This modest woolen swimsuit would have been considered quite modern — even daring — for women of the 1910s. Unlike heavy bathing costumes a decade or so earlier with puffed-sleeve dresses, bloomers and long black stockings, it fit the body and allowed for actual swimming.
In Victorian times, most women took dips in the water rather than swimming or diving. Women visiting the ocean jumped through waves while holding onto a rope attached to a buoy. But a growing trend toward athleticism in the early 20th century made more practical swimwear for women necessary.
Form-fitting swimsuits for women were initially controversial. In 1907, swimmer Annette Kellerman from Australia visited the United States as an “underwater ballerina,” a version of synchronized swimming involving diving into glass tanks. She was arrested on a Boston beach for indecent exposure because her swimsuit showed her arms, legs and neck.
Kellerman adapted her suit with long sleeves, long legs and a collar. It became known as “the Annette Kellerman,” and, despite opposition from some groups, it became quite popular. One-piece swimming tights became accepted swimsuit attire for women, and radually the long sleeves and legs were shortened.
By the 1912 Olympics, women were swimming competitively, wearing swimsuits with short sleeves and legs ending at mid-thigh. Twenty-seven women from eight countries (though none from the United States) participated in two events, the 100-meter freestyle and 4X100 freestyle relay.
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In the United States, the term “swim suit” was first coined in 1915 by Jantzen Knitting Mills, a former California sweater manufacturer. Wool was the preferred fabric because it was opaque in water. Although many women still wore long matching stockings with swimsuits, legs were no longer completely hidden. Stocking lengths varied from almost touching the swimsuit to knee-high or shorter — depending on the discretion or daring of the individual. Jantzen also developed a popular unisex swimsuit similar to this one.
This full-length charcoal grey swimsuit by Gantner & Mattern of San Francisco featured buttons at the shoulders, and it ended in boy-leg drawers covered by a tunic. Sets of black, gray and white stripes accentuated the chest and hem.
The swimsuit was donated by the Quincy Hale family of La Crosse. Hale was a prominent La Crosse lawyer and community leader. It’s likely his wife, Helen, once wore this suit, marking the progress of women while gracing a La Crosse beach with the latest in swimwear fashion.
Hometown History: Hulberg Box Co.
THE WAY IT WAS: In recognition of Labor Day, here’s a look at the employees of the short-lived Hulberg Box Co., all members of the Box Makers Union, with their badges and pennants, likely ready to participate in the Labor Day Parade. Hulberg manufactured boxes of various sizes and shapes for many La Crosse companies, such as John Gund Brewing Co., G. Heileman, Funke’s Candy, Spence McCord Druggists, Michel Brewing and Kratchwill Candy Co., naming some of the boxes shown on the wagon. At 1801 West Ave. S., from approximately 1914 to 1917, the company advertised in the help wanted column in the paper for “cross cut saw men; also, nailers.” Another ad asked for, “bright boys, over 16, at the Hulberg Box Company; no machine work.” Oscar H. Hulberg was the owner but seems to have moved from La Crosse shortly after closing down the business. The location of the company was later occupied by Badger Corrugating Co.
Hometown History: Coulee Region camping
A tradition for many area families is enjoying a family camping trip to mark the end of summer vacation before school resumes. This scene from the Coulee Region in 1966 is complete with a family picnic and a pull-behind camper.
Hometown history: Temporary ferry transportation in 1935
THE WAY IT WAS: A view of the small barge ferry, which, for a short time in August 1935, provided the only means of transporting automobile traffic across the Mississippi River at La Crosse. This ferry began service Aug. 12, 1935, while the city’s wagon bridge was closed for repairs after an accident three days earlier in which a span of the bridge collapsed into the river after being hit by an auto. With a capacity of only four cars, this ferry proved too small to handle the volume of auto traffic wanting to cross the river so a second ferry that could carry 15 to 20 vehicles was also put into service. The ferry service ended Aug. 20, 1935, when the wagon bridge reopened after replacement of the fallen span.
Hometown history: Myrick Park Zoo
The kiddy boat rides at the old Myrick Park Zoo were a popular summer attraction, as evident in this photo taken 25 years ago, on Aug. 12, 1990. The zoo and this ride area closed in 2007, and were later replaced by Myrick Hixon EcoPark, which ceased operations last year.
