Jeff Delaney has several pictures and details devoted to swimming postcards and pictures in his book, Newport Beach. Here’s just a few:
Bathing beauty contests were part of day-long festivities arranged by the chamber of commerce and Madame LaRue Osgood to attract visitors to Balboa. Madame Osgood had to import girls for the annual beauty contest because local girls “would never be seen in those costumes.”
The bathing beauties became one of Balboa’s most popular attractions, bringing as many as 25,000 visitors to the village.
Here visitors could rent bathing suits and changing rooms during the day and come back in the evening to dance.
In its early days, Newport could not afford to maintain a corps of paid lifeguards.
Novice bathers could take advantage of a safety line, a rope leading into the water from the beach.
Finally, in 1920, three men were employed as lifeguards–but only on Sundays during the summer season and on special holidays.
On May 18, 1923, ordinance No. 278 passed, creating a lifeguard service. A lookout tower was constructed in front of the Balboa Ocean Front Bathhouse, and for two years, a small emergency hospital room was maintained in that building.
Beginning in 1924, an ever-increasing number of men were employed to protect local bathers.
These pictures and details are entirely from Jeff Delaney’s book, Newport Beach. Jeff Delaney’s website is located at www.NewportBeachPostcards.com.
To see more pictures and read more history on the Newport Beach area, please browse my “Local History” section!