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Kelleys Island

Keep it Real Wednesday

Kelleys Island

June 30, 2021

How are you all surviving this record-breaking heat wave?  If you are in the Boise area or anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, we wish you all popsicles, shade, and multiple cool beverages!  Stay safe!

As Rosemary and I sat on the swing in our shady backyard last night, I asked her to share one of her favorite summer stories.

Here it goes ..

As a teenager, one of the popular places to cool off in the Cleveland area was Kelleys Island on the western part of Lake Erie. It was a special treat to go to Kelleys Island and something her group of friends loved to do together.

Rosemary has always had a very slight build and only weighed 92 pounds as a young woman. During her teenage years when girls tend to feel more self-conscious about their changing bodies Rosemary felt especially embarrassed about her tiny build compared to all of her other friends.

One day before a big trip to Kelleys Island with a large group of childhood friends (boys and girls), Rosemary was trying on her bathing suit.  Her mother must have noticed Rosemary’s self-conscious posture and offered to help, but Rosemary was even too embarrassed to enlist the help of her seamstress mother and found her own remedy to what she saw as her flaw.

The solution?

Rosemary pinned a menstrual cotton pad into the inside breast area of the suit, somehow thinking it would give her the summer curves she was hoping for.

I think we all know where this is going…

A few minutes into the swim on that hot summer day at this beautiful cool water location, Rosemary began to feel something strange in her swimsuit.  She looked down and the cotton pad, which she pinned into her suit to simulate breasts, had filled with water. The heaviness sank of the water-soaked cotton menstrual pad caused it to sink to her belly area, looking more like pendulum old age breasts than a teen-age girl.

Her friends noticed right away and one of the boys approached her and said, “O’Malley, we all know you don’t’ have nothin’ up there – you don’t have to pretend with us.” 

She then carefully removed the pad from her swimsuit, tossed it aside and enjoyed the rest of her day – flat chested and all.


(pictured:  Rosemary’s mother, Marie Sweeney O’Malley in 1920, enjoying a swim.  Unfortunately, there is not a bathing suit picture of Rosemary on that fateful day on Kelley Island. You will have to use your imagination)

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1 year ago

What a funny, yet sweet story. I’m on Kelleys Island and help manage the Historical Association’s Museum Gift Shop, while searching for vintage bathing beauties on Kelleys Island in order to find a print for museum postcards, your photo and story came up.
I would love to have your permission to share Rosemary’s story and any photos you have of her on the island, in the museum gift shop.

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