• Jack Fryar—History Buff

    by Nancy Gadzuk

    Jack FryerThe Federal Point History Center’s August 15 meeting featured Jack Fryar, well-known local historian, prolific author, publisher, and, as his T-shirt proclaimed, History Buff.  (His T-shirt also mentioned that, as a history buff, he’d be more interested in you if you were dead.)

    Jack spoke on The Cape Fear in the Revolutionary War Part II: 1777 – 1781.  He illustrated his detailed walk through various battles with numerous pictures of modern-day war reenactments alongside period maps from the Revolutionary War era.

    Title - Jack FryerHe referred to this time period as the “first civil war,” because after the Battle of Moore’s Creek in 1776, settlers began to split into two camps: those who wished to remain loyal to the King, and those who wanted independence.

    Charleston and Savannah had been important in the early Revolutionary War effort, but with the fall of Charleston in 1780, the British gained a toehold in the South and Wilmington became a critical focus.

    The Cape Fear region was geographically very important to the war effort. First, the Cape Fear River is the only river in North Carolina with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. This was critical for fighting a war in which the Loyalists were coming from across the Atlantic Ocean. Second, the Cape Fear River went inland 147 miles to Fayetteville, and effectively served to divide the state.

    Burgwin's House - FryerThe Loyalist Major Craig used Wilmington as a base of operations until forced to evacuate by the Independent forces in 1781, marking the end of significant British presence in North Carolina.

    Jack talked in detail about battles, battle routes, winners, and losers. It’s important, however, to also keep in mind the human cost of all wars — the death, devastation, and destruction.

     

     

    Vintage Swimwear: a well-suited retrospective

    By Anne Rose | Cape Fear Living Magazine

    Vintage Swimwear: a well-suited retrospective

    Give them beaches, and they will come, with a parade of swim attire that reveals a decade-by-decade slice of life.

    Covered up, cut-out, lowered down or raised up – even emblazoned with seaside bathhouse rental insignia – the vintage swimwear in this captivating local collection illustrates both the story of Wilmington’s connection to its nearby beaches, and snippets of cultural and social history.

    The swimsuits and other memorabilia, which belong to Elaine Henson, are on display through the end of August at Federal Point Historical Society. Elaine undertook the challenge of collecting vintage bathing suits when she retired her effort adding to her thousands of postcards and advertising artwork featuring the seashore, seaside tourist attractions, and swim fashions.

    On the August cover: Photographer Waverly Leonard captured our cover models in vintage swimwear from the collection of Elaine Henson, currently on display at the Carolina Beach History Center. Wyatt Bear graces a private yacht in a 1940s yellow woven rayon and Lastex two-piece suit with a bra top with straps that tie and trunks with a modesty panel. Karli Owens is ready for the beach in a 1960-70s dark aqua polyester gabardine one piece suit with straps that button, cotton lined bust, a back zipper, modesty panel and white cording detail. The models were photographed on location at Port City Marina, in downtown Wilmington.

    On the August cover: Photographer Waverly Leonard captured our cover models in vintage swimwear from the collection of Elaine Henson, currently on display at the Carolina Beach History Center. Wyatt Bear graces a private yacht in a 1940s yellow woven rayon and Lastex two-piece suit with a bra top with straps that tie and trunks with a modesty panel. Karli Owens is ready for the beach in a 1960-70s dark aqua polyester gabardine one piece suit with straps that button, cotton lined bust, a back zipper, modesty panel and white cording detail.

    The models were photographed on location at Port City Marina, in downtown Wilmington.

    It seems a natural progression: the vintage swimwear brings Elaine’s 2-dimensional art collection to life.

    This historical retrospective is particularly well-suited to the beaches – from Carolina to Wrightsville – lined up like a swimsuit competition for “Best in Nostalgia.” The exhibit includes 23 suits, and includes women, men and children’s suits and a pictorial display highlighting Carolina Beach beach life and swim fashions over the years.

    Each suit evokes a mini history lesson. For example, the circa 1920 men’s one piece suit was a rental, stamped with the letters S A M, the initials of the bath house, in gold. When railroads began to crisscross the country in the late 1800s, beachside towns were suddenly accessible to people who had never been to the shore. Making a train trip to the seashore was a “spa” experience: saltwater and fresh ocean air were purported to be therapeutic to the skin. Going to the beach for the day was not just a recreational experience, it was a health pilgrimage.

    People from around the country came to Wilmington and the beaches for the weekend, hitting the sand in rented suits. This “midwinter surf-bathing” was not an athletic outing; bathers waded into the waves and held onto straps that hung from heavy lifelines secured to poles sunk deep into the sand along Wrightsville and Carolina Beach.

    (l to r) Lank Lancaster, Jimmy "Boggie" Myers, Jerry Wilkins and Coley Brown, sitting on the Carolina Beach life boat, which was a Simmons, in the summer of 1961

    (l to r) Lank Lancaster, Jimmy “Boggie” Myers, Jerry Wilkins and Coley Brown, sitting on the Carolina Beach life boat, which was a Simmons, in the summer of 1961

    Other highlights of the collection, after the early “swimming costumes” that bear more resemblance to overcoats than swimwear, are the 1930s cotton “Velva-Lure” lady’s pale jade one piece suit with crisscross self-ties in the back and Jantzen swim girl logo, a 1940s yellow woven rayon and Lycra lady’s two piece suit with bra top, and a 1970s red and white polyester check lady’s one piece suit with boy short legs and bust boning.

    vintage swimwear“I’ve had a collection all of my adult life,” Elaine says, explaining how the swimsuits evolved from her vintage postcard collection. “I have almost 2000 postcards of Wilmington, Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach, and a whole collection of bathing beauties in vintage advertising art. I was just captivated by the gorgeous images, and then a suit would come up in my search, and I thought I might use them as beach house décor.”

    Elaine curated the current vintage swimwear exhibit, adding postcards, historical narratives, vintage photographs and memorabilia to the display of swimsuits. The history is fascinating, she says, from the bathing suit companies’ cutting-edge use of fabrics to the evolution of sexy, body-baring swimsuits that foiled earlier generation’s attempts at modesty. Jantzen and Catalina, fashion and advertising vintage swimwearpowerhouses, are important components of the swimwear story, she notes.

    “There needs to be a stopping point with every collection,” Elaine suggests. “Now that I have the swim dresses, I’m done … I have a whole century represented in the swimsuits – after I’ve added mine from the 80s and 90s, I’m done.”

    She hesitates. “Yes, I’m done,” she reiterates, with the wistfulness of a dedicated collector.

    Visit the exhibit!   Vintage Bathing Suits 1900-1990

    View the Swimsuit Collection:
    Now through September
    Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 10-4
    Carolina Beach History Center next to Town Hall on Lake Park Blvd