Seaside History

Going for a Dip in the 1920s

July 24, 2013 | by Nate Burke

Folks in the late 1920s were definitely not afraid to get their feet wet.  This photo shows a crowd of bathers on Seaside’s beach cooling off in the Pacific and horsing around in the surf. Due to limited swimsuit fashions at the time, this crowd could all be mistaken for members of the same swim team.  Dubbed “tank suits” (or “maillots”), these one-piece swimsuits were more like a leotard, made out of a springy, jersey-type material. It’s interesting that there is little difference between male and female suits (accept for the flared skirt-like cut for the female design and one resembling shorts for the men).

One might first surmise that this brand of swimwear was referred to as the “tank suit” due to its uncanny ability to make the human body resemble an armored vehicle. Actually, the tank suit is referred to as such because it was, well, a suit originally worn in a tank (a swimming tank that is – i.e. pool). Nowadays, I’m pretty sure swimming in a tank seems rather absurd (one might imagine an alternate universe where folks have summer tank parties in their back yards!). But the old-timey lingo has stayed with us throughout the years. That American Apparel tank top you’re wearing?  Well, it’s the direct descendant of the tank suits you see here.

Never mind what we wear in the water, though – what we do in the water is far more universal.  The brave souls see how far they can wade out and enjoy confronting the waves in a head-on collision.  These daredevils like the feel of the full majestic power of the ocean as their bodies slice through the incoming breakers. Then there are the more modest folk who are just fine venturing in the ankle deep waters. These conscientious and poetical types tend to revel in those moments where the shallow tide flows back against their feet, gently pulling sand around their exposed legs. One can clearly see that both temperaments are represented here in the late 1920s – and if you head down to Seaside’s beach during high summer this year, I’ll bet you can see the same oceanfront antics.

Leave a Reply

and so much more!

Beach Bonfires – Under a Dome of Stars

A longstanding tradition is alive and well in Seaside

Learn More
View from the North Prom

Beautiful view from Seaside's north promenade.

Learn More
Wave Meets Wall

Back in 1925, the waves would encroach on Seaside's Turnaround with a dramartic ferocity

Learn More
Breaking High

A look at a waves breaking over the turnaround at high tide in Seaside

Learn More
Knights of Summer: Seaside’s Lifeguarding Tradition

Seaside has had a rich lifeguard tradition for almost 100 years.

Learn More
A Little Kid on a Big Beach

At the beach, the world feels wild and young again. This photo of an anonymous 3 year-old boy in the early 1940s is an iconic portrayal of Seaside’s treasured experience.

Learn More
Oregon Coast Visitor Tsunami Awareness Program

Tsunami awareness resources from the Office of Emergency Management

Learn More
New Seaside App a perfect tool for visitors and locals

An overview of Seaside's new mobile application

Learn More
Family Reunion

Seaside is a hot spot for family reunion get-togethers.

Learn More
Oregon’s North Coast Video Series

Oregon's North Coast Spring Videos

Learn More
Episode Four: the Seaside Museum & Butterfield Cottage

Audio walking tour of the Seaside Museum & Butterfield Cottage

Learn More
Promenade Meandering

Strolling on the promenade in Seaside is a time-honored tradition on the Oregon Coast

Learn More
“Gee, the Water’s Fine”

A trip to the beach is not only fun, it's good for your health!

Learn More
Customer Service and the Bottom Line

As we prepare for a new year and our annual Customer Service Awards Program, we visit the question that most business owners are f...

Learn More
1st Generation Boardwalk: High Definition for the Old Guard

The Promenade started out as a wooden boardwalk that attracted visitors from far

Learn More
We’re Getting Crabby on the Coast

Dungeness crab season on the Oregon coast

Learn More
The Tale of the Driftwood Forts

As driftwood forts become more rare along the Oregon Coast, the memories hold strong.

Learn More
Seaside Beach Volleyball Tournament
World’s Largest Beach Volleyball Tournament

Come August, the “digs” along Seaside’s beach have nothing to do with razor clams. For the 36th year, Seaside will host the ...

Learn More