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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • VOLUNTEER FOR VICTORY

Wish You Were Here: 1921

Wish You Were Here: 1921

1921. "Bathing Beach." Taking the waters somewhere along the Potomac River at Washington, D.C. View full size. National Photo Company Collection.

 

Hair down

I like the fact that this mom has her hair down. It reminds me of the movie "Greed" with Zasu Pitts undoes her very long hair. I suppose ladies were not letting their hair free that much then. I think "Mom," if she really is, looks quite healthy and a very nice lady too.

Love this website. Even with the (supposedly) sexist comments. I think most people here a writing creative, informative comments.

Thanks Shorpy.
Ravel, Montreal, Quebec

Potomac Bathers

The tags are claim checks.

There probably weren't any lockers just wire baskets you folded your clothes into and handed them to a harried clerk and he gave you that claim check.

Heaven forbid if you lost it since the only way you got your clothes back was with that claim check at least that's the way it was at Clifton Park swimming pool in Baltimore around 1948.

Mother-Daughter Duo

This is pretty clearly a mother-daughter duo.

The lady on the right is a mature (if short) woman between 35 and 45. She is married as evidenced by the honking big ring on her left ring finger. I'd assume she is the mother of the girl on the left and presumably has several other children.

The girl on the left is pubescent. She's no more than 12-13 years old. That's baby fat you guys are seeing.

The woman on the right is clearly NOT fat. her arms are slim as are her legs. She has an average hip to waist ratio.

She's only got what the gods gave her up top also. No artificially enhanced secondaries like lots of women do today.

She's wearing a shapeless wool bathing suit whose purpose was to conceal the womanly curves of the wearer. She appears to have a slight double-chin, but I suspectthat this is due to the excessively wide and somewhat forced smile she is exhibiting. This is what conspires to make her look fat to some modern eyes.

In point of fact both of these ladies are skinnier, in better shape and more attractive than 90% of the women I saw waddling though the mall last night when I was Christmas shopping!

Smiling!

What I LOVE about Shorpy is the amount of smiling people in these old photographs. It is a joy to know that not everyone stood still in solemnity for the rare photograph--and these women, both clearly adventurous since they ventured to the shore, are such a delight. They smile proudly in bathing suits, hair down, and having been granted the right to cast their first vote the year before.

Bathng suits

Those suits are made of itchy wool. That the women are smiling at all is a miracle in itself. There are no built-in 'cups' or tummy tuckers to camouflage nature. What you see is what you see. Now, have you seen pics of the men in their itchy wool bathing suits? That's a sight to see, too. No built in cups there, either!

Not Plump

Not plump but definitely beat with the ugly stick.

The one on the right has to be the Mother who has unspooled her hair from a bun that she has no doubt worn since the turn of the Century which may have been her last hair cut.

Potomac Bathers

No one wants to see pictures of women, I guess, unless they are thin/skinny.

Of course these women aren't beauty queens, but come on!

Every time I see a bathing suit pic on here, someone is commenting that the girls look fat (or plump, which is more PC I guess).

Then someone says something about modern/not modern cultural standards, blah blah, ad nauseam.

Why can't we look at a picture of women without commenting on their weight? This is why every woman over 125 pounds feels like crap.

As for the photo - I think the girls look like they're having a great time. They look happy. It makes me wish I were at the beach. Of course I'm well over 125 pounds, so I'd have to cover myself with a towel and make sure no one took a picture of me.

Swimmers

Should these be in the "pretty girls" set?

[They are! - Dave]

Family

Looks like a Mom on the right -- she has two other tags pinned to her suit, probably two younger kids.

Hair

Regardless of whether they are attractive or not, I find their appearance unusual. Not that I'm an expert or anything, but their look is very unusual for what I've seen of the era. Her long hair, in particular, looks very wild and unkept. I find this photo very interesting, these two gals would look just at home in a contemporary picture.

Potomac Bathers

I don't think they are too plump, but they were most likely never considered especially beautiful girls in any era. They were, however, probably someone's friends and having a good time. The picture just wasn't taken for aesthetic purposes.

Swimsuit Tags

I think they're locker numbers for the lockers they have their clothes stored in. I remember things like this at public pools from when I was a kid. I think...

Re: Tags and medals

My guess is that they are claim checks or some similar thing for their street clothes. And while the girls are not exactly fit, I wouldn't consider them plump, by 1921's standards or even today's. I wonder, though, about the girls' ages - they appear to be rather short in stature, and perhaps in their early teens, but their faces look much older.

Tags and medals

What are the tags hanging from their necks about? Ditto with those pinned on the girl in the black suit. In my culturally depraved opinion both girls appear to be fairly plump. I guess back then this was evidence of prosperity.

 
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