Photo of two men at the entrance to Olympic Fields Nudist Camp in 1937. One man stands with hands on hips next to the automobile's open door, as the other man phones the main office from the handy telephone booth at the front gate. May 5, 1937.Works Progress Administration Collection/LAPL Photo Archive

The Rise and Fall of a Nudist Colony That Scandalized L.A. in the 1930s

Deep in the Cleveland National Forest, high above Lake Elsinore on the border of Orange and Riverside Counties, there is a winding road called Ortega Highway. Although it is only 40 or so miles from Los Angeles, it feels like another world — this is Trump country, biker bar country, general store country. A couple of turns take you to the entrance of a dirt road, rutted and deserted. An old, vandalized sign indicates that you are entering a place named Mystic Oaks. A short drive down the road, you hit what looks like the entrance to an abandoned camp — chicken wire gate, a wooden sign for Mystic Oaks, KEEP OUT and BEWARE OF DOG postings. Behind the gates, there is no one, just the remnants of wooden buildings and scurrying lizards. Despite its current foreboding feel, for more than 70 years this secluded camp was the refuge of pioneering nudists who danced, sunbathed and played naked in the dusty sun.

During the interwar period of the last century, the idea of nudism as a protest against modern, urban life flourished in certain progressive circles. “Amid rapid urbanization and the rise of a consumer-oriented economy dominated by giant corporations and white-collar work,” Brian Hoffman writes in Naked: A Cultural History of American Nudism, “many intellectuals, physical-culture promoters and urban reformers thought that Americans’ increasing disconnection with their natural environment threatened to weaken the nation.”

Photo of two men at the entrance to Olympic Fields Nudist Camp in 1937. One man stands with hands on hips next to the automobile's open door, as the other man phones the main office from the handy telephone booth at the front gate. May 5, 1937.Works Progress Administration Collection/LAPL Photo Archive
Photo of two men at the entrance to Olympic Fields Nudist Camp in 1937. One man stands with hands on hips next to the automobile’s open door, as the other man phones the main office from the handy telephone booth at the front gate. May 5, 1937.

Hoffman also notes that popular fictions like Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan glamorized the rugged, back-to-nature lifestyle. Two nonfiction books also greatly influenced many city-dwelling intellectuals looking for an escape from the stresses and anonymity of city life. …Read full original article…

Source: LA Weekly

15 August, 2017, 7:25 pm

Addendum

In response to a tweet regarding the above item the following further information was received from the AANR Western Region (TwitterWeb). We are most grateful to them for taking the time and interest to respond.

“Olympic Fields was also known as Elysia, MᶜConville and finally Mystic Oaks … it sits near the Orange/Riverside county line in El Cariso CA.”

Pete MᶜConville (.ᴘɪᴄ) opened “Elysia” w/ Hobart and Lura Glassey in 1933

El Cariso for 74 years …
Elysia (1933-1934)
Olympic Fields (1934-1954)
MᶜConville (1954-2000)
Mystic Oaks (2000-2007)

Pete MᶜConville (top)
Pete MᶜConville (top) opened “Elysia” w/ Hobart and Lura Glassey in 1933
Dee Matteson and Cécile Allain at a summer pageant … Pete MᶜConville is the ᴍᴄ at the club which ʙᴀʀᴇs his name in his honour.AANR
Dee Matteson and Cécile Allain at a summer pageant … Pete MᶜConville is the ᴍᴄ at the club which ʙᴀʀᴇs his name in his honour.

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