Before AC, People In GR Just Went Naked
There was a time in this fair land when air conditioning did not run. And according to these stories posted on the Grand Rapids History Facebook page, people liked to take their clothes off to seek relief from the heat.
Oh, back in the good old days! According to these newspaper articles published to Grand Rapids History, 1960 and Before on Facebook, occasional nudity was a thing back in the early 1900s.
First up, dated July 29, 1914, a guy who took his clothes off to catch some zzzzs off Fuller scared some ladies walking by.
When a man, whose identity the police would very much like to know, became so over heated he could no longer stand it, went into a section of the Grand Trunk freight house at Fuller station, took off all his clothing and proceeded to bask in the moonlight.
No one complained until two women happened to pass and he arose and bowed many times...The women took exception to his strange actions and ran screaming down the street.
Next up, from May of 1911, we have a group of boys who decided to go swimming after a storm and riled up the locals. I just love the headline 'Wear Naught But Smiles'.
'Back To Nature' is the slogan of the boys in the vicinity of Michigan Avenue and Diamond Street. The recent rains have swollen Coldbrook Creek and created an ideal swimming hole where the stream flows under the Grand Trunk train tracks. Wreathed in nothing but smiles, the lads, ranging in age from 10 to 25 years, bask in the sun on the grass and plunge in to the "old swimming hole".
Residents in this vicinity are angry to say the least. Some of the women claim that they have not been out of the house for a week. If they had been living in sunny Africa they would have no cause for complaint, but here in a civilized community they have become exceedingly wroth at the antics of the bathers...although complaints have been made to the police...nothing has been done to make the boys wear trunks.
Maybe if we just got that creepy 25 year old dude to go home, people wouldn't be so upset. Why are you hanging with ten year olds?
Last up, dated July 25,1909, some more kids, described as 'savages', have been jumping naked into Plaster Creek.
Complaints have been made...that a gang of boys were frequenting the banks of Plaster Creek...it has been reported that not only do the youthful savages do the war dance in 'robe-de-nit' for the benefit of the passengers on the trains, but occasionally, some bold youth will shy a rock at the train as it speeds by...Bathing suits were lacking, and the gang was informed that in the future they must either hide their nakedness or seek a more secluded spot to swim.
"Robe-de-nit' appears to mean 'night gown', which lends even more strangeness to this story.