Sunday, June 01, 2008

In the Good Old Summertime

Source: Marie Lewis and Girlfriends. Photograph. 1917. Original photograph in the possession of Joyce Robbins Sanders, San Antonio, Texas. 2008.

It was Summer, 1917 in Muskegon County, Michigan. It could have been anywhere: Muskegon Lake, Bear Lake, Mona Lake, Wolf Lake, or Lake Michigan. Marie Lewis, my paternal great-grandmother, sits at the bottom of the photo, surrounded by her girlfriends. Some of the young ladies in this photo are dressed in swimsuits, others in summer dresses. Although the photograph was labeled as to the date in my grandaunt's scrapbook, we don't know who the ladies are. None appear young enough to be Marie's younger sisters, Bonnie (age 10) or Bertha (age 6). One of them was probably Stella Bolthouse, Marie's friend and later a witness to her marriage to my great-grandfather, William Bryan Robbins.

Marie, who would have been 15 at the time of this photograph, had not yet met Bryan by the summer of 1917. Her maternal grandfather, John Wilkinson, would pass away that September and during the funeral, Marie would meet Bryan while he was driving the hearse. They would correspond during Bryan's service during WWI, and marry Christmas Day 1919.

But for now, Marie is still a single young woman, cooling off from a hot, humid Michigan day at a favorite lakeside with good friends.

Written for the 49th Carnival of Genealogy.


Moultrie Creek said...

What a great shot! --Denise

wendy said...

Thanks for sharing! So much has changed since 1917 hasn't it?

Miriam Robbins said...

Wish I could take credit for this shot, Denise, but I wasn't there (not even a twinkle in Daddy's eye!).

A LOT has changed since 1917, Wendy. While we tend to notice the changes of fabric and amount of clothing people wore to the beach, one thing we need to remember is that a larger percentage of the population knows how to swim than did in those days. Swim clothing (heavy, wool, and a lot of it!) in 1917 did not lend itself to buoyancy, and was probably a deterrent and a danger. People are safer now in their bathing suits, because the cut and material lend themselves to a streamlined stroke through the water.

Thanks for your comments, ladies!

Janice said...


This is a lovely photograph. In addition to the "bloomers" and hair caps they wore, I notice the lovely dresses worn by the ladies in the background.