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Sands Of Time: Beach Etiquette Of Long Ago

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A beach cop measures bathing suits in Washington, D.C., in 1922.i

A “beach cop” measures bathing suits in Washington, D.C., in 1922.

Library of Congress


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Library of Congress

A beach cop measures bathing suits in Washington, D.C., in 1922.

A “beach cop” measures bathing suits in Washington, D.C., in 1922.

Library of Congress

Seaside and lakeshore beaches in America today are democratic scenes — level playing fields for folks of all stripes.

Not so in summers past.

Dunes And Don’ts

Time was, certain beaches in America were off limits to people of color. Some beachgoers publicly objected to women and men bathing together. And there were conventional rules — written and unwritten — that dictated behavior for bathers everywhere.

“Don’t wear a conspicuous bathing suit,” the Philadelphia Times noted in a story titled “For the Surf Girl” on May 14, 1896. And there were other “don’ts,” including:

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