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11 Rare Vintage Photos of Summer That Will Make You Glad You’re Alive Today

The next time you're tempted to gripe about the humidity or too much air conditioning, just think of these pictures.

Library of Congress

In the prim and proper past, lifeguards were required to wear a hat …

… And a belt! (Not to mention a onesie!) This guardian of the surf and sand was photographed at New York City’s Brighton Beach between 1901 and 1906.

Harris&Ewing/Library of Congress

Just looking at this bathing suit may make you sweat.

Can you imagine what it must have felt like to wear this in the broiling sun? Please note that women in 1922, when this photo was taken, also had to wear stockings to prevent their bare legs—too shocking!—from being seen.

Library of Congress

The fashion police—no joke!—was on patrol to catch the immodest.

Colonel Sherrell, the superintendent of public buildings and grounds in Washington, D.C., decreed that the skirts of bathing suits be no higher than six inches above the knee. Here in 1922, “Cop” Bill Norton checks to see if women measured up. We can only wonder what the punishment was for falling short: long johns? These vintage Christmas photos will fill you with holiday nostalgia.

Library of Congress

The ice man was a welcome sight in the good ol’ summertime.

In the days before refrigeration, a worker (shown, in 1923) in this essential occupation delivered blocks of ice that people put in their iceboxes to keep their food cool. Fans of classic music will get a kick out of these vintage Sinatra photos. 

Library of Congress

His job wasn’t easy—he had to guard against those kids who couldn’t, uh, hold their lickers.

Otherwise, they’d intercept his precious cargo and take a lick to cool off, just like these children did in 1912.

Library of Congress

Ice blocks also made for a cool place to perch on a scorching day.

Dorothy Kelly, Virginia Hunter, Elaine Griggs, Hazel Brown, and Mary Kaminsky fight the summer heat at a golf course in Washington, D.C., between 1920 and 1932.

BainofCollection/Library of Congress

Other in-demand people during summers of yore? Fan peddlers.

We bet that they had many, many fans (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Harris&Ewing/Library of Congress

Every stylish man put on a white suit in the summer.

Vice President John Nance Garner—FDR’s No. 2—sported his in 1935.

BainCollection/Library of Congress

It was OK for kids to go for a dip in public fountains.

A bevy of boys takes the plunge in New York City’s Madison Square Park between 1910 and 1915.

BainCollection/Library of Congress

But grown men needed to find more dignified ways to keep their cool.

One option: Soaking one’s head in a drinking fountain as this man did in New York City between 1910 and 1915.

BainCollection/Library of Congress

Another possibility: Find a shady spot to take a nap.

A man dozes off in New York City’s Battery Park between 1910 and 1915. The question that only he could answer: But why didn’t he roll up his shirt sleeves first?!

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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