I’ve developed a fascination as of late, or perhaps more accurately, an obsession, with what I’ve labeled as the Legacy Nudist Resorts of America. This crusade of sorts began as a quest to visit the most renowned of these places over the past eight months, while our proclivity to join the ranks of social nudity were suddenly limited by the confines of a road trip. No more bouncing to Croatia or France for Nakation; time to explore our own backyard!
I’ve not heard anyone else use the moniker of legacy in regard to naturist establishments, and in fact, I’m not quite sure how to define it myself. But I’m most fascinated with those early nudist camps established by (mostly) European pioneers before World War II. I’m thinking the likes of Solair Recreation League in Connecticut, or Skyfarm in New Jersey, or even Lake O’ the Woods Club in Indiana. A dead giveaway to the origin of a place is a name that fails to make any reference to nudity whatsoever, supposedly obfuscating that awkward moment when the monthly newsletter arrived in your mailbox wrapped in brown paper with an innocuous return address.
While social nudity seemed to be trending on both sides of the Atlantic before the War (WWII), the post-war saga grew increasingly divergent with each passing decade. There are two national archives of naturist research and artifacts extant today: one at Cypress Cove Nudist Resort in Florida, and another at Glen Eden Sun Club in California. Ironically enough, those places were relatively late to the party, established in 1964, and 1963 respectively. Regretably, I’ve only had the opportunity for a brief visit to the Florida archives, but I think it’s time to find my way back for some serious digging.
Of particular intrigue are the hundreds and hundreds of nudist publications and newsletters that were quite literally all the rage during the 1950s and 60s. As an amateur scholar of American nudism, I know just enough to be dangerous – as the saying goes. But the salient parts of the story go something like this.
Legacy American nudist camps were essentially secret societies, typically located in the rural areas that have since been subsumed by suburbia. These were family places, meticulously regimented by policies related to diet, exercise, and a flat-out denial that naked bodies were inherently sexual in any way. (An ideal that remains controversial to this day.) If the photographic evidence is meaningful documentation, nudists were heterosexual, married, and white, with 2.5 children, a Chevy, and a dog.
What I find most stunning about that era is the tangly saga of organized social nudity. The more that unfolds, I realize just how many nudist camps have vanished over the years, as it seems that 1950-something America had a secret garden within an easy drive of nearly every major metropolis. In addition to those mentioned above, Rock Lodge Club in New Jersey and Lupin Lodge in northern California are among the last survivors of that first influx of clothing-free establishments, but I’m forever coming across names and stories of places in the sprawling LA basin that have essentially disappeared without a trace… Except in the archives of nudist publications.
Source: Naturally Carolina
Original publication 30 December, 2020
Posted on NatCorn 13th January 2021
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