Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Father, Daughter, Swimming Hole

In the swimsuit is my grandfather, W. C. Robert Meinzen. Beside him is his son-in-law, my fully-dressed father, Lee Doyle.

What a swimsuit! I usually think of younger men wearing this style but by all appearances, Grampa seems comfortable and confident. On the other hand, I'm not quite sure how to read my father's expression. Dubious, perhaps? I think this photo was taken in the early 1940's.

Grampa grew up in Steubenville, Ohio, which borders the Ohio River. We understand that Grampa swam in the river when he was a youth. My brief research into swimsuits suggests this one may have been a 1920's-1930's style. He probably didn't have the opportunity to swim often enough to warrant buying a new suit every year or two.

I don't know where this photo was taken but I suspect it was somewhere near Lake Milton in Mahoning County, Ohio. That seems to have been the usual destination for swimming about the time this photograph was taken.

The next photo is of my mom, Audrey (Meinzen) Doyle, daughter of W. C. Robert Meinzen, above. It was taken when she was perhaps 12 or 14, between 1927 and 1929. I don't know the location of this photo either but it looks like a small, rock-rimmed pool. Safe. Mom never learned to swim and claimed she didn't enjoy being in the water. But to a child/youth on a hot summer day in the 1920's, what could have been better than a dip in a pool, large or small - or even just sitting on the side kicking your feet?

Which brings me to the last image, below. I apologize for the quality of the photograph but I couldn't resist posting it with these other two. This snapshot undoubtedly includes my mother and/or her sisters and either Meinzen or Bickerstaff cousins.

I can almost feel the hot sun and cool water. The photographer captured the action at that split second when the water droplets sprayed the air, just before they fell onto the other bathers; captured the little "Dutch Girl" imp in the center when she was just about to bounce down and thrust her hands into the water to splash the others. I love this photo. It speaks to me of the exuberance, the joy, the delight of summer play in the swimming "hole."

In this photo the spray of water seems to be coming from opposite the photographer. When I enlarge it I think I can just see the outline of an adult behind the splashing water. Can you? Someone was teasing these swimmers. And then the little girl second from the left is pointing to the Dutch Girl imp as if to say, "Watch out! She's going to splash you too!"

Ah, the joys of cold water on a hot summer day! Happy water play to you!

This post is being submitted to The Fourth Annual Swimsuit Edition! of the Carnival of Genealogy hosted by Jasia of Creative Gene. Thank you, Jasia! And thank you, footnoteMaven, for the delightful poster.

It was previously published as a Sepia Saturday post.


  1. I've been thinking about getting in the water for the last couple of days! Great photo of water play in the last one.

  2. Great swimsuit pics! I especially love the one in the water with all the splashing going on. What fun!

  3. That last snapshot really does capture a moment. With the relatively slow shutter speeds of hand-held cameras in those days, it must have been a really bright, and hot, day to catch such a moment. And your first photo brings new meaning to skimpy bathing suits. Thanks for sharing the images.

  4. Thank you, Kirstin, Jasia, and Brett for coming to look at my swimsuit photos. I think the last photo of the children playing in the water is one of my most favorite in my whole collection. I only wish I knew who the imp was!

    Thanks, Brett, for the information about the environment when the photo was taken. Because it's so sepia-toned, it's hard (for me) to tell about the actual lighting. Your knowledge of cameras helped to clarify. I appreciate it.

  5. It just occurred to me that might be a predecessor to Borat's mankini!

  6. You can actually see the active fun the youngsters are having in the picture with several kids in the water. Great post! You have such a gift for transporting us to times past with your expressive words and terrific images!


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