All My Ancestors

31 May 2008

Swimsuit Edition: Bathing Beauties in the Family

Filed under: Carnival of Genealogy, Mom, Oklahoma, Photos, Texas by allmyanc

As I’ve said here before, I grew up in the Texas panhandle. Needless to say, the region is not known for its recreational water spots.


Here’s my mom on an outing with her girlfriends–they’re wading–barely. This is about the extent of the water in the area of the panhandle I know.

There is a picture somewhere in my family of me, my brother and my aunt when we were about 5, 4, and 9 (respectively). We all have on swimming suits that are way too huge for us. I certainly don’t remember the occasion, but I do know that both my granddad and my uncle carried that photo for years. We were standing in the driveway of my South Dakota grandparents’ home–South Dakota was the only place we ever swam.

More frequently we fished.

Thad and Doug

There was the truly old-fashioned swimming hole down the road from my grandmother’s country store. We often spent entire afternoons in that lake–the Hilmer kids from next door to the store could usually be persuaded to come along, or vice versa, and we had a lot of fun there. (That’s Doug H. with my brother Thad in the photo above.)

Someone had rigged up a diving board–I, of course, was too chicken to jump. And if you got to close to the underside of the board, you were at risk of getting leeches. I suppose it was actually a fairly clean lake as it was spring-fed, but when I think back on it now, I’m surprised we survived. There was a very small island a few yards out–I wasn’t a strong enough swimmer to make it out there except floating in my inner-tube. And in those days, it really was the inner tube from a tire that we used. If we could wrangle a tube from a tractor tire, we’d hit the big time! There was gravel in the bottom of the lake so it really wasn’t a bad place to swim.

Here’s the best picture I have of someone in my family in a swimming suit:


It’s my mom, and I think this photo was taken on her honeymoon. Mom and Dad married 21 May 1950 in Beaver County, Oklahoma, and came to Oklahoma City for their honeymoon. I suspect that’s Lake Overholser in the background.

My mother had red hair and the palest skin you can imagine. She really really didn’t like water–she’d never learned to swim and it terrified her. It’s just as well my brothers and I did most of our swimming in the summers we spent with grandparents. She also sunburned through her clothes so this picture is pretty amazing. But it was her honeymoon, and she was very young, so I’m sure allowances can be made. :-)

But I love this picture of her–I’d saved it as “Bathing Beauty Mom” in my files. I’m really surprised it survived her culling of the family pictures, but I’m really glad it did.

Written for the 49th Carnival of Genealogy.


5 Responses to “Swimsuit Edition: Bathing Beauties in the Family”

  1. Great pictures and great memories. We most often went to public pools or beaches but the rare trips to a swimming hole were always the most fun!

  2. Beautiful picture of your mom! Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  3. TEX, Thanks for a wonderful recollection — and for sharing your bathing beauty mom with us. You’ve reminded me that most times we swam in cut off blue jeans — we’d walk to the pond and shuck out shirt (we were already bare-footed) and jump in. By the time we walked home, our shorts were dry. Most kids didn’t have separate clothes for swimming/wading.

  4. Tex,

    Having grown up around water, and spending a great deal of time in it as a kid, I’m always surprised to learn about folks who don’t. Your mom was a real beauty.


  5. Great photo! My mother was terrified of water. Or perhaps mixed bathing. Or both. Nazarenes. (Sigh.)

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