down
nearly to her knees. This was taken in 1929, we spent most of the
summers at Pine Lake. Unknown to anyone in the photo in 1960 my
parents, with my wife and I would buy this recreation area of 500 acres
and operate it for 15 years . During that period swimsuits evolved
to the "tenny wenny Yellow Polk a Dot Bikini" & "Speedo"

But not so fast, by the year 1930, swimsuits were not yet changing still all one solid color and anything not covered with the suit had to helped with a blanket. Here we have Hazel Lasher with Darwin , my mom on the right with me.
I wonder how long it took to get those waves in the girls hair. They sure are not going to get that wet. I have her curling iron and know ,
today it would be much more complicated. My wife has a special
iron to flatten the hair, several different size irons, with heat
and blowers, with interchangeable wire fittings, and a way to inject moisture , plus all those pieces of twisted foil. I will admit, I tried
to comb and set a white wig that I wore in pageants and in the end I just bought another one, the more I worked on it the worse it got.

In the year 1932 things look like they were beginning to change, the ladies swimsuits have lost the skirt, they are still one piece. The men are getting a bit bolder
with the cut outs under the arms. This is a special photo, my mom is lying on the beach chair with my dad.
The kid with the ball is me, and the lovely lady behind my mom is my school teacher Rose Slater. The other couple, Albert Wauffel and his wife. We are all at the Campsite at Wells, Fulton Co. New York. I never thought much about it, my uncle, Vern Olyer and my teacher seemed like any other couple,
not any different than the world is today, we just think things
have changed.

To jump ahead a few years to 1942 the next Photo is my Mom
on the far left, with my best friend Darwin and his mother. The
lady on the far right is Judy, wife of my Uncle Vern Olyer. The
swimsuits are getting a bit more shapely, my mom is sticking
to the dark navy, the other two are in color with a little trim.
This was taken at one of the many "holes" in Caroga Creek, if it was a hot humid day, everyone would pile in the old car and head for Wagners Hallow and Caroga Creek. Great place to cool off and feed the mosquitoes and flies. Gosh! pay wasn't much, but you could buy 3 pounds of hamburg for 25 cents and fill the car up with gas for $1.00.
The war is over and my wife and I are sent to Florida for R.R. before being discharged. While we are there in Boca Raton, Florida, We went to the pool area. She did not have the swimsuit she is wearing in photo. Her uncle manufactured fabric and Jansen was a good customer, They sent him samples for my wife to test.
It was Sunday afternoon, on a Air Force Base , probably a few hundred G.I's in and around the pool. We dove of the 5 ft tower couple of times, then I suggested the 16 ft one. Her suit was bright red two piece, the top strapless with a big button on back. She stepped to the edge of platform, I told her to put her hands up over her head and arch her back-throwing her chest out.-"you know what happened don't you"-she left the platform and to her left and about two foot in front was that bright red fabric fluttering down
to the water. The button had broke and the elastic propelled the top out and away. I was able to catch it in the air before going into water. She was almost as red as the suit, now I do not think anyone noticed, there was no cheers or whistles but she would not believe it. The top was useless now it would not fasten, I had to get beach towel and rescue her.

That was the subject of conversation for years, Those memories fade but putting together this post revives them, We all know their is no way to re-live them, but thanks to our mom's who have stored to photos, for a fleeting moment they bring those good times to life.

Pine Lake Recreation Area photo taken 1961 everyone dressed in rental suits we found in bath
house from the 1927 era second from left my son Lansing Lord


Distressing Delilah said...

Very interesting! Your poor wife!!!

Rosebud Collection said...

What a great story..The swimsuits sure have changed..What a nightmare your wife had..

wendy said...

Great story! Nice to see the pictures on how the swimsuits evolved over the years!

Terry Thornton said...

What a great set of family photos --- and a history of swimsuits all in one interesting article. Thanks.

Thomas MacEntee said...

Yes there are some great photos here. While before my time, I do remember my family discussing how early swimsuits were made of wool, that the "square cut" was the style for men's trunks in the 50's and that until the bikini (created in 1946 but really not "popular" until the 1960s), it was not acceptable for a woman to show her navel. If you look at some movies like Mildred Pierce (1945), Joan Crawford is wearing a two piece swimsuit but the bottom part covers her navel.

Janice said...

Thank you for the wonderful bathing suit and swimming hole stories. And I will admit I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the two piece bathing suite escapade.

Cow Hampshire

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