Let's Go to the Beach: A History of Sun and Fun by the Sea

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An intriguing exploration of a favorite pastime — a trip to the beach.

"One night in 1883, David Bradley's candy stand was swamped by a storm. Not one to take a direct hit from adversity, the next day he decided to call his candy salt water taffy. Although the taffy's been dry ever since, the name has stuck for the past hundred years."

Did you know that women once wore corsets under their bathing suits (all drowning risks aside)? Or that ...

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Overview

An intriguing exploration of a favorite pastime — a trip to the beach.

"One night in 1883, David Bradley's candy stand was swamped by a storm. Not one to take a direct hit from adversity, the next day he decided to call his candy salt water taffy. Although the taffy's been dry ever since, the name has stuck for the past hundred years."

Did you know that women once wore corsets under their bathing suits (all drowning risks aside)? Or that beach-goers donned everything from wings to webbed gloves in hopes of learning how to swim? Or that hotel entrepreneurs lured wealthy customers to their seaside resorts with breakfast serenades from a forty-piece orchestra?

From the bathhouses of the ancient Greeks to Muscle Beach and Coney Island, Let's Go to the Beach takes a historical, sociological, and geographical look at beaches and their attant customs. With humor and intelligence, and a fascinating collection of-black-and- white photographs, Elizabeth Van Steenwyk offers up an impressive overview of one of the world's greatest pastimes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Beach-goers will have a new appreciation for the surfside after reading Let's Go to the Beach: A History of Sun and Fun by the Sea by Elizabeth Van Steenwyk. From historical tidbits ("During the Roman conquest of Great Britain, swimming was featured in most military campaigns") to fashion facts (such as swimwear designs included in the chapter "From Bloomers to Bikinis"), the b&w photographs (e.g., 1903 Luna Park, Coney Island, and rolling chairs on the boardwalk of Atlantic City in the 1930s) and text chronicle recreational activities through the ages. (July) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
As parents and students scramble to choose books to fulfill the local school's summer reading requirements, this one certainly will fill both a nonfiction need and one of just pure delight. The large type and margins, numerous black-and-white illustrations and topics are sure to please every reader. It all began in 1175 B.C. when invaders to Ancient Egypt, noticing that the people spent time relaxing along the Nile, took the idea back to their native countries. Throughout the years, time by the water has evolved from fishing and other commerce to swimming, diving, surfing, lifesaving and Olympic events, creating industries for swimwear, flotation devices and beach accessories, and spawning competitive events. Who would have dreamed that the Ancient Egyptian pastime would evolve to bringing us sand pails, bathhouses, kite stations, bikinis, beach volleyball and Frisbee, Olympic events, and those campy beach movies with Frankie and Annette? Along with this historical treatise, the author includes several top ten lists of beaches, (general, urban, windsurfing, surfing, volleyball, strolling, sand collecting, sand castle building, scuba diving), piers for fishing, beach movies and songs. The book includes a chronology, bibliography and comprehensive index. 2001, Henry Holt, $18.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Mary Sue Preissner
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-A lighthearted, lively, and concise history of bathing, from ancient Greece to modern-day America, including social history and a brief mention of segregated beaches. The development of modern swimwear is covered in great detail. Readers will be amazed to learn that late-19th-century women were covered from head to toe in a sort of flannel casing, with weights holding down the skirts-quite a long way to the thong! Sand castle contests, "Muscle Beach," Annette Funicello, surfing, The Beach Boys, saltwater taffy- the list goes on and on. Readers familiar with beaches will recall their own memories, and those not fortunate enough to live near water will love the trip Van Steenwyk provides. This book is perfect for browsing and includes many illuminating black-and-white photographs. A great centerpiece for a summertime display.-Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805062359
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 6/15/2001
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 9 - 15 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.58 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Van Steenwyk has written more than twenty books for young readers. The recipient of the Texas Bluebonnet Award and Vermont's Rebecca Caudill Award, Elizabeth lives in San Marino, California with her family.

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Read an Excerpt

In 1759, a British doctor, Richard Russell, published an essay on the uses of seawater for internal and external purposes. Four years later he built a house by the sea at Brighton, England, and originated a strange new practice called strip and plunge. He hired a strong person, man or woman, to plunge a semiclothed bather into the sea and hold him down until he swallowed a lot of water. Semidrowning was thought to be good for one’s health. After all, the patient felt so good when the treatment stopped, he must be healthier. Strangely, people allowed themselves to be treated this way at seaside resorts for days at a time, and even paid for the dubious privilege.

Then along came Vincent Priessnitz with a good story to tell. Traveling around Europe during the early 1800s, he told anyone who’d listen that a wagon accident had left him with broken bones and bruises everywhere. He claimed to have made himself well by dunking himself in ice water. Perhaps he could be seen as the first member of the Polar Bear Club! After he convinced his listeners that he’d found a miracle cure for all his aches and pains, he went home to Grafensberg, in what is now Poland, and opened Water University.

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