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The Plunge Bathing Suit, 1950

My sister and I have always loved to swim, so as kids, mom often brought us to the Plunge at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It sounds silly now, but back then, swimming in that gigantic indoor pool was even more of a novelty to us than playing in the surf! Hannah and I would splash about for hours among the crowds of tourists from over the hill.

One fateful weekend, however, we forgot to pack our swim suits when we left sweltering San Jose. We were chubby kids, and I was sure we’d be out of luck, but the lady at the Plunge’s ticket counter produced two rental suits and sent us to the ladies locker room to change. I knew the Boardwalk rented beach umbrellas and towels, but this was like a dream!! I can picture that bathing suit to this very day, almost 50 years later!! It was a heavy-duty black one piece, not very stretchy, with one detachable strap which hooked on the front top left, crossed behind the back of the neck, and then hooked on the front top right. The suit was designed with several gathers and puckers in just the right places to flatter many different body types, and the color black was much more becoming than the bright flowered print suit I’d left behind! I was transformed in my own mind into a bathing beauty!! Late that afternoon, I wrapped that black suit discretely in my shirt and smuggled it home, convinced that owning that glamorous black bathing suit would change my life forever! And it did!!

Since that fateful day, almost every single bathing suit I’ve ever owned has been a black one piece. None of those, however, are as memorable or as significant as that very first spectacular model I stole from the Plunge’s rental department.

Robin Lasser

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