1930-1939

I Got plenty of Nuthin

Got Plenty o Nuthin

 

The stock market crash on Tuesday, October 29, 1929, and the subsequent deterioration in the value of business assets over the following three years, had a devastating impact on the economies of United States and the world at large. The high flying, devil may care days of the Roaring ‘20s were over and with them went the risk taking and pushing of boundaries that characterized the lives of people during the decade. The Great Depression had begun and would continue for ten years.

Luckily the pleasures derived from time spent on the beach remained an affordable and welcome means of escape from the harsh realities of everyday life.

Click here to download the PDF for the full exhibit description, 1930 -1939.
Developed by Guest Curator, James Hanley

 

Please scroll through the timeline below.

Indicates what can be viewed at The Bryan Museum

Indicates Galveston History

1930
  • Men’s Swimwear

    In the 1930s men’s swimwear began to expose a good deal more skin than it had in the 1920s. The skirt that covered the shorts disappeared and the openings for the arms and head that had begun growing bigger in the previous decade became distinct cutaways that served to reveal the back, sides, and upper chest.

  • Jantzen Speedaire

    The Y back Speedaire was a favorite of active swimmers. Made from 1931 through 1942 and was a favorite of swim teams. It was 100% pure virgin wool.

    1931
  • The Saturday Evening Post

    The pleasures derived from time spent on the beach remained an affordable and welcome means of escape from the harsh realities of everyday life (stock market crash of October 1929 & The Great Depression). The cover of the September 3, 1932 issue of The Saturday Evening Post shows a rollicking image of life at the shore at the close of summer on Labor Day Weekend.

    1932
  • Lastex Swimwear

    Mabs of Hollywood, led the way in making knitted wool bathing suits a thing of the past in the 1930s when it began to fashion swimwear from Lastex, a woven satin finish elastic and silk material first used in the manufacturing of girdles could be made of cotton or Rayon. It was more comfortable against the skin, and it eliminated the stretching, sagging, and the weight of wet wool.

    In a savvy marketing move, Mabs ensured its success by making swimsuits for Joan Crawford, Loretta Young, and Jean Harlow, three of the movie industry’s leading ladies at the time.

  • Jantzen Shouldaire

    The other big swimwear companies followed suit and developed and patented their own forms of Lastex. Loretta Young, the actress, also appeared in an advertisement for Jantzen.

  • The Topper

    A big innovation hit the market in 1933 when Jantzen introduced its “Topper”, a men’s swimsuit with a detachable racerback top. It was extremely lightweight. It fastened with a zipper in the front that allowed the wearer the freedom to go bare-chested.

    *On view at The Bryan Museum

    1933
  • Johnny Weismuller

    Around the same time that the Topper hit the market BVD, a maker of men’s underwear, introduced a line of men’s swimwear designed by Olympic swimming champion Johnny Weismuller.

  • The Working Man

    Bette Davis, an actress, was so popular that Lastex or not, women wanted to replicate her look in a bathing suit. In 1933 Butterick Publishing Company in agreement, Warners, R.K.O., and Paramount issued exact copies of a dozen costumes in its Starred Patterns series. One of them was for a swimsuit worn by Davis in Warners The Working Man, of 1933.

     

  • Beach Pajamas

    Although they were designed by Chanel in 1922, these wide-legged ensembles were still popular in the 1930s. Here you can see The New Yorker cover from August 26, 1933, which presents an image of contemporary life at a seaside soda fountain.

  • I Got plenty of Nuthin

    1934
  • No Shirt Movement

    Many men protested chest-covering requirements. Topless men were banned from Atlantic City, NJ, to Galveston, TX beaches. The protest eventually swayed the legislature, and by 1937 it was legal for men to appear in public wearing only swim trunks.

    1936
  • Women's Two-piece Style

    Butternick Early Spring Home Catalog, 1936.
    Introducing new two-piece women’s bathing suit style.

  • Jiffy Kodak Bellows Style Camera

    Medium format folding camera series made by Eastman Kodak Co. in Rochester,
    NY from 1937-1948.

    *On view at The Bryan Museum
  • Colorful Swimwear

    After Lastex, the most important innovation in swimwear in the 1930s was the manufacture of bathing suits in a broad array of colors that resisted fading due to exposure to the sun.

    1938
  • Woman’s Bathing Suit

    One-piece bathing suit in a dressmaker style made from a cream-colored synthetic fabric printed with an abstract pattern in red, blue, green, and yellow flowers and hearts. Its sweetheart neckline terminates in narrow straps that cross at the back. The straps pass through loops of fabric at the lower back and then are tied together to secure the top. The overskirt covers attached cream-colored jersey shorts.

    *On view at the bryan museum
  • Galveston Causeway Overpass

    Causeway overpass construction, Austin Bridge and Construction Company, Oct.26, 1938. The causeway carries traffic over Galveston Bay and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. The original causeway was built in 1912 and carried both rail and auto traffic. The auto traffic was transferred to new causeways built to the west in 1939.

1939