Hometown history: La Crosse Riverfront
A view of La Crosse’s riverfront during the early 1870s, looking north from the foot of Pearl Street, some 40 years prior to the creation of Riverside Park. Prominent in the photo are the stern-wheel rafter Brother Jonathan and the railroad transfer side-wheel packet Alex McGregor. This photo is from a stereo-view taken by Charles Bayley, a photographer who operated a studio in La Crosse from approximately 1865 to 1876, according to local newspaper files. As a present day point of reference, the foreground area shown here is now part of Riverside Park opposite the Radisson Hotel.
Hometown history: Summer of 1900
THE WAY IT WAS: A summer scene from circa 1900, with children posing outside a duplex at 127 to 129 Seventh St. S. At that time, this brick residence was occupied by the families of Reginald Wesson and Joseph Cramer, according to the 1900 Federal Census. Wesson was then employed as secretary-treasurer of La Crosse Plumbing Co., while Cramer worked as a blacksmith at La Crosse Plow Co. This duplex, which was built in 1891, remains standing today, though its appearance has changed with the front porch now enclosed and the addition of vinyl siding and a fire escape, etc.
Hometown History: Levee Park
THE WAY IT WAS: This circa 1920 postcard scene, donated to the La Crosse Public Library Archives by Lois Wakeen of Cashton, shows the south end of Levee Park, now known as Riverside Park, as viewed from the State Street entrance. As seen here, there was a lower drive in the park which was accessible from State, Main and Pearl streets. This roadway has since been removed, and its former location is now occupied by a pedestrian walkway. In addition, the buildings and wagon bridge seen here no longer exist. Anyone with more information about this photo or wishing to donate photos of the Coulee Region may contact the La Crosse Public Library Archives at 608-789-7136.
Hometown history: Izzy's Barbershop
THE WAY IT WAS: This location at 1511 S. 16th St. S. has been a small barbershop since the early 1930s. A water permit was issued in 1929, and Isadore Michalski rented the space and set up shop as a barber after working for various barbers in town. On the left is Eleanor Smith (later, Dwyer) with Florence Michalski (later, Chapiewsky) in about 1930. Shortly after, the building served as a barbershop for other men until 1953, when Isidore Michalski purchased the property and barbered independently. Later he added his son, Florian, to the business. Florian ran the business and also traded in furs until June 2002. Gene Nickerson is the current barber. The name has changed from Izzy’s to Nick's Barber Shop.
Hometown history: Polish Parade 1905
This scene from 110 years ago shows a group of girls taking part in a “Polish Parade” July 10, 1905, as they marched east in the 1200 block of Ferry Street, which was then unpaved. These girls were part of the Polish parish at the now bygone Holy Cross Catholic Church, which was at 1311 Ferry St., and were wearing red and white dresses and carrying flowers, according to Tribune files.
Hometown history: Kids Parade in 1990
Kids Parade in 1990
Hometown history: 1967 Sells and Grey Circus
A light rain did not stop these women and children from attending the Sells and Gray Circus at La Crosse’s Erickson Recreation Field June 27, 1967, as captured in this old Tribune photo. The Erickson site, located near Losey Boulevard and Chase Street, was a popular circus ground from 1955 to 1975 (and prior to 1955 when the area was known as Salzer Field), according to Tribune files.
Hometown History: La Crosse Riverfront in 1890
A June 1890 view of La Crosse’s riverfront, looking south from the foot of Jay St. The large building at left was Listman Flour Mill; the building at center with one smokestack was John James Foundry; and the complex at right with three smokestacks was John Paul Sawmill, which cut a total of 38 million feet of lumber during 1890, according to local history files.
Hometown history: Milwaukee Bar, Restaurant and Hotel
Joe Wakeen stands behind the bar ready to take your drink order. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Joe and Ellamae Wakeen owned the Milwaukee Bar, Restaurant and Hotel, which was located at 424 Copland Ave., most recently the Railyard Bar & Grill that burned down last month.
