Fashions in Ocean City’s early days bore little resemblance to what is seen on the beach today. Swimming attire, especially for women, was far different and made from yards of material that covered ladies from neck to knees. Although modesty was certainly achieved, the ability to swim in such an outfit- particularly when wet – was a major athletic accomplishment.
Few women of that era knew how to swim and there were no lifeguards on the beach (the Ocean City Beach Patrol was not founded until 1930). People would enter the ocean holding tight to a rope that stretched from shore to a pole about 20 yards out in the water. A humorous term was coined to describe those that ventured into the surf in such a manner – they were known as “fanny dippers.”
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Photo courtesy of Melanie Ayres Merryweather