This Is What Summer Vacation Looked Like Over 50 Years Ago
Things might have looked a little different, but the days were still long, hot, and filled with summer fun.
Exploring some history
“In 1967, my parents took me and my three friends on a trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to see the Liberty Bell, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, where we strolled on the old-fashioned boardwalk,” says Linda Hughes.
A pair of friends strip down to their underwear to cool down on the streets of New York in the summer of 1940. Check out these vintage photos of the 4th of July celebrations around the country.
Camping in the car
While stationed at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona, my husband, Fred, and I often drove our 1960s Plymouth station wagon to Water Dog, a recreation area in the mountains near Roosevelt Lake. We would fold down the back seats, slide a mattress in place and load up the five kids while they slept. In this photo, my daughter Lori, 5, sits on the car’s tail end,” says Charlotte Richards.
Dog days of summer
The most adorable french bulldogs soak up the ocean air while lounging on a beach chair on the shore in the 1920s.
Big family vacation
Vacationing with a big family takes patience and imagination. The Cooke family found an ingenious way to keep track of everyone on their motor home trip across America in 1971—matching shirts.
Guests relax and catch up on the grounds of a summer camp during vacation.
Jack and Joanne Cooke headed west in 1965 with six kids and a tent trailer.
A group of girls practices different water carrying methods at an international education summer camp in the 60s.
“My husband, Bob, had just completed ten months of schooling in June 1969, at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. Bob had a few weeks before starting a new job, so we decided to drive first to the west coast, and then back home to Rhode Island, with our children, David and Debra,” says Roberta Godin. “Stopping in Tombstone, Arizona, we got to see the town and the history that went along with it.”
At Camp Pleasant near Washington, DC in the 50s a group of boys plays a game of baseball. There were lots of teammates to cheer the batter on from the sidelines.
Roberta’s children, Debra and David, met Pluto at Disneyland in California during the family’s cross-country trip in the summer of 1969.
Working in the heat
Jesse Owens, a sprinter at Ohio State, spent his summer working as a gas station attendant during 1935. He had to earn some money before returning to college in the fall.
Warner Bros studios
In the summer of 1953, Jay Finley toured Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, California, with her parents, Richard and Phyllis Merrill. Richard took this photo of Phyllis moments before they drove in.
Kids, teens, and adults splash around in Lake Michigan on the south side of Chicago during the summer of 73 to cool off.
Lunch on the road
“Every Lyons family vacation began by packing the station wagon with children, coolers, and suitcases. We always stopped for lunch along the road—whenever my dad, Frank, spotted a picnic table,” says Susan Lyons Dietrich. “Lunch was always the same: bologna sandwich, potato chips, and Kool-Aid.”
The summer isn’t complete without a few nights of barbeque. This family enjoys a backyard picnic in the 70s.
Ride to ride
Our family enjoyed spending the day at one of the many local amusement parks. It was always the perfect one-day mini-vacation. We would literally run from ride to ride. This is a photograph of me and my mother, Rose, riding the Umbrella Ride at Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio, in the summer of 1968,” says Susan Lyons Dietrich.
Through the waves
A mother and father wade through the surf with their two sons while on summer vacation.
Hot day at Six Flags
“My mom, Jerri, and I with my brothers, Steve and Rich, look like cool cats on a very warm summer day at Six Flags Over Texas in 1966,” says Tamara Moran-Smith of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
A group on young kids jump into a wading pool to cool off from the summer heat in the city.
Summer fun all day
“My family celebrated summer at a cottage in Reeds Beach, New Jersey, in the summer of 1957. This picture represents one of my happiest childhood memories. Days were spent swimming, digging in the sand, chasing crabs, playing cards on rainy days, and simply enjoying amazing fun with cousins, “says Patricia Moore. You can only experience these amazing things during the summer, so get outside and enjoy the weather.
Along the Hudson
A few boys play on the rocks along the shoreline of the Hudson River during their summer vacation.
Boys and their dogs
“This Kodachrome 35mm slide depicts a typical summer day for small-town boys and their dogs. Here my cousins, Terry and Mick Hicks, and my Bassett hound, Rusty, enjoy a lazy summer day in 1965, fishing under the old railroad trestle,” says Steve Williams.
“Because of our limited budget, family vacations were a rare and special treat. This was one of those times. We were excited to visit a brand-new theme park in the summer of 1968. Dogpatch USA, located in Harrison, Arkansas, featured characters from the comic strip by Al Capp called Lil’ Abner. My brothers, Rich, on the left next to Mammy Yokum, and Steve, on the right next to Daisy Mae, were all smiles,” says Tamara Moran-Smith.
Pool at the beach
“In 1944 my family traveled from our home in Connecticut to York Beach, Maine, for a summer vacation. My sister Molly and I loved to build a huge moat in the sand, and when the tide started to come in we would dig a hole so the water could come into our own private swimming pool,” says Carla Ritter.
“My cousin, Paul, sister Deb and I had July birthdays, so my family drove to Denver, Colorado, and celebrated at Elitch Gardens. I was 6 here, in 1962,” says William Snesrud.
“Bruce and I were having fun with our little sister on a trip to a tiny island in Lake Huron in 1949. This was our mother’s favorite picture of us,” says H. Clark Dean. You’ll probably be able to relate to these hilarious family vacation stories.
Photographing the country
Virginia Thurtle, a fifth-grade teacher in Euclid, Ohio, spent her summers seeing and photographing the country. She captured this photo at Marineland in Florida in 1954.
Nancy’s Dad, Ernie Ward, holds David, as Ruthie sits on the hood with Peggy and Nancy in the background, during a family trip to Colorado in 1959. Ernie had the DeSoto station wagon outfitted with a bug guard and a roof rack.
Summers in the city
Summers in the city were spent at the community pool, where kids young and old soaked in the warm sunshine and splashed in the cool water for hours. Chuck Belling shared this photo taken by his uncle Merle.
Skippy ice cream
“While I was home from college, my summer job in 1969 was driving my scooter through neighborhoods in Rochester, New York, selling Skippy ice cream. I rang the bells and kids raced out to greet me,” says Dave Skirvin.
Celebrate the Best Times of Your Life!
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