Howntown history: 1956 Rail Scene
THE WAY IT WAS: This bygone rail scene, taken in July 1956, by Donald E. Smith, shows a Chicago and North Western “Dakota 400” passenger train traveling between Sparta and Elroy. Rail service on this line ended in 1964, and the tracks removed in 1965, to make way for the 32-mile Elroy-Sparta State Trail, the first Rails to Trails project in America. This past Saturday, the trail’s 50th anniversary was celebrated with a group bicycle ride near Kendall, followed by a ceremony in Kendall. Anyone with more information about this photo or wishing to donate photos of the Coulee Region may contact the La Crosse Public Library Archives at 608-789-7136.
Hometown History: 1955 Memorial Day assembly
THE WAY IT WAS: This scene from 60 years ago shows the 1955 Memorial Day assembly at Central High School, then located at 16th and Cass streets. This ceremony took place Friday, May 27, 1955, (three days before Memorial Day) as part of an ongoing tradition at Central dating back to 1923, to honor the school’s war dead. Central’s ceremony is believed to be the longest-running high school observance of Memorial Day in the nation. Anyone with more information about this photo or wishing to donate photos of the Coulee Region may contact the La Crosse Public Library Archives at 608-789-7136.
Hometown history: Mindoro Cut in 1908
Mindoro Cut in 1908
Hometown history: Service Transfer & Storage Co. building in 1938
A 1938 birds-eye-view of the Service Transfer & Storage Co. building with several company trucks parked at the loading dock. Located at 434 Third St. S., this building was erected by the Service firm in 1937, and was home to that business until circa 1962. After last being occupied by Habitat For Humanity ReStore, this building was recently razed to clear the site for the construction of a Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel.
Hometown History: Old La Crosse County Courthouse
A closeup view of the imposing old La Crosse County Courthouse, which was located on what is now known as Lot C, currently a construction site for a future housing, retail and office complex.
Hometown history: Courthouse Demolition of 1965
Looking south from Third and Pine streets April 27, 1965, just moments before the dome of the third La Crosse County Courthouse crashed to the ground during the building’s razing. The demolition of this ornate government center, which was built in 1904, is still lamented by many local and area residents. The former site of this courthouse, bound by Third, Fourth, State and Vine streets, is now a construction site for a future housing, retail and office complex.
Hometown History: Flood of 1965
THE WAY IT WAS: Fifty years ago Wednesday, the Mississippi River reached its all-time high at La Crosse with a crest of 17.96 feet. This photo of the old Elfman Marine at 58 Copeland Ave. appeared in the April 21, 1965, Tribune with the following caption: "Outboard motors ... you could try them out in the window." The Elfman Marine building has since been razed and its former site is now occupied by Candlewood Suites La Crosse. Anyone with more information about this photo or wishing to donate photos of the Coulee Region may contact the La Crosse Public Library Archives at 608-789-7136.
Hometown history: Courthouse Square in 1965
THE WAY IT WAS: A 1965 birds-eye-view of the old Courthouse Square, now known as Lot C, bound by Third, Fourth, State and Vine streets. This photo, with Fourth and State in the foreground, was taken not long after the razing of La Crosse County’s third courthouse, 1904 to 1965, and shows a bulldozer at work on the square which would later be occupied by a Montgomery Ward store. Following the razing of the Ward store in 1991, this block served as a parking lot until just recently when it was closed to allow the construction of a housing, retail and office complex on the site.
Hometown history: St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church
This 1960 photo, taken by former Tribune advertising manager Howard Colvin, shows St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church at 936 Winnebago St. This place of worship was dedicated 100 years ago, on April 11, 1915, with 1,000 people attending the ceremony, according to Tribune files. The St. Wenceslaus parish was disbanded in 1974, but this edifice remains in use today as Viterbo University’s San Damiano Chapel, which underwent a $1.2 million restoration project in 2014.
Hometown history: Easter in 1939
Easter in 1939
Hometown history: Cerise Dinner Club
Cerise Dinner Club
Hometown History: 1911 street scene
THE WAY IT WAS: This circa 1911 street scene shows a Ruplin Baking Co. truck and driver during a delivery at the La Crosse Chop House which was located at 122 N. Third St. Of added interest are the billiard players outside Frank Kerpen’s pool hall at 124 N. Third St. and the sign outside the Chop House door which reads “Ladies Dining Room Upstairs” which indicates the restaurant had separate dining facilities for men and women. The Ruplin Bakery was located at 412 S. Fourth St. and was in business from 1895 to 1950, according to local history files. The building at right which then housed The Mint saloon has since been razed but the old Chop House and pool hall buildings remain standing today and are now occupied by Digger’s Sting bar and restaurant.
