Postcards from the Past
If you grew up in New England, there’s a good chance you have at least one memory of visiting a beach on a hot summer day. Whether you prefer a day of excitement and thrills on amusement park rides or a relaxing lounging session in the sun, you can usually find a New England beach that suits you. If you like a little of both, New London’s Ocean Beach could be the place for you.
The Connecticut Historical Society’s large collection of postcards includes quite a few from vacationers at Ocean Beach, ranging in date from the 1910s to the 1950s. Early postcards depict the natural landscape with long empty stretches of sand and rock formations along Long Island Sound. Then, in the 1920s, throngs of sunbathers and swimmers appear on the beach and cover every inch of sand.
Although the 1938 New England hurricane decimated the New London waterfront, the popularity of Ocean Beach continued to grow. A boardwalk, amusement rides, water slides, and a pool were added, much to the delight of families and younger patrons. Many timeless memories were created riding an amusement ride or going for a refreshing swim in the cool water. All it took was sending a postcard to share it. Reading the backs of these postcards is like listening in to the conversations of people from the past. In 1954, an excited visitor to Ocean Beach wrote:
I went in a ride last night, the fastest ride on the beach. Boy, what a ride! Gee! It’s a classy place, and you should see the restaurant combined with a cocktail lounge and night club where you can get a drink and a there is a band that plays every night.
Having a wonderful time! Wish you were here!