Yes, quite literally, on the rocks!
I just love vintage photos, and I’m always looking for ones that show women wearing sports clothing, especially if I have similar item in my own collection. But like anything else, they can quickly get out of control, and if one isn’t careful, the result might be shoe boxes full of photos of all kinds jumbled together.
So I have a filing system, with all photos going into the correct file as soon are they are scanned. That way I can always put my hands on the original.
This week as I was sorting through some new photos, it occurred to me that I could be categorizing these in so many different ways. Take the photo above, which is a new favorite. It will go into the “outings” file, but I could have as easily made a file called “Rocks.” As I continued to sort, I could not help but notice just how many photos have people posing on rocks. And not just at the shore; there are desert rocks and river rocks, mountain rocks and creek rocks. It seems that people do gravitate toward big rocks, probably because nature usually does not provide armchairs!
I love the top photo because I’m convinced that the lady in the white hat is sketching the scene.
More from the On the Rocks file:
Desert rocks, 1920s
River rocks, 1920s
Edwardian Waterfall Dwelllers
Rocks and Snow
“Me at a dizzy height, 7/23/29”
Cliff rocks, 1920s
A lost mermaid?
I’m always looking for postcards of hikers in the Western North Carolina Mountains, so I was delighted to find the one above. It’s the earliest one I’ve ever come across – dated 1912. The Grove Park Inn sits about half way up Sunset Mountain, and though I’m not familiar with the trail these guests are taking, you can see it is quite steep, though probably well traveled.
The skirts of the ladies seem to be trailing the ground, and just keeping the hats on straight must have been a real feat. Add to it the fact that these women were wearing corsets. One wonders at all that this was considered to be a fun activity!
The photo below was taken around the same time at Bodenbach, Germany. I wasn’t familiar with Bodenbach, but through the miracle that is Wikipedia, I can tell you it is in western Germany, in an area known for superb hiking. I’m not sure what it is – maybe the sturdy cotton skirts, or maybe the lack of color – but don’t these two look so much more practical than the Grove Park ladies?
But even with the big hat balancing act and the long skirts and the corsets, I’m more than a little envious of these women and their out-of-doors activity. The weather here has been so cold, so snowy, so wet, that’s it’s really put a dent in the amount of walking I get to do. And just forget hiking, because what trails are not covered in snow are knee deep in mud. How many days till spring?
Before women wore long slacks, they wore knickers. I just love the basketball sneakers the girl above is wearing, along with her white linen knickers and fancy stockings..
Both of these vintage photos are from camping cottages. These were not organized summer camps for kids, but rather camps for families.
In the last half of the 19th century, camping became a form of recreation. This was just a very few years after 1000s of Americans traveling across the Continent HAD to camp as a necessity of the westward journey! In the East especially, camping clubs were formed, and camping communities established. In these communities, permanent structures were built. Some were quite luxurious, but most were like the ones you see here – small cottages or cabins with large sleeping porches.
There were several of these camping communities in the Great Smokies, the most famous one being Elkmont. When the Great Smokies National Park was established, the owners of these cottages were allowed to hold the lease to their properties until 1992. Now the remaining cottages are empty and the Park Service is trying to decide what to do with them. I’m afraid their days are numbered, as the official stance seems to be to let the camping areas return to wilderness. My guess is that is because wilderness is cheaper and easier to maintain than old wooden structures. At any rate, it is a real shame.
This camper appears to be wearing a sweater in the style of a middy, along with knickers and stockings. Do you see shoes??
I spent the afternoon yesterday with one of my very best friends, and it reminded me of a group of photos I recently found. The girls above were students at Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee in the early 1920s. There was an entire photo album, but the seller had split the pages apart, keeping some of them for herself. What the pictures show is a tight-knit group of young women, not just getting an education, but having the time of their lives. They hiked, swam, went to parties, flirted, played tennis, and just hung out together. All the photos are labeled, and a group of friends emerges: Ruth, Gert, Mae and Eva.
According to the captions, the girls were taking a “hike around the Loop.” I’m not familiar with Maryville, but it seems as though the Loop is still there, a path of just over a mile. The girls happened upon a big plie of sawdust that was just begging to be climbed, and so you can guess what happened next:
It’s almost summer camp time. The first camps for girls were opened in 1902, and within a few years they were located throughout the eastern US. Because these camps were for girls only, the prohibition against girls wearing pants in public did not apply, and in photos of even the earliest camps you see girls and young women wearing bloomers. By the 1920s middies and bloomers were standard wear at camp. In a 1920 list of articles to bring to Camp Keystone near Brevard, NC, girls were instructed to bring 8 middies, 4 bloomers and a heavy sweater. Skirts were not mentioned at all.
So the younger sisters, and even daughters, of the pioneering college students who first wore bloomers on a regular basis spent their summers attired in the relative freedom of middies and bloomers. And before long, this “uniform” was pretty much standard schoolgirl attire, although middies were worn with skirts outside the gymnasium. The girls of the teens became women in the Twenties and Thirties, and were the first to wear short and slacks in public. Not surprising, really.
All of the above is from my up-coming workshop that I’ll be presenting in 3 weeks on the VFG boards. I have really neglected my poor lonely journal, because I got so involved in the writing of the workshop and finding just the right photos. I had not planned to get it squared away quite so early, but I was afraid I’ve have one of those college class dreams – the one where I was enrolled in courses but was neglecting to go to class until the term was half over! I had that dream all through college, and when I started contemplating grad school, I started having it again. It was the single most important issue in my decision not to further my formal education!
But I digress. The above photo is from Camp Merry Meeting. I have no idea where this camp was located, but I got the photo in Ellijay, Georgia, not that that really means anything. It was probably taken in the early 1920s when bloomers were still full. I love that their stockings are rolled to below their knees. Rebels!