Hometown history: The Kabats
Pictured above are Joseph J. Kabat and his son, Ken Kabat, possibly preparing for the New Year’s Eve crowd at their tavern in Bangor. Joseph operated Kabat’s Bar from 1939 until his retirement in 1951. He was also a cigar maker for 43 years. Joseph passed away in 1970. His son Ken, who earned a Bronze Star in World War II during his service in the Philippines, took over the operation of the tavern after his father’s retirement and ran it until his death in 1976.
Hometown History: A look at the 300 block of Main Street in 1931
Looking east from the 300 block of Main Street in 1931, with a streetcar track and overhead Christmas decorations marking the scene. At left is Henry & Franks Cafeteria, which was operated by Henry Rooney, according to city directory files.
Hometown history: Onalaska Public School circa 1908
Onalaska Public School circa 1908.
1954: 5 and 10-cent Store fire
Ladders and hoses were plentiful as La Crosse firemen battled a blaze at the R.E. Osborne 5 and 10-cent Store on Dec. 13, 1954. The fire, which began in the basement of the Osborne store at 1201 Caledonia St., gutted the building and an adjoining business, the Haraldson Shoe Store at 1203 Caledonia St. (not shown). The Osborne building was later razed and replaced by a one-story building that was home to a Ben Franklin store for many years before being occupied by the building’s current tenant, Options Clinic. This view of the fire was taken from St. Paul Street and also shows the Buckhorn Tavern at 621 St. Paul St. This building remains standing today and is now home to Dewey’s Side Street Saloon. Anyone with more information about this photo or wishing to donate photos of the Coulee Region may call the La Crosse Public Library Archives at 608-789-7136.
Hometown history: Blaze at R.E. Osborne 5 and 10-cent Store
A fire Dec. 13, 1954, at the R.E. Osborne 5 and 10-cent Store began in the basement of the store at 1201 Caledonia St., and gutted the building and an adjoining business, the Haraldson Shoe Store at 1203 Caledonia St. (not shown).
Hometown history: Main Street in 1934
This 80-year-old scene from Dec. 4, 1934, shows a row of stores which then occupied the 600 block of Main Street. At right was an A&P Grocery at 608 Main followed by the Midway Market at 610 Main and the Karmelkorn Shop at 612 Main.
La Crosse Plow Co. construction in 1909
A snowy day in 1909 with construction work underway on a new foundry building for the bygone La Crosse Plow Co. This old foundry, located on the west side of Second Street just south of La Crosse Street, was later home to Machine Products Co. from 1970 to 1994, according to Tribune files. This building remains standing today and was recently in the news due to part of the structure being condemned by city inspectors for the second time in two years.
Hometown history: Cameron Avenue Bridge dedication 2004
Cameron Avenue Bridge dedication Nov. 17, 2004.
Hometown history: "Salvage for Victory" parade in 1943
"Salvage for Victory" parade in 1943 in La Crosse.
Hometown history: Victory, Wis.
Victory, Wis., as seen in a 1914 postcard.
Hometown History: A look at 1950s downtown Bangor
This undated postcard view from the 1950s shows a busy day in downtown Bangor with many parked vehicles lining the street. The postcard is titled "Main Street," though in actually it is the 1500 block of Commercial Street as viewed from 16th Avenue.
Hometown History: A view from the bluff
This photo, from the Ed Gautsch Collection, shows a birds-eye view of the east end of Main Street as seen from atop Grandad Bluff 100 years, on Oct. 25, 1914. Main Street is in the center of the photo extending toward the bluff with Losey Boulevard running left to right in the foreground.
Hometown history: Steam engine in action in Holmen
Steam engine in action in Holmen
Hometown history: Town House Motel in the 1959
own House Motel at 122 N. Seventh St., next to Burns Park, operated from 1959 to 1973.
Hometown history: House moved from Losey Blvd. to 28th St.
This house was moved from Losey Boulevard to 28th Street in 1974.
Hometown history: Cass Street bridge construction
Cass Street Bridge construction during the final stages in 1939.
Hometown history: President Taft's visit in 1909
President Taft visiting the opening of the La Crosse YMCA in 1909.
