Facts About Nudism Cover Image

Facts About Nudism

The Real Truth About The Nudist Movement
By Hugh Morris
Padell Book Company, 830 Broadway, New York City, © 1935

I forget where I picked up this little 32 page pamphlet, probably at some estate sale. I thought the graphic on the cover typical of the era and I purchased it, thinking it was a little treatise in favor of nudism and would be filled with helpful tips. It turns out this book has one of the nastiest attitudes toward nudism I have ever seen, to the point where its laughable. It actually suggests that nudism is the potential downfall of contemporary society and I have placed a small sample from the introduction for you to read, should you choose to see it.

It isn't like I am an advocate of nudism or not. It's my belief people deserve to be naked if they so choose, although, I can think of a few people I would prefer not have to observe without clothing for extended periods of time. Also, I know I couldn't be a confirmed nudist myself, simply because the temperature rarely suits me. I am someone constantly putting on a sweater or an extra pair of socks. This, I think, might be against nudist rules.

Not that I haven't been to nude beaches, because I have, and for the most part found them relaxing and enjoyable. The first time I went to a nude beach I was married. My colleague Dodie, who lived a couple of blocks away from me and gave me rides to work called me up early one morning to tell me she was calling in sick that day because she and her husband Jon had decided to go to the beach. The call was to inform me I would have to get to work another way, but a few minutes later the phone rang and Dodie was on the line again inviting my husband Charlie and me along too.

Charlie always was a beach person, so I didn't have to ask him twice, I called in sick. We packed up towels, bathing suits, books and other beach paraphernalia. Charlie, of course, focused on our large cooler. Filling it with enough beer to last the entire day was his big concern.

Dodie and Jon had a van, so we all hopped in and drove to the highway. Having never been to this beach before we asked about it and Dodie informed us that we were heading to a huge reservoir in Vermont that permitted swimming, and in fact she had forgotten to mention it and she hoped we didn't mind but we were heading to a nude beach. A perfectly legal nude beach. We were in their van, so what could we do. Already en route to Vermont it looked like we were bound for a new experience. We were in good physical shape, it didn't bother me much except I did wonder if Charlie would go into one of his usual jealous snits about it all once there.

The drive took over an hour and we found a spot in a huge parking lot that was already filling up with cars. I saw people all over the place and they sure looked dressed to me.

"Oh no," Dodie responded to my inquiry, "We have to hike a bit to get to the nude part, its kind of a long walk, so don't carry too much."

I looked at Charlie, but he had already hoisted the huge cooler on his shoulder safari-style and was prepared to bring nothing, if not the beer. I grabbed a canvas bag I had brought along and off we headed through the woods toward a well worn path.

It wouldn't have been a bad hike, except Charlie griped about it the entire time. Especially because, although clearly a well worn path, it wasn't an easy, smooth path. We had to hop over a few little streams and the ground was far from even, requiring one to constantly observe footing. This is difficult to do when you are carrying a large heavy cooler full of beer. It made me realize Charlie would have made a lousy pioneer, probably choosing a wagonload of beer to head west to homestead with instead of blankets, tools and other practical dry goods.

After this brisk 30 minute excursion through the woods the path brought us to a clearing and it was indeed beautiful. The Reservoir was huge, the water clean and the blue as the sky. The water was met at the shore by huge flat rocks, different levels, providing plenty of sun bathing space. It was very beautiful, and a few people were already there, mostly sunbathing.

We found a spot to put our things, but it was the kind of place that really didn't have all that much room, so as the day progressed, people were soon all around us. It didn't really feel all that odd to be there naked among other naked people. Everyone seemed to be pretty much minding their business and doing the things that people do at the beach: reading, basking in the sun, swimming, quiet conversation.

We ended up spending a few hours there. At one point, I lay on my stomach and was nodding into a peaceful sleep when I heard a clicking sound, not unlike the sound of a camera shutter. I rolled over and looked around. There was this old guy sitting next to me innocently looking off into the distance. I rolled back and started dozing again, when I heard what was clearly a camera shutter once more. I sat up and waited for a few minutes but again saw no sign of a camera. The rest of the afternoon I kept hearing a camera shutter without connecting it to its owner, and have often wondered if I was in any of the photos and where they ended up.

Anyway, the trip back to the car was not nearly so bad because the beer bottles (Charlie NEVER drank beer from a can) were empty. We drove home and, exhausted from the sun, took a nap. Later, when we woke up, Charlie was complaining about a sunburn. I looked at his shoulders thinking it wasn't too bad -- after all he was black Irish and usually worshipped the sun for this look -- but offered to rub some lotion on it anyway. He pointed to another part of his body and I realized that his penis had managed to get terribly sunburned. I suggested he best rub the lotion on it himself.

So, you see that, while one would consider nudism a rather passive and mundane activity, it is not without its risks and does require some precaution. When I bought it, I thought this "Facts About Nudism" pamphlet might offer this kind of information. You know, similar to one of those government publications from Pueblo, Colorado. It might have read: "The U.S. Department of Health recommends the use of a minimum of 15 level sun screen upon your genitalia when nude for prolonged periods of time." Or "A rule of thumb is to travel light, as nudist sites are usually located far away from prying eyes." But instead it was a treatise on nudism and its relationship to Communism, bringing of course a new and far more personal meaning to the term "red scare."

© Laurel O'Donnell, 1996
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Laurel O'Donnell
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