My Adventure Through Our Family Tree Branches

For over 50 years my Dad researched both his and my Mom's family tree branches - and loved every minute of it! Trying to fulfill the promise I made him the last month of his life, I have spent the past four years continuing where he left off - finding out about all the many family members who came before us, from the many branches of our family trees. The histories will still be published as my Dad always wanted. But what he wanted most was to share the stories of the people who came before us - the places they lived, the cultures of the times, the families they created, and the circumstances - good and bad - that would one day lead to us, their descendants. These are the stories of my Mom's families. . . .

Surnames in this Blog


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY'S PHOTO - "A Horst Family Day at the Beach, ca. 1916"

The photographs and portraits that I have discovered, including the hundreds that my Dad had collected during his years of research, are probably the things I enjoy most as I search through the branches of our trees. "Wonderful World of Pictures Wednesday" will highlight one photograph or portrait that I have collected. If you would ever like me to send you a copy (without the "property of" on the pic) just let me know. So, in honor of my family being at the beach as I write this, here's a picture you might enjoy!
A Horst Family Day at the Beach
ca. 1916

Charles Frederick Horst, Jr. (1880-1964) is pictured here with his two children - daughter Grider (1908-1995), left, and son Charles, III (1911-1984) at an unknown beach. The woman on the veranda, in white, is his wife, Eliza Dilworth Horst (1885-1960). Charles, the oldest child of Charles F. and Odalie Fortier Horst, was the older brother of my great-Grandmother Pearl Horst Flemming. He lived with his family in Birmingham, in the Highlands area. He started his career with Grider Coal Sales Company, later owning and operating his own coal company, C.F. Horst & Company, selling "Steam and Domestic Coal". Eliza, originally from Pennsylvania, was the daughter of John Dilworth (1858-1930), a "pioneer in the development of coal mining in Alabama". The Horsts were members of Highlands Methodist Church in Birmingham; they later moved to Tampa, Florida after he retired.
Did you notice:
  • The young people hanging out under the building, trying to stay cool.
  • Eliza was wearing the dress of the day - long skirt (with plenty of petticoats no doubt) with 3/4 sleeves;
  • The woman seated next to Eliza on the left appears to be wearing a fashionable bathing suit.
  • Grider's ruffled hat that was part of women's bathing attire at the time.
Short History of the Bathing Suit
During the 18th century, spas where men and women engaged in public bathing began appearing in France and England. Men and women still bathed infrequently however and the typical "swim" was a brief dip in the water with ladies on one side of the beach and men on the other. The earliest bathing suit may have possibly been an old smock resembling a kind of "bathing gown." Modesty was the dictum with style not much of a consideration in those days. The first suits were far from practical or comfortable; ladies went as far as to sewing lead weights into the hem of the "bathing gown" to prevent the dress from floating up and exposing her legs. The men's swim suit, a rather form-fitting wool garment with long sleeves and legs similar to long underwear, was developed and would change little for a century.

By the mid 1800's bathing became considered a recreation whereas previously it had been merely a therapeutic device. The early 1800's marked the beginning of a revolution in swim wear when Americans flocked to the beaches for seaside recreation. Technological innovations such as railroads made public beaches more accessible for vacations. With increased recreation time and improved economic conditions, the time was ripe for change in women's swim wear. People flocked to the seaside for popular seaside activities such as swimming, surf bathing, and diving. A need for a special costume that retained modesty but was free enough to enable the wearer to engage in sports became obvious.

The first swimsuits consisted of bloomers and black stockings. By 1855, drawers were added to prevent the problem of exposure. Women still refrained from swimming too much; the prevailing attitude of the day was that only men should swim. Gradual improvements were being made in the cut of the suit itself. By the end of the 19th century, swimming had become an "art," as well as an intercollegiate and Olympic sport. In this environment, it finally became acceptable for women to swim. Now women's bathing suits really had an opportunity to take off. By the 1880's the "Princess" cut was introduced, consisting of a blouse and trousers in one piece. The skirts were traded in for cotton-like pants. There was also a separate skirt that fell below the knee and button at the waist to conceal the figure. A ruffled cap or a straw hat completed the ensemble.

During the 1880's, men's styles stuck close to the traditional skivvies. Improvements were made gradually. The first prototypes of the first "modern" swim trunks were cumbersome and made the action of swimming itself more difficult. The first Jantzen suit weighed 9 lb. when fully soaked, making them extremely heavy in water. They also had the unfortunate tendency of slipping down!

Women's new swimsuits relied heavily on the form of the "fashionable" body, gradually exposing more and more skin. The beginning of the twentieth century marked a new daring era in swim wear for women. In 1909, Australian Annette Kellerman was arrested in the United States for wearing a loose, one piece suit that became the generally accepted swimsuit for women by 1910. After that swimsuits began the trend of becoming lighter and briefer. The apron disappeared by 1918, leaving a tunic covering the shorts. Even though matching stockings were still worn, bare legs were exposed from the bottom of the trunks to the top of the shorts. With the Roaring 20's following WWI, there was a large increase in appreciation of recreation and the spending of leisure time. This was manifested in the first annual "Bathing Suit Day" held on May16, 1916 at Madison Square Garden .

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