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Poised: 1921

Poised: 1921

Starlight Park, the Bronx, circa 1921. "Joan Desborough (ready for a dive)." 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.


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Today’s Top 5

Joan Again

There's another pic of this water park, a bunch of guys on a large buoy thing with only one girl, Joan.

Eleanor Tierney

This is directed at the first comment:

That's so funny that the other woman really was in another picture here! When I saw her profile, my first thought was that she looked familiar and that she had the same hair as another girl on the site in a similar sort of picture. I never would have thought that she was the same woman, but it seems likely!


The expression on her face gives the picture infinitely more depth than it might otherwise have. If you blacked out the scenery around her, you might look at her and think she was contemplating a dive from the top of a building.

"Model, suits"

The 1920 Census lists a Joan Desborough, 16, living in Manhattan with her widowed mother. Joan's profession was "model, suits."


A profile that could stay with you for a good long while.


Pretty girl dives in. Water-logged wool bathing dress weighs her down. Man on deck jumps in to save her but jealous girl already in water holds her down. Everyone drowns.

A one, a two, here I go

There's so many characters in this view. The fellow with the snide sideways glance, the girl with the ripped stockings, her friend in the water with the hard-set jaw acting like a protectress to her girlfriend.

Diving girl's shoes are very interesting. I'm wondering if they are designed for swimming or maybe just wading.

Staring Daggers

The woman in the water doesn't seem to appreciate Ms. Desborough's obvious charms.

Mass vs. Volume

That swimsuit-- when wet-- probably weighed more than she did.

Got Snagged!

Did that expression come from wearers of silk stockings?

A story in this picture

I love the lady in the water, glaring at the guy who's ogling Joan.

Shallow girl

Careful, or you'll end up a stick-in-the-mud.

The girl sitting on the wall

Eleanor Tierney, also seen here.

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