Second Ward School
This circa 1881 photo, taken from a stereoview by the 19th century photographic firm of Edward Elmer and Charles Tenney of Winona, Minn., shows the old Second Ward School which was located on the southwest corner of Fourth and King streets. This primary school, which also housed La Crosse’s first high school classes, was completed in 1870 and operated until 1907 before being razed in 1913, according to Tribune files. The former site of this school is now occupied by a vehicle parking area for Pischke Motors of La Crosse.
Hometown history: School play at Franklin School
School play at Franklin School circa 1938. The children here have been identified as, from left, Howard Roberts, Delores Anderson, Ralph Opland, Marilyn Hodge, Lois McGinnis, Roger Branson, Eugene Adams and Eugene Campbell.
Hometown history: 1964 county jail kitchen
1964 La Crosse County jail kitchen.
Hometown History: Cattle at Swift Creek
This 100-year-old photo, dated Aug. 16, 1914, shows a herd of cattle grazing and watering at Bank Slough, a branch of Swift Creek, just west of La Crosse’s old Gund Brewery on South Avenue.
Hometown history: Bendel's Orchestra playing at the old Stoddard Hotel
Bendel's Orchestra playing at the old Stoddard Hotel, possibly in the early 1930s.
Hometown history: Front Street
Front Street in La Crosse
Evans Cartage warehouse
This Tribune photo shows La Crosse firemen hosing down the smoldering remains of the Evans Cartage warehouse, which was destroyed by fire on July 25, 1944. The warehouse was located at 1906 West Ave. S. and was packed to capacity with household goods and furniture — all of which were consumed by the fire. Smoke from the fire could be seen from all parts of the city and attracted thousands of spectators to the scene, according to Tribune files. The former site of the warehouse is now occupied by a parking lot for the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of La Crosse.
Hometown history: Centennial parade 1948
The SS Fifth Avenue, Port of La Crosse
Hometown history: Smale's grocery delivery truck
Smale's grocery delivery truck
Hometown history: Pamperin & Wiggenhorn float in 1898 parade
Pamperin & Wiggernhorn float in an 1898 Fourth of July parade.
Hometown history: Sells-Gray Circus at Erickson Park
Sells-Gray Circus at Erickson Park in 1967.
Hometown history: 1914 Peoples Cash Store
Peoples Cash Store in 1914.
Hometown history: Sea scouts of Logan High School
Sea scouts from Logan High School lock through a Mississippi River dam during their annual June cruise to Lake Pepin.
Hometown history: Zephyr passenger train in 1934
A Zephyr train in 1934 outside the Burlington Passenger Depot at Second and Pearl streets.
Hometown History: Memorial Day color guard
A color guard passes Central High School 60 years ago for the Memorial Day assembly.
St. Francis Hospital Ambulance
St. Francis Hospital ambulance in 1914.
The Way it Was
Boy scouts going for a hike in 1914.
Burns Fruit House baseball team
La Crosse Burns Fruit House baseball team playing a game at the old West Avenue Ball Park.
Hometown History: Loyalty parade in 1917
THE WAY IT WAS: Looking east on Pearl Street from Front Street as hundreds of La Crosse school children carrying American flags take part in a World War I loyalty parade on April 21, 1917. This patriotic parade, which was 90 minutes long, preceded a large gathering at Riverside Park in which an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 La Crosse County residents pledged their allegiance to the Untied States. The old 100 block of Pearl Street and its buildings, as shown here, no longer exist as this area is currently occupied by a sidewalk with steps, the La Crosse Center and a parking lot for the Radisson Hotel. Anyone with more information about this photo or wishing to donate other photos of the Coulee Region may contact the La Crosse Public Library Archives at 608-789-7136.
The Way it Was
Women’s spring and Easter fashions mark this late 1920s photo of a display window at the Wile Brothers Clothing store, which was located at 112 S. Fourth St. This firm, started by Leo and Louis Wile at 116 N. Third St. before they moved it to Fourth Street, was in business from 1912 to 1931, according to Tribune files. The former site of this clothing store is now occupied by Deaf Ear Records, where the tile entrance floor shown here remains in use after more than 80 years. Anyone with more information about this photo or wishing to donate other photos of the Coulee Region may contact the La Crosse Public Library Archives at 608-789-7136.