Thursday, May 03, 2018

Sepia Saturday 417: The Joy of Summer Swimming

I like to think the two ladies in the center of the photo, in bathing suits—we'll call them Katherine and Louise found themselves up to their knees in cold water. Cheesed off and full of repressed anger because of their itching and stretchy bathing suits, they lured the others in:

 "Come on in, it's heavenly in here!" said Louise, lying through her teeth. It was damn cold and muddy on the bottom. Icky goo was squishing through her toes. "Tickety-boo," she said, in case her first remark wasn't sufficiently enthusiastic. 

Katherine shaded her eyes and faced the camera so everyone could see her shirt bearing the logo of ...

  • Women's Auxilary Mounted Police?
  • Western Australian Marmalade Producers?
  • Winnipeg Automobile Motor Patrol?

Let's go with the Western Australian Marmalade Producers. 

Katherine stenciled the initials on her shirt for the annual picnic and plunge. The letters wouldn't come off after the big event and she certainly didn't have $5.29 for a new suit, so WAMP it was, crooked even, until time and wriggling in the mud, wore the letters off. She was soooo tired of explaining it to everyone. 

(Or has that lettering been added to the photo post-printing? Could it be the initials of a frustrated photographer that couldn't resist plastering his name on everything?)

When Gregory, his wife Anne, and sister-in-law Charlotte with their three children pulled up from the road and saw the ladies in the water, Gregory said impulsively, "Oh, what the hell. Just hike up your skirts. I'll roll up my pants.We can leave our shoes on the shore. C'mon kids!" And in they all ran.

Abbie, the young daughter flung herself in dramatically and flopped onto her stomach. Little Binky and little Earl screamed in fright at the cold and tried to get out. Gregory felt like a fool but he wasn't apologizing for his haste, nor was he letting the little ones off the hook. He grinned through clenched teeth. 

"Just smile into the camera and let's get this over with," he said.  
Anne, his long-suffering wife, slowly raised her right hand every so slightly, carefully folding her fingers into a fist which she subsequently used to sock Gregory in the kisser—knocked that silly tam clean off his head. Later she said, "It felt like the right thing to do."

A good time was had by all. 


My best match for the prompt this week. 
Jill Fortier, Addie Fortier, Jeanne Fortier, Hector Fortier.  1929-1930?

My family of Fortiers is simply sitting in the sand posing for the camera. I'm sure their suits itched too, but they remained calm. No story here.

While googling for information on those bathing suits I came across this ad. 

1926 Men's and Women's Swimwear, Belts, Caps Shoes.

The advertiser, Charles William Stores, New York City, didn't waste an inch of space. "All wool worsted" is the most important sales feature. It's repeated over and over and over. Couldn't the copywriter have been more creative? 

I think the sketch artist did a great job on the models and I love the dense layout with the almost-diving gent, front and top, who gives a feeling of action to the whole page. Plus the roiling clouds on the horizon add to the mood.   

I can't make out the rest of the background. The lady in the front left in the bathing suit that "dries quickly" (my eye!) seems to be sitting on a wave. 

With my interest piqued about the store, I found a couple of Charles William Stores ads for other items online, mostly being sold on EBay. The Japanese pongee (a silk fabric) ad says "Quality Guaranteed by the Japanese government." I like the stockings with the dramatic vees up the heels. 

A few more simple beach scenes featuring my family. 

Grand Beach. A hot summer day. Grandmere in the water!! 

Me, my mother Jill, Eilleen, Hector Fortier—my grandfather

Hector, my grandfather, would often be shirtless with suspenders, on hot summer days as he worked on the farm. His skin was leather-like, burnished from having been burned and peeled, burned and peeled. I have photos of him working shirtless with his beloved team of horses in the blazing sun. He'd be exposed all day. No skin cancer.

Although he smoked all his life, breathed in various kinds of fertlizers, worked in the fields—hard physical work—ate as much sugar and salt as he could get, ate fatty meats and cheeses and dairy products and eggs, drank alcohol and had a lot of stress (married to a woman who never stopped talking). He lived to be 96. So did my grandmother. 

Ancestry: Paul-Hector aka Onesime Fortier died in 1979 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, when he was 96 years old.

Wade over to Sepia Saturday to read more stories of fun in the sun. 


  1. Wonderful family pictures and fun/interesting ads, and you certainly have a flair for creative writing in regard to your story re: the prompt pic. Quite entertaining! :)

  2. I love those swimsuit or bathing suit ads.

  3. Perfect in every way, top to bottom! I can't imagine bathing suits in worsted wool. The same material as my tuxedo?

  4. A very entertaining post with the mixture of fiction and fact - loved the story you created from the prompt photograph, especially your guesses as to what the initials WAMP might stand for - great fun!

  5. Such a great post...from silly fiction to striking ancestral facts! So glad I got to read it, late but finally!