There were several reasons that Caroline Street was Ocean City’s primary swimming beach in the 1920s and early 1930s. The beach was narrow in those days and Caroline Street was its widest part. It was also the site of Showell’s Bathhouse where tourists could rent lockers and bathing suits for 25 cents a day.
The most important reason was that the U.S. Coast Guard was located there and in that era the Coast Guard served as the town’s unofficial lifeguards. They manned a 20-foot tall wooden tower on the Boardwalk and the rope stretched from there to a stake out in the surf. Non-swimmers would hang on the rope and walk out into the water to go “fanny-dunking.” A small lifeboat was nearby for deep-water rescues.
The lifeguard duties of the Coast Guard ended in the 1930s following the formation of the Ocean City Beach Patrol.
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Photo courtesy of Clifford Dypsky