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We’re returning to the beach with four postcard shots of Onset Beach from the early 1900s. The first postcard is postmarked August 23, 1909, the second and third postcards date from July/June of 1912, and the last postcard the early 1910s.
The photograph of the first postcard is a good look of the bath houses that were along South Boulevard just after the turn of the century. Most were constructed on an ad hoc basis until a more permanent bath house was built in 1924, the Onset Bathing Pavillion. You can visibly make out the dock of Phillips’ Wharf on the left center of the picture. One can also make out the name of the closest boat to the photograph, “Marjorie.”
The second postcard is a beach illustration somewhere in Onset and the third shows a scene with the Onset Steamboat Wharf and Kenny’s Salt Water Taffy building in the top left corner. In the early 1900s, newspapers noted the clean sand, shallow depth, gradually descending bottom and water that was 10 degrees warmer than elsewhere along the Massachusetts coast. The lack of surf also made it suitable for children, as there are several pictured in both postcards.
The view in the fourth postcard is the view of Onset Ave along the bluffs. It is what one probably would have seen from the dock of the Onset Steamboat Wharf. You can make out the Hotel Onset in the left center of the postcard, and the dock for the Glen Cove Hotel on the right center. Remarkably, you can also make out some of the houses on Water Street in Point Independence, which was probably an accurate view. Take note of the long, tall grass in the first, third, and fourth postcards – much of this was uprooted by hand after World War I to make the beach look more attractive.
We’ve included the back of the second postcard sent from Alberta, to her 44-year old friend Hattie Bennett, living on Whitman Street in East Bridgewater. Oddly enough, the message is about a trip Alberta took on the weekend of June 30 1912 to Bourne.
She writes at the beginning, “Just a word to let you know that I am O.K. here at Pocasset and having a good time. Had a clambake on Basset’s Island yesterday. About 16 of us. There were 20 here (on) Saturday of the Sunday School Class. We had a great time.” The front of the card, several young girls and women enjoying the beach in Onset, probably reminded her of the pleasant weekend. She closes the card by saying, “I’ll send you a card from here (probably Onset), later on.”