The Cabana Set Boys of Summer


Vintage pictures of men in bathing suits 1950s

Beach Club Paradise Pt. II

My grandmothers mid-century beach club was an oddly  female universe at least during the week  when women far outnumbered the men .

Up and down the rows of attached cabanas, the daily routines were as identical as their pink flamingo color.

As ladies shed their flowered splashed shifts, wriggling with great effort to zip up their lastex swim suits, the ever smiling cabana boys effortlessly opened their folding bridge tables in anticipation of the days Mah Jonng marathons.

With their big straw hats adorned with plastic daisy’s covering their faces, swimsuit straps untied so they wouldn’t get a tan line, the girls spent the day playing canasta and dishing about last night’s Million Dollar movie.

Life Magazine Cover August 1961 Yankees Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris

The Beach Club Boys of Summer

But come the weekends the ladies were joined by their overworked and overweight husbands. El Patio was overrun with groups of stogie smoking, pot-bellied men dressed in eye catching terry lined cabana sets in exotic patterns evoking the  faraway South Pacific.

Whether playing pinochle or gin rummy, their lido straw hats dipped strategically below one eye, they always listened to the ball game.

Anxiously chewing the flexible white plastic tip of their white owl cigars, heated discussions flared up over which Yankee slugger would smash The Babes home run record. The American League Pennant race was all but forgotten that summer of ’61 as fans tormented themselves and each other with the burning question -would Mickey Mantle or Roger Maris break babe Ruth’s record of 60 homers in one season?

Among the men was my Uncle Harry. Sitting stylishly at ease in his gleaming white leather Italian styled slip on shoes, was my nattily dressed uncle who despite being at a beach never once  wore a bathing suit.

Sporting a natty Lido telescope straw hat with a fancy  woven braided band my Uncle Harry would be glowering behind his no glare Ray bans, giving opinions freely from the side lines like a battle scarred retired officer from the comfort of their glider aluminum chairs.

Even with his vision clouded by cataracts he read the tiny print of the Daily Racing Forum religiously.

But he suddenly looked up from the crumpled copy he was currently squinting at long enough to put in his two cents about the baseball game. An inveterate gambler with a gruff voice like a boxing promoter he dismissed the plays with a wave of his liver spotted hand. Handicapping the 2 players like they were horses at Belmont he was betting on  Maris .

Even with the southern drawl of Red Barber blaring loudly from their large Motorola portable radio with the oversize dial and the CONELRAD markings, ...”Here’s the pitch swung on, belted….its a long one…back back back heee makes a one handed catch against the bullpen! Oh Doctor!”  the folksy red head’s colorful play by play of the Bronx Bombers reverberating  throughout the club  was not enough to dim the  high volume chattering of these strident ladies.

Copyright (©) 20012 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved -Excerpt From Defrosting The Cold War:Fallout From My Nuclear Family


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