2008-01-04 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

Bathing Suits 101 - One Hundred and One Years Ago, That is!
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev,Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S.Locke

Compared to modern bathing attire, which is rather cheeky - butt nice, the over a century bathing attire was often referred to as a cover-up! And indeed it was, as the moral codes were entirely different, and completely/ strictly enforced by the law in Rockaway Beach and Far Rockaway.

There were many reports of skinny dipping at the east and west ends of the peninsula, and this was done at night on parts of the beach known as terra-incognita!

The old suits were of the woolen worsted type, and were reported to be very heavy after they were soaked with sea water.

This is the reason why bathing lines with hand held stringers attached were strung out over the surf between poles, holding the life savers up with their heavy baggage - so to speak!

Suits for males were about the same in design, but the ladies wore more fashionable attire at the beach… as is shown in today's view! Rentals for swim suits were available from Far Rockaway to the west end, and the cost was minimal. Twenty five cents was the highest price, and in modern times the quick drying bathing suit gained in popularity, at popular prices in the many stores selling some.

But this old historian says that you can keep your teeny weenie bikinis and thongs. Yours truly, still believe that Ester Williams still looks better in her one piece suit. Right! Old-timers?

Imagination is wonderful!

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