If you were to eavesdrop on the residents of Seaside in, say, 1923 you would most likely hear both children and adults hollering “I’ll see you at the Nat!” This idiom takes its place among other extinct phrases such as “Who do you think you are, Clark Gable?” As our more distinguished members of the community know, “The Nat” is of course short for “Natatorium”. What’s a Natatorium you might ask? Well it’s a Latinate and complex way of saying “pool”; usually a pool that’s housed indoors. Starting in the 1920s, Seaside was home to three popular Natatoriums, one of which was the Oates Baths pictured here.
The Oates Natatorium was located right on the promenade at Broadway. Only a few brave souls swim in the ocean during the winter but the Oates Baths were the perfect answer for those who wanted to avoid the seasonal chills. As seen in this picture (circa late 1940s), it was a communal place, where people gathered to indulge in a huge pool as well as Ladies and Gents steam baths. These hothouses served as warm, pleasurable sanctuaries during the winter.
Though the Oates Bath is now extinct, we now have the stellar Sunset Empire aquatic facility consisting of two indoor pools, a spa and a fitness room) where locals and visitors alike keep those swimming muscles in prime condition. So the spirit of the old Natatorium culture does in fact live on, just under the guise of a new name.