Jul 20, 2018

The Boys of Carson Beach

This photo says: "Carson Beach, South Boston, 1940"

My only question is, why didn't they have classes like that when I was a kid?

"First, kneel in front of your partner.  Use his legs to steady yourself.  Then..."

Ok, it's actually "Learn to Swim Week" in the summer of 1940.  The Boys' Club held three classes a day at Carson Beach.

South Boston or "Southie," 3 miles from Boston Common (15 minutes by car), is traditionally a working-class Irish neighborhood (the site of Boston's St. Patrick's Day Parade). It's also the site of the first public housing in the U.S. and the Irish Mob, the first major gang in the U.S.

A list of "Things You Didn't Know about South Boston" includes: don't go to Sully's Castle Island (a burger place) on weekends, when it gets too crowded; a "spuckie" is a local term for a submarine sandwich; it's the inspiration for the Edgar Allan Poe story "The Cask of Amontillado"; and Good Will Hunting is an accurate depiction of Southie guys, "cute, scrappy, and devilishly charming."

Sounds colorful.

I imagine generations of Southie guys cooling off at Carson Beach.  In the 1970s, photographer Nicholas Nixon, a professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, captured several beach hunks in the background of his photos of women.

In the 1920s you could also cool off at the L-Street Baths.  Apparently many people didn't have bathtubs in their apartments, so they used the baths for hygiene as well as hookups.

Carson Beach winds around Old Harbor,  across from Joe Moakley Park (named after a Congressman who served the district from 1973 to 2001.  Here he's going to Carson Beach with two buds (I think he's the one on the right).

It's near the University of Massachusetts Boston and Boston College High School (a Jesuit all-boys prep school), so lots of Southie guys to choose from.

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