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Mason’s Musings July 28th, 2023

The last week of Summer Reading is upon us and you all have really turned out this year. All of your dedicated participation in our fun and ongoing events has definitely made Summer Reading 2023 one to remember. This July heat has been brutal and we’re glad to provide a respite for anyone looking for something fun to do, without sweating their brow off. However, we all know the best way to cool off is taking a nice long dip in a pool, ocean, or lake. The history surrounding water being used for leisure is one that goes way back to the Roman Empire!

In the Roman Empire it was common to find your fellow man and woman relaxing in the bathhouse, wearing togas instead of bathing suits. However, as culture and civilization as a whole evolved, the public opinion of open bodies of water became one of disgust and uncleanliness.

This opinion would change around the 18th century, following the improvement of transportation which in turn made beach holidays extremely popular. Women at the time wore ankle length dresses to wade around in water and remained fully covered. To provide even more privacy and modesty women would utilize covered wooden carts known as bathing machines to change into their “bathing suits”, then the cart would be wheeled into the water for the lady to exit into the water.

By the turn of the early 20th century swimming was being recognized as a competitive sport. This led to it being added to the Olympics sports roster in 1896 –men only of course. Although only men were allowed to participate in Olympic swimming, women’s swimwear started to become more streamlined as well. This reflected the growing popularity of swimming, not only as a sport, but also as a leisurely activity. Even with this more streamlined look, society still expected women to cover themselves while on the beach. Annette Kellerman – professional Australian swimmer – was actually arrested in 1905 because of “indecent exposure” while on a beach in Boston due to her form fitting swimsuit.

Annette Kellerman and her signature Swimsuit

Mostly brought about by the sexual revolution and liberation of women who were tired of being told what to wear. The social norms surrounding women’s bathing suits have drastically changed over the years.

I hope you all appreciated this brief dive into the history of swimsuits. It’s fun researching and learning about how things that seem so mundane and normal in our everyday lives started out and evolved. And now I’ll leave this blog off with a reminder: August 8th at 6 PM Kimberly Garza author of The Last Karankawas will be coming to the library to answer questions, sign books, and chat about her experiences. This event is totally FREE and we greatly appreciate all who attend!

Library Events 7/28–8/4:

*Ms. Katies Children’s Hour Story-Time does not run in August. She will return Wednesday September 6th*

Friday July 28th Need a space to just be you without little kids or lots of grown-ups? Want a place to just hang out and maybe play a game or do art? If so, Awesome Teen Zone is for you! Ages 10-18 are invited to hang out and play games or get creative from 1-2 PM

Friday August 4th – Friday Free Play is back! Preschoolers and their adults are invited to come to the library for a free play time every Friday 11 AM to Noon!

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