Friday, July 7, 2017

SWIM & ITCH...


Whenever I see one of those old visual prompts on Sepia Saturday, I know exactly where to go; I grab a cup of coffee and head up the stairs to the boxes of family memorabilia I’ve tucked away in a closet up there.
There’s all kinds of stuff packed into three liquor cartons (nothing sacred in this family!): letters, cards, programs and playlists; newspapers and report cards; sports awards, old house keys, maps, photographs…
          …and my grandfather’s very first photo album!

It’s about 5”x7” and has gray paper pages gathered and sewn in signatures of five inside a black leather cover. The paper label in the back says “Ward’s Flexible Albums,” but there’s not a hint as to when or where it was manufactured; my best guess is Boston, but I am not certain.
Inside, there are shots of my grandfather and his younger brothers (Richard, Allen, Prescott, Howard) and his sister (Margaret). They’re summertime shots, mostly, taken in East Boothbay, Maine, where the family spent July and August out of the city heat in the early 1900s.

These are two of my favorites: my grandfather (Gardner) is standing on the rocks and one of his brothers (Allen, I think) is twisting on the board (and that board looks like a situation of child endangerment to me); another is in the water, but I don’t know which one.



But look at the bathing suits!

My grandfather told me once that his bathing suit was the most uncomfortable thing he ever wore—said it was made partly of wool, and when it got wet, it itched like fury!
That itching was bad enough, but he wasn’t allowed to scratch “in certain places” for fear of offending the ladies…

“So it was swim and itch,” he said, grinning. “Swim and itch!”

22 comments:

  1. Great matches for the prompt photo, costumes and all. Australians also call them swimmers, bathers, togs or cossies, depending on which state of Australia they live in, and brief men's costumes are generally known as budgie smugglers.

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    1. Budgie smugglers? I LOVE IT!!!!!

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    2. Google it and you'll find our former Prime Minister, Abbott, famous here for his budgie smugglers.

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  2. I guess they had to jump back in the water for a good scratch.

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    1. Now there's a thought...I'm sure they did, and that water was some cold! (Boothbay has some of the coldest water in the State of Maine, I swear!)

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  3. I wonder why they made bathing suits during those times of wool.

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    1. It certainly seems like a colossal mistake, doesn't it?

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  4. Beautiful and evocative of summertime with the water's light and the boy's movement.

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    1. Sometimes these old photos capture things better than our newer digital ones, don't they?

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  5. How wonderful to have such a collection of memorabilia to draw on. You are absolutely spot on with matches to the prompt photograph.

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    1. Got lucky on this one, Sue! It is pretty close to the original...

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  6. My mother talked about those old wool bathing suits she wore - even into her early 20s. Wool was used because it kept its shape when it got wet and didn't cling unseemly to the body like other fabrics of the time. But, she said, they did itch like crazy.

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    1. I've seen some old women's suits, Gail -- and they were cotton, but there was enough material to make them weigh a ton when they were wet....

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  7. I see you found a photo where that fella finally took a dive. Probably to ease the itching.

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    1. I think of diving into that freezing water and just shake from head to foot. Last time I was in, I was 40, so that makes 30 years ago!

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  8. They appear to be diving in right at the water's edge. Or is that a wall they're standing on? Great match for the theme.

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    1. Not a wall, Lorraine -- it's actually a projection of granite that sticks out into the harbor...Maine is full of those, left behind by the glaciers thousands of years ago!

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  9. That shot of almost hitting the water is quite fantastic. It's just a torso heading for the water.

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    1. Pretty amazing for early 1900s cameras, isn't it? I've got an album full of these shots...

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  10. I had one of those knit suits too. It itched and stretched so it took both hands to keep it up when you came out of the water. Budgie Smugglers Ha. The Aussies always come up with the best names.

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    1. I'm still giggling over the budgie smugglers, too, Helen! One of the funniest expressions I've heard...men in Speedos!

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  11. I never understood why they had any wool in them but probably cotton was not really around yet. Because of the itch i really don't understand why people would want to wear clothes of them today.

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