Auto Camping in Dennisport, 1936

From the Library of Congress

From the Library of Congress. Click to enlarge

This photo by the Farm Security Administration photographer Carl Mydans is part of a series about an auto camp on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Car camping began as a popular vacation option in the 1910s, according to this fascinating article in the Smithsonian magazine. While most campers were vacationers, during the Depression some moved into mobile homes for good. I wonder if the people depicted in Mydans’ series were permanent or temporary residents.

The older woman in front wears a printed dress with lace trim.  The loose sleeves make me think it might have been a house dress.  She has added a beret at a jaunty angle, and very worn saddle shoes with socks. Is she reading the newspaper or using it to clean fish? Her older companion on the right wears a solid colored dress in a typical thirties style. It looks like she has added a pin over the top button for modesty, or perhaps to replace a missing button.  Her head covering is one that I associate with golfing, a combination visor and head wrap.

It is early September in this picture, and the younger woman in the center has already put on a sweater.  Where will they be when the weather really turns cold?

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3 Responses to Auto Camping in Dennisport, 1936

  1. Lizzie says:

    That’s a great group of photos. When the weather turned cold, I hope they were back in this “real” homes. These campsites just don’t look cluttered enough to be actual residences, though you are correct that during the 30s, and especially during the housing shortage after WWII more and more families were forced to live in camper trailers.

  2. Dennisport is spelled as one word. It’s a small village of Dennis, MA on the Cape. I spent my summers there. It’s interesting because there are lots of small enclaves where these “trailer” type homes were. The 1938 hurricane wiped a lot out but built from the ruins were communities of mobile homes (usually wooden ones). The owners of the homes, own the dwelling but not the land. It still works well today – they get a piece of the ocean for not a lot of money and the homeowners get very creative with the small homes they own.

    I’m curious about small-floral dresses on older women. In the Grace Livingston Hill novels I have read, the young heroines often were them (1920-1930’s) and then in real life they are seen on older women in the ’50’s and as late as the 60’s. I can only imagine these older women were wearing them because they were reminiscent of their girlhoods back in the ’20’s. I have pictures of my great grandmother in petite floral dresses with granny style shoes.

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