A Day at the Beach
circa 1880 - 1930
— Along the Oceanfront —
"Back in the day," heading out to the beach was not an all-day event. Even 125 years ago there was a broad awareness of the damaging effects of the sun's rays. Those who did venture out for a quick dip to cool off did so later in the afternoon. "Bathers" stayed within in the ropes, because very few people in those days knew how to swim!
As can be viewed here, modesty dominated the style of beachwear and folks made their own fun in the sand. It was a time of relaxation, simple pleasures and whimsical fun along the Oceanfront.
Compare that to today's beach activities. Can you imagine heading out to the beach without your (in alphabetical order): beach chair & umbrella, beach towel, boogie board, cell phone, cooker, favorite beach cover-up & visor (for the ladies), favorite T-shirt/team jersey/ball cap (men), flip flops, any kind of a ball, a personal listening music devise, something to read, sand buckets & shovel for the kids, skim board, sunglasses, sunscreen, surfboard and a beach bag/back pack/cart to hold and transport all your stuff. WHEW!
But, no doubt about it,
A Day at the Beach
Then and now and always,
A time of great memories and FUN!
Surfing, the sport of riding waves, was introduced on the East Coast for the first time in Virginia Beach in 1912. However, the sport did not gain in popularity until the 1930's, when newly styled hollow surfboards (above) came on the scene. They were 12-14 ft. long, usually made of mahogany and were lighter and more maneuverable than the older style solid redwood Hawaiian surfboards.
Popularly called a "Summer House," this gazebo type structure was primarily for the use of guests of the Courtney Terrace Hotel at 16th Street. As you see, not only did the shade serve as respite from the sun but also a convenient gathering place for fellowship and fun.
The "Good Year Blimp" advertising campaign has been around longer than you might think. This April 26, 1930 photograph depicts the excitement of onlookers when the airship Vigilant landed on the beach at Cape Henry. The occasion was in honor of the "First Landing" in 1607.
Commercial fishing off the Virginia Beach coast was thriving industry in the late 1800's. Three companies with a combined fleet of eight "pound boats" (shown here) operated from a small group of fishing camps near Rudee Inlet. Early on, the boats were launched from the beach through the surf and the crews propelled them with
This 1918 photograph below shows James M. Jordan, Jr. posing with the solid redwood surfboard sent to him by an uncle visiting Hawaii in 1912. "Big Jim" is credited as being the first person to ride a surfboard in Virginia Beach and an early pioneer of servers on the East Coast. His board, shown in this rare vintage photo, was approximately nine feet tall and weight 110 pounds.
Much effort went into the staging of this photo from over 100 years ago! Note that the men's swimsuits are quite similar. In all probability, they were rentals from one of the bathhouses. Very few folks owned their own swimsuits then. Besides, who would want to lug a wet, sandy, wool swimsuit on the train back to Norfolk?
One of the good things about the "Good Ole Days" is that in the 1920's a pilot could land his airplane on the beach without incident.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Air & Space • Parks & Recreational Areas • Sports • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 36° 51.852′ N, 75° 58.799′ W. Marker is in North Virginia Beach in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Marker is on 36th Street just west of Atlantic Avenue, on the right
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Seaside Park Casino / The Cavalier Hotel (here, next to this marker); The Princess Anne Hotel (here, next to this marker); The Graveyard of the Atlantic (here, next to this marker); The Ash Wednesday Storm (here, next to this marker); The Threshold of a New Nation (a few steps from this marker); The Winds of Change (a few steps from this marker); VB Now (a few steps from this marker); Premier Boardwalk Events (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in North Virginia Beach.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 20, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 20, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 38 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 20, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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