Cumberland Times-News

Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum

July 24, 2008

There's always something new under the sun!

(Continued)



American women, however, were still well wrapped up when they went to the beach. We have a bathing dress in the Museum, dated approximately 1905, which was typical of its time. The bodice extended up to the chin, there were sleeves, and there were knee-length bloomers that peeked out below a wrap-around skirt. The long black cotton stockings, obligatory with the outfit, are the only part of the costume that has not survived.

Obviously the lady in such an outfit had no interest in getting wet. She might pick up shells, or build sand castles with her children, but she could not join her husband in jumping waves or attempting a timid doggy-paddle.

Then came the revolution! In 1912 the Olympics introduced a swimming event for women. In the war years that followed women shortened their skirts, bobbed their hair and agitated for voting rights. By the 1920s they were appearing in one-piece bathing suits, and Gertrude Ederle made it clear that the costume was not a fashion statement.

When I went to college, passing the swimming test was a no-credit, no-excuse requirement for graduation. True, I was exempt from recovering that brick from the bottom of the pool (I had a chronic sinus problem) but I had to propel myself around the pool for 20 minutes without touching the side. For students, as for those ancient Greek warriors, swimming was considered a survival skill.

For the college swimming team there were sleek yellow Jantzen bathing suits; for girls like me there were ugly gray cotton outfits supplied by the college and supposedly sterilized (boiled?) after every wearing. We didn't invite the boys from Haverford or Penn to join us at the pool!

Off-campus it was a different situation. Bathing suits sported ornamentation, bright colors, and year after year, little by little, they became skimpier. We began to wonder whether they were held on by super glue.

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Betty Van NewKirk - From the Museum
  • Happy 200th to St. Paul's Lutheran congregation Today is the 200th birthday of the Lutheran congregation in Frostburg!

    On Aug. 14, 1808, 24 people joined in a communion service in the New Church, a log structure on the edge of what is now called the Prichard Farm.

    August 14, 2008

  • Quality, attitude of people make 'Burg special A note in the newspaper a week or so ago mentioned that Oprah Winfrey was looking for "the best small towns in America.'' Frostburg is the best one I know of - but unfortunately Oprah asked for photos or videos supporting the nomination.

    August 7, 2008

  • There's always something new under the sun! The popular press has been devoting a good bit of space in recent weeks to the new swimsuit, introduced by Speedo, which supposedly has contributed to the record-breaking times posted in the Olympic tryouts.

    July 24, 2008

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    July 17, 2008

  • July 4th: Finding our beliefs Independence Day, like Christmas, is one of the few national holidays that has not been moved to Monday, to provide a four-day break for working people. It holds its own as the Fourth of July.

    July 3, 2008

  • Berry-picking brings back many memories Last week I went to Wiley Ford to pick strawberries. I came home with enough for several packets of frozen berries, for three jars of strawberry jam, generous spoonfuls of fruit on my breakfast cereal and shortcake with real whipped cream.

    June 26, 2008

  • Ambulance service has key community role The Frostburg Area Ambulance Service is currently asking for our help in raising money for the protective clothing that new government regulations require.

    June 19, 2008

  • Planet continues to change; Big One on horizon? In a year that is not yet half over, 2008 has already written itself into the record books for extremes of hot and cold, rain and drought, tornadoes and floods and earthquakes. Our planet Earth has been in a constant state of change.

    June 12, 2008

  • In tennis, individuals face each other as equals I'm not a sports person, but I like to watch tennis. During the three big summer tournaments - Paris, London and New York, played on three different surfaces - my TV is on, and I check the newspaper for details that I have missed.

    June 5, 2008

  • Arts are obviously alive in Allegany County Last week I had the pleasure of attending the spring concert of the Allegany Community Symphony Orchestra. The program was free, and nicely varied, and the instrumentalists were competent.

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