July, 1914 Frank Wolff (right) with his brother Donnie in Atlantic City, NJ

Everyone born and raised in the Philadelphia area uses or has at least heard the phrase “Goin down the shore.”  Translated for non-natives, it means “Going down TO any of several beach towns along the ocean in Southern New Jersey”.  In going through old photos, I found this picture of my grandfather and his brother in Atlantic City in 1914. I was heartened to know my family’s been goin’ down the shore for over 100 years! I love this picture for so many reasons…

It is an excellent “Time Capsule” of life over 100 years ago. Let me start with their bathing suits. It gives a whole new (old?) meaning to the phrase “two-piece bathing suit.” It sure looks to me like they’re wearing “Skorts.” And why oh why do they have MATCHING suits? Possibly (hopefully) they were on a swim team? Or maybe there was only one style of bathing suit at the time?  And I can see why we still call it a bathing “suit” to this day; they have about as much material as a suit does. Also, take a good look at the woman digging in the sand behind them to the left. She’s wearing a full length dress, complete with a hat and socks. Presumably that was normal attire on the beach in 1914. Modesty has definitely been redefined over the years!

Painting of the Chalfonte Hotel on the Atlantic City Boardwalk soon after its Opening in 1903

Notice in the background the historic beautiful old wooden Chalfonte Hotel. It was located at North Carolina Avenue on the Boardwalk. (It eventually became Resorts Casino & Hotel, which still operates there today!)


No doubt, my Pop Pop was getting some well needed R & R before the fall “apple-pickin’ season” started in earnest. It’s nice to see that some things haven’t changed much over the last 100 years. Many of us locals still make that same pilgrimage regularly. For some of us it’s once a year, for others it’s once a week, but goin’ down the shore is something we’ve been doing